Category Archives: Social Media

“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?

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

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

“Chow Down: How to Use Friendfeed for Better PR”

So we’ve held off on posting about Friendfeed for several months.  As adoption has slowly increased, we have started to warm up to it.  While it may be too soon to ditch Twitter and throw all your efforts into Friendfeed, it can be a great tool to add to your arsenal.  Today, socialTNT takes a look at some of the ways Friendfeed can help you build relationships and more effectively reach your target reporters and bloggers.

What is Friendfeed?

  • Friendfeed is a “social aggregator”
  • In non-Valley speak: Friendfeed is like the Facebook newsfeed, except it lists all the actions you do across more than 43 sites, including YouTube, Flickr, StumbleUpon, Digg and LinkedIn
  • Also like Facebook, you can share items directly into your feed.
  • Most exciting: Every action in the feed becomes a blog post, letting you comment in a conversation thread

Friendfeed for Media Research

To be the good PR person that you are, you do your due diligence by reading all articles and post by your target journos and blogos–if not daily, then before you reach out to them.

With Friendfeed, you can see:

  • All of their latest posts
  • What they are reading
  • Twitter-feed
  • Pictures of the fam
  • Videos

Take a look at the page from Chris Nuttall of Financial Times (click to enlarge):

You can stay up-to-date with any of the blogos or journos you follow by adding their feed to your reader.  Scroll down to the bottom of the feed and click the RSS Logo:

Get Involved With a Reporter’s/Blogger’s Community

Friendfeed isn’t just a stalking device, it’s a great opportunity for PR peeps to form relationships and have conversations not usually possible.

  • Become a member of the reporter’s or blogger’s community by:
    • Adding thoughtful comments to their items
    • Participating in discussions

Check out the screenshot, below, from Robert Scoble’s feed. The red box shows you where to go to comment.  Click “more” to link to this item or share it with your feed.

Click on “more comments” (as indicated by the green box, above) to see the full conversation thread related to that action’s comments.  Robert even answers comments:

Getting Started with Friendfeed

  • Sign up for a free account
  • Add the info from the sites you want to share
  • Add me
  • Add some Reporters/Bloggers (a few listed below)
  • Join “Rooms” or groups based on your interests or your clients’ industry
  • Share posts, articles, interesting thoughts

Reporters and bloggers on Friendfeed

Just a small sample:

With Friendfeed and Twitter, you have a great non-intrusive way to get to know reporters and bloggers.  You also get the chance to join their community and share ideas.  Go ahead and give it a shot!

Also, check out the new widgets Friendfeed (like a Blogger Badge, Share This, RSS and others) has recently launched. It also looks like they are trying to speed up RSS. Cool!

Are you using Friendfeed? What has your experience been like? Like/dislike? Let us know in the comments!

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!

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Filed under It's A Conversation, New Media, Public Relations 2.0, Social Media

“Breadcrumbs: Using Curiosity to Strategically Reach Audiences”

Last week, Robert Scoble declared Tech PR useless.  My response, a light-hearted post to shake off the negative energy, called for change within the PR industry.  Many of you emailed me asking about the future of PR and marketing, so today I wanted to share those thoughts.

Changing Landscape

The founders of our industry, in my opinion, did not intend us to be keepers of the keys and intermediaries, but actual creators and facilitators.  The original press release was not an announcement, but rather a creation of compelling content that editors wanted to print.  They looked for stories to tell and then pitched these to reporters.  And it worked, as long as the mainstream media was in control of the information.

Things have changed.  Today, the Mainstream Media is struggling and the walls are crumbling.  The rise of the Internet has moved content consumption online.  Also, thanks to social media, everyone has the ability to create content themselves.  Translation: The Internet is a REALLY REALLY noisy space.

Information Overload

Technologies like search and RSS feeds make information easily accessible–but they never seem to find *exactly* what you want.  Also, social networks and bookmarking sites have added the human element to finding content, but even that isn’t always enough.  With traditional media, reporters distilled the real world into articles.  Likewise, bloggers take information on the Internet and present what’s good.

