Tag Archives: Jeremiah Owyang

“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

“Brand of Brothers: A Social Media Chorus”

“No. 59″ by racatumba on flickrOver the last couple of days, many people are asking the question: Can brands be social? The vision of social media relations, to me, sees consumers interacting and conversing with a brand. So the question becomes, what is a brand?

Way back in the day, a brand was a symbol burnt into the hide of an animal to symbolize ownership. Modern day branding burns a stream of messages into consumers’ minds to reinforce the image or idea a company wants. A brand can also be identified by its logo or trademark, but traditionally a brand symbolizes a promise or experience a company aligns with a product or service through consolidated messaging.

Over the last couple of years, the notion of “brand” itself has been changing. With social media, consumers now have the ability to publish and spread their own messages about a brand through forums, blogs, Facebook groups, etc. This can create a sort of schizophrenic branding: Corporate messaging vs Consumer perception/messaging–also known as “reality”–clashing for the loudest voice. As Dell proved, modern brands have to step up to the plate and accept, interact and engage with the consumer, or they come across as being abstract and aloof from reality.

But consumer voices aren’t the only ones vying to be heard in the modern brand. In many companies, you have employees who blog. The new media tools allow all the voices within the company to have a chance to be heard, unseating the talking-head spouting corporate values/messaging from the ivory tower. As the blogosphere grows, I think these voices will become more splintered, but still add to the discussion and image of the brand. For example: Not that I would consider Todd Defren the ivory tower, but his blog combined with my blog, the SHIFT employee blog Unspun and Marie Williams’ Flackette blog help shape the brand image at SHIFT Communications. People looking for our services can find these voices and get a sense of what we are about as a firm.

The Twitterverse will be progressing more like the blogosphere. Since Twitter requires less effort than blogging, pretty soon you will have several people from a company Tweeting. For example, there are several of us that use Twitter at SHIFT. We engage with each other and our followers in a series of small conversations. As more tools come into play to harness the power, people will be able to follow our team (a micro-community), creating another extension of SHIFT Communications’ brand.

Since the new brand, to me, is the conversation that the corporation, its employees and its consumers are having, the new, evolved brand will need to get social, embrace social media or get passed by.

What do you think the modern brand is? Which came first, social media or the splintered/schizophrenic brand?

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[Above photo, “No. 59” by racatumba on flickr, used under Creative Commons]

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Filed under Future of Media, It's A Conversation, Marketing, New Media, Social Media, Social Networking

“Small Biz Social Media Spotlight: Trula Breckenridge”

“fist” by frankh“Stick It To The Man” week marches on, showing those big wigs at the Blog Council that real people use social media everyday. It’s also good for those of us in PR and Marketing to step back and see how those outside our industry use the tools we take for granted. This week, socialTNT highlights every day folk who use social media for marketing purposes.

If you don’t follow me on twitter: I’ve been issuing Tweets looking for examples of small businesses or individuals who use social media. Not a big surprise, there are tons of renaissance women and men on the Internet who integrate new media tools into the full spectrum of self promotion. All of the individuals who submitted were really amazing, but one woman really knew how to work emerging media into her full brand image–and she’s not in tech!

Trula Breckenridge (check out her crazy MySpace-style “about me” survey) is a craft maven running a media empire (MSPmedia) from her living room. Her twitter profile says she is a writer and positivity enthusiast, but just one look at her website, and you’ll see she is so much more than that. Her collection of books covers everything from child rearing, poetry, self-help, vegetarian cooking/lifestyle to children’s stories.

On the social media front, Trula maintains twelve blogs with topics spanning from style and fitness to science fiction and black parenting. But it doesn’t stop there. She also uses one of her blogs and flickr to promote her upcycled and handmade fashions. In a twitter/email interview, Trula says that since she started using flickr, her sales have really started taking off. Twitter has also driven more traffic to her site, leading to increased sales of crafts and books, while also helping generate more revenue from ads.

Most importantly, social media has introduced Trula to a community of like-minded individuals who have inspired her to do things she had never before thought possible.

