Real People Doing Real Work in Social Media

Interview with Jason Baer of Convince and Convert I was asked to do a podcast interview at 2012 South by Southwest by the uber-talented and witty Jason Baer (@JayBaer). He needs no introduction – he’s the co-author of Revolution Now with Amber Naslund (@AmberNaslund), a book about the impact social media and the real-time Web has on every company, and a recipe for changing business from the inside out in response. I’d highly recommend you pick up a copy you haven’t done so already.

During my sit down interview with Jason, I also got a chance to meet another really cool guy – Eric Boggs (@EricBoggs), CEO of Argyle Social. The banter between the two before and during the podcast made it even that much more fun. Aside from spending time with these gentlemen, I got the chance to share my social media journey at JDA Software (@JDASoftware) in the Social Pros Podcast: Real People Doing Real Work in Social Media. As a digital strategist and practitioner, I know the pains that come with launching, and employing a social media program but more importantly getting executive buy-in.

The journey at JDA has been long…but the return on investment has been significant. In less than two years, we were able to develop a company-wide social media policy, education program, JDA Social Media Ambassador Program, Social Media Buddy Program, launch a corporate blog called Supply Chain Nation, establish JDA Blog Buddy Program, and integrate social media into the overall marketing mix on an ongoing basis.

The success story behind JDA is a case example of what a company can achieve with the right focus and approach, strategy and vision – and it all starts with changing the business from the inside out through executive sponsorship and ongoing education.  To gain a deeper insight into how we did it, take a listen to Social Pros Podcast: Series 7 where I share real world examples of how we do social media marketing well at JDA Software. Special thanks to Jason and Eric for the opportunity to share our story. Also, a special shout out to my team Stephen Phillips (@StevePhillipsPR), Ted Weismann (@TedWeismann), Linsey McNew (@LinseyMcNew) and Andi Narvaez (@AndiNarvaez).

I’d love to hear from you. What are some of the game-changing things you are doing with social media to move the needle within your company?

About Jason Baer

Jason heads up Convince & Convert and provides social media strategic planning and counsel to some of America’s largest companies. For more about the social media and content strategy services provided by Convince & Convert, see visit social media consulting.

Social Media: People vs. Technology

Social Media: It's The People Not The Technology

 

 In a recent blog post by Bloggertone, Frank Bradley brings up an interesting but often missed point – social media is not about the technology but the people. It’s about creating meaningful dialogue with your target audience. To be successful in your social media strategy and planning, you have to employ the right people leading the effort and dictating which social networking channels are appropriate for your business and its target audience. We often mistake social media as a “must” for any business to succeed in today’s fast-changing Web 2.0, when we first need to understand what the company wants to achieve before jumping in.    

The year 2010 is being dubbed the “The Year of the Social Media Crisis,” according to Breakthrough Communications. This means companies cannot take a blind approach to social media by implementing any and all technologies that are deemed hot without first understanding the fundamental rules, which I’ll go into later. This type of ad-hoc approach can backfire, placing your company on the leader board for social media crisis help. Take, for example, Nestle. In mid-March Greenpeace launched a campaign against Nestle, one of the largest nutrition, health and wellness companies, criticizing Nestle for using palm oil companies that allegedly destroy Indonesian rainforest and threat Orangutan habitat. Nestle responded that they stopped using palm oil in their products. However, when the Greenpeace folks launched negative comments on Nestle’s Facebook wall, the moderator of the company’s page responded:    

“To repeat: we welcome your comments but please don’t post using an altered version of any of our logos as your profile pic — they will be deleted.”    

This is the kind of fire your company can face if you don’t have the right people managing social media. The people who are managing social media – the conversations – should be passionate and aware, but more importantly understand how these platforms work.    

They should understand how to create and build dialogue outside of their standard company policy mumbo jumbo. In today’s world where information can be disseminated within seconds across Internet chat rooms, blogs and social channels, companies no longer have the luxury of communicating the way they used to – going through legal channels and putting out a statement. This is the type of mistake you can run into without the right people behind it. It’s about conversation, and this takes the right people using the right tools. It’s a balancing act. With that said, I want to take you through a series of very high-level steps which are also referenced in Altimeter’s recent webinar slides:    

    

Research is pivotal. According to Altimeter, researching your customer profiles will provide some good visibility into where your target audience is online, their social behaviors, what social information or people do your customers rely on, how they’re using various channels, and how they’re being influenced in their buying decisions. More importantly, you should understand how they are using social technologies in the context of your products. You can do this by launching a social computing survey – no more than 15 questions. For more information and guidance, take a look at Groundswell by Charlene Li, founder of the Altimeter Group. This book provides a specific list of questions you should be asking. For instance, which social technologies do they currently use, for what, how long, how often, etc.    

Why?    

