Category Archives: Community Relations

“Safety in Numbers: How to Fight Brand Hijacking on Twitter”

Last week a reporter asked my opinion on the state of brands on Twitter after the Exxon Twitter-jacking debacle.

“As more companies move on to Twitter, how are we to know who is real and who is a fake?” she asked.  “How can a reporter or a consumer know that this person can be a trusted source?”

With Exxon, someone named Janet had claimed to be the Exxon Mobil community manager.  Forrester Research’s Jeremiah Owyang got excited that Exxon was getting involved with Twitter–3 days later, it turned out Janet was a fake.  She hadn’t said anything negative about Exxon, and actually did a great job of addressing people’s questions…but she’d hijacked the brand.  Other big companies might not be so lucky.

Back in the old 1.0 days of the Internet, you could be pretty much anyone–a 40 year old man pretending to be a 13 year old girl–and no one would know otherwise.  In the Web 2.0 world, however, our identities are built on and confirmed by our relationships.

Using Facebook as an example, my identity is more-or-less confirmed by my friends.  Not that it can’t be forged, but by checking my profile, my friends, my work network, etc., you’d be able to make a fairly good guess as to whether I was real or not.

Nope, Twitter doesn’t confirm your identity–but you can still use the network to validate someone.  Jeremiah could have easily searched on Twellow for other Exxon employees on Twitter.  Had their been any Exxon employees (there aren’t), he would have been able to ask them about Janet.  Did they know her? Exxon is a big company, so maybe not…but I bet they have a directory in Outlook.

Companies like Dell, IBM, Sun Microsystems and Microsoft all have tons o’ employees on Twitter, making it easy to find a spokesperson. (Click links for Twellow searches).

A couple of steps any company can take to ensure their brand is protected:

  • Don’t just create a XYZCo generic Twitter account, get as many employees on Twitter as possible
  • Add any official Twitter names to the company’s main contact page
  • Encourage employees to mention company name in Twitter profile
  • Create a directory of employees in the company on Twitter and distribute internally
  • Encourage employees to add each other.  Even if they may not work together, Twitter can help strengthen the camaraderie within a company
  • Encourage employees to respond to any Tweets about the company they see — bonus if they search for the company’s name or industry keywords

There you go. Now whenever a reporter, blogger or consumer is looking for a company rep, they can find many to whom they can turn!  Oh, and it might not hurt to claim your company’s name–if it isn’t already taken!

What systems does your company have in place to validate Twitter screen names?  Do you have just a generic name? Do you let employees actively Tweet?

Like what you read? Add our RSS feed! [what’s that?]. Or start your morning with socialTNT in your InBox! Or read Chris 24-7 on Twitter!

[The above photo, “Kids at zebra crossing” by fiskfisk on Flickr, used under Creative Commons]

3 Comments

Filed under Community Relations, Marketing, New Media, Public Relations 2.0, Social Media, Social Networking

“Say No to No Comment: How to Answer Negative Blog Posts”

Someone wrote a scathing review of your company’s product on their blog–now what?

Well, you can either ignore it or you can respond. In traditional PR, you’d be shirking your duties if you didn’t follow-up with the reporter. Same goes with social media, except the world can see your response. Whether the post is positive or negative, you have to comment.

Here are a few tips to ensure you comment with success:

  • Take a deep breath!
    • Sometimes the excitement (or hate) can cloud a clear head. Remember, it’s the Internet and everything will be a part of your permanent record. Don’t write anything you wouldn’t want your mother/future boss/customer/client to read
  • Acknowledge and thank the blogger for their feedback/comments/insight/linklove
    • Remember, we are listening now. Whether you agree with it or not, they put effort into their post and their feedback can provide a snapshot of what your customers or other reporters/bloggers are thinking
  • You’re building a relationship, which means accountability and honest discussion.
    • Try to address the concerns and tell them what you are doing or plan on doing to fix any problems. If it was a positive piece, write something that can help build the discussion or add deeper insight into the topic
    • Cut the marketing speak and messaging. Read what the blogger is saying and respond as a human, not a PR-bot
  • Transparency and full disclosure
    • Let readers know you are with the company or represent the company. It’s about ethics.
  • DO NOT try to pad the comments with anonymous or fictitious posts
    • You may not see it when you read the post, but bloggers can see the IP address of every comment. Several comments from the same IP addy looks suspicious and a simple search can rat you out

Some stellar examples from comments in socialTNT’s past:

Kevin Cuneo’s reply to a potentially critical post in “You Are Doing Your Clients a Horrible Disservice”

Hi Chris,

Over here at Yoono we completely agree that Twitter is a great way to connect with our community. And we find Summize to be the best way to monitor Twitter. I love how it lets you know there’s more results since your last search. (I was also using it to track my replies when that feature went down on Twitter.)