With decentralized information filtering, how do we make a significant impact to reach our audience, whether they are bloggers, reporters or consumers?

Curiouser and Curiouser

If I understand Robert and the other Tech bloggers, they are finding information through community and curiosity. They listen to what others in their online peer network (whether Facebook, Friendfeeed, Twitter, RSS Feeds, etc.) are saying/sharing.  They also track and discover products and services the same way consumers do: word of mouth and surfing/searching.

What does this mean for PR and marketing practitioners?

  • The goal is to leave breadcrumbs your audience follows to find you as if by magic
  • To do this, we have to think like our audiences
  • Instead of asking “What do we want our customers to think?”, we have to ask “What are our customers interested in? How can we reach them?” and “What can we teach them?”
  • We no longer create stories, we look for conversation
  • We execute strategy to reach audiences where they share ideas
  • We engage in industry wide discussions with our clients as the moderator

We Are The Music Makers, We Are the Dreamers of the Dream

Instead of just producing viral videos, widgets, blog posts and (gasp) press releases, let’s create content people will want to consume.  Let’s build rabbit holes of discussion that our curious audiences can crawl into.

The ultimate goal: Be known for facilitating stimulating conversation around topics related to our clients/services by creating content our audiences will be interested in.

How do you see the future of PR? How do you inspire curiosity and conversation to energize communities and build awareness?

[This post inspired by a conversation with Tim Dyson, CEO of Next15 (the holding company that owns my firm, Text100) and numerous conversations with Todd Defren and Brian Solis]

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[The above photo, “Down the Rabbit Hole” by valkyrieh116 on Flickr, used under Creative Commons]

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Filed under Future of Media, It's A Conversation, New Media, Public Relations 2.0, Social Media

“And…Cut! How Not To Pitch Video Content”

Last night a top-tier blogger told me they were having problems with people using video to promote and pitch their company. To make sure video doesn’t become the new press release that pisses journos and bloggers off, I wanted to share the problem and discuss a couple of ways to pitch video effectively.

Problem

Startup Z wants Blogger X to write about their new product announcement, so they send a video. Nope, not a link to YouTube. Not a link to a social media news release. Nope, they send a 60+ MB file as an attachment with no textual support. They also offer a link to a YouSendIt type place to download. Why is that a problem?

Think about it like this:

  • Assumes blogger is near a connection that can download
    • Many bloggers travel like nomads going from conference to conference
  • Assumes bloggger has time to download 60+ MB
    • As a rule of thumb, if you can’t send it from your email, maybe you should rethink the file size
    • Is a link better?
  • Assumes blogger will open it
    • I generally don’t open unsolicited attachments for fear of computer viruses
  • Assumes blogger has the proper program to play that file format
    • Sadly, we don’t have universal standards on video. Some blogos are Mac-based while other are strictly PC (shocking!)
  • Assumes blogger has time/brainpower to sit and watch the video
    • At the end of the day, I just dont have the strength to watch another video

Solution

I love video more than most people in PR and applaud anyone trying to create content that tells their story in innovative ways. As we as an industry try to figure out how to integrate these new technologies into our campaigns, we may encounter a few hiccups along the way. You want journos and bloggers to be interested in the content you are creating, so be mindful when you pitch them

To make sure your video gets the attention it deserves, try these steps:

  • Load the video to YouTube, Vimeo, Viddler, Blip.tv (Need help choosing? Read our review of the top video platforms)
  • Under Embargo? Not ready for the world to see the video?
    • Blip.tv allows you to create password-protected videos. Send a link with the password to the bloggers and reporters you do want to share the vid with
    • Blip.tv also allows your viewers to download the video in a variety of formats that the viewer chooses
  • Send a text summary (preferably bulleted) in the email alongside the video
    • Watching a 3 minute video may not seem like a big investment, but it is. Give journos and bloggers an alternative
    • Bullet out the key points so the journo or blogger can see if it’s something they are interested in
    • This also helps ensure that all the messages and facts you want them to pull from the video will at least be acknowledged

We all want to do the best things for our clients. Whether the video is featured in a post on a top-tier blog, inspires another post or gets picked up by several long-tail bloggers, the visual format can have a significant impact on your audiences. Just be mindful of the people you are pitching and you can guarantee your content gets the attention it deserves!

