Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking Back on 2009

Like many I started 2009 worried that the difficulties of the previous year would be magnified and my situation would eventually become serious. In late 2008 my job had been eliminated (after 20+ years with the same company) and along with it the security of health insurance and a clear sense of who I was.

But early in 2009 I launched my own social media-strategy business,
Fixitology, began volunteering for the Ad Council of Rochester and began taking an online Master Certificate course in Internet Marketing through the University of San Francisco. Before the year was out I would have multiple businesses as clients of Fixitology, I’d be consulting for Brand Cool Marketing and I would take on a fulltime teaching position in the Communication Department at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

What a difference a year makes. I count myself extremely fortunate, but I also know that a transformative year like this will leave its mark on me forever. Here are the five things I will always remember about 2009:

Change The monumental change in the way people communicate and share called Social Media is so big that many have yet to grasp its significance. Like a tsunami, this wave of communication platforms is getting bigger and bigger. Many will not see this change for what it is until it is too late. I count myself fortunate to have begun engaging four years ago and really stepping up my involvement in 2009. And like a tsunami it’s never too late to try seek higher ground or a way to ride the wave. Here’s hoping most will “get it” in 2010.

Friendship – It used to fit a fairly narrow description in my life: the people I had known for a long time and wanted to spend time with. Through Social Media and groups such as the
Social Media Club of Rochester I have learned that a shared interest in any manner of things can lead to abiding friendships with people I once would not have had the opportunity to meet. I’ve also learned that by giving help where I can and whenever I can, I ultimately feel rewarded many times over.

Learning – This has been a continual process in my life, but it wasn’t until I took the visiting professor job at RIT that I realized how interwoven learning and teaching are. I went in thinking I would be teaching, but it turns out I’m doing as much learning – about life, about people and about the way people learn. For this I’m grateful to my students and my fellow faculty. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t get valuable insights.

Courage – This is not something I had ever consciously thought about, but it is something I’ve started to detect (either in its abundance or a lack thereof) in those faced by uncertainty or the unknown. While uncertainty faced many during the year some dealt with it by striking out in new directions; others by retrenching, waiting and hoping. When a client pointed out that they admired my courage for doing the former it was a great moment of self-realization. If that is courage (as opposed to, say, naive stupidity) then I’m glad I had it at this time in my life.

Optimism – I’ve always known that my positive take on most people and most situations was at odds with some of those around me. But this year when others started thanking me for seeing a difficult situation in a positive light - I realized that just being me was helping others to see things more positively. I thought about my maternal grandmother Hilmary Catton a lot this year … it was her attitude that came through in me during the year. My favorite saying of hers (and I am paraphrasing here): “Life – it sure beats the alternative!”

So, no matter what 2010 holds in store, for me 2009 will always the year of Social Media and self-realization.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Social Media as the new technology boogeyman

As Social Media becomes a scapegoat in workplaces because “employees are spending too much time on it” or “they’re not representing us well with it” I love to tell this story about a scary new technology in the workplace

The new-fangled technology was not to be trusted … so much so that the boss set it on a desk in the middle of the office where he could see it through the window in his door. Now he was sure he could keep an eye on it and monitor its use by employees.
You see he just knew employees would be tempted to spend too much time on that contraption, would not use it for work purposes and, worse, would use it to give away company secrets. What possible good purpose could this technology be put to?

Well that “technology” was the telephone and the timeframe? The start of the 20th Century.

You see humans have always mistrusted the new and suspected it would lead to “no good.”

So how should organizations regulate Social Media in the workplace? They shouldn’t … at least not in ways different from the way they regulate computer and telephone usage.

3 Ways Businesses Can Erase Social Media Fears:

1. Explain: Tell your employees all about Social Media (including some of its pitfalls such as “Your tweets will live on forever … be careful”) and then explain to them that their use of company property (computers etc) to engage on Social Media is stealing unless they are doing the company’s business.

2. Train: Are there things they could legitimately do to help your business on Social Media? Absolutely! So train them in the types of messages around your company, your products and services that you strongly suggest they use when the opportunity is right. Show them how to use Social Media to monitor for mentions of your brand and/or product and then train again on how to direct those messages or respond to them.

3. Ingrain: Make sure every fiber in their body understands that Social Media is a public space. They should not say anything they would not be willing to shout from your rooftop in front of you or their mother (whoever carries the bigger stick in their minds).

If you, like me, believe that businesses blocking access to Social Media and other websites is wrong please consider checking out
and supporting its work.

Remember, Social Media, like most things can not truly be suppressed or held back. Why not embrace the change and have smart employees acting as your eyes, ears and mouthpieces?

Related posts:
Questions Are a Recipe for Social Media Success
5 Social Media Mistakes

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Don’t Get Bogged Down in a Blog

Ideas for newbies about to jump off the lily pad and into the blogosphere

Blogging can be an excellent way to get started in Social Media (providing of course you allow comments and feedback).

It’s the way for a company, organization or individual can show off knowledge, build trust and gather a following.

Here are some blogging best practices to advance your standing in Social Media.

Your own blog:

Content: Pick a niche that you can “own” and always be helpful by offering analysis, tips and useful commentary

Length: Plan to always post between 250 and 750 words for the best Search Engine Optimization (SEO) results.

Headlines: The more intriguing, the better. Consider using numbers as part of your title and consider numbers that resonate with readers. (i.e. 3, 5, 7 and 10) So, for example: The 10 Signs Your Social Media Efforts Are Paying Off

Keywords: Using your top keywords is critical so that your blog post helps with your website’s overall Search Engine ranking. Therefore always try to include keywords in the headline, hyperlinked text and all the key tag fields.

Links: Always internally link (to your own Website content and to previous, related blog content. Also link to other blogs and news that is highly relevant. This cross-linking strategy helps your blog rise up in Search Engine results.

Schedule: Treat blog posting as a routine – no less than one post per week is good; two per week would be better. Create an editorial calendar built around topics that will be of high interest to readers, be timely and be able to carry your keywords.

Photos or Graphics: Including at least one with a post is recommended when possible. Use your keywords in the image "alt" attribute when possible

Review: Always have at least one set of extra eyes – a trusted colleague or friend – review the post before it goes live. It’s your reputation at stake here.

Sharing: Use Social Media platforms, email or other methods to let people know when a new post goes live. Allow visitors to click on an RSS feed so they automatically get notified of new posts.

Comments: Be sure to acknowledge comments left on your blog. Be positive – even when commenters aren’t.

Commenting on others’ blogs

Be thoughtful: Reference what helped you and try to add value to the original post.

Regularity: By commenting regularly on a few blogs you will establish a relationship with that blogger and their audience.