We’re going a mile a minute over here so unfortunately there’s only so much time in the day to respond to negative comments and assist users via Twitter. However, we try to get to as many as we can and if they aren’t responded to, users can rest assured they were read and taken into account. Although we love good feedback, we think any feedback is worthwhile in helping us craft a superior product.

With that said I’m off to check in on Summize, looks like I have nine results up since my last search.

Great post, keep up the good work. And we’re all looking forward to Marie’s review!

Cheers,

Kevin Cuneo
Yoono Community Evangelist
kcuneo (at) yoono (dot) com
http://twitter.com/kcuneo

Kevin didn’t make excuses. He acknowledged the concerns and addressed the problem thoughtfully.

Reply to a positive post from “Dell Hell Freezes Over: A Great Example of Turning Lemons into Lemonade”

johnpatdell

Chris – As a member of Dell’s digital media team, I think you’ve done as fine a job as anyone to summarize how the company has worked to move on to a new chapter. It’s been a wild ride, but the journey has only just begun. Today, we view the integration of social media technologies as a natural evolution of our business and an exciting new dimension in which to deal directly with our customers.

In this comment, John acknowledged the statements in the post. He also adds to the post by telling the readers what Dell will be doing in the future.

Conclusion: Both John and Kevin effectively stated their company’s point of view without sounding arrogant. It’s a delicate balance. Just imagine you were having a discussion with your mom/girlfriend/boyfriend/brother or anyone else you love but sometimes have disagreements with.

How do you respond to negative comments? What tips or tricks can you share? Any examples of stellar commenting in action? Let us know in the comments

Don’t miss out: Grab our RSS feed! [what’s that?]. Or start your morning with socialTNT in your InBox! Or read Chris 24-7 on Twitter!

[The above photo, “Message Board” by Emmy_P on Flickr, used under Creative Commons]

10 Comments

Filed under Community Manager, Community Relations, How To, It's A Conversation, Public Relations 2.0

“Killing the Buddha: PR 2.0 and Social Media Marketing Nirvana”

“Embrace nothing:
If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha.
If you meet your father, kill your father.
Only live your life as it is,
Not bound to anything.”

–Buddha Shakyamuni

Blogs. Twitter. Facebook. Tumblr. What do they have in common? They’re all amazing tools for increasing communications and strengthening connections. Nothing more.

Sometimes communities get so distracted by the messenger that they forget the message. Yes even we purveyors of messaging in the PR and marketing trades are fallible to shiny things. Taking some queues from the Buddhist philosophy, let’s take a step back and make sure we are all on the same page.

As Brian Solis discusses in this post, PR 2.0 is the evolution of public relations. At its fundamental root, public relations and marketing in the new media era is about building relationships. The tools and technology come secondary.

According to my “Effective Public Relations” text book, “Public relations is the management function that establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and the publics on whoms its success or failure depends.”

Let’s compare that with Brian’s definition of PR 2.0:

PR 2.0 is the understanding and practice that communications is a two-way process and incorporates the tools, principles, strategies, and philosophies for reaching, engaging, guiding, influencing, and helping people directly in addition to the traditional cycle of PR influence.

Public relations has always been about building relationships. At one point, the press release was an effective way to reach target audiences. Then it moved to broadcast and print, both one-sided forms of communication. Now, the public has the tools to write the news and create the content.

The once silent masses now have a voice, and that voice is found on social networks, blogs, and forums. That voice is in the form of audio, video and text. That voice has the potential to spread ideas rapidly and more effectively than ever before. Instead of talking at an audience, public relations and marketing now have to engage and build a relationship with that voice and all its praise or critcism.