How do you pitch out your video or audio content? Let us know in the comments!

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[The above photo, “Digital Alarm Clock” by Endless Studio on Flickr, used under Creative Commons]

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Filed under Best Practices, Blogger Relations, How To, New Media, Public Relations 2.0, Social Media, Video

“You Are Doing Your Clients a Horrible Disservice”

…if you don’t monitor for them on Twitter.

How would your clients take it if you didn’t respond to a negative article in a smaller daily, say the Oakland Tribune? You wouldn’t want to miss the chance to respond to a potentially harmful blog post, so why miss a Tweet?

Use Summize. It finds all Tweets about your client or from your customers–even deleted ones! When Twitter’s “reply” function is working, it can also track conversation around said Tweet! And now, it’s embedded in my favorite Twitter Client, Twhirl.

Our clients love it when we send them a Tweet to which they should respond. We’ve been using it for several months now.

Check out this search for Yoono.

When a person firsts install Yoono, it sends a Tweet to their Twitterstream saying “I’m testing Yoono.”

(Click to Enlarge)

Yoono also has someone manning a Twitter account. They catch the negative comments and respond. Note the elegance of Summize’s inline conversation tracking!

(Click to Enlarge)

(Click to Enlarge)

But it also looks as though they didn’t see all the negative comments. Maybe they should use Summize 😉 (UPDATE: They do! See the comments below!)

How do you track your client and customer conversations effectively? Leave us tips in the comments!

BTW: Stay tuned for Marie’s comprehensive review of Yoono next week!

[UPDATE: On July 15, 2008, Twitter buys Summize.]

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Filed under Best Practices, How To, Marketing, Public Relations 2.0, Social Media

“Finding Balance: Developing Your Company’s Social Media Policy”

\Back in the early 1990’s, email over took the phone as primary business communication tool. As more of their employees used email in their personal lives, companies struggled to figure out how best to integrate its use in the workplace, while still managing company interests.

Today, corporations are faced with an onslaught of new communication technologies, making it even harder to adjust. Their biggest fear: proprietary information getting unwittingly leaked by an employee on their blog or through Twitter.

My article in today’s Media Bullseye discusses what companies like Sun Microsystems and Dell are doing to ensure employees know how best to utilize these new technologies. Also, I ask experts for best practices when developing a social media policy for your company.

In the piece, Joel Postman (check out Joel on 3Q’s in 3 Min), Principle at Socialized, gives 3 tips for developing an effective internal social media policy. You’ll have to go to the article to see those, but since we are all about transparency here at socialTNT, I wanted our readers to get the inside scoop. Below, I’ve posted some excerpts of my email exchange with Joel that weren’t included in the article.

What steps has your company taken to develop its social media policies? Share your tips in the comments. Oh, and check out this great article from 1998 in the New York Times on the evolution of Email Etiquette.

Excerpts From Email Exchange with Joel Postman on June 26th, 2008:

