As marketers using new media, we are constantly told that social listening is of utmost importance. We track the conversation, monitor tweets and gather comments from Facebook fan pages, but how many brands truly use these priceless tools for crowd-sourcing? Utilizing the data collected from people who are conversing about your brand online is fantastic, but that is just the first step. Being a brand innovator in the social space means stepping out of your comfort zone, being vulnerable and giving customers a little bit of control. For so long, marketing messages have been blasted to the customer and as two-way conversation has become the primary way to interact with brands, we must realize that if we want campaigns and ideas to work, we must first find out what it is customers want - straight from the horse's mouth.
After reading Bill James' article entitled Why Brands Can Ignore ROI in Online & Social Media for Now, I felt compelled to blog about it. This is the first social media article that really resonated with me in quite some time. Having been involved in this new media industry since it began, I've attended conferences and been involved in discussions with people as they were trying to figure out what the meaning behind this new technology was and how it would change business as a whole. As the article mentions, so much of the discussion behind its use began to lean towards the meaning of engagement between consumer and brand, as well as authentic and transparent conversation by the brands themselves. While that is important, the seemingly incessant conversation around that topic has grown a bit old as the two-way conversation is now expected.
Old Spice has found the recipe to viral success in their latest video campaign and I must say, "Damn, they're good." The attractive Isaiah Mustafa - Old Spice's shirtless new phenomenon has been tweeting videos all day long to various people.
Kevin Rose of Digg has received not one video but two. The second discusses "men-babies" and made me laugh hard at my desk:
He has been quickly producing videos to bloggers, YouTubers and random folks who have asked questions and this immediate, personalized and interactive approach has people loving and sharing which is a recipe for success.
Looking forward to seeing more of his videos. Will other brands mimic this approach in the future? Seems like quite an original idea that can be useful if not abused and overdone.
Every week there is a new article discussing Facebook's lack of respect for privacy. I personally have always known how to use the privacy settings to my benefit and how to truly control what was being seen and who was seeing it. That is... until now. The privacy settings are so complicated that even someone who has been on Facebook for 5 years (myself), cannot figure out what's what at times. I see a problem in that the average user would have even a harder time than I would.
My biggest gripe right now is the following:
I have 2 friends. Say one is Susie and the other is Jessica. Susie and Jessica have no idea who each other are and both of their profiles are private. Susie updates her status on an item that may be considered little inappropriately funny. I too, joke around on her page thinking the conversation is remaining on her page alone. Jessica signs onto Facebook and upon signing in, sees on her mini-feed Susie's entire status update, along with the thread of comments - including my own.
The question is: Why is this happening? How? And to what benefit does Facebook get from impeding on people's privacy this way?
Susie and Jessica do not know each other and as far as I knew, my conversation on her content was left on her page alone. When doing a video comment on a friend's wall one day, another friend of mine from overseas was able to comment on the video and the comment ended up on my other friend's page. This made her feel pretty uncomfortable considering comments from complete strangers on your wall is never a good sign in terms of privacy. I posted a question asking how many people have been able to see my comments on complete strangers' status updates and the amount of people who said they had seen it both baffled and angered me.
With that being said, if you are unaware of a certain setting or two, your updates, photos and more can be broadcasted for complete strangers to see. Additionally, even if you have already changed the setting on your end, you have to be concerned about whose pictures and updates you comment on. If the person posting the update/photo/video doesn't have their own settings changed, your comments will show up on your friends' mini-feeds as well. Something like this will likely prevent people from commenting on different items simply because they're not sure about whose mini-feed it'll show up in, thus defeating the interactive point of Facebook.
It is frustrating that the personalization options of our privacy has decreased week by week on Facebook. I used to prevent certain people (young family members in particular) from being able to see my status updates but wanted them to be able to see everything else. Now Facebook has made it so that if you do not want them seeing your status updates by default, they can never write on your wall in general or see anything you post. Grouping the settings together really gives you the Facebook user less control and ultimately, a less enjoyable experience.
