Social Media

What Jian Ghomeshi has Taught Everyone About Digital Communications

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CBC_JianGhomeshi-394Like many Canadians, I’ve been watching Jian Ghomeshi’s personal and professional life collide in a cataclysmic way.  Some could argue that when you are a celebrity the lines between personal and professional are blurred, and much of what most people wouldn’t lose sleep over are things celebrities need to think twice, three times or even eleven times about.

I’m not going to get into what my personal thoughts are regarding this case.  I think this needs to be tried in court of law and not in the court of public opinion, however the fact that much of this is taking place in the realm of public opinion brings me to the point of this post.

Everyone has a personal brand, many people’s personal brands are tied to their professions, many of these professions use digital tools in public to promote and/or talk about their work.  My blog is an example of that for me.

Jian chose to use the digital space to begin the dialouge about his personal situation.  On October 26, he tweeted this, which links to a very serious and very public Facebook Post. As of this post, his tweet has been re-tweeed 5,400 times, and those re-tweets will also be re-tweeted. I assume he was doing this to take control of a  situation that he suspected would spiral out of control.

What Jian needed was to have a strategy in place for his digital identity.  Sounds silly right?  Like, how in the world during a personal crisis would anyone stop and plan?  The fact is, most businesses have regular communications plans in place, but they also have crisis communications plans there as well.  Those plans are created when there isn’t a crisis and when everyone was level headed and thinking clearly.

We’ve watched many celebrities have digital melt downs (Charlie Sheen, Amanda Bynes – who’s still having one apparently).  Their public posts and commentary resurface in media stories or as evidence in court. For Jian, his statements made about consensual sex and safe words are things that he will be held too, especially now that there is a pending police investigation.

What could celebrities do to plan for a potential digital crisis?

  1. Create separate accounts, one for their personal use and the other for their professional use.
  2. Use their personal account for close family and friends, and their professional accounts for work related activity – this would definitely include “stunts” that they want leaked as private.
  3. Determine a digital crisis communications “team”, including approval and posting processes.
  4. Ensure that their management team has access to their professional accounts.  This would assist in someone being able to take control of the brand in the event the user becomes reactionary to negative circumstances, or in the worst case scenario…if it needed to be shut down and deleted.  (Hey – this is also an option and a completely viable and realistic option.  Sometimes if the situation is bad enough you just don’t need millions of people hurling insults at your brand that you can get real time notifications about.)
  5. Craft messaging that is consistent around all of their digital channels, that is practical given the situation.  Not everyone needs to know everything.  (The media can leak things all the want, but you will have your chance to defend your brand publicly.  Your digital spaces just might not be the appropriate channels.)
  6. Think of the tough questions that may be directed towards them during the crisis and what the decision will be on answering them via digital channels.  (Direct to a spokesperson, provide a phone number, a blanketed statement, advise that the individual will not be using their accounts for some time).

I know I’ve labelled this a digital crisis communications plan for celebrities, but realistically this applies to anyone and everyone who has developed a digital brand presence.

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All about Storify….

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Storify.comSo… today I participated in a webinar about Protecting Your Brand: The State of Social Infrastructure in The Enterprise, hosted by which was to their credit was incredibly informative.

It looked at the state of social media and what organziations – specfically Thomson Reutors and The United Nations. Through the webinar I received a plethora of tweets and retweets and follows. and very interestingly I received this tweet:

@SocialMediaStef @RickA2Z @ShaLaLaLeigh You’ve been quoted in my #Storify story “State of Social Infrastructure” sfy.co/tiAt  from Rene Lisi.  It turned out that he was able to use many of the things tweeted throughout the webinar to create an online story.

So what is Storify?  I ended up needing to look it up because I thought the end product was super cool. So maybe some of you have heard of this, and if so I am admittantly late to the game. If not, than this post is for you.