  • Were you at Sun when they developed their social media/blogger policy? I was not. I did write the social media policy for Eastwick Communications. This document served as the basis for several client social media policies.
  • How would you best describe Eastwick’s social media policy for employees? Eastwick’s social media policy applies to all employees, whether they blog or not, and covers all use of social media and social networks at work and away from the office. It is an extension of the agency’s standards of business conduct and reminds people that they represent the agency in everything they do, and should always act in good faith on behalf of the agency and its clients. Employees are entitled to have a private life, and private use of social media, but when they are talking about anything that might relate to the agency’s business, or when it is clear they are affiliated with the agency, this should be considered when blogging, posting comments, using social networks, etc.
  • If so, who wrote it? Did employees give input into the process? Several employees as well as senior executive management gave input, as did the agency’s lawyers.
  • Before posting your own post or responding to another post, was there an approval an approval process? None of the social media policies or agreements I have developed included a mandatory approval process for blog posts or comments. The very first draft of Eastwick’s social media agreement came back from the lawyers with a clause requiring executive approval of all blog posts, and the executive team immediately agreed to delete this clause. I advise clients against any formal review or approval process. The keys to ensuring appropriate blog posts and compliance with company rules and legal requirements are training, a clear blogging strategy, and a solid social media agreement that informs people of their responsibilities.
  • Did Sun do any “best practices” type training? When I was at HP, we had blogger training for executives. I did not manage this, the web team did. I am currently working on executive blogger training for a publicly held company. The focus of this training will be social media etiquette, legal compliance, and the company’s blogging strategy.

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[The above photo, “Getting Dublin Moving” by The Labour Party used under Creative Commons]

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Filed under Future of Media, Internal Public Relations, New Media, Social Media

“3Q’s in 3Min: Sarah Lacy, BusinessWeek”

Today’s post was written by contributing writer Marie Williams.

It’s a heat wave in San Francisco, and today’s “3Q’s in 3Min” guest is guaranteed to turn up the heat.

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.

Sarah Lacy on Sarah Lacy by Brian SolisA couple of weeks ago socialTNT attended Girls In Tech‘s Femme-Power roundup, a gathering for professional women and female leaders. While there, we had the pleasure of speaking to BusinessWeek’s Sarah Lacy. In today’s “3Q’s in 3Min,” Sarah shares her thoughts on issues affecting women in the business world, and explains how women are selling themselves short.

Today marks a huge achievement in Sarah’s career, the publishing of her book on web 2.0 moguls, “Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good: The Rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0.You can find Sarah in her “Valley Girl” column in BusinessWeek or as a co-host on the recently launched Tech Ticker spot on Yahoo! Finance.

Sarah also achieved brief notoriety last March from her now infamous–and highly played-out–Mark Zuckerberg interview at SXSW. Whether you like her or not, Sarah is an important female figure in the tech industry and provides invaluable insight into the conundrum many of us face as professional women.

When it comes to the workplace, Sarah says women don’t believe in themselves enough and should be more aggressive and self-promotional. As a woman, I tend to agree with her. I often struggle with tooting my own horn or spotlighting my capabilities. Sarah sees this as the reason why women don’t have as large a footprint in most industries.

Take the PR/marketing industry. Long considered to be a woman-dominated profession, but when you look at the loudest voices in the blogosphere, women make up a much smaller percentage. Off the top of my head, I can list 5 well-known PR/marketing blogstresses: Kami Huyse, Susan Getgood, B.L. Ochman, Yvonne Divita, and Lauren Vargas. On AdAge’s Power 150, Kami Huyse could only find 20, as she points out in a post highlighting the “top 20 women” on the list

Kami’s post, written nearly a year ago, found that of the Power 150 in 2006, only 13 percent were women. No offense, fellas, but that number is a tad disconcerting. In an industry with approximately 70 percent women, men take nearly 90 percent of web-based thought leadership. This highlights the need for events like Girls in Tech to help encourage and nurture the growing confidence of the female workforce.

In the video, below, Sarah explains how the tech industry hasn’t changed for women during her 10 years in journalism, and discusses her difficulty finding stellar women in the tech/business world.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Do you think women need to be more aggressive? What prevents women from becoming more powerful in the boardroom? Will women ever step out of mens’ shadows to play a larger role in business? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

No time to watch the video at work? Get “3Q’s in 3Min” free from iTunes and watch it on the go!

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[The above photo, “Sarah Lacy on Sarah Lacy” by Brian Solis, is used under Creative Commons]

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Filed under 3sdays 3qs In 3 Min, Citizen Reporter, Social Media, Video Interview