I present myself quite well on Facebook most of the time but of course when you think your comments are limited to your friends' profile and they haven't been, one can never feel good about that. Even with the newest privacy control provisions, the "Everyone" feature is selected by default for profiles when it comes to the visibility of your content and the posts you put on your page. For Facebook to do this, is shameful. It is more or less an "opt-out" experience as opposed to the "opt-in" experience Facebook once was. Now if only there was a true alternative to Facebook... many would probably flee happily. However, Mark Zuckerberg and the gang are aware that so many of us have made it a part of our every-day lives in terms of keeping in contact people from around the world, that we'd rather deal with the privacy issues than give it up altogether.
Now I know there are several rebuttals to all of this and I understand if you want things completely private you could just delete the site, email them personally and so on. However, when the site encourages engagement via status comments, video comments and thensome, you'd simply expect to be able to do exactly that without the world seeing every word you post. Each person has a different relationship and way of speaking to various people in their lives. You wouldn't talk the same way to your grandmother as you would your best friend but having to put a generic facade to appease each group of people in your life while personally interacting with everyone is just ridiculous. You shouldn't have to jump through hoops just to have a similar positive experience that you had on the site years ago.
To do a quick audit of your Facebook privacy settings, visit ReclaimPrivacy.org
Also to join a good Facebook page that discusses these issues, visit here.
To avoid having your status updates show up on strangers' mini-feeds, do the following: ACCOUNT -> PRIVACY SETTINGS, choose the Top setting and set POSTS BY ME to ONLY FRIENDS.
Cities around the world are participating in FourSquare Day and I am proud to say that my town of North Andover, Massachusetts is representing Massachusetts on FourSquare Day which takes place on Friday, April 16th. (Boston is listed as well but it's a mere meetup at one place in an attempt to gain the "Swarm" Badge) According to the official press release,
Each hour, a business will roll out the red carpet for Foursquare users that checkin. The day will start at 9:00 a.m. at Perfecto’s Caffe, and will wind its way around North Andover at various shops, salons and restaurants.
This day is not only for local businesses and residents alike, but also serves as a great example of how businesses can utilize this service to not only connect with their customers, but draw in new ones while providing incentive for all. FourSquare is making it easier for businesses to gain insight on the demographics of those who frequent their establishments as well as offer a fun way to interact with them. For those of you who are not sure what FourSquare is or just "don't get it", Paul Boulanger has created an "Intro to FourSquare".
Currently FourSquare is available on Blackberry, iPhone and Android devices. I personally am a bit addicted as it's always fun to gain more badges, become "Mayor" of your favorite businesses as well as see what your friends are up to. If more businesses can do what the ones in North Andover will be doing on FourSquare day, the world will certainly be a better place and customers will be happier people. Here are some of the examples of the kind of discounts local businesses are offering for FourSquare users.
If you and your business are not yet on FourSquare, you may want to reconsider. This mobile tool is growing by the minute and missing out is just downright silly. Foursquare's stats are impressive. The company claims the following since its launch: More than 725,000 users have checked-in over 22 million times to almost 2 million places. Only 1,400 are reportedly offering FourSquare specials but that number is rising by the day as owners become more aware of the value. Looking forward to seeing how this grows and hope to see many of you Massachusetts/New Hampshire folks out on FourSquare Day!
Brazen Careerist just developed a Social Resume feature which allows professionals to gather all of their notable social contributions in one place for employers to see. At first glance, it reminded me of VisualCV which serves as an online resume that can showcase not only a standard resume, but your multimedia contributions and overall portfolio as well. While a Social Resume may seem like a good idea at first, one could argue that your entire online presence is your social resume. While employers would have the option to see positive items with Brazen's new feature, why would they not want to see the good, the bad and the ugly of your social presence? One search in Google and you're all theirs. Focusing on building our "social resume" through blogs, tweets, Facebook etc. is more vital. Contributing notable content to the internet on a daily basis is enough to serve as a great social resume any day. I commend them for thinking of this idea but I wonder how much value employers would truly see in it. It can be rather easy to compile and boast of our best work but in a world where information about most can be found with a click of a button, perhaps the attention needs to be focused on the bigger picture.
