The Need for a Social Media Policy

166295-ashes-memesSocial Media marketing is a popular topic around my office, we’re just beginning to establish a formal social media marketing plan and recently the question of whether we needed to develop a corporate social media policy came up. With the popularity of social networking sites, employers are finding themselves dealing with employees who are posting on social media to the detriment of the company’s brand.

A quick google search for social media disasters brings up pages upon pages of social media screw ups. This means it’s happening on regular basis. The frightening thing for a company is that all it takes is one little mistake, one wrong statement or one bad review and within minutes it’s been shared over and over again creating a major public image disaster in its wake. And once it’s on the internet…. it’s never going away.

Here is a list of three well known social media disasters that had a negative influence on each company’s image.

  1. Chrysler’s “F-Bomb” – Someone with access to Chrysler’s twitter account accidently posted the following tweet on the company’s account: “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f**king drive.”
  2. Furniture store, “Habitat UK” tried using trending hashtags to get more followers: Habitat used popular hashtags that had absolutely nothing to do with their posts or brand to get people to notice them. They did get noticed, but not in a good way. They were called out for their spamming technique and consequently deleted their tweets.
  3. KitchenAid- during an American presidential debate, a KitchenAid employee tweeted an offensive comment about Obama’s deceased grandmother to KitchenAid’s 24 000 followers instead of to their personal page.

While a disgruntled employee is always a wild card, I would wager that most employees (even the ones in the above mentioned scenarios) aren’t intentionally looking to damage their companies image and many are even afraid to engage on social media on behalf of the company for fear of doing more harm than good. While, I am a big believer that there should only be one person in charge of managing social media, all employees are potential spokes persons for the company. A social media policy can not only protect the company from potential harm it can also give the employees guidance on how they can leverage social media to help promote the company’s brand.

In order to safeguard their brand, businesses should put together a social media policy with clear guidelines so their brand is enhanced by employees talking about their business on social media and their reputation is not soiled.

Check out these tips for help in putting together your own social media policy:

  • Outline who is allowed to post on social media on behalf of the company. If everyone is allowed to associate themselves with the company, make it clear they should brand their posts as their own personal opinions.
  • Outline what is considered confidential information.
  • Outline how to engage with people politely and diplomatically online.
  • Let people know that if they do make a mistake, they should contact the social media manager immediately so the situation can be rectified as soon as possible.

We have policies for health and safety, confidentiality, appropriate behavior in the work place and more, so it only makes sense that companies would develop policies to protect their reputations in an environment where one little mistake could cost them so much.

Resources:

http://socialdriver.com/2013/07/09/6-biggest-social-media-fails-and-what-you-can-learn-from-them/

http://mashable.com/2011/03/09/chrysler-drops-the-f-bomb-on-twitter/

http://blog.hirerabbit.com/5-terrific-examples-of-company-social-media-policies

Blog Post 2 – Storytelling and Communication Styles

2047710-vector-primitive-figures-looks-like-cave-paintingStory telling is a tradition that goes back as far as privative times, yet is still as relevant and necessary in today’s age of social media. To be a good story teller one must understand basic communication styles enabling the story teller to take the reader on a journey, and inspire them to form their own ideas and opinions on what is written.

What are some basic communication styles?

  1. Begin with the end in mind – It’s very important to know what kind of experience you want to take your reader on and where you want them to end up. Think about if you want your reader to learn, be inspired, or just entertained by the end of your writing and what call to action you want them to have in the end i.e. comment, question or repost.
  2. Don’t burry the lead – Remember to put the most important and eye catching information in your opening paragraph. A reader’s attention span is very short and if you don’t grab their attention right away you will have lost them completely and they will move on from your writing immediately
  3. Clarity and conciseness – Keep your writing clear and to the point. The easier it is for the reader to scan and read what you have written the more likely they are to dig deeper into it.
  4. Grammar, spelling and punctuation – If your writing is poor and full of grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes your credibility is gone and the reader will no longer trust you.
  5. Passive vs. active voice – Using an active voice rather than passive one makes for a more clearer and interesting read.
    storytelling

Ultimately most people are not born story tellers. Practice makes perfect and the more you write the better you will be come and the easier it will get. Storytelling is an art form and if you wish to do it never stop trying. For more ways to learn how to be a better writer check out Inspired Mag: Business Writing for the Web – 27 Ways to Write Better, Alan Martin. http://www.inspiredm.com/persuasive-writing/

Under Threat – The Role of Facebook in Times of Uncertainty

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

On October 20, 2014, a supporter of ISIL deliberately targeted two Canadian soldiers in uniform in Quebec killing Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and injuring one other.

