Tag Archives: Sun microsystems

“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

“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