Read an article today from one of my favorite blogs on the web - ReadWriteWeb.com. They have decided to use Buzz a bit differently than the rest and it has finally brought that big ol' light bulb back into my head. Now I sit here realizing what the potential of Buzz is as another social avenue. While first using Buzz, I was a bit annoyed as I followed people only to see regurgitated info (tweets, blog posts etc.) that could be viewed on all the other sites I connect with them on. It just felt like one big redundant way to gather and broadcast content. However, RWW wrote the following about their hopes in using the tool:
..."We won't be cluttering up our own Buzz stream with bot-like aggregations and self-promotion. As we've said, if you want to get RWW news, there are many other platforms well-suited to that. We're really looking forward to getting to you know as individuals in a more casual online environment.
What if we were to cut out all of the self-promotion and all of the links and truly use it to ask questions of one another? Discuss Issues? Ones that won't just be limited to a 140 @ reply. These could be questions and discussions that can truly be talked about with a wide variety of people all at once?
One could argue that Facebook can service this need but again, Facebook also consists of the clutter of applications, multimedia, links and thensome. Perhaps Buzz could be in between for what is defined as a chatroom/forum/blog. People will not feel compelled to write lengthy blog posts in order to evoke response. Perhaps brands could use it to gather authentic information and input from their customers all in one place without having to ask on their Facebook fan pages where fan comments/company announcements and more are clustered together.
I had left Buzz up and running just in case I finally figured out a use. If more people were to consider this approach, we may be onto something. I would say an occasional link posted on an article/topic would be sufficient providing it was not something necessarily tweeted and blogged about on their other social accounts. While it may be a pain to keep up with yet another site, it may be beneficial as we can lessen our interactions on other sites to gain the same insight/feedback we require as professionals, individuals and companies on a weekly basis. What do you think?
Many of us know that today is Facebook's 6th birthday. (Happy Birthday!) Is there a new permanent layout? This time unannounced? Perhaps I haven't been paying attention to the newest Facebook news but I certainly wasn't aware there'd be a reasonably drastic change anytime soon. No wonder I couldn't login via Facebook Mobile all day long. Last night Facebook prompted me to download the new Facebook uploading plugin which eventually made my Facebook uploading process a much more enjoyable one actually. While I usually dislike their layout changes, I have to say I'm a bit open-minded about this one. It's crisp and easy to navigate from the few minutes I've spent on it. So far from what I see, it makes the user experience a bit easier and less cluttered. Anyone else seeing it? And if so, what are your thoughts?
Drop-Down Friend Requests (same goes for inbox messages as well):
Anyone on Twitter knows that the abundance of information shared on a daily basis is not only beneficial on a personal level, but on a professional level as well. It never ceases to amaze me that I can continuously learn through 140-character tweets from the brilliant people I follow. Recently, a few people have contacted me asking how to become more involved in the social media world and mentioned how they have been interested in pursuing it on a professional level.
Naturally, I tell them to first read, read, read. There are endless blogs that are available to keep up with the trends and learn more about what this emerging media is all about. The AdAge Power 150 list is a great place to start looking for the media blogs that best interest you.
Equally important is connecting and following those who know what they're talking about. Additionally, with Twitter's new "List" function, one can find a group of fantastic people to follow in one place. Here is a list of people (that I admire & learn from) that you would be absolutely silly not to follow:
derekshowerman - Derek Showerman
Former Director Of Social Media @ Authority Domains. Senior Mgr Of SEO at Sokolove Law's Digital team. Perfectionist, Mets fan & Analytical Sith Nerd.
TheCR - The Community Roundtable
A peer network for community managers and social media practitioners by @jimstorer and @rhappe
DanSchawbel - Dan Schawbel
The leading personal branding expert for Gen-Y. Author of Me 2.0, blogger, national speaker, magazine publisher & BusinessWeek columnist.