Two Days later on October 22, 2014 another gunman shot and killed a uniformed Cpl Nathan Cirillo while he was guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the War Memorial in downtown Ottawa. The gunman then stormed Parliament before he was killed by security.

These two incidents came on the heels of an audio recording released by ISIS specifically targeting western nations including Canada. (http://globalnews.ca/news/1575601/france-is-has-threatened-coalition-civilians/)  What made October 22 a difficult day for military families was the pandemonium, lack of information on the news as well as mis-information on the news. How many gunmen were there? Were they specifically targeting soldiers? Were our spouses at risk? What would happen tomorrow? As a culture we are pretty adept at weathering and coping with deployed spouses but this was different. This was at home.

Our local military family Facebook support site proved to be a very useful resource on this day. The site is typically a positive environment where people posted to Ottawa gather to ask questions and meet new friends. On this day the buildings downtown were in lock-down while the authorities attempted to determine how many gunmen there were and who they were targeting. Many of our spouses wear their uniforms to work making them easy to identify.

Sharing of information proved invaluable. Some of the spouses on the site had husbands who had access to phones while others did not. All the while, the media spoke of multiple gunmen with unknown whereabouts. The people on our site rallied around each other and reassured each other with real information. Offers were made to pick up children from childcare as many of our spouses do not have family support and have only been in the community for a short time.

Cpl Nathan Cirillo and WO Patrice Vincent

Cpl Nathan Cirillo and WO Patrice Vincent

That day was terrible and the loss of two young soldiers is tragic. Many civilians were also affected by that day, as the downtown core turned into a ghost town while people waited. I can only imagine how the workers in the Parliament buildings managed to get through such a horrifying experience.

Where were you during that day? Did you use social media to help you through it?

COM0014 Assignment #1 – Blog Post 2: Digital Storytelling, Lindsay Moore

This weeks’ lesson content, on digital storytelling, was particularly interesting to me. As a writer at work I am always interested in learning how to write for the web in a more engaging and interactive way. On a daily basis my team at work writes about Government and the Parliamentary process for youth. As you can imagine, the topic that we cover isn’t necessarily “cool” for our target audience. Despite that, I still strive to grab the attention of at least one reader. If I do this, than maybe I have succeeded right?

Digital storytelling, while similar to more traditional forms of writing, certainly has it’s own unique set of rules. According to Alan Martin at Inspired Mag (http://inspiredm.com/persuasive-writing/) there are no less than 27 steps to writing better for the web. Sounds easy. While many of these tips are useful for all forms of writing (Use the 5 W’s, know your audience, watch spelling and grammar) there were certainly a few unique tips that I feel certainly would help in the new world of digital storytelling. The idea of keeping writing short and simple is important and is one suggestion that I have heard multiple times. This is one aspect of writing that I struggle with. I often catch myself adding in fillers. Adjectives and adverbs have been my go-to’s for many years. I now find myself having to retrain my style of writing. I need to remind my self that using them for the web doesn’t add to my story. In fact, these extra words become distracting and detract my readers from my message.

I am happy to practice writing for the web. I strive to engage my readers, master the “inverted pyramid of writing” and build a voice that not only teaches my reader but engages it at the same time.

COM0015 Post 2 Strong & Weak Organizations

The company who always hits the mark with me for doing things right in social media is Blendtec.

The amazing dollars to millions YouTube viral-video success story.   Blendtec

Tom Dickson’s accidental invention of the “Will it Blend” series for his Utah blender company launched, then skyrocketed, their online presence which now includes Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram.

Ranging from advice, customer service assistance and recipes to contests and giveaways, they use the social media platforms individually and cohesively to foster a lifestyle, not just to promote their product.

Their strategy to “be genuine and create original content that people will love to see” is a benchmark for all other retailers to replicate. They monitor the engagement success of each post, fine-tuning the content to meet the demands of their audience to increase exposure and build momentum.

