Posts Tagged ‘Social Media Today’

Social media lifted from the sandbox

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012 by Jon Clements

The days of social media activity residing alone in an organisation – enshrined in mystery like some sort of digital Pandora’s Box – should be numbered if not over altogether.

As John Gordon of New York’s Fenton Communications put it memorably in yesterday’s Social Media Today webinar: What are the metrics that matter in social media, “Social media should not be playing in its own sandbox”.

Gordon emphasised that any social media activity should fall in line with overall organisational goals. In other words, mixing the “yellow” of social media goals and blue of organisational goals should make the “green” of integrated goals; any other colour signifies potential chaos.

This is helpful especially when an unexpected event arises and an organisation’s response needs to be centred, consistent, coherent and in keeping with its corporate purpose. Such an event put the US organisation, Planned Parenthood’s social media approach to the test.

The provider of reproductive healthcare was faced with the withdrawal of breast screening funds from the Susan G.Koman for the Cure cancer foundation, following pressure from anti-abortion groups.

Heather Holdridge , director of digital strategy at Planned Parenthood, described the ensuing campaign, using Twitter and Facebook to inform its audiences of the cancer charity’s decision. The story went, literally, viral through social media channels, resulting in a user-generated Tumblr blog featuring women’s stories of how Planned Parenthood had helped them. Social media drove the debate for two days – during which time Planned Parenthood’s messages were consistent – and ended with Komen reversing its decision to cut funding.

John Gordon added: “Komen thought it could direct messages downwards but didn’t recognise people were going to respond in the way they did and didn’t have the channels or the relationships to respond.”

Fenton neatly sums up Planned Parenthood’s social media strategy as “See, Say, Feel, Do”:

See:

Who is your audience?

Where are they?

What do you want them to do?

What do they want from you?

SAY:

Messages, stories and insights that can be shared online quickly.

FEEL:

User comments, Twitter re-tweets personalised – described as the “gold dust  created when people have internalised and endorsed your message through their own voice. It needs the right content to elicit that effect, such as the Tumblr blog in the Planned Parenthood example.

DO:

The actions your users take as a result of the above.

Such a (deceptively) simple approach is worth adding to the overall debate around meaningful social media measurement, not least the work done recently by AMEC.

Ultimately, the artificial line that may have existed between digital communications activity and everything else in an organisation can’t be allowed to persist. Never mind playing in its own sandbox; digital needs lifting from the sandbox to play with everyone else.



About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

Fortune500’s blogging blues

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010 by Jon Clements
Update: friend of PR Media Blog, blogger at PR Communications Blog and head of digital marketing at Pace Communications, John Cass, has produced a useful table of F500 companies with blogs and where to find them
As UK social media practitioners muse about 2011 as the real golden dawn for social media uptake in business, the view from the United States is perplexing.

The latest study into social media activity among Fortune 500 companies, fresh from the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts, is remarkable mainly for revealing the unexpected.

While 23% of the F500 companies now have a public-facing corporate blog against 16% when the study first came out in 2008, it’s only a 1% increase on last year’s figure, suggesting a slowdown in the battle of the blogs.

And while a third of all blogs among the F500 fall within the top 100 companies, this group has also seen the biggest decline in blog usage, down from 39% to 32% year on year.

While the study hailed blog activity across the F500 as a truly interactive exercise, its companies lag behind the occupants of the Inc.500 list of the fastest growing US private companies, 45% of which have an active corporate blog.

However, blogs aside, corporate adoption of other social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook paints a very different picture: 60% of the F500 have an official Twitter account (up 35% on last year) with – according to the study – a high level of interaction with other users. Meanwhile, Facebook now features 56% of corporate America’s leading businesses.

So, what does it mean? This decline in blog activity could reflect the sometimes Herculean effort it takes to maintain a flow of compelling and hard-working (i.e., richly-linked and optimised) blog content. If blog content creation is not an effective mixture of planned posts plus material reacting to a breaking sector topic, it can quickly lose its way and its audience. And if internal ownership of the blog is vague, stasis tends to result.

But is this wrong?

Online marketing consultant, Chris Kieff, seems to think so: in his Social Media Today blog post he asserts that this is a “lack of commitment of these Fortune 500 companies to become engaged, transparent and authentic with their communities in social media” because “blogging also naturally promotes a deeper discourse with comments of substance that would have to be addressed. In simple terms it’s harder to hide when you blog, compared to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.”

While you would expect PR Media Blog to concur with the value of blogging, I think Chris Kieff is wrong to suggest that working in other social media platforms is less “engaged, transparent and authentic”. On the contrary, Twitter and Facebook have the potential to engender a dialogue that many blog comment sections would kill for. Equally, Twitter and Facebook don’t require the posting of new content by a brand for customers to kick off a conversation, whereas a blog needs that regularly refreshed content to inspire engagement. Without it, discussion dries up quickly.

And as far as transparency goes, a blog-based discussion will often remain within its digital walls, unless either owner or commenter has the desire to take it beyond. Meanwhile, the highly versatile sharing capabilities of both Twitter and Facebook mean a debate can literally go viral in seconds.

Clearly, there’s room for all methods of social media interaction. And if the F500 has decided to scale back its blogging, you’d hope it was done on the basis of analytical evidence that the return on effort wasn’t worth it. It might suggest that less is more in the depth of editorial content required by social media consumers.

Whatever the reasons, you can be sure any marketing method failing to provide a tangible return for business will not last long.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''