1.   Storify allows you to  Collect media from across the web;

2.  Publish on Storify, embed anywhere; and

3.  Share and notify sources, go viral
The best part is that it is free to use!

As a communications person, we are all about the story!  As a digital person – I think I found my new favourite toy.  I think it also such a great way to gain and attract followers as well build your social/digital imprint. Happy Storyifying everyone!

Why Facebook Likes Shouldn’t Be an Organizational Objective

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like-us-on-facebook-buttonFacebook likes.   Hmmmmm.  The never ending discussion and debate around Facebook likes is something that I have had on an almost daily basis.

So why should “Facebook Likes” not be an objective?  I mean, it’s measurable, it’s visible, it’s seems like it’s qualitative in nature. So why wouldn’t anyone in marketing or communications charged with the responsibility of growing their social audiences use this as a means of moving forward

To answer this question, let’s look at it from the opposite perspective – Why Facebook Likes Should be an Organizational Objective?

  • More likes = more awareness of my brand
  • More likes = more of an audience that is paying attention to my brand
  • The more likes = more people to communicate with
  • The more people like my brand, the more that will follow
  • It will show up more in peoples timelines making it “go viral”

All of this sounds wonderful.  In theory.

The first issue in all of this, is – what does a Facebook like actually mean to your organization?

When organizations use this as a measurement tool, things such as – “The Forced Like” begin to happen.  What is the forced like?  It’s when an organization creates a Facebook page, with something that seems alluring – usually a contest, or some kind of special content – but the only way that you can gain access to it, is by clicking their “like” button.  Or as we term it – “like” gated.  Again, I beg the question – what does a Facebook like actually mean to your organization?

Communications and marketing people do understand that a truly engaged audience is what really moves a brand.  An engaged audience means that you are delivering something that they both need and want.  The entire premise and “cool factor” about social media… including Facebook… was that you could target your audience.  Even though you might not be reaching everyone, you could finally find the people who were really interested in what you had to offer.  It meant that you were truly delivering real ROI – spending dollars on an audience that could show real return, because they truly have a genuine interest in your brand.

The main opposition that  I have in using Facebook likes as a metric to success stem from 3 main points:

  1. Forcing a like, to gain entry into a contest or to gain access to a coupon or special redemption moves your brand further away from a genuine engaged audience.  Using tactics like this means you will attract an audience who’s main objective is couponing or contesting.  This also means that once the user has acquired what they need, “like” retention will become an issue, because the reality is – they are not that interested in your brand, they were interested in the possibility of winning/getting something for free.
  2. Without defining what a “like” means to your organization, also means that you have no real qualitative measurement.  While it is true, analytics and reporting area usually quantitative in nature – the problem is that when your reporting shows a significant increase in likes and then a decrease, it doesn’t really provide a great story.  However, once you define what it actually means to your organization you can really determine what your Facebook strategy should be in both gaining and retaining likes.
  3. What are you planning on doing with all of the people you’ve acquired?  This is the biggest pitfall with most Facebook like acquisitions.  As with all media – print, broadcast, digital  (blogs, facebook, twitter) – content is king!  This means that having likes as an organizational objective requires a two step process.  What are you going to do to get them, and what are you going to talk about/give them/ engage them once you have them?

5 steps to Social Media Readiness

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Photo credit: www.socialable.co.uk
Photo credit: http://www.socialable.co.uk

Ready… set… go…..

Buzz words are great – and in all aspects of business we hear them.  However, when working in the digital and communications space what does the term: “social media readiness” actually mean?  While it can vary by organization to organization, in a nutshell it means: how ready are you or your organization for engagement into the social media space.

In one of my former roles as a Marketing and Communications Manager,  I would hear almost every day directly from the CEO how we needed to use social media to promote their product.  Due to the company culture it was very much,  a “do it first and ask questions later” atmosphere.  The idea of marketing and the focus on being executional/tactical in nature first,  superseded the notion of ensuring that the company was ready to do it or that they actually understood what they were doing while doing it.  The largest mistake that any company can make in marketing and communications is to put the cart before the horse.  Once you put something out there, especially online – it is there.  Reflecting your company, your brand and your products.

