October 26, 2009

What’s Your Policy?

Posted in Social Media at 8:32 pm by R

Whether you’re a large corporation or a mom and pop shop, any business venturing into social media needs to have a policy.

  • Who is your spokesperson in social media?
  • What brands will you align yourself with (don’t kid yourself, people are interested in who you’re following if they’re following you)?
  • How will you respond to inaccurate commentary?
  • Negative commentary?
  • Will you friend/follow everyone who’s following you?

Yep. It’s a lot to think about. There’s a lot more strategy for entering into the social media playing field than coming up with a secure password!

So where do you even start? By stating your purpose.

Are you here to:

  • make friends
  • promote products or events
  • listen to conversation about your product/service
  • use social media as a customer service tool

Your purpose will drive your strategy.

For example, if you want to create a large following, your policy should probably be to accept as many followers as are interested in you and make it a habit to follow them back.

As another example, if you’re promoting products or events, make good use of your status updates/tweets and establish a minimum of posts for the day to stay at the top of a news feed.

Social media policies, like businesses, are all a little different. So simply borrowing ALL the ideas from someone whose done it before you might not be the best way to build your policy. What work well for one may be a total flop for another.

One thing that remains true as you create your own personal policy, remember that credibility, humility and authenticity (CHA) are paramount in your social media communication no matter what your policy dictates.

Cha-cha!

That’s right. If nothing else, do the Cha-CHA and you’ll be fine 🙂

~R

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October 25, 2009

The value of status updates

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:11 pm by SD

Everyone, including me, loves the status update. In fact, a new Pew Internet & American Life Project study found that one in five Internet users use Twitter or some other service to share status updates about themselves. Unfortunately, status updates have turned into the ultimate tool to share mundane details about your life from what you are eating for breakfast to what you just watched on TV. This is a perfectly acceptable use of a status update if you are a college student. However, if you are a professional doing this, you are throwing away a valuable opportunity. For you, the status update is the ultimate expert positioning tool.

How do you use the status update as an expert positioning tool? First, you must change the way you think of it. Status updates should answer the question “what has your attention?” rather than “what are you doing?” This opens up the door for you to:

  • Comment and link to a recent news article
  • Comment on a recent trend
  • Link to an article or blog post you just wrote
  • Mention an event you are speaking at or attending

The key to successful status updates is balancing self-promotion (e.g. links to articles you have written) with sharing relevant and valuable information (e.g. commentary on a recent news trend). It’s a tough balance to find but your network will tune you out if you only use status updates to promote yourself. However, if you continually provide them valuable information, they will view you as a thought leader and be more inclined to read your articles/blog posts and attend your events. So, next time you are thinking of Tweeting about the hot dog you ate for lunch, resist the urge and use the opportunity to comment on the recent hot dog trend.

~S

October 15, 2009

The Big Change

Posted in Our News at 9:30 pm by R

You may have noted over the past months that my posts have become increasingly focused on social media and its impact on communications. It’s true that I’m utterly fascinated with these new practices, their nuances, facets and ever-expanding capabilities. For this reason I’m taking my career in the direction of social media.

That’s right, I’m going to become a social media strategist! I’m very excited about the new position I’ve accepted and can’t wait to get my hands really dirty in all of this social media stuff.

Point being, expect that my posts will become even more focused on social media.

What I realize as I mentally prepare for my new job is that at the very heart of social media still lies the simple principles of communication. The pipelines are more sophisticated and the pace is faster, but it all comes back to humans relating to humans. I think that if you are in public relations, that is probably why you got into the field — to help humans relate to one another.

So stay tuned, because Cut Me Some Flack’s scope just got broader … officially anyway. Denver PR Gal will hold down the agency fort with her breadth of experience and professional perspective and singular insight.  I’ll bring my new perspective working in social media to the table too. And A, well, she’s expecting a little bundle of joy in the form of a baby boy any day now (actually any minute since she was due today), so she’ll bring the new mom perspective — with her classic wit of course.

Perfect combo.

~R

October 10, 2009

The “I Need a Facebook Page” problem

Posted in Facebook, Social Media at 12:15 pm by SD

According to a recent research study by Citibank Small Business by GFK Roper, three-quarters of small business say they have not found sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn helpful for generating business leads or expanding business in the past year. While I don’t know the exact reason for why small businesses aren’t finding their forays into social media successful, I have a hunch that they may be approaching it the wrong way. I like to refer to this as the “I need a Facebook page” problem that is plaguing small businesses across the world.

If I had a dollar for every time, I heard someone say “Our business wants to use social media so we set up a Facebook page,” I would be able to do a lot of shopping. Hearing this statement makes me visibly cringe especially when I ask them if any research has been conducted to see if their customers are using Facebook.

You can have the best Facebook page in the world but if you’re customers aren’t on Facebook, then it is a waste of valuable time and resources.

To all the small businesses out there, before you jump on the Facebook bandwagon, take some time to conduct a little research. And, I don’t mean spending a ton of money on a research study. Simply, ask yourself these critical questions:

1. What audience do I want to engage with online? Is it current customers? What is the demographic profile of this customer?

2. Where does this audience spend time online? Are they frequently using Facebook or Twitter? Are they reading blogs or visiting local social networks such as Yelp?

3. What message do I want to share with this audience?

4. What do I want this audience to do as a result of my business’ presence online?

Only after you have answered these questions, can you begin determining your strategy to engage in the online conversation. By not answering these questions, you are setting your social media campaign up to fail. Avoid the “I need a Facebook page right now” mentality and take the time to do your due diligence to find out where your customers are really spending time online. This approach will allow you to actually engage in the online conversation and be among the 25 percent of small businesses that are finding value from social media.

For some helpful tips on social media for small businesses, check out this Mashable article.

– Shannon

October 7, 2009

RIP: Saturn

Posted in Branding at 8:47 pm by R

Back in May, I discussed the serious brand issues General Motors was dealing with as it teetered on the brink of bankruptcy and considered potentially selling off GM brands Hummer and Saturn. Well, it has come to pass that Saturn is having a stake put through its proverbial heart after a sale to Penske Automotive Group fell through.

Saturn had a lot of potential when it emerged as a subsidiary brand for GM. They wanted something fresh and totally different. And for a few seasons of cars, they delivered on that promise. But eventually, Saturn’s vehicles looked like any other GM model with a Saturn logo slapped on the grill.

Ultimately, Saturn (and GM) failed to deliver on the brand promise for Saturn. This I believe was the opportunity and the pitfall for the Saturn sale.

At the heart of Saturn were some really great characteristics: Innovation, personality, responsibility, fresh appeal and an air of “elevated every-man” if you will. These things were all assets to the potential buyer (Penske) in the possible sale of Saturn. But the outright betrayal on those brand promises would have required a serious investment to resuscitate the brand.

By no means am I saying this sale fell through because the brand was too damaged. Goodness no! Companies and their brands have recovered from much worse (a la Audi in the mid ’90s — That being said I’d totally rock a Q5 now, clean diesel of course). But if you have to look at all the aspects of a business as part of a significant purchase, a damaged brand has to go in the con list.

So the Saturn saga ends and an automotive brand is laid to rest.

If there’s any lesson to be learned from Saturn it’s the critical importance of remaining true to your brand characteristics in EVERYTHING you do.

Even as a subsidiary brand, it might have been a much different story if Saturn had insisted on honoring its own brand promises. The cars would have been different, the customer experience would have been different and, if Saturn found itself in the same situation it faced in March, the end could very well have been different.

So take a moment of silence in memory of Saturn, and go be true to your brand as a way of honoring the ringed planet’s automotive name sake.

~R