PR 2.0 is about listening, knowing your audience, what they talk about, how they communicate and meeting them on their court. It’s not about using Twitter cause company XYZ is, it’s about finding the best way to interact with and engage your audience and those talking about your brand. It’s about figuring out the best way to ignite those communities into rapid discussion about your brand. That’s the philosophy; the tools come secondary.

add to del.icio.us :: Digg it :: Stumble It! :: seed the vine :: :: TailRank

Don’t miss a post: Add socialTNT to your RSS reader [what’s that?]. Better yet: socialTNT delivered to your InBox!

[The above photo, “Thailand – Ayuthaya 5 – Buddha head” by mckaysavage on flickr, is used under Creative Commons]

2 Comments

Filed under Best Practices, Community Relations, Future of Media, Marketing, New Media, Public Relations 2.0, Social Media

“Let’s Get Physical: 10 Lessons Abt Social Media I Learned at the Gym”

“getting-huge.jpg” by ericmcgregor on flickrA little secret about me: I’ve been involved with sports since I was a kid. I can give a rocking sports massage or plan a kick-a workout. At one point in my life, I’d even studied to become a Physical Trainer. Today, I’m here to pump you up with ten lessons about social media I learned at the gym.

  • When first starting out, get to know the gym, the exercises and proper use of the equipment.
    • Same goes for a social media campaign. Check out your surroundings. Listen to the community and see how they interact before diving in. It also doesn’t hurt if you know the tools inside and out.
  • Flexibility can prevent injuries.
    • Communities are built from people. People don’t always react how we want them to. Go with the flow. If you are flexible to their needs, listen and respond to their comments accordingly, then you can prevent a PR disaster.
  • Have patience. Quality results require a long term commitment.
    • Rarely do you see results in a short period of time. Lasting relationships are built with time and interaction.
  • Eat healthy. You have to feed your body to grow muscles.
    • Same goes with a blog: consume relevant media content to help develop your ideas and grow your community.
  • Healthy living requires a complete lifestyle change. If you want lasting results, you have to let go of old habits.
    • Social media isn’t just about looking pretty, it’s about opening up. You have to let go of corporate messaging and the tired notion of brand. It may be scary at first, but I guarantee once you get the hang of it, it will feel great!
  • When in doubt, get a trainer.
    • Sometimes we need someone to give us that extra push to help get us in shape. A community manager can help shape community relations.
  • A workout partner or a team can keep you motivated and increase results.
    • If your company has a hard time maintaining the corporate blog, bring some more writers on board. This will make it easier to keep producing content.
  • Different bodies need different routines.
    • Not all workouts and diets work on every body. Same can be said about social media strategy. Play around until you find a plan that works with your marketing objectives and fits your community’s needs.
  • Don’t wait too long between exercises.
    • In order to keep that target heart rate, you have to keep moving. If you slack on a blog, your readership will drop.
  • Make it fun!
    • It doesn’t have to always be serious. Fun posts make it enjoyable for the reader and easier for the blogger. 😉

Happy Friday, Everybody! Thanks for your continued support!

add to del.icio.us :: Digg it :: Stumble It! :: seed the vine :: :: TailRank

[The above photo, “getting-huge.jpg” by ericmcgregor on flickr, used under Creative Commons license.]

Don’t miss a post: Add us to your RSS reader [what’s that?], or Sign up for our Email.

Recommended Reading:

“It’s a Conversation, Stupid! Part 1″

“How Media Relations Got Its Groove Back”

“3sday’s 3Q’s in 3 Min: Mario Sundar, LinkedIn”

“I’m a Binge and Purge Blogger, What About You?”

2 Comments

Filed under Best Practices, Community Manager, Community Relations, How To, It's A Conversation, Just For Fun, Marketing, Social Media

“3sday’s 3Q’s in 3 Min: Kara Swisher, All Things D, Part 2”

It’s Thursday. I’m up in the sky on a trip to Austin, and you’re reading “3sday’s 3Q’s in 3 Min.”Every Thursday, socialTNT channels the spirit of citizen journalism by putting bloggers, reporters, PR pro’s or anyone with something to say about social media in front of the camera for a short, three minute interview. In addition to helping PR peeps pitch these individuals more effectively, the videos are meant to encourage dialog between reporters, PR/communications practitioners and marketers on the future of media.