“Because of flickr I have encountered other people interested in upcycle, reconstructed fashion…I doubt I would have ever considered my sewing as another income stream, either to sell, blog about, or write a book about, all of which I am now doing. Because of twitter I doubt I would have ever considered turning my little zine into a full-fledged magazine with distribution, which I now am in the process of doing.”

Trula, you rock! Not only do you send positive messages out to the world through your writings, but your business model is an inspiration for others on how to utilize social media.

I also want to give a special shout-out to Jeremiah Owyang for becoming an unofficial Twitter Community Manager. Had it not been for your post this week, I would have never met Trula. You have created a much-needed community on Twitter and introduced me to hundreds of interesting people. Readers: If you haven’t had the chance to read his post, GO NOW, and meet other amazing Twitterers!

I’m still looking for more small businesses and individuals who use social media to promote themselves. Send me an email or a tweet!

“Stick It To The Man” week continues tomorrow with an exciting guest for “3sday’s 3Q’s in 3Min” video interview.

[Above photo, “fist” by frankh (on flickr) used under Creative Commons license.]

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Filed under Best Practices, How To, Marketing, New Media, Small Business Social Media, Social Media, Stick It To the Man

“PR to Enterprise: Beam me Up!”

In PR, it’s often difficult to determine how to use social media tools for our Enterprise clients. Also difficult: how to use social media tools for internal PR.

Last night, at a Social Media Club event, the topic of the evening was “Enterprise: Moving Forward.” The panel for the evening was moderated by “Naked Conversations” writer Shel Isreal. Panelists included Dave McClure (500 Hats, Graphing Social Patterns), Jeremiah Owyang (Senior Analyst, Forrester Research), Jennifer Jones (host of “Marketing Voices” on PodTech Network), Eleanor Wynn (Enterprise Architect, Intel), and Bob Duffy (Community Manager of Intel’s community, Open Port).

I tried to Twitter-cast the event, but even on a T9 predictive text enabled phone, it was tedious. For those interested in watching the 119 minute discussion, Ustream.tv captured the whole evening here. Lots of great ideas presented. Here are a few things that I brought back that could apply to PR and Marketing professionals:

Internal Communications:

  • Blogs hosted on a company’s intranet can boost internal communications
    • Remember: Allow an open forum
    • Leave comments enabled and respond respectfully
  • Internal Wiki’s can increase team collaboration
  • For large, multi-national companies, an internal social network can really help bridge the distance and increase team rapport
    • Allow tagging of photos and interests
  • Close the feedback loop
    • Show employees what suggestions have been implemented
  • If you really want to shake it up:
    • Digg-like voting on suggestions
    • Video, video, video!

External Communications:

  • Look to existing conversations and communities before implementing your full-strategy
    • If your product is a finely-focused niche, there may not be a community. That’s your chance to facilitate the conversation with your brand as the moderator!
  • Company blog makes a HUGE impact in the enterprise space
    • Position spokespeople as thought leaders
    • In addition to your products, discuss current and future trends
  • Enlist community managers to comment on other blogs and address negative conversations threads in a thoughtful manner
  • Create communities where company reps ask questions about product development or allow users to suggest new products/changes
  • Go Geek!
    • Many companies (incl Intel) have gotten heavy traffic by using their sites/communities to publish White Papers, behind-the-scenes videos, production notes, demo videos, etc.
  • Once again, close the feedback loop:
    • Show customers that their thoughts count and have been implemented
    • This helps establish a realm of trust that opens dialog. Instead of pushing your message, you allow many voices into the discussion about your product/brand
  • Feeling bleeding edge: Customer/Company Wiki’s blur the line between intra- and inter- nets
  • Bottom Line: It’s all about a conversation with the customers
  • Check out Intel’s Open Port or Dell’s IdeaStorm [my earlier discussion of Dell’s social media tactics here]

Has your company used social media internally? Have you implemented social media tactics to help build a community around your Enterprise product? I’d love to hear about it.

Also, feel free to comment on any of these ideas.

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Filed under Enterprise Public Relations, Future of Media, Internal Public Relations, New Media, New Media Masters., Public Relations 2.0, Social Networking