Linking: Add links in your commetns rarely and with great care so you don’t appear to be merely a self-promoter. If you are linking to content of your own, be sure it is very relevant to the topic at hand. Consider including linking to other blogs

Related posts:
5 Really Useful Sites for Social Media Newbies
Questions Are a Recipe for Social Media Success

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Social Media Feast for Thanksgiving

Today is a day to give thanks to all the people who every day make learning about and keeping up with Social Media informative and interesting.

Presenting a Thanksgiving Day feast made up of the dishes I enjoy on a regular basis:

Turkey (white meat): At the center of the meal is of course the protein and without a doubt
Mashable is the juicy white turkey. Every day the center of the plate has the meat to fill you up.

Turkey (dark meat): If you are a turkey connoisseur you know that white meat is great, but the dark meat can be a little more flavorful (let the debate begin). Social Media Today and its steady diet of thorough blogs on Social Media is sure to satisfy.

Mashed Potatoes The next most important part of the plate has to be the mashed potatoes and Alltop Social Media daily whips up a creamy and satisfying blend of bloggers on Social Media. Be careful here though, just as with the potatoes you can easily overindulge.

Stuffing: Still looking to load up on the carbs? Then the stuffing has to be the Social Media Insider from MediaPost. This key aggregator of blogs and news is filling and has just the right amount of seasoning to be interesting.

Gravy: What’s a Turkey Day feast without some juicy gravy to hold it all together? For my money Tech Crunch, although not just about Social Media, has enough great stuff that it is the perfect accompaniment on the dinner plate.

Sweet Potatoes: They’re not for everyone and they can be prepared in a host of different ways, but sweet potatoes do sweeten the meal. For a sweet touch turn to Wired News and its wildly eclectic content. Yes, Social Media is in there, but so is a whole lot more.

Cranberry Sauce: Not for everyone, cranberry sauce can be tart or sweet and compliments the meal. The Customer Collective serves up a tasty mix of content on sales and marketing, often with a Social Media twist.

Green Bean Casserole: Again, not for everyone, but a regular side dish for others The New York Times Technology section may be an acquired taste, but once you get it you’ll always want it. It has great content on all things tech including Social Media.

Rolls: Still don’t have a plateful? Then add some Online Media Daily for those extra carbs your body is craving. This site dishes up an eclectic mix of Internet developments.

So there you have it a Social Media Thanksgiving Feast. Before you dig in why not join me in offering thanks to all of these sites for the steady diet of great content? And if I missed a dish please add it here and help the feast grow.

Related posts:
Questions Are a Recipe for Social Media Success
5 Really Useful Sites for Social Media Newbies

Saturday, November 21, 2009

7 Tools to Find Who's ‘Big on Twitter’

Social Media can be an overwhelming place: so many people, so little time. So, on Twitter for example, how do you measure influence?

I was curious: Who are the BWOT (Big Women On Twitter) or BMOT (Big Men on Twitter)?

There are six influence graders I like (and yes, I know there are more – please share them) plus a bonus:

1. TweetLevel

This “nifty little service cooked up by Edelman” is still in Beta testing. But it is already my favorite. The composite Influence score is made up of Popularity (followers), Engagement (how much you talk to individuals) and Trust (how often you’re re-tweeted).

Under the About section Edelman’s formula is there for all to see (and isn’t transparency a wonderful thing?) Under Influence Tips there is some great advice on how to succeed on Twitter. And the “How you compare to a few of your friends” feature is a nice touch.

2. Twitalyzer

Probably the most comprehensive free Twitter influence analyzer – but be prepared to spend a lot of time if you want to go deep.

Here, a Tweep is measured in five areas: Influence (friends, followers, frequency of update and signal combined), Signal (the tendency for people to pass along information, as opposed to anecdote), Generosity (the propensity to retweet another), Velocity (your rate of tweeting) and Clout (the likelihood that other people will reference you).

The depth here is amazing: Want to see how you stack up over the past week, the past three months or “all time”? You can do that here. Want to calculate your Return on Influence, Conduct a Consolidated Account Analysis or Learn How to Increase Your Influence? It’s all here. Pack a lunch!

Recent updates (the new look-and-feel and analysis in real time – as opposed to 24-hour delay that had been the norm) make this one really useful tool.

3. Twitter Analyzer

This is a cool tool that slices and dices your time on Twitter for approximately the past 14 days. Here you can learn about your Popularity (total mentions and number of unique people mentioning you) and Reach (total number of people reached and percentage of messages retweeted). But that’s just the beginning. There’s also analysis of Friends, Mentions and Groups.

Want to know your most common hashtag or the person on Twitter who retweets you the most? It’s here. The Online Followers window is a cool minute-by-minute look at how many of your followers are currently online (helpful for timing tweets)

My favorite tool is the Followers Density Map. By mousing over the world map you can see where your followers are (big shout out to the six folks in Latvia who follow me at @mikefixs!) My quibble with this tool is that it seems to have a significant number of sub-tools “coming soon” (and has had them “coming soon” for some time).

4. TwitterGrader

This is, as the saying goes, “an oldy, but a goody.” This tool, from the fine folks at Hubspot is a solid standby. But, it doesn’t reveal how it measures people on Twitter and even changes the algorithm with barely an explanation. Transparency here would make for a much more useful tool.

And there are a couple of major annoyances keeping me from being a huge fan. First, being able to find the Twitter Elite by location is cool, but leave out a comma (in Rochester, N.Y., for example) and you will get a different set of results. Secondly, take any dive into the analytics and try to hit the “Back” button on your browser … you will get the “Webpage Expired” message and you have to start over. Yuck!

And here’s the thing: if a Twitter user has not submitted to being graded (or has not had someone else submit their Twitter name) they do not show up in TwitterGrader results. So it’s your influence among people who also use TwitterGrader – a subset of the Twittersphere.

5. Twitin

So this site does a whole lot of things, but for our purposes check out the Twitin Stats page. Here you’ll find rankings for Tweeter Efficiency (number of followers plus time between tweets), Influence Ratio (unexplained on the page), Retweet Count (how often you are retweeted) and Followers Rank (the number and influence of your followers).

An interesting feature is the “Profile Matches” that tells you who your profile most closely resembles. Will you be a Celebrity, a Web Developer or a Rocket Scientist?

6. Tweet Grade

Like you favorite teacher this grader is an easy grader – a lot of people get an A or an A+. Having said that it’s a good place to check up on people you might want to follow. And, yes, you can grade yourself and tweet the results to the world.