This organization was not ready for social media.  They understood it in theory, and they definitely understood the execution – “Put a video on Youtube”, “Start a Facebook page”…. but had no long term strategy, or any idea what they should be doing with their social assets past that. So, how can you do a temperature check?  Here are 5 steps to take in finding out how ready your organization is for social media:

      1. Executive level buy in:  You definitely need to ensure that your leadership is in support of the idea.  Some might be, and some might not be – some may not understand it at all.  To erase some uneasiness it might require some education around social media products.  These can include business case studies with organizations that are similar in nature to yours – or if you are willing – using your own personal accounts to demonstrate how things can work positively.
      2. Educational tools:  Even if an organization understands the practice of using certain social media networks, you can create or provide tools that make things easy for them to digest and stay current. Hubspot provides a lot of great white papers and e-books that can be easily disseminated or referenced.  In my former roll as a Communications Coordinator for the Government, I actually created a social media dictionary to assist our senior management team in learning the lingo.
      3. Social Media Policies: OK – so naturally your leadership is going to have concerns around all the possible things that could go sideways if they enter into this space, from employees exposing secret info publicly to the public bashing them.  Work with them to create social media policies that they feel comfortable with; if possible check with your legal and HR teams to make sure everything is covered.  If all else fails – there are a ton of templates online.  Hey, we are in the age of sharing!
      4. Don’t scare your staff: Your biggest fans are right under your nose.  The people who live and breath your organization everyday.  Once you have buy in – don’t leave them out of the education process!  They can be your organizations biggest advocates and evangelists online.  Keep them in the loop and ensure that they understand your social media policies and procedures.  Give them some ownership and a voice and you will see how quickly things can become viral!
      5. Put pen to paper:  Plan!  Like any other communications or marketing initiative you must have a plan in place.  If you work for an organization that doesn’t see the importance of this run!  As the saying goes – fail to plan, plan to fail.  Except that you would be letting the organization fail publicly in a space that spreads information at rapid fire speed.  A social media plan should outline the networks most relevant to your organizations needs, how you intend on using them, content plans and schedules and how that integrates with your overall marketing plan.

The Pinterest…..

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Image

I would love to be able to tell you that Pinterest is the hot “new” thing.  But in the world of digital things move so rapidly that it I can’t say that this is the case.

As with all other social media platforms, this is just another medium that can be used to an organizations or an individuals advantage.  The interesting thing with Pinterest is of course that there tends to be a lot more repinning than the addition of new content, but I think what it best does is really institute the shift of perception in sharing things.

That beings said, as with all hyped social media platforms business are wondering how they can use Pinterest to their advantage.  Here are some things to consider before embarking into a new social medium:

  1. What is the core function of your organization?  Does it require a visual component?
  2. What is the mandate or objective of your communications and marketing departments?  Just because a new social media platform arises, it doesn’t mean that you have to use it or that it can serve your organization and communication objectives.
  3. Determine if you have sub-brands or products that could works for this particular medium.
  4. Go ahead and register the company and/or product name with Pinterest.  Even if you decide not to use it, you’ve at least acquired ownership of your name.

My two cents?  I think Pinterest should partner with Instagram.  Who knows, by the time this post hits that may have already happened 😉

Digital Media Summit 2012

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I had the pleasure of recently attending the Social Media Summit, and the celebrity guest speaker was out of this world! Arianna Huffington was charming, hilariously funny and made it easy to feel like you had known her all your life. I think the most important piece of information that I garnered from (other than what it takes to be totally fabulous), is that getting into the digital space has nothing to do with age or even understanding the full capacity of it. Arianna noted that people told her that she was not young enough to be getting into a space that was for young people – and well – I guess the proof is the pudding, no? An AOL deal of $315 million USD I think is a very large and loud statement of whether or not she made the right decision.