Intuit That being said, I’d prefer to highlight a company who has worked hard to achieve success in the B2B industry, which is no small feat. That social media leader is Intuit.

Not only do they use it successfully themselves, they offer social media articles, tips and infographics to the benefit of the businesses they service in a user-friendly, digestible format.

I was drawn to Intuit through my company, which supports small businesses in Eastern Ontario in a variety of roles. Many of these firms use Quickbooks as their accounting software of choice.

I have made use of the many free services that are offered by Intuit to assist my clients, including the TurboTax AnswerXchange which has more than 15 million users and facilitates the exchange of questions, answers and tips among common users as well as experts. Intuitblogs

Intuit’s fantastic online community branded “Inner Circle” was created as a forum for users to provide feedback and requests to Intuit in order to improve the product(s). This forum played a key role in the product development cycle and led to the suite of Small Business blogs.

Their major 2013 online campaign “Small Business Big Game” led to tens of thousands of businesses enrolling for a chance to win a SuperBowl tv ad and was responsible for more than 8 billion impressions in social and traditional media. This was won by a small Oakland, California toy company called Goldie Blox.

Their 2014 contest, called “Small Business, Local Buzz” awarded 15 small businesses with $5000 in tools for online exposure.LocalBuzzThe customer care team monitors posts for support via multiple Facebook, Google+ and Twitter accounts, engages a broad audience through a dozen different blogs geared for a variety of audiences, and provides many instructional YouTube videos. They have a strong presence on LinkedIn for recruiting and careers.

One of their most popular forms of engagement is the “Question of the Week” that promotes a buzz feed among users of all platforms. They also offer support through a live chat option on their website.

Social Media, like Accounting is an integral part of every business and paramount to the function and success of the organization. Marrying the two in order to exploit the combined benefits is brilliant. Intuit definitely has an impressive social media strategy.

Their “Connected Services Vision is to meet the needs of an increasingly connected world, by creating products and services that are available how, where and when customers want them”.

They are well on their way to accomplishing that.

On the flip side, the company I feel that needs to greatly improve their social media strategy and capture a greater market share through authenticity is United Airlines. They have still failed to embrace online engagement effectively, in spite of the huge kerfuffle after Dave Carroll’s guitar was broken in 2008, his now-famous video ballad, the ensuing social media frenzy, and his book “United Breaks Guitars”.UnitedBreaksGuitars

While they have succeeded in achieving 591K followers on Twitter, 782K on Facebook, 54K on Instagram and 9K YouTube subscribers, their safety video is the only one to break 100K views. Whereas the United Breaks Guitars complaint video has over 14 million views.

The ‘About’ field on their Facebook page clearly indicates they won’t be responding directly to posts. UnitedFbAbout

To add insult to injury, the link they provide lands on the main page of their website, not the ‘Contact Us’ page. That page is not user friendly in the least, revealing itself as both overly wordy and starting with an FAQ section. It takes digging to uncover the phone and email contact options and any assistance requires several clicks or lengthy form completion, which only serves to magnify the disgruntled mindset of the inquiring passenger. The first two posts on their Facebook page were negative and they failed to respond.UnitedFbComplaintsThis is repeated in the management of the LinkedIn page, except it appears their preferred handling is to just delete complaints from the page:

UnitedLIcomplaintTwitter seems to be the only platform for social media responses in real time and they are all very canned as you can see from this handful sampling of responses:

UnitedCannedResponsesUnited needs to differentiate itself from its competitors as well as distance itself from its own negligent reputation. It could certainly learn from airlines like WestJet that use social media as a focal point in delivering their marketing strategy.

United’s priority should be to listen and respond individually on a person to person basis, (not from a pre-formed dialogue), in order to build a genuine and respected presence. Learning who their clients are, what needs they have, how they spend their days and what’s important to them will help United to identify channels to effectively fill their demands.

If they choose not to respond openly on every platform, they need to at least offer a direct link to their customer service department and ensure that responses are timely and performed by individuals with the authority to act.

They need to develop a proactive, sound social media strategy and not just use social media as a venue to react to customer responses.