And the bonus:
7. Follower Wonk

And yes I know it’s not technically an influence grader … but it is addictive and will tell you how two or three Twitter accounts stack up. It is very useful when comparing accounts who are competitive or in the same geographic area and very quickly tells you who has the large (an d perhaps) more influential following.

I hope at least one or two of these Twitter influence tools proves useful to you.

In Social Media it’s not just about the numbers – it’s also about what you do with those numbers.

Related posts:

Twetiquette: 10 basics for Twitter politeness
What Twitter isn’t

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Why Social Media? A Good vs. Evil Debate

Reasons you should (and should not) jump into the SoMedia pool party

If you’re struggling to get to the real motivation for your time in Social Media you may be like the character Pinto in the classic comedy Animal House.

Pinto, a virgin, has a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other giving him conflicting advice about whether he should “un-virgin” himself with an inebriated girl he just met. (For the record, the angel wins out).

Here, then, are some of the reasons you might consider entering Social Media and what your own internal Angel and Devil might say to you.

YOU: It’s where my customers are

Angel: You need to know your customers better and Social Media is a great place to listen and learn. Even potential customers have something to offer you. The more you listen and observe the better you will meet their needs. It will take a time commitment.

Devil: Oh c’mon! The real reason you need to be in Social Media is to sell more stuff, more cheaply. There’s a huge audience out there just waiting for you to sell to them. The best part? It’s free!

YOU: It’s where my employees are

Angel: You’re a good boss and you realize your best assets are your employees. By empowering them to use Social Media and showing the way you will have strong advocates out there. Your only policy on employee Social Media usage is borrowed from Google: “Don’t be evil.”

Devil: What fun is that? Now you can to check up on your employees. You can follow, friend or fan them and then see what they’re really up to. And just when your employees think you “get” the whole Social Media thing you can pull the rug out from underneath them by producing a 145-page Social Media Policy manual.

YOU: It’s where my competitors are

Angel: You can see what your competitors are doing and how they are helping people in Social Media. When a competitor is unable to help you can step in and offer help. Gosh, you might even form a Social Media alliance with a former competitor to better meet your joint customers’ needs.

Devil: No way! You’re gonna use Social Media to spy on your competitors and spread misinformation about them. You’ll use it steal customers and ideas away from the competition.

YOU: It’s where my neighbors are

Angel: In this busy world you can become better connected to the nearby community. You can connect with people, businesses and community groups that all have similar goals – making this place a better place to live. You can use Social Media to offer help where it is most needed.

Devil: But what’s in all this for you? Let me tell you: More networking, more connections and, duh, more money from sales. C’mon Angel all this kumbaya stuff is making me nauseous!

YOU: It’s where everyone else is

Angel: You know, you shouldn’t just go into Social Media to follow the herd. If it doesn’t make sense right now give it some time. A fake or half-hearted effort in Social Media will do you more harm than good.

Devil: Oh really? Don’t be a woos! Everyone else is in the pool, jump in. You don’t want to be last do you? It’s GMOOT (Get Me One of Those) time. Last one in is a …

Well that’s enough from the Devil.

Social Media and whether to jump in can be a tricky decision. Here’s hoping the Angel wins out in your internal debate.

Related posts:
10 Commandments for Social Media
5 Social Media Mistakes
7 Ways to Tell How You’re Doing in Social Media

Saturday, October 24, 2009

5 Social Media Mistakes

Don’t tie yourself up in the “Nots” before you even get started

Sometimes the easiest things to remember are the things you are NOT supposed to do. In Social Media that means that mistakes are easily made. Some common ones:

No. 1 – Not listening
Social Media, as it has often been said, is like a party. You would no sooner charge into that cocktail party and just start talking at everyone you encounter.

No, you’re much more likely to be welcomed if you take some time to find your bearings – to listen to what is going on.

This, in turn, helps you find people with whom you have something in common.

No. 2 – Not watching
The best way to earn a reputation as someone to be avoided is by not understanding the “rules” of the Social Media party.

How do you learn? You watch others. You pay attention to what works and what doesn’t. You note what the group finds acceptable and what kind of behavior will get you shown to the door.

No. 3 – Not being polite
Make your mother proud and be polite and courteous to all. Ask for permission to join a conversation. Ask to be introduced to someone you would like to meet. Be thankful for all comments that come your way – the good and the bad.

And let’s not even get into discussing politics, sex or religion. We know that no good can come of that.

No. 4 – Not helping
Figuratively speaking if you see the little old lady waiting to cross the street … go help her!

Social Media is full of opportunities to do good and to help others. Seize them … and do it without any expectation of reward or recognition.

Think of it as working towards an internal Good Social Media Citizen merit badge. You won’t actually get a badge, but you will get a great reputation.

No. 5 – Not waiting
Timing is everything. If you’ve successfully avoided the first four “Nots” you will be sensitive to what you can can’t do in Social Media.

Selling (yourself, your business or your cause) is something that will only happen when your Social Media audience is ready – preferably when they have asked a question.

You only get one chance with each person to get this right, so think before you offer to sell anything: Does this person really want to hear about what I have to sell?

If you have any doubts whatsoever, that would be your conscience using your accumulated knowledge to say “Not now buddy.”

All of this will take time. But if you can make through the Nots you will find a direct (and untangled) line into Social Media.

Related Posts
10 Commandments for Social Media
5 Really Useful Sites for Social Media Newbies

Friday, October 23, 2009

Questions Are Recipe for Social Media Success

Some key ingredients will help you cook up a great plan

If you want Social Media to be part of your recipe for business success perhaps you need to think like a great chef.

Celebrity chef Bobby Flay knows a thing or two about the ingredients of success:

“Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken or hamburgers,” he says. “In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.”

Social Media is no different. You need to be comfortable with the ingredients you will put into your SoMedia plan.

How do you get there? By asking questions that lead to a better understanding of your real Goals, Strategies and Tactics for Social Media.

To get started you might consider these questions as a path to cooking up a plan for Social Media success:


  • What are my overall business goals?

  • What are customer goals?

  • Which of my goals makes sense for a hands-on Social Media approach?

  • Are some of these goals best served by traditional media?

  • Why are we going into Social Media?

  • Which aspects of Social Media fit our culture?

  • Are we OK with Social Media taking time?

  • Can we be good Social Media citizens?

  • What will Social Media success look like?


  • Who will we listen to?

  • When is the appropriate time to join a conversation?

  • Who will we talk to?

  • How will we earn trust?

  • If we earn trust … then what?

  • Who will we help?

  • How will we help others?

  • How will we handle any kind of problem?
  • What will we be known for or remembered for?


  • Will we try a single platform? Or multiple platforms?

  • Will we have a single Social Media champion? Or multiple users?

