Social Media

Social Media Look Ahead for 2014

What are the social media trends we should be keeping an eye on during 2014? Our VP of Social Media, Chris Reimer, appeared on Fox 2 TV to discuss Google Plus, Snapchat and Twitter. The discussion on Twitter at the end had to be cut short due to the station’s extensive storm coverage (#snOMG2014).

What do you think? Will Google Plus make strides this year? Can B2B brands find a use for Snapchat? Will Twitter find its way into more aspects of our daily lives?


p.s. Here’s some more reading on Snapchat, courtesy of the 1/20/14 issue of Forbes.

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Recommended Reading for October 2013

Below are a few articles we found interesting enough to pass along:

1. When I first saw the title of this article, “Why Social Media is Not a Distraction for Entrepreneurs,” I kneejerk disagreed. I hadn’t even read the article, but was skeptical. Just being honest, social media is a wonderful communication and marketing tool – it is in fact changing the world. But in the wrong hands, it can be a huge distraction. However, the piece by Michael Simmons provided me a huge reminder – find the important people in your network, and keep up with them. People often ask how I can keep up with 17,000 people I’m following on Twitter, and the answer is that it is impossible. So I don’t even try. Instead, I curate lists of the people I learn from, the people that inspire me, and the people that might want to hire me. There’s a lesson here for companies worried about keeping up with their duties on social media – you’re not talking to everyone, just your customers and prospects. So I supposed the title of the article was a bit misleading.

2. A common misconception is that one tweet from an influencer, or someone with many followers, will cause the floodgates to open. It just doesn’t work that way. This article dispels the notion that targeting influencers will be the key to your success. Sneak preview: influencers sometimes purchase their followers, and robots don’t listen.

3. On the other hand, Mark Ecko is truly an influencer, and he offers an incredible list of “10 Rules for Getting Influencer Attention.” If you’re going to try to catch a lucky break via an influencer, these are some very helpful guidelines.

4. Email marketing is not dead. Here’s ten great reasons why email should be one of your marketing priorities. I especially liked #3 – the lifespan of an email. I had never considered this angle.

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Social Media Can Hurt Your Employment Prospects. Or Help!

Here’s what social media has wrought: I arrive at work on a Monday, and I have no idea that, by the end of the day, some unemployed dancing girl will have a multi-million-view YouTube video on her hands.

Marina Shifrin worked as a comedy writer and video producer for Next Media Animation in Taiwan, and was disillusioned with her job. She was apparently tasked with making “viral videos,” which we all know are difficult to make. Great videos aren’t tough to pull off, but it takes a very special, almost secret formula to get something to go viral. We advise our clients to not worry about virality as much as quality.

Marina decided to quit, and to make a point, she took at swing at making her own viral video. She arrived at work during the 4am hour and made this:

A well-made video, excellent dancing (seriously, she has moves), and not too terribly mean to her former employer. As of this writing, it has nearly six million views. Mission very much accomplished.

Here’s what the video’s YouTube description said:

“I work for an awesome company that makes news videos. I have put my entire life into this job, but my boss only cares about quantity, how fast we write and how many views each video gets. I believe it’s more important to focus on the quality of the content. When you learn to improve this, the views will come. Here is a little video I made explaining my feelings.”

I walked over to Jon Falk‘s office and asked him what he thought. Jon is an employer – I wanted his opinion not only on the video, but on whether she was hirable in his eyes. Jon’s always pretty pragmatic – very fair, very results-based. He asked me, “What does this video say to you? Does it say ‘I’m a crazy person and I absolutely hate this awful employer?’ No, it says, ‘I care about quality.’ That’s what I got out of it.”

Bingo. Granted, neither he nor I have ever met this person, so it’s very difficult to definitively say that she’d be a personality fit for Falk Harrison. However, many of these “I quit” videos at first glance seem to be made by petulant, angry ex-employees. It can therefore be difficult to take them seriously. I am taking Marina seriously.

Thank you Rebecca Roberts for inviting me to Fox 2 to discuss the social media implications of Marina’s video. Watch below:

Read more about Marina and her viral video on Fox2Now

What do you think? Was this unprofessional of her? Will this hurt her chances to retain future employment? Or could this video make her job search easier?

UPDATE: Next Media Animation responds with their own video! Watch below:

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Social Media Presentation at the United Way

Chris Reimer Falk Harrison United Way

Over the past four years, across the St. Louis area, I’ve been giving presentations on social media. The topics have ranged from Twitter to personal branding to creating the right attitude and mindset for success to social media case studies. Often, once I step off stage, attendees will approach and say thanks, make a comment, or ask a question. I always enjoy chatting with people afterwards; it’s nice when they pay me a compliment, and I also like the constructive criticism I sometimes receive. I don’t even mind the “unconstructive” criticism.

I have taken note of one peculiarity. More often than not, attendees ask me a question completely unrelated to my presentation topic. If I spoke about online etiquette, the question would be “Do you recommend Hootsuite or Tweetdeck?” If I presented on the use of video to enhance company storytelling, the question would be “Does Pinterest need to be a part of my company’s marketing plan?”

Even if I had been trying to prepare and deliver presentations that I thought people needed to hear, these questions made me realize one thing: quite often, no one cared what I had to say; they had their own conundrum they were trying to solve, their own question to which they were seeking answers, and they didn’t want to bother the whole crowd with it by asking it during Q&A. So they approached me afterwards and got with me one-on-one.