With strong research as the foundation, companies should do their own social audit. This is essentially an internal social computing survey to gauge what social networking sites your employees are accessing, how long, for what, how often, etc.  Further, invite key leaders from marketing, product management, the executive team and solution marketing for a meeting (Altimeter suggests a brown-bag meeting, which is not a bad idea) to discuss their experiences with social media and begin to identify key internal experts, which leads me to my next point: Who?    

Who?    

Social media typically resides in corporate communications or marketing. But, forget where it should belong because every organization is unique. Large organizations will typically allow everyone to socially engage, but my belief is that social media engagement, management and monitoring should be owned by a central point of contact where all information is filtered. You’ve identified the key internal experts, but you have to allocate management of your social media efforts – strategy and planning. People who understand the essence of social media, not because they use it for personal use, but because they understand the business objectives and goals as well as how these social media channels will be utilized to fundamentally help achieve the end goal.    

I’d recommend a communications expert who understands not only the corporate side of business such as processes, crisis planning, etc., but how online community members behave, connect, engage, etc. Remember, you have different target audiences, and they all do things differently – media, analysts, bloggers, users, etc. The social media expert must understand the different personas your company is targeting and how to engage on all different levels. He or she should be passionate about your brand, products and services, but also the relationship management process.    

Where?    

Now that you have your external and internal research finalized and the right people behind this process, it’s time to define your strategy and determine where you’re going to invest your time and resources. By identifying your key objectives you can align those goals with the right social networking tools. The research allows you to gain strong visibility of your brand discussions online and should give you good guidance on where and why you should partake in social media. For instance, if a majority of your target audience is using communities and blogs to engage and make buying decisions, you would want to build a community to engage with your customers and foster an environment of co-innovation and deeper engagement.      

Whatever your strategy is – the first and foremost priority is the people. And if you have the right people dedicated to cultivating this environment and fostering engagement on a consistent basis, you’ll be on the road to success.    

Road to success starts and ends with a coordinated, integrated approach to social media strategy and execution to stay organized and metrics driven.

Social Media: Balancing Security & Authenticity w/o Controlling the Message

Social media is all the rage. According to a recent report, 94 percent of Generation Y has joined a social networking site. Social media is believed to be leading the next social revolution. In fact, social networking has grown so dramatically that it is now the number one activity on the Web. In response to this social media phenomenon, businesses are moving at a rapid pace to take advantage of the untapped opportunity by making social media an integral part of their business strategy. 

On the flip side, the rise in this trend is giving hackers more motivation and greater opportunities to use the Web as the new threat vector.

Recently, I spoke in front of Women in Technology International group with my colleague, Chris Hewitt. I wanted to focus on three key areas:

  • How social media is forcing business strategy shift?
  • Why social media poses huge opportunity and RISK for the corporate world?
  • Why businesses should adopt processes and policies to maintain and educate on security best practices without controlling the authenticity of the message and voice?

This presentation will highlight how businesses can put security front and center to protect brand and customer confidence while learning to let go of control and reach their audiences through the open dialog of social media.

Social Media Reshaping Journalism… How Will You Cope?

social-media-evolutionAccording to a blog called Simple Zesty, there are 10 industries that will be revolutionized by social media – print media, politics, television, hospitality, sports, music, recruitment, advertising, PR, and shopping. With the availability of Web 2.0 tools such as YouTube, Twitter, etc. the power to create, publish and syndicate content no longer resides to only the news publication and journalists.  Today, we have the capability to custom create and communicate our own editorial content to influence the way the online community digests and disseminates information in real time. Prior to Web 2.0 adoption, consumers had to wait to get information on the latest news and information from your print and broadcast news. Now, we, the masses, have become writers and content creators from all walks of life, spreading information in real time. People are becoming social journalists in their own right to publish photos and stories from their points of view. For instance, real time terrorism was captured on Twitter by the actual users trapped inside the hotel that was bombed by terrorists in 2008, which catapulted Twitter to new heights.

 

The revolution in Iran – some of the most riveting and thrilling reporting was done via Twitter by a university student in Tehran who goes by the moniker Tehran Bureau. So what does this say about the changing landscape of the news media? Will social media change the way journalists adopt, connect, engage, and disseminate information to the rest of the world? Will this change affect the way PR/Communications and marketing pros connect and communicate with the media? One reporter, Del Jones (http://twitter.com/jonesdel) of USA TODAYwhom I’ve been following closely on Twitter, is one clear example of someone who gets it and understands how to harness the power of social media to look at the emerging trends and ride the way with the rest of us. Through social media, he engages, connects and collaborates with his online community.  He is someone who is authentic and transparent in his approach to social media (two key traits I admire most). In this blog Q&A, I ask Del about how he came to embrace social media and some key tips on ways for us PR professionals to approach reporters via social media platforms.

What prompted you to join the social media craze?  