  • Will our presences be heavily branded?

  • What personality will each presence have?

  • Will different platforms have discreet purposes?

  • Can we commit the appropriate time to this?

  • Can we be transparent?

  • Can we accept ALL kinds of feedback?

If these questions give you cause to pause before rushing into the Social Media kitchen that may be a good thing. But when you do answer many or all of them you will have the basis for a plan (recipe): Bon appetite in Social Media!

Related Posts
5 Steps Before Jumping Into Social Media
10 Commandments for Social Media
5 Really Useful Sites for Social Media Newbies

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Social Media measurement

7 ways to tell how you’re doing

So how do you measure success in Social Media?

And I don’t mean by playing the game of “the new ROI or Risk of Ignoring.” No, I mean once you’ve jumped into the Social media pool how do you measure whether you’re creating waves or merely ripples?

7 Social Media Measures

1. Sales: It seems obvious, but perhaps not. If you are selling more stuff or getting more members was the increased activity after you first jumped into Social Media? Success is: Sales increasing independently of your traditional and other non-Social Media marketing efforts.

2. Opt-in e-mails: The most valuable asset any marketer or PR professional can have. These are people who want you to reach out to them. Success is: More people giving you their email addresses.

3. Time on site/Page-views per visit: It’s not enough to get people to your site, you need to keep them there. Success is: When your Web analytics show an increase in one or both of these scores.

4. Downloads: If you offer good stuff for free – White Papers, How To Guides and coupons, for example – people will come looking for you. Success is: Month over month you are getting more and more traffic to (and then downloads from your) Downloads page chances are your business is about to go crazy because people are finding you and finding value in you.

5. External links/External referring sites: If you are tracking how many sites link to you (and you should) you’ll want to see that number and the quality of those sites go up. This in turn helps with your SEO. Success is: When the number of external links builds exponentially and the referring site traffic also grows steadily.

6. Comments: This is one of the more social aspects of Social Media and whose value is often overlooked. Success is: Getting more and more people to engage on your blog or anywhere else you ask people to comment, rate or generally have an opinion.

7. Social Media metrics: By this I mean Facebook fans, Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections etc. These relationships all have value. Success is: A steady growth in the numbers of followers etc across platforms and the increasing flow of messages between you and your fans.

Related Posts
10 Commandments for Social Media
5 Really Useful Sites for Social Media Newbies
10 Things To Watch Out For In Social Media
10 Social Media No-Nos
5 Steps Before Jumping Into Social Media
5 strategies to get the Boss into Social Media

Sunday, October 4, 2009

5 Really Useful Sites for Social Media Newbies

The great thing about Social Media is that so much of what you need to know can be had for free.

Here are five websites that should be on your list of favorites, bookmarked or saved anyway you know how:

1. Mashable
Without a doubt Mashable is the best place to go every day to see what’s happening in Social Media. But for beginners the site, subtitled "The Social Media Guide," it’s also a storehouse of knowledge on everything from individual platforms to trends in SoMedia. The Mashable Lists and News Channels navigation bars make finding the right stuff a snap.

2. Alltop
Alltop, as it’s About section explains, tries to answer the question "What’s happening?" in "all the topics." And it does this by aggregating content from blogs and other sites. The Social Media collection is exhaustive. The coolest part? Let your cursor hover over a headline for a snippet of the story to pop up before you decide to click.

3. SocialMediaToday
The SocialMediaToday accurately claims to collect "the Web’s best thinkers on Social Media and Web. 2.0." The site features the blogged musings of Social Media, marketing, PR, and media mavens. You’ll also find some of the smartest people in Social Media commenting on the blog posts here. When you’re ready, you too should jump into the conversation.

4. The 'In Plain English' YouTube videos
Le LeFever’s wonderful CommonCraft video channel has countless videos that use simple illustrations, word balloons and a pair of hands to explain almost any Web 2.0 platform or tool "in Plain English." If these wonderfully informative and entertaining videos can’t get through to the most resistant boss or staffer … go work somewhere else!

5. inSocialMedia
The inSocialMedia site is an eclectic series of viewpoints on all things Social Media. The site sums it up: "inSocialMedia is a content mashup of Social Media professionals from experts to enthusiasts. We encourage, educate and have fun building online connections and networking for business." There are blogs, forums and groups for all tastes and needs.

Related Posts:
10 Commandments for Social Media
5 strategies to get the Boss into Social Media
Social Media Expertise Is Hard To Find
Social Media disasters
10 Things To Watch Out For In Social Media
10 Social Media No-Nos
5 Steps Before Jumping Into Social Media

Friday, September 25, 2009

Is ‘Brands in Public’ a Social Media crisis?

Is Seth Godin playing ‘dirty pool’ with public sentiment around brands and businesses?

UPDATE (Sept. 25) at the end of this post

Did you feel the Social Media world shake, just a little, this week? You should have.

The announcement that Seth Godin’s Squidoo was launching Brands in Public is a blatant money grab, an unfair attack on brands or just dirty pool. Maybe it’s all of them.

As spelled out on Seth Godin’s blog – Brands in Public creates pages for individual brands that collect “tweets, blog posts, news stories, images, videos and comments about a brand. All of these feeds are algorithmic... the good and the bad show up, all collated and easy to find.”

For just $400 a month a brand can “moderate” what’s on the page. Or, as Godin says: ”You can't control what people are saying about you. What you can do is organize that speech.”

As I struggle to make sense of this I’m reminded of an analogy about Social Media. It states that Social media is much like a village square where you can wander around, discover the good stuff and meet new people who might also direct you to the best sources of stuff. People there might also warn you away from some other ‘bad’ stuff.

Godin’s Brands in Public has just added a giant billboard for every brand on the village square. Oh sure it’s convenient – all the hubbub around a brand, the good and the bad, in one place. But its potential for abuse by mischief makers is HUGE! And the only recourse for a brand? Pay Godin his $400 pound of flesh per month.

Yes, this stuff has always been out there. If someone wanted to speak ill of a brand they could and would. But outside of paid Social Media monitoring tools the average person had to believe strongly enough in the criticism or the person saying it to pass it along. Only when a LOT of people spoke up or passed along a criticism did the general masses become aware of it.

Enter Brands in Public. Now all the bad stuff is (true or not) is posted on that giant virtual billboard for free and the brand must pay the owner of the billboard to have some control over how it’s displayed.

This feels so … slimy. I’m sorry, but this just seems like a money grab, an unfair attack on brands or dirty pool.

My only hope is that enough of the Social media community sees this for what it is and doesn’t join the game. Social Media may never be the same.