Once they have started to build a bridge between themselves and their communities, they can then change the focus from themselves onto their audience. The attention needs to shift from “all about United” to “all about United’s passengers” if they want to be successful with social media and their followers.

 

Assignment #1, Blog Post #2-COM0015: Strong and Weak Organizations

Strong Organizations:

The first organization that i believe is doing well in the field of social media is Tim Horton’s, they have made incredible moves on their social media pages lately. They are living proof of successful social media marketing, if you look on their Twitter page alone they are always updating, sharing photos, re-tweeting fans, holding contests, making up cool challenges and constantly pushing their limits, most recently seen when they turned a house into a friendly neighborhood Tim Horton’s.  I chose Timmies, because i am a huge fan, it’s every Canadian’s go to doughnut shop, they have reasonable prices, good quality, variety menu, friendly employees, many locations etc.

The Second organization that i chose because of their social media success is McDonald’s, i’m trying to stick with the food theme. They are a successful business without social media, but they have used such platforms to greatly, and i mean greatly increase their success. As i was scrolling along their Twitter page, i found that they are huge on visually promoting their new menu items, whether it be coffee or burgers and this marketing tactic always works. They also answer a lot of their critics with “proof” of their foods quality, though the speculation has never hurt their reputation because everyone’s “lovin’ it”.

The third organization that i chose because they need to work harder on their social media skills is Nate’s Deli Family Kitchen. I chose this place because they sell food, and they are a local, smaller business. Now, just because a business isn’t a franchise does not mean they can’t use social media to expand their audience and broaden their locations. I believe that is any local businesses greatest fault, not staying on top of social media. Yes, it may be difficult to gain a large following a first, but if your start small with just your local audience, and if you have damn good food, your business will soon grow and become very popular and well known.

Every business has a choice, to choose or not to choose social media. When they favor the generations favorite tools they gain respect, profit and success. When they remain “old school” they lose their ability to relate and reach further customers.

E-Messaging: What to do and what NOT to do! (COMM0011 Post #2)

Of course we all want to make the best use of social media to promote our business or online presence.  I recently came across a site offering to ‘pull in email addresses’ to help provide insight to the users’ social media presence.  The site purported to provide deep metrics, sites on which the user was registered to, etc.  That site has since been acquired and morphed into providing altogether different services.  I have no doubt that a simple Google search will identify many other sites offering email lists for sale and e-commerce marketing strategies.  This got me thinking that I should share some information about Canada’s new anti-spam legislation also known as CASL. CASL applies to anyone sending e-commerce messaging to or from Canada.  So be sure to build a CASL compliant strategy into your e-marketing plans.

This new piece of legislation covers far more than electronic commerce messaging.  It deals with the dissemination of malware, botnets, phishing, spyware, etc.  But for the purpose of this article, I want to focus on providing accurate information around e-commerce messaging.   There is a wealth of sites out there providing material and information on CASL.  Some of it is very helpful, but there is still a lot of misinformation out there.  Many authors are still grappling with the interpretation of the law.  So when doing your research, I strongly suggest that you include among your resources, the authoritative sites on the subject matter.  In this case, it would be Canadian government and regulator sites.  The main government site that provides guidance to consumers and small-medium enterprises is Industry Canada’s Fight Spam site.  There are three regulators that are mandated under CASL.  The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and the Competition Bureau.  Be sure to check these out.

CRTC-logo-300x248.jpg         http://reasoningconspiracy.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/cotarms_with_name_english.jpg      cb_logo2

In this article, I want to focus on providing specific information on how to stay onside with the legislation in Canada when acquiring and sending an e-commerce message to your list of potential customers either via emails, SMS or social media sites.  CASL is an ‘opt-in’ regime, which in essence means you must have consent before contacting someone with your e-commerce message.  This area falls mainly to the CRTC and there is plenty of information to round out what I will provide here.

Lets look at what falls under ‘what to do‘ to contact an individual.  You must either have consent, be it express or implied, or you must acquire it before contacting someone at their electronic address.  The CRTC has taken the policy position that if you already had ‘express’ consent prior to CASL coming into force on July 1 2014, it will be continue to be valid allowing you to  contact your list of recipients.  Keep in mind though that you will be required to prove that you have their express consent should the recipient complain about receiving spam.  So if you don’t already have express consent, how do you acquire it?  email-logoWell, the law says that you can’t acquire it by sending them a commercial electronic message, eg email or an SMS.  You must acquire it via your website, your social media campaigns, at trade shows, etc.  Any other way, but by sending them an e-message.  Again, lots of information available at the CRTC site.