This week is part two of our discussion with Kara Swisher from All Things D. Last week, Kara told us why she LOVES blogging. In this week’s “3Q’s in 3Min,” Kara tells TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington how to “Just Say No” to PR pitches, gives her tips on good PR, and explains the art of good video interviews.

A few days ago, PR pros everywhere sighed with relief; a study came out showing that reporters truly need the relationships they have with their public relations contacts. Although she knows a thousand and one ways to say No, Kara does value a good PR professional. For Kara, PR is more than just a one-night stand. It’s a relationship.

Here are Kara’s tips to becoming a good PR pro:

  • Know what the reporter writes about
  • Create and build an ongoing relationship
  • Bring interesting stuff
  • Be loyal to your client, but address issues and problems in an honest way

Wanna know more? Watch the video. She’ll even throw in a description of her beat.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

What are other traits you think a good PR pro should posses?

On All Things D, Kara obsesses on companies/stories as much as she wants. How does blogging change the traditional media flow of information? Do news bloggers convey stronger opinions through their pieces than a traditional outlet? If so, do you consider that a good thing? Love to hear your thoughts.

Don’t miss out: Add us to your RSS reader, or sign up for our email.

Recommended reading

“3Q’s in 3Min with John Markoff, New York Times, Part 1”

“3Q’s in 3Min with John Markoff, New York Times, Part 2”

“How Media Relations Got Its Groove Back”

[The above photo, “Kara Swisher is looking at YOU, yes YOU. You know who you are.” by Mark Montiero on flickr, used under Creative Commons.]

Leave a comment

Filed under 3sdays 3qs In 3 Min, Best Practices, Community Relations, How To, New Media, Public Relations 2.0, Social Media, Video Interview

“iPrez.TV: A Utopian Vision of Democracy?”

Max HeadroomWith presidential primary season picking up steam, we bloggers have started contemplating the effects of social media on the primaries. Some candidates are using ustream.tv to have live videochats with voters. Other candidates have put up flickr streams or delved into Twitter. The forerunner among younger voters even sends mobile alerts and provides mobile wallpaper and ringtone downloads. Exciting times, but what if this social media frenzy went past the elections and carried over into the presidency.

Imagine if you will, a world where government is fully transparent. The president videocasts his life live, turning off the cam only when discussing matters of national security. He polls the populous Twitter-style to get feedback on upcoming proposals. Cut the weekly radio address–Radio? What’s that?–the president of the Social Age does a weekly Seesmic post.

New Media President meet your new staff member: Director of Community Relations. The Director and his underlings are responsible for all outreach and relations with the populous. Just like any good community manager, he follows all online dialog and responds thoughtfully. This doesn’t mean spitting out spin at negative postings. Instead, he actually listens to and addresses the concerns of the populous-at-large.

Doctor WhoThe Director of Community Relations is also responsible for maintaining and tracking feedback. Like Dell’s Ideastorm, the web community can post ideas to the appropriate department and also vote digg-style on submitted ideas. All ideas get tracked through completion. A idea/policy development wiki will also be set-up, allowing interaction between thought leaders, academics and government agencies.

As long as it’s not top-secret, all government employees will be encouraged to blog. As much as the Social Age president would like to blog daily, he simply can’t. His style is more micro-blogging through Twitter or Utterz. Instead, his full cabinet will blog, each member responsible for content every two weeks. Supreme Court justices and Senators will blog in the style of TechCrunch’s CrunchNotes, allowing the world to see the back story behind or reasons for decisions and opinions.

What’s the public thinking? Instant polling and voting through SocNets get immediate response on hot topics. Voting in elections may also be done through cell phones. OpenID coupled with YouService-like security prevents voter fraud.

Finally, forget having to go to DC to see the National Archive. The New Media National Archive (lovingly dubbed Archive 2.0) stores the Prez’s videocast and flickr stream. All government documents will be able to be searched and accessed from anyone’s home computer.

Because more people can get involved, disenchantment is low and voter turn out is high. Yes, the government of the Social Age will create a more true, transparent democracy where politicians and citizens interact.

How do you think social media could be used in government? Would it create a government for the people, by the people? Or would it create a 1984 nightmare?

[All you Sci-Fi Buffs should check out Vengeance on Varos, a Doctor Who episode where citizen vote instantly by touching the TV!]