It seems not all reaction to the concept of Brands in Public was positive. Today (Sept. 25) Seth Godin announced on his blog that the service would take down the sample pages.

Upon reading the new post it seems that only brands who are willing participants will be the subject of pages in Brands in Public. Although the wording leaves this not particularly clear if that is the case kudos to Godin for making a major change on the fly.

Related link:
10 Commandments for Social Media

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Social Media is the answer … partially

A letter to a future client

Dear Prospective Client,

I’m looking forward to our upcoming meeting and excited to hear about your business and its goals. I’m glad to hear that you are anxious to get into Social Media and that you are willing to try a new approaches.

However, before we meet I would like to be sure we’re all on the same page and not going into this meeting with unlikely, implausible or even impossible expectations. I’d like to talk to you about …

5 Things Social Media Can’t Be

1. A magic bullet. While there are many wonderful tools in Social Media that will help you understand and reach out to customers, employees and/or the community none of them individually or collectively will solve ALL of your business problems.

2. A one- or two-string violin. No matter how many Social Media platforms we agree will help you they will still only be a part of your plans moving forward. We will be looking at integrating tactics in Social Media with some of your existing and traditional customer- and employee-relation, sales and marketing methods. Be assured though, this “multi-string” approach WILL make beautiful music.

3. Left to an intern. To get the best results from Social Media someone in your organization (and depending on its size it may be two or more someones) will need to dedicate time to managing Social Media. While a young intern may understand the tools they likely will need a lot of GUIDANCE on their correct use and the strategy you will be using in Social Media.

4. Cheap. It is true that Social Media tools are usually very cheap or free. However to use them effectively will require a commitment of your organization’s TIME (and other resources) … and well know: Time = Money.

5. Rushed. Setting up shop in Social Media is just the beginning. It should take quite some time for you to work through the steps of Listening, Engaging and then, and only then, Contributing. A small dose of PATIENCE early on can pay big dividends.

Thank you for your interest and I very much look forward to our future successful collaboration.

-- Mike Johansson at Fixitology

Related posts:
10 Commandments for Social Media
10 Things To Watch Out For In Social Media
10 Social Media No-Nos

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Social Media Release

Best Practices and Some Examples

The Social Media Release – also called the Social Media Press Release and Social Media News Release – has rapidly become the way for anyone trying to “get the word out” to provide all the resources necessary for anyone from citizen-customer to journalist to find the information they want (in the format they like it).

So, what is a Social Media Release? In a nutshell it is a page, usually a Web page, that collects words, images, audio, video, links, social bookmarks and more around the topic you care about. And by “you” we mean both the person spreading the word and the person looking for information.

Background: In a 2006 post titled
Die! Press Release! Die! Die! Die! blogger Tom Foremski tapped into a broad media sentiment that the days of the standard old-school press release needed to end. His main points: Cut out the spin and provide information in many different formats

It was then that Todd Defren of Boston’s
Shift Communications suggested a better way: the Social Media Press Release – a more conversational and useful collection of information and supporting materials. He offered up a Social Media Press Release template

This was followed on the blog
Conversation Marketing by Ian Lurie wondering about the lack of an HTML version and so he made one. You can preview Lurie’s Social Media Release or download the HTML as a Zip file.

10 Must-Haves in a Social Media Release

Contacts: Information – front and center – on how to reach the author of the release, the key person quoted in the release and the online newsroom of the releasing organization.

Words: A brief description of the point you are trying to make (with no spin) and why any reader might care to check out all of your wonderful, related content. Aim for 250 to 750 words – no more. Be sure to optimize for the search engines by including one or more of your keyword phrases.

Images:That are linked to from
Flickr or some other online resource where the entire album is available.

Audio: Saved as a podcast on
iTunes or saved on your server/Web site as a common-format audio file that is linked to from the release.

Video: Which is hosted at
YouTube allowing consumers to watch it directly and journalists to grab the embed code for possible inclusion on their own web sites.

Print It/Email It buttons: These are no longer “nice touches,” but are absolutely expected.

”Share This Page” buttons: These invite visitors to share your content with others through social bookmarking and social media sites … and makes it very easy to do. For example clicking on the Twitter button opens a Twitter window asking the user to sign in to their account and pre-fills the Status Box with a short message about your content and shortened URL leading right to it. Other buttons should cover the major Social Media information sharing sites likely to be used by your target audiences.

Links: Be sure to include links everywhere. The more links you have to targeted and relevant information, the company’s principals and the company home page the more interaction you encourage. This also doesn’t hurt your Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, efforts either.

Comments box: Make it easy for anyone to talk back to you. No-registration-needed comments fields are best as even a simple registration process will deter many from taking the time to leave a comment. And you do want to hear from everybody and anybody. A name and an email address is all you need ask for.

Invitation to sign up for notifications: Invite anyone to share their email to be alerted to future Social Media Releases.

Some examples of good Social Media Releases (SMR):

- Ford’s
2008 Ford Focus release

- Coca-Cola’s
Virtual Thirst competition for Second Life release

- Cincom’s announcement that its Smalltalk software programming language had
won the Dynamic Language Shootout competition

Related Content:
Social Media and Public Relations

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

5 Ways PR Can Benefit From Being in the Social World

Social Media has can appear to be a one-size-fits-all solution for businesses or organizations – a way to fold sales, marketing, customer care and public relations into one do-it-all tool.

While there may be occasions where this is true it is clearly not in the best interests of the brand, business or organization to make Social Media THE answer.

Which brings me to thinking about Public Relations and how Social Media has taken the once one way talking-head-to-media-head conversation and made it more universal.

Here are Five Ways Social Media can help in the new Public Relations world:

1. Relationship building: By connecting with key influencers on Social Media PR professionals now have a chance to truly understand what it is those people care about. Knowing this they can then target their messages more effectively.

It can also help with your transparency and trust factors. In their informative book Tactical Transparency: How Leaders Can Leverage Social Media to Maximize Value and Build their Brand Shel Holtz and John C Havens and say: “The flood of Social Media has brought in an age of digital transparency that is putting the power to create or destroy a reputation into the hands of consumers.” They argue that being transparent and trustworthy upfront mitigates much of the danger lurking in Social Media for brands and businesses.

2. Message delivery: This seems obvious, but there are PR professionals who still see Social Media as a “fad.” But, really it is a highly efficient and effective way to engage important channels from the small media audience to the mass community you wish to be a part of.

David Meerman Scott in his excellent book The New Rules of Marketing & PR says the old PR meant trying to impress a few media types in hopes of having the media tell your story, but the new PR means tremendous opportunity to tell your own story directly to customers and the community.

3. Branding: This has always been about getting g the word out on what makes you, your brand or business different from anything else. How better to do it than directly to the customer/community?