AaronStrout - Aaron Strout
CMO - Powered, Inc. and dedicated husband/dad.
leslie - Leslie Poston
Speaker. Social Media Enabler. ENTP. Author. Hockey+. Formerly @geechee_girl, & ♫ ♬ lover, books, movies. @filmpop @scub3d @smbnh @pcnh @dummies plus more
Britopian - Michael Brito
VP of Social Media @ Edelman Digital. I believe that marketing is good; and if you love your customers they'll love you back and tell others.
alejandroreyes - Alejandro Reyes
I'm kind of a big deal. I help people & brands get internet famous w/ social media. ADDICTED 2 ppl & their passions. Speaker. Video Blogger. Storyteller
whatsnext - BL Ochman
Blogger, swing dancer, Labradoodle lover, orchid grower. And one of the few people actually born in New York City. New site: http://Pawfun.com
AdamBroitman - Adam Broitman
stevegarfield - Steve Garfield
Author: Get Seen, Online Video Secrets / Founder of Boston Media Makers / http://bit.ly/SG_Disclosure
LindsayMAllen - Lindsay M. Allen
Experienced communicator w/PR & journalism skills; laid off and seeking employment and/or freelance/contract work.
JeffCutler - Jeff Cutler (Jeff Cutler™)
Columnist, content creator, Twitter teacher, journalist
SueOnTheWeb - Sue
Online Community Manager for 10 years for a large expat community. I live and breath online communities and in between I consume large amounts of chocolate!
gregverdino - Greg Verdino
strategy vp at powered. micromarketing author. social media whatever. long islander. father. the lesser half of gremanda. not necessarily in that order.
jquig99 - Jane Quigley
Recently acquired by Powered. Dislikes many people - Not you. Never you. We're totally cool.
KateDickman - Follow the list creator: KateDickman (Kate Dickman)
Crayonista, Social Media Gal + Community Manager for Panasonic's new online community - LivinginHD.com
It's a common question I'm seeing all over the place as an increasing number of businesses both large and small are building their own online communities and looking for someone to fill the role of Community Manager.
Speaking from experience, I can honestly say that it can be one of the most vital roles a company can have. As Community Manager of Panasonic's LivinginHD.com, I've seen firsthand what it takes to be not only an active participant of a growing online community, but a voice and a face for an entire brand.
Ten years ago social media was virtually non-existent. Now more than ever, people are able to have a personal relationship with a brand. They are able to interact directly with companies and give their input -- both good and bad. Companies are doing the only thing they should be doing right now - listening. With a recession on our hands, even the wealthiest people have been cutting down on spending, thus making businesses eager to rein in sales. With that, the consumer runs the show and businesses know that while the power is less in their own hands, the ability of their buyers to speak more directly with them is a blessing. Not only can they improve products from feedback, but can also make customers happy. A happy customer is a customer that will buy. By monitoring the conversation both on and off the community, one can fully comprehend what is currently being said about the brand.
As a proven and trusted influencer within the community, a CM is responsible for getting the word out about new products, events and overall development. It is their responsibility to keep the consumers updated and to serve as a brand evangelist. As a community manager, being a counselor of sorts is vital- someone who will listen to member's concerns and be kind even when receiving strange or unpleasant messages. These relationships are developed over time, as this role also serves as a cheerleader and encourages its members to be dedicated participants. The relationships are also fostered by happily answering all product-based and community-centered inquiries. With trust, consumers naturally become loyal to the brand. While so many companies are still trying to get personal with their clientele, those with dedicated go-to folks, such as Comcast's Frank Eliason, stand out among the crowd.
Not everyone can be a Community Manager. Oftentimes, companies put one of their employees unversed in social media and customer service into the role. As a result, it hurts the brand. The CM should be familiar with all web communication tools, from forums, to podcasts, to Twitter, to blogs and then understand the language and jargon that is used in the community. One must keep their cool when being challenged and have a fantastic support team around them to get the job done. Being a voice for the brand's community can be harder than imagined, as situations you wouldn't expect arise. Conferring continuously is a must.
For years both websites and online communities have had webmasters to run to in the face of problems/issues. With a community as large as Panasonic's, however, members in the past have been hard-pressed to find a rapid response and oftentimes found themselves speaking to an automated email message or both.
Community management is a more instantaneous customer service... with a personal touch. It truly is a fantastic, interactive position where not only are members benefiting, but also the person facilitating the process. A community manager must draw heavily from four skill sets: emotional intelligence, diplomacy, advocacy, and above all, passion for the brand to breed success.
My Recent Flickr Shots
- No public Twitter messages.
Beneficial to a Busy Life
Social Media Smarts
- All Facebook
- Read Write Web
- Social Media Today
- Social Schmoozing: Derek Showerman
- What's Next – BL Ochman's Blog