Now if you’ve already done business or have a relationship with someone, you have ‘implied’ consent and can continue to contact your customer for two years following the last transaction or from the end of the contract, such as gym membership.  The law is not meant to stifle business but to reduce the amount of spam people receive.  Again, the onus is on the sender to prove they have such consent. In either case, you must allow the recipient the opportunity to unsubscribe from receiving any further e-commerce messaging from you.

Let’s look at ‘what NOT to do‘.  So you now know that you need prior consent.  So the concept of ‘pulling in emails’ is one that needs to be carefully considered.  If you want to buy a list of CASL compliant email adddresses, you need to ensure that the express consent acquired was done properly.  Scrapping sites for email addresses in an automated fashion, also knows as address harvesting, is not permitted under CASL.  So be wary of sites that sell you on that concept.  A quick search shows you just how to that.  This YouTube site is the perfect example of what not to do.

 Sites like this one should not be considered as part your overall strategy.  It stated quite openly that “In this tutorial, I am going to teach you how to harvest email addresses using msfconsole in BackTrack 5. Email harvesting is the process of collecting and storing large quantities of email addresses. The email lists that are generated are typically used in mass mailer attacks and phishing attacks.” For more information on address harvesting rules under CASL, check out the OPC site.

Beware and forewarned….the penalties for running afoul of the law are significant!!  If you are found in violation, the administrative monetary penalties can be as high as $1 million dollars per violation for an individual and up to $10 million dollars per violation for a business.

Social Media: How You Can Make Money Online – COM0011

The number of people who went from being unemployed and poor, to being famous, wealthy and successful on the internet is both baffling and interesting. Some of the biggest names on Youtube and all over the social media world have told their stories, and claim that you can work and make money on the internet. A few well known people are Shay Carl, Michelle Phan, Elle and Blair Fowler, Bethany Mota, Nikki Philippi and there are still many more. All these individuals started very small with a camera and a funny story, they entered an internet world which continues to grow and support them. So who can start a Youtube Channel? Who can find followers on Twitter and Facebook? Who is capable? Well, pretty much anyone can make money online, it doesn’t require a certain skill or education, the only thing that is needed is community and creativity.

In this new age, making money online doesn’t stop at Youtube, their are multiple websites which people can work for in order to gain a profit of some sort, there are two i would like to discuss today. The first is one i am currently trying out, it’s called opinion outpost a company looking for consumers to take multiple surveys so that large companies can get feedback on their products or services. The individuals who participate are called to take a profile test which either qualifies them or disqualifies them to answer certain surveys, so you are always filling out surveys that relate to you and your lifestyle. You make money, get entered in draws and wins bonu gift cards and merchandise. This is a hobby to many people and opinion outpost is doing a great job promoting themselves through big Youtube names. The other way to make money is less “job” and more “incentive”, it’s called Diet Bet. Individuals seeking to loose weight can make money as they loose weight, all you have to do is join a group, put some money in a pot and shed a certain percentage of weight  within a specified time frame in order to win and split the pot with the other winners. Diet bet is also a company mentioned in many Youtube videos. Speaking of product placement, that is one huge way that people on the internet make money, big “Youtubers” as they are known get contacted by multiple brands and companies to put their products or mention their services in videos. The product is sent out to the person to be reviewed and tested, if they enjoy their experience they give the company a mention and make a portion of the profit. Lastly, i’ll talk about monetized videos on Youtube. These are videos which contain an ad that appears either before or after the video plays, it can also appear beside the video. As people view and click on these ads, the owner of the video receives profit. The number of innovative ways for people to make money online are countless and growing.

So if you need extra cash or are out of work an “easier” way of making money is available online. Many people think that making money online is unfair, but it is no different than working in a physical work environment. The challenges and successes may be different, but the work ethic is the same. Sometimes, making money online is just a benefit to being able to express yourself and be your own boss. I have a Youtube channel that i feel very passionate about, and yes making money off of my videos would be very helpful, but that is not the sole reason that i put up videos. I love have the freedom to speak about things i love, i love connecting with other people online, and it’s a job that i would love to have. (If you’d like to check out my channel here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheMacgirl31)

COMM0014: STORYTELLING: THE BIG THREE

STORYTELLING:  Three things you need to know

There are three important things with storytelling.