But there is also another aspect of branding that too many PR professionals do not understand – SEO or search engine optimization. This is the ability to ensure that all messaging around what you are promoting contains the words and phrases you want to “own” and can assure your brand is top of the search engine rankings. In today’s world that usually means top of mind too.

4. Listening: Just paying attention to what is being said generally and what is being said in Social Media specifically about your brand, business or organization gives you insights previously unavailable to you without a lot of (expensive) research.

You can go low-tech and, for example, set up free Google Alerts notifications or you can go high-tech using services such as Techrigy and Radian 6. The important thing is to do it so that you can know what is being said and where, and also acknowledge your promoters and reach out to your detractors.

5. Crisis management: So all the relationship building and monitoring has still not avoided a crisis? Social Media can help. Brands and businesses can use their presences to offer an apology, offer reassurance, to be seen making amends, to apologize again and then to monitor the response.

In the new media reality the same consumers or community members who were outraged by the YouTube video or the shared blog post are unlikely to be reassured by the company or organization’s official statement as related on broadcast news or in a newspaper. What is far more likely is that they will learn of your timely and effective response through a shared tweet on Twitter or a link to a social bookmarking site.

What is true of all five ways Social Media can help Public Relations is that they take place where many, if not most of the people you want to reach already hang out. Isn’t it time for PR to fully embrace Social Media?

Some great bloggers on Social Media and PR:

Brian Solis has been a blogger on the subject – PR 2.0 for more than 10 years and co-wrote Putting the Public Back in Public Relations

Deirdre Breakendridge has co-written Putting the Public Back in Public Relations among several books on the topic and blogs at PR 2.0 Strategies

Shel Holtz is co-author of Tactical Transparency and has a blog called A Shel of My Former Self

Jason Falls has a burgeoning reputation as a Social Media thinker especially as it relates to PR. His blog is called Social Media Explorer

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Is there a Social Media sales funnel?

Or: When I find potential customers how do I handle them?

In Social Media it’s extremely important to remember that the first word is “Social.”

This means it’s not a place to overtly sell anything … really, it’s not. But there is a way for businesses to engage in Social Media to benefit from their time an effort on the Social Web.

Three Steps to Engagement

1. Start by being a good listener: The more you listen the more you will learn and the more you will understand your customers and potential customers. Heck, you might even hear things you had not thought of that will help your business.

2. Talk with (and to) the social web: Start sharing yourself and your knowledge. Answer others’ questions. Help others find answers. Share really good things you find. Or just share an interesting take on something that is on your mind. Be genuine and people will get to know you and over time will come to trust you.

3. Listen for specific opportunities: Opportunities for you meet a need or make a suggestion that involves a service you provide or something you sell. But BE CAREFUL. If your offer of help sounds disingenuous or self-serving you will alienate a customer or potential customer.

A Sales Funnel for Social Media?

Can a traditional sales funnel be applied to Social Media? I would argue that, yes, it can.

Working down a Social Media sales funnel:

1. Audience: The largest number of people you are engaged with on the Web. Many of whom may not want to, or may not yet know that want to, do business with you.

2. Prospects: The next smallest group of people with whom you are engaged. The ones who have expressed some form of interest in you, your company or something you do.

3. Leads: The next smallest group contains people who have signed up to be contacted or have asked for your help. These are the folks who are interested in what you are selling.
4. Conversions: The group who have money on your goods or services and who
reached that point because they saw value in you and/or your business.

5. Evangelists: These are the pure gold in Social Media. These are people so excited about their dealings with you and your product that they go out of their way to tell others.

At each stage of the funnel you need to have a Social Media and Inbound Marketing strategies to maximize the chances that your efforts will not go unrewarded. (For more on inbound marketing, I recommend Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing Resources, including the excellent – and free – Inbound Marketing University program)
A Social Media strategy, for example, would be having a way to acknowledge your Evangelists publicly and also, perhaps, to reward them privately.

An Inbound Marketing strategy, for example, would be having a plan in place to reach out to Prospects once they are identified on the social web.

Whatever you do, it is extremely important to remember that it’s called Social Media for a reason – don’t do anything that can be seen as “anti-social”!

Related posts:
10 Things To Watch Out For In Social Media
10 Social Media No-Nos
5 Steps Before Jumping Into Social Media
10 Commandments for Social Media

Monday, July 20, 2009

Twitter ‘expert” or Twitter ‘twit’?

It really is buyer beware out there – even on free webinars

Social Media’s reputation for being a bit like the Wild West of old is not helped by the current proliferation of people “selling” their Twitter “expertise.”

Just today I came across this pitch (selected quotes here) for a free Webinar that you just know is really a sales pitch:

“What is Twitter? Is Twitter for me? Can I increase sales? Can I increase brand awareness? Learn the ‘Secrets’ of Twitter and why you NEED to be there.” It goes on to say that “During this one hour event you will discover best practices” which it says includes “How to be on the fast track for your business” and “Results-driven sales strategies you can use in your marketing plan.”

This is an odd thing, really, because this sounds like old school “push” selling not at all like New School “customer engagement” for which Social Media such as Twitter is better suited.

But there are other clues that this particular person (whom I should, but will not name) is selling themselves as an expert in Twitter when really they may have little to offer on that platform. For example, this person:

- Does not list their Twitter handle in their promotional materials, which might lead you to suspect he/she does not want to be checked up on.

- Joined Twitter in October last year and in nine months has tweeted a total of 180 times – or an average of 20 times a month. But almost 40 of those tweets came in the past week as the date for the webinar drew close.

- Ranks poorly across numerous Twitter grading sites. For example, Twitalyzer ranks their Twitter use as “very, very low” or “very low” across three of five categories and “slowly emerging” in another.

Tips for detecting a “Twit”

1. Find their Twitter name and look at their profile. Pay attention to number Following vs. Followers and the number of Updates. If there is a Web link check out the site the Twitter profile is linked to. What you find there will often reveal a lot about the person behind the Twitter account.

2. Use Twitter Search to plug in their user name and see how much activity shows up and, perhaps more importantly, when it shows up. A savvy Twitter user will not have clusters of tweets at a given time ona given day and then long gaps of inactivity.

3. Use Twitter grading tools to see if this “expert” ranks well among other Twitter users. Two quick ones:

Twitter Grader: Here you enter the “expert’s” Twitter name and see how they score. Do not be overly impressed by a score in the low- to mid-90s (on a scale of 100). An actively engaged Twitter user will score 97, 98, 99 or even 100 out of 100. This tool also tells you how long the user has been on Twitter.