I’m sure my high school class would have voted me the least likely to succeed in social media (had they had any clue).  I still don’t use Facebook or LinkedIn, although I’m registered on both. I was a complete Twitter skeptic, but I have a counter-intuitive streak in me. Twitter was growing and I needed to know why. So, when I had some time on my furlough (yes, three weeks of unpaid leave), I decided to devote 1-2 hours to figure it all out (ha ha). Months later, I’m still trying to figure the thing out, but I’m hooked to the point that my editor would probably fire me if I didn’t have so many followers (so please don’t unfollow me). I’ve also threatened to reveal personal information about him on Twitter if he fires me, so the social media craze is really all about having your own printing press should revenge become absolutely necessary. 

How is Web 2.0 changing the media landscape? Is that a good thing or bad thing?

I’m a free market person, so if people find value in reading anything, then it’s good. The only thing I object to is the wholesale plagiarism that goes on. Blogs will cut and paste entire stories I’ve written, never bothering to link back to USA TODAY. If they want to help USA TODAY pay my salary, then maybe they can steal my intellectual property (yeah, I know intellectual in my is a stretch, but you know what I mean).

How should journalists approach Web 2.0 and how transparent can they be?

This is a touchy point. I push it far more than most journalists, most who will still seem to think they are above it all and won’t post anything that isn’t a link or some boring factoid. I’ve been called into the boss’ office for going too far. They didn’t like it when I started giving out free online subscriptions to USA TODAY to my special followers (the joke being that the dot-com site is free to all). I’ve always been a believer in the “it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission” model. When it comes to Twitter, it’s always easy to dial it back but I’ll continue to push the envelope. If I don’t tweet for a month, it will be because my 401K went down even more and I really need my job.

Many USA TODAY reporters are afraid of getting on Twitter. They have been made gun shy by the reader comments below our stories on the Web page, which are full of venom. I find the culture on Twitter to be the opposite of people who bend over backwards to be nice.

Are policies different for journalists than corporations?

From what I’ve read, USA TODAY is actually very liberal in its policies compared to most. It amazes me that media outlets that are built on the first amendment are the first to take it away from their reporters. Shame.

How does this change in terms of engagement for PR and marketing professionals when it comes to connecting and building relationships with the media?

It’s been very good for me. I get a few pitches on Twitter, which I ignore as I do pitches on email (unless, of course, I’m interested). However, it has allowed me to put forward a human face to PR people, who before Twitter, thought I lived in a dungeon. It’s nice not to always feel mean. I like to compare Twitter to the Lion’s Club Luncheon of old. Business types would show up. They all wanted to sell something to everyone, but nobody did any selling at the luncheon. Rather, they just got to know each other so that selling could be accomplished sometime down the road. Twitter greases the wheels.

Is social media/networking hindering or helping the media community?

Helping those who are good at employing it. 

When it comes to pitching, what are your key recommendations for PR/marketing professionals?

Pitch away. There is no formula. Most pitches I don’t like and there are a few I like a lot. Then, there is a huge amount that I don’t like much but have something to it. I hang on to a lot of emails until I figure out an angle that I’m interested in pursuing. PR people sometimes get an email from me a year later after they send a pitch. I prefer email pitches because I have developed a system for saving the emails I want so that I can find them down the road. I rarely respond to them, however, because I don’t like to get into a long discussion about why I don’t like their story pitch. It’s a question I really can’t answer. It’s my gut instinct.

social-media-dialog-participationJones makes a great point that social media is changing the way even journalists communicate and connect with people. From my point of view, I can’t say whether all journalists should adopt the social media tools to connect with people, but I do believe that just like with anything, only by listening to what people are saying can journalists really understand what we’re looking to hear and learn from them. Just like the “push” tactic of marketing and PR has changed the way we communicate with our audience, it too has changed the way journalists disseminate news to their audience.  Vice versa…PR and marketing pros need to understand how social media is changing the news media landscape. We must embrace this shift and learn how to connect with them in new ways in order to reach and connect with them.  

A few tips on how to connect and approach reporters and analysts on Twitter:

  • Research your target audience – trade and business reporters as well as analysts
  • Follow them on Twitter and their blogs consistently
  • Engage – follow their content on Twitter and their blogs and comment if relevant
  • Participate – keep an ongoing dialogue with them even if they don’t follow you.
  • Provide feedback and input using traditional tactics - provide news that would be relevant to them and the stories they cover.  Write compelling news pitches that could add value to their current or future stories and learn what they are working on so you can contribute.
  • Link it – as Del mentioned, if you have a blog, look at their stories and write a post that references or links back to their blog or story and post it on Twitter
  • NEVER blindly pitch a reporter on Twitter (unless you have a good relationship with them)

Another good read by Mashable: Social Journalism: Past, Present and the Future.

Do you agree? Let me know what you think.

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