  1. The story.
  2. The audience.

Once you know these things, inside and out, you can move onto the other important thing, the most important thing:

3. Capturing your audience’s attention.

You can tell any group of people anything, as long as you capture their attention and keep them intrigued.

Children, for example can be a challenge in this respect; however, as any good teacher knows, if you want to deliver a message your group, you first need their attention.  And, in order to get their attention, you need to know the group.

What is going to gain and maintain their attention?

Toddlers.  The most challenging for attention getting.  Think of trying to gather up a box of bouncy balls after you’ve dumped on the floor.  That’s toddlers.  So, once you’ve gathered up their attention, you do not want to lose it. You need to be more interesting than the next thing, or you’ve dropped that box of bouncy balls and your group has bounced on.

School age children and online storytelling are not different.  Once you coax their attention from the  barrage of other social media, you have to maintain their attention or they’ve already clicked away.

Storytelling with school agers can be done using the three important things.

  • Know your story and your message.
  • Know who you are telling the story to.
  • Capture and maintain their attention.
    • Get them to engage.

Storyteller.  Know your story so you can say it and they can read it in 30 seconds or less.  Use photo or video.  Both are attention grabbers.  Video an attention maintainer.

Know who you are talking to:  School age children.  Generation Z.  Raised on 30 second sound bites.  If they don’t have it in 30 seconds, they’ve moved on . . .

Lead with the main message.  Include facts throughout. Tell them what to do at the end.

Put the story where they’ll see it.  The most interesting, aka frightening thing I recently saw was an army recruiting ads pop up on an online first shooter gaming site for teens.  Clever.  Very clever.

Capture and maintain your audience’s attention.  Always ask yourself, what is the best way to keep my audience engaged?

  1. Please comment on the following . . .
  2. If you like this article click . . .
  3. Poll.  Choose.            The hero should marry the heroine because . . . The hero should run for the closest exit because . . .

Which of these do you think will get the most audience  interaction?

Blog Post 2: Listening to Online Communities

There are two things that I have learned since I started listening to online forums (and ultimately working with social media at an institutional level): that brands need to be engaged, and that companies no longer dictate who they are or how good they are, audiences do.

What I mean when I say ‘brands need to be engaged’ is that they need to listen, find forks in the road, and ultimately opportunities to insert a reminder of their brand and its offering. For instance, a guy was traveling from Toronto to Ottawa, and after so many delayed flights, he decided to take to Twitter and start venting about the airline. He got a reply, but not what he had expected – Via Rail had seen the tweet, and informed him that trains travel back and forth everyday at multiple times a day between Toronto and Ottawa. He ended up making his way home and waiting it out at the airport, but what ViaRail caught on to and acted upon is worth mentioning. Delayed flights and and broken expectations were the fork in the road, and ViaRail saw this as an opportunity to reinforce the frequency of their travels between the same two cities this man was traveling between. Ultimately, the point here is that brands need to always be ‘on’, thus, always engaged and always listening for forks in the road similar to the one in this story.

In addition, brands are learning that permeating social media with information about the company or little facts here and there are not enough to have a positive and lasting effect on the online audience; I will give the example of RedBull here. RedBull is an energy drink, everyone knows this. It metaphorically gives you wings (this notion was under serious scrutiny, which is why they needed to add in the blurb at the end, but I digress), but RedBull is not just an energy drink. RedBull is an experience. RedBull is a combination of the liquid courage and heart rate (without it being alcoholic) the drink is said to give you, along with the FlugTag competitions and Felix Baumgartner’s mission through the sound barrier. Because of the hyped up, out-of-the-box events that RedBull holds to reinforce what the brand is all about, it’s almost grown beyond the drink and become a way of life, as well as being an energy drink distributor. Posts about company events such as the ones RedBull holds are what keep people’s attention. They want to know you’re relevant and have things going on, however big or small, it’s another chance for them to interact with the part of a brand that taps into their emotion.