Twitalyzer: This tool measures a Twitter user in five areas: Influence, Signal, Generosity, Velocity and Clout. It also tells you the trends for this user from “unchanged” to “improving.” A user with generally low scores and trends that are “unchanged” in all five areas is likely less than fully engaged in Twitter.

In summary, anyone seeking expertise in any Social Media such as Twitter would be well advised to do a little research – and the social web makes this easier than ever.

Related Posts
10 Commandments for Social Media
Twetiquette: 10 basics for Twitter politeness
10 Reasons I Won’t Follow You on Twitter
Fighting Twitter Pyramid Schemes
The Twitter Term “Twanker”

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Twitter term ‘Twanker’

The new term for the badly behaved in 140 characters

Social Media has this nifty ability to adapt and evolve – seemingly daily.

There’s a new term floating around for someone who practices bad behavior on Twitter – “Twanker.” And it came into being at the June Twitter 140 Characters Conference courtesy of Kodak Chief Marketing Officer Jeffrey Hayzlett.

The story, as related in Mr. Hayzlett’s blog, is that he asked the crowd during a speech to the conference what they would call people who behaved badly on Twitter and the overwhelming response was Twanker.

You can read more in his blog post Crowdsourcing a new term for bad behavior on Twitter The blog has spawned a Twitter hashtag – #twanker – a search on which reveals some good discussion.

In the blog Mr. Hayzlett describes three types of Twankers whom he labels: “Ambushers,” “Lazy Auto Repliers” and “Tweeting Terrorists.”

These are good examples, but I’d like to add three more:

The Vain: People whose Tweet stream is littered with “I” as in “ I just …” “I am…” and “I wonder …” Please get over yourself, you are a Twanker.

The Rude:People who respond to Direct Messages (DM) with very public “@” responses seemingly designed to put the other person in their place. “@XYZ you have no right to tell me what to do” or “@XYZ I can’t believe you would think I care” or similar rejoinders to a private message. Please remember what starts in a DM should stay in a DM or, you guessed it, you are a Twanker.

The Self-Important: People who never miss an opportunity to puff up their own self-importance. “Just had lunch with (fill in the blank with big business name)” or “Just had a meeting with producers of (fill in the blank with name of big TV show).” OK, you’re a big deal … but apparently have a fragile ego and need to keep reminding yourself – and us – of just what a big deal you are. And that makes you a Twanker.

There must be more great examples … and I’d love to hear them. The beauty of Social Media and platforms such as Twitter is that it can be self regulating … please share.

Related post:
Twetiquette: 10 basics for Twitter politeness

Thursday, July 2, 2009

10 Reasons I won’t follow you on Twitter

There are probably hundreds more, but …

There are probably dozens if not hundreds of reasons some people on Twitter won’t follow others. Here are my Top 10 reasons.

I won’t follow you if …

1. You don’t have a bio: There may be a good reason, but I can’t imagine what it is. It takes 30 seconds to say something about who you are. The same thing goes if you don’t have a geographic location. It does not need to be specific: city and state or city and country will do just fine. Of course, if you have something to hide … that too is reason enough not to follow you.

2. You don’t have an avatar: The Twitter "egg" avatar just tells the world you haven’t made the time to get a small picture or symbol out there … or maybe you have something to hide.

3. You have been on Twitter for less than a month: Unless I can see a history of activity stretching back at least a month I suspect all Twitter accounts to have a.) hidden agendas or b.) be the accounts of people not fully committed to being part of the Twitter community … yet. I’ve been told this is hard on newbies, but I know from experience that too many newbies set up an account, tweet a few times and then go silent. (Of course if I know you in real life, that's different.)

4. You don’t tweet at least once per day: You don’t have to tweet every day, but if you’re only tweeting once or twice a week the chances are I will miss your tweets and we really won’t interact at all. So why bother?

5. You have nothing to say or share: We’ve all seen the accounts where people build large follower numbers and in three months on Twitter have only tweeted a few dozen times to let the world know “It’s raining here now” or “Just made a PBJ sandwich.” Really? Is this adding value to anyone? Yourself included?

6. You follow way more people than follow you: You may not be a creeper. You may just be desperate to build a large online following. Either way you scare me.

7. Your Profile reveals you are mostly there to sell: I get stuff pushed on me in plenty of other ways. I don’t need Twitter to feel like a selling channel.

8. Your tweet history is full of self-promotional words or links: If “you” are all about “you” and the things “you” want to sell or promote, then “you” clearly missed the memo that Twitter is supposed to be a “social” medium. “You” don’t need me to follow “you.” All “you” really need is a mirror so you can admire the view. See Commandment No. 1 in 10 Commandments for Social Media

9. You are promoting porn, gambling or other vices: ‘Nuff said. If I wanted this stuff I’m pretty sure I could find it on my own.

10. You are a business and only ever tweet about the business: As much as you love your business and think everybody else should too, I’m sorry I just don’t care. Having said that, I will admit to connecting with social causes and the organizations that support them. That at least seems more in the spirit of social media.

Related posts:
Twetiquette: 10 basics for Twitter politeness
What Twitter isn’t
10 Commandments for Social Media

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

5 Reasons Social Media Can Be Like Lingerie

Let us count the ways:

1. It is revealing: Whatever you say or show in the social world is out there for all to see. You may feel partially covered (hidden) in Social Media, but just like wearing lingerie that is mostly illusion.

2. Its cut says something about you: Show too little or too much and the world will judge. In Social Media are you fully covered and yet very revealing? Or are you barely covered and still impossible to see through?

3. The way you use it speaks volumes: Do you only get into it (Social Media) once in a while? Does it sometimes make you feel uncomfortable? Perhaps more frequent use can overcome these issues.

4. You probably have a combination of pieces: Social Media offers multiple ways to have “fun” while getting into “trouble” Your challenge is to just “wear” what feels comfortable.

5. It can get you into real trouble: Use Social Media inappropriately and you will get in trouble.

And in a sense the best similarity is that in Social Media (as in lingerie) transparency is a very good thing.

Related posts:
10 Commandments for Social Media
10 Things To Watch Out For In Social Media
10 Social Media No-Nos
5 Steps Before Jumping Into Social Media

Friday, June 12, 2009

10 things to watch out for in Social Media

With Social Media being the “it” thing for businesses to “do” these days perhaps it’s a good time to look at 10 things any organization should be wary of:

1. Jumping in for the sake of it: Social Media is like a huge swimming pool. If your only goal is to get wet, by all means jump in. But if you want to get somewhere or to achieve something you need a plan. Work with a trusted Social Media consultant to get measurable results.