This gave me an idea. I needed to do a Seinfeld-esque presentation. I emailed Carrie Zukowski at the United Way of Greater St. Louis and said, “I’d like to come in and present about nothing.” Actually, I stated it more appropriately as, “Let’s have a big two-hour Q&A session. Invite all member agencies, and tell them to bring their questions. I will answer every question they have.”

I did end up making a short presentation at the beginning before taking about an hour and 45 minutes of questions. I was so pleased to see a crowd of about 60 nonprofit marketers and Executive Directors. And they asked some excellent questions. Two of the most difficult were:

1. “How does one make the time to do this?” I encouraged each of them to audit their organizations. I explained that this form of communication, creating deeper relationships with people, was too important to ignore. So they had to find a way to find the time. I actually got a little serious for a minute (and this advice is based on personal experience). Companies, both for profit and nonprofit, often become like families. Eventually, as Jim Collins put it, people are sitting in the wrong seats on the bus. It becomes harder to make tough decisions about moving people around, restaffing and what not. I learned this from Gary Vaynerchuk – look closely at how you and your people spend your days, and find the weaknesses and holes. I do respond to tweets at stoplights, and in the evenings, and on Sundays. I choose to keep up; it actually takes very little time. I encouraged them to try.

2. “How do you not let this become a complete distraction?” I did not have a good answer for this one because, frankly, social media is often a huge distraction in my daily life. While it’s hard for these guys to pick it up and start using it, I find it very difficult to put down. I admitted to them that this could prove to be a big challenge to them, but if they kept “results” in mind, I had confidence they would not waver from their mission (whatever that NFP’s mission happened to be).

I want to thank Carrie and everyone at the United Way of Greater St. Louis for helping me pull this off. It was an honor to speak to your member agencies, and I just hope they got something out of the time spent. Let’s do it again next year.

Follow them on Twitter:

Some tweets from the day:

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Does Your Company Have a Social Media Problem?

On June 17, 1972, burglars broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington D.C. with the intent of installing listening devices and photographing documents. Five men were arrested that night, and during the ensuing two-year investigation, it was discovered that that President Nixon had a penchant for making White House audio recordings. Apparently, he was a real devotee of the evidence-creation arts. The scandal took down his presidency.

In the aftermath, one conclusion not drawn was, “President Nixon has a tape recorder problem mixed with a poorly executed break-in problem.”

In early 2012, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney gathered with a sympathetic crowd of donors in San Francisco. Feeling comfortable in his surroundings, among a base of voters he needed to rally and solidify, he proceeded to dismiss 47% of the electorate as government-dependent, saying, “My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” Via a strategically placed camera, his musings subsequently became public, and at a time when his campaign was struggling, this was trouble they did not need. His “not elegantly stated” comments made him a tough sell to independent voters.

In the aftermath, one conclusion not drawn was, “Governor Romney and his communications team have a surreptitiously placed camera problem.”

CIA Director David Petraeus and his mistress, Paula Broadwell, secretly communicated via Gmail by creating email drafts that they would never send. If one never hits send on that love note, then there is no love note. However, once Jill Kelley informed the FBI that she had received threatening emails allegedly sent by Broadwell, law enforcement determined that the threatening emails and the Gmail love account were originating from the same IP address. Busted.

In the aftermath, one conclusion not drawn was, “General Petraeus and his paramour have a sexy email and traceable IP address problem.”

Former U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner snapped some unfortunate photos of himself and tweeted them to a female Twitter follower. He then claimed he had been hacked. After some additional truthiness gymnastics, he finally admitted he tweeted the picture, and his congressional career was over.

In the aftermath, one conclusion not drawn was “Representative Weiner has a cell phone camera problem.” In fact, social media was blamed. Representative Weiner had a “social media problem.” We’ve subsequently seen companies like Taco Bell, Kitchenaid and Amy’s Baking Company make similar “social media mistakes.”

Four stories, the same lesson

Small tape recorders, camera phones, old-fashioned letters created with fountain pens, the mouths and typing fingers of human beings conveying thoughts from within, and social media – each is a documentation and communications device that can become the gateway to a public show of seriously poor judgment. And at last check, public displays of poor judgment predate social media’s emergence by perhaps thousands of years.

Employees make poor decisions and embarrassing blunders on social media while representing their employers, and, while they often get fired, their decision-making faculties do not exclusively get the blame. The medium takes a hit, too. To mitigate risk, company executives sometimes slow down or shut down social media output. Their conclusion? “We have a social media problem.”

No, we do not. Your blundering employee had a failure of judgment. They just did something stupid, and social media happened to be the method of conveyance at the time. High-profile social media embarrassments are proof of nothing except poor human judgment, a lack of training, and perhaps poor hiring. They are not proof that social media is dangerous. Organizations that misdiagnose such a problem sometimes decide that social media is too thorny, too risky, and they pull back the reins or quit entirely. As social media is not going away, such a decision, having been made on poor grounds, will ultimately prove hasty.

I hate to see this happen! The marketing or corporate communications department cannot afford to lose one of its most effective forms of engagement. If you choose to use social media as part of an integrated marketing effort, and want employees to participate in social on behalf of the company, the company needs to hire judicious people. Those employees then need training on exercising proper judgment across all of their communication touchpoints (something your friends at Falk Harrison can provide). This includes in-person sales pitches, internal meetings, cocktail parties, the phone, emails and, of course, social media.

Companies should understand where the real risks lie and take measured steps to ensure that their team uses good judgment in all interactions with its audiences. If you decide to kick Facebook and Twitter in the rear for all of the trouble they caused, you might as well be kicking yourself.

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