Leave a comment

Filed under Citizen Reporter, Community Manager, Community Relations, Democracy and Media, Future of Media, New Media, Social Media, Social Networking

“Zuckerberg Plays Jetman While Facebook Burns”

romeburns.jpg

[UPDATED INFORMATION BELOW]

On Tuesday, Facebook took the hardest bashing of its short history, with FORTUNE’s Josh Quittner echoing the rest of the blogosphere in a post ruefully titled “RIP Facebook?” This follows Monday’s news that Facebook confirmed a finding by security firm Computer Associates that Beacon still sends information back to Facebook even when you are not logged in. (For a complete history of the last few weeks, check this New York Times article by Louise Story.) Subtract a few key advertisers, add a lawsuit questioning the allegedly shady history of Facebook’s founding and an attempt by Facebook to block First Ammendment rights, and Facebook seems to be embroiled in a PR quagmire.

The question on everyone’s mind is: Where is Mark Zuckerberg?

He’s playing Jetman, of course. Take a look at the below screen cap I grabbed from his Facebook profile (click to enlarge):

Mark Zuckerberg plays Jetman

WOW! A score of 1942! Congrats, Mark!

Was he working off a little stress while in between Crisis Control sessions with his PR team? The blogosphere doesn’t think so. Just look at this post by Robert Scoble advising Zuckerberg to say something (this is just the nice stuff):

Facebook’s PR machinery is hiding its head in the sand and hoping this story goes away.

Hint: it’s not.

Do the press conference. Admit you screwed up. Take your shots. Look into the camera and say you’re sorry.

Crisis PR hint: don’t answer company bashing with text messages. Do it in video and with live events. Have the CEO do it.

Henry Blodgett, Todd Defren (satirically blogging as Fake Mark Zuckerberg), Brian Solis, and several other key PR bloggers all offered similar advice: Fess Up.

So what exactly can Facebook do to pull themselves out of the muck:

1. Zuckerberg–not a PR spokesperson–needs to admit to the community and advertisers he made a mistake.

  • Explain that FB learned the hard way that privacy is important.
  • As a result, FB wil allow a members to Opt-In (as opposed to currently being forced to Opt-Out) to Beacon.
  • FB apologizes profusely and promises to make the selling and use of member data a transparent process.

2. Utilize the social media upon which FB is built.

  • Eat the loss of prime Ad real estate and post the video apology in a banner over the newsfeed, not in the New Features” group.
  • No blog posts since mid-November. Fix that.
  • If you are feeling a little more hip: Create a live videocast (to be archived) with live questions being submitted through the community and Twitter.

3. Send an open letter to blogs and top-tier publications. Reach out to the reporters and bloggers who feel used and lied to.

  • Better yet, do a video blog tour with top bloggers (ala Don Imus, et al.)

4. Appoint a User Privacy Guru to launch an educational program on how member data is handled and what members can do to protect their privacy.

  • Create a Privacy Rights/User Data partnership with other social networks.
  • This transparency and education will regain user trust.

5. Community Managers address bloggers concerns as they come up.

  • Don’t hide behind your PR spokesperson. Get involved!

Don’t forget your community (and your financial success) is based on the users. You have to listen to them and respect them. If they aren’t happy, they’ll easily move on to the next big thing. Part of me hopes that FB really thought users would see the value in Beacon. The other part thinks that FB only saw the dollar value it could gain from Beacon.

Social networks are trusted spaces. Facebook differentiated itself as the social network where members could control privacy settings, thereby allowing only some friends to see certain things. We felt like Facebook was a safe place where we could share our lives with our friends. Beacon violated that trust. It’s sad and I feel completely used.

A quick Twitter poll asking what Facebook could do to regain trust yielded several responses, all easily summed up by Kyle Flaherty‘s Tweet:

picture-8.png

What can Facebook do to regain your trust? Or do you feel Facebook has done nothing wrong?

[UPDATE: This morning, Mark Zuckerberg posted an apology on Facebook’s Blog. Is that enough? Do you trust them again?]

add to del.icio.us :: Digg it :: Stumble It! :: seed the vine :: :: TailRank

4 Comments

Filed under Best Practices, Community Relations, Democracy and Media, It's A Conversation, Rants, Social Networking, WTF?