2. Being pushy: When you’re new to Social Media people will give you a chance and be forgiving. Get too “it’s all about me” or “you need to buy something from me” and just watch that goodwill evaporate faster than a drop of sweat on hot summer asphalt.

3. Being too talkative: Social Media, at the very least, means communications is a two-way street. The best in this industry are the best listeners.

4. Not sharing: The very best at sharing get more friends, fans and followers in the social world because of their generosity. The more they give the more they get.

5. Not being grateful: People help others in Social Media all the time. Your social capital goes up when you publicly acknowledge that help.

6. Not being honest: The expected in Social Media is total honesty. Be dishonest and you will be publicly humiliated (at the very least). The self-governing social world is littered with the wreckage of people flamed to a crisp by those who were incensed by duplicity.

7. Being just “the spokesperson”: If you’re not perceived as being human then you might as well be a computer. Social Media’s stars have found away to make all their communication have a personality and be hyper-human.

8. Being boring. To avoid it, say something original and from the heart (and keep in brief).

9. Living in TMI-land: Yes Social Media can seem awfully intimate when you update your status and think you’re telling just a few friends about you diarrhea. For the rest of us that is just too much information (TMI).

10. Taking it too seriously: Come on. We’re talking about social platforms like Twitter and Facebook and MySpace and YouTube. These are all dominated by humorous writing, pictures, audio and video. If you can have some fun, others will too.

The online reputation you end up with is everyone else’s sense of how you handle all of the above.

Most of all? Your mother was right: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you is a good basis for all of life (including Social Media).

Related posts:
10 Commandments for Social Media
5 strategies to get the Boss into Social Media

Saturday, June 6, 2009

10 Social Media No-Nos

Things that will (at least) earn you a bad rep or (at worst) get you fired

Social Media can both be a very forgiving and a very unforgiving environment for a newbie.

It can be forgiving when users are genuine in their interactions and confess their sins, own up to their errors and behave politely. Under these circumstances it is likely their community will understand and forgive them.

Social Media can also be unforgiving when it senses someone is behaving in an “anti-social” way. While many of the acceptable norms in Social Media are obvious, some may be less so.

Therefore here are 10 Social Media No-Nos. Commit any of these sins and watch your reputation slide, or worse if you are publicly representing a business, you may get fired:

1. Not Listening: This happens a lot in life and Social Media is no different. If you want to get more out of your interactions with others you need to be a good listener. For a great take on this see Five Levels Of Social Media Responses

2. Not Responding: Just as in life it can be rude to not answer someone who is talking to you. There are rare exceptions: When someone is being rude to you, they do not always deserve a response.

3. Not Responding Appropriately: You should always respond in kind (or better yet take the high road). If someone says something you disagree with privately question them. “Flaming” someone (engaging in an ugly public debate) will leave everyone charred.

4. Not Being Genuine: Social Media lives on the Web so if you choose to be less than “real” you will be discovered. Fakes do not survive long in the ultra-connected world of SoMedia.

5. Not Being Humble: Your life may be the best and your successes too numerous to count, but nobody likes a public braggart. Your ego may fight you on this, but you need to remember Social Media is about everyone else and a certain equality of ideas and opinions.

6. Not Being Responsible: Social Media can be a powerful tool. With power comes responsibility. Be a jerk, slander someone or be hurtful online and it will come back to haunt you.

7. Being Rude: Manners cost you nothing but some forethought and consideration of others. If you truly don’t know the right thing to do in a given situation you can always try the searchable database at The Emily Post Institute.

8. Not Being Sympathetic: Life is hard. People make mistakes and suffer misfortune. Being seen as unsympathetic will earn you a bad rep in life – online that rep will spread even faster and further.

9. Not Sharing: If you are fortunate enough to have expertise or access to resources that can help others please share them. Social Media rewards those who share with good Karma points. Many of today’s online superstars got there by being good at sharing themselves and their resources.

10. Sharing Too Much: Conversely, there are those who share too much detail, too much noise and too much irrelevancy. Know your communities and understand what it is about you they most want to hear.

Related posts
10 Commandments for Social Media
Twetiquette: 10 basics for Twitter politeness
Social Media disasters

Sunday, May 31, 2009

5 Steps Before Jumping Into Social Media

Thinking before you jump will save you from ending up ‘all wet’

It seems everyone can’t wait to jump into Social Media. And for business this may present a real problem.

Think of Social Media as a giant swimming pool. Now if you have a simple goal of just getting wet, then by all means jump in.

But if you have some real goals and want a return on your time in Social Media you might want to have a plan.

Here’s a checklist of 10 Things To Consider Before You Jump into Social Media:

1. Do you have the support of all the stakeholders? Seems simple, but without buy-in from employees all the way up to the CEO and shareholders you may find yourself spending more time explaining and defending rather than engaging in Social Media. If you get commitments of time and money upfront you can focus on getting off to a good start.

2. Do you have clearly defined goals? Social Media can be a lot of different things to a lot of different users, but one thing it can’t be: A miracle worker. Muddled and confused presences in Social Media will look like everyone behind them does not know who they are and why they are there. Do you, for example, know where your target audience hangs out in Social Media? Take the time to do the research and create a plan (with benchmarks to measure results).

3. Do you know what tools will best suit your purpose? Blogs may make sense if you have someone who is a good writer and has the interest in maintaining the effort. Facebook and Twitter presences could help grow the audience or how about LinkedIn profile where you share something about your business and show off your employees and their skills? The point is: Not all tools make sense for all situations.

4. Do you have the knowledge and skill to do this effectively? The good news: Your organization may collectively “know more than it knows.” In other words there may be people on board who know different aspects of Social Media. Great! But if not then you’ll need to hire some help. You also need to consider who will maintain the effort and who will oversee it.

5. Do you understand the risks? These run the gamut from “What happens if we don’t engage in Social Media?” to “What happens if something goes wrong in Social Media - how will we react?” Will your existing policies on electronic communications be adequate to cover employees and others using Social Media tools? Ask lots of questions.

If any of these questions about Social Media efforts give you cause to pause then you may need to turn to a professional – someone who can guide the process for you: from research and planning to training, implementation and measuring success.


Peter Kim writing for on The 22 Step Social Media Marketing Plan

Cory Treffiletti writing the blog Online Spin for MediaPost on The Problem with Planning Social Media (No Problem)

Social Media Academy is an education and research institute whose graduates work in many aspects of Social Media

For some national “heavy hitters” in Social Media see ReadWriteWeb’s postSeven Social Media Consultants That Deliver Tangible Value

Previous Posts
10 Commandments for Social Media
5 strategies to get the Boss into Social Media
Social Media Expertise Is Hard To Find
Social Media disasters