Who owns social media? Are you in the ring

10 03 2010

Guest post by Beth Carroll

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2010 has already become the year for social media. While 2009 was spent learning and testing, it’s only in the past month I’ve noticed clients dedicating bigger budgets to the social web.

Social networks have become slicker and more marketing savvy. Facilities such as Twitter’s new local trends have allowed us to be more sophisticated in targeting messages to the right audiences and mobile technology has given rise to a new generation of location based social networks such as Foursquare.

As the budgets increase alongside the opportunities, the fight for ownership of the social media realm has got serious.

A new specialist agency is born every day, in house teams who have been experimenting in an unstructured way are starting to form strategies, ad teams believe they own everything and even customer services wants in on the act.

While I believe there is a place for social media across an organisation, there must be someone leading the herd for strategies to be implemented coherently.

Not surprisingly, for me the responsibility has to lie with the PR team.

We’re experienced in knitting together different strands of the marketing mix to create holistic strategies. And social media is about communicating messages effectively through conversations – that’s what we do.

The question is, will we win the fight? Read an issue of PR Week from 2009 and you will see social media discussed at arms length as a new and scary entity. This year, the gloves are off and PR Week is now running a blog called Firehose specifically dedicated to discussing issues within digital media.

PR agencies small and large are honing their social media offerings – some, such as Cow PR’s Rabbit, have created specific digital offshoots.

We may be performing well in round one but there’s still a long way to go before the bell rings.

Only results will reveal the true victors.

About Beth Carroll

Beth is head of social media at Ash Communications in London. She is a fan of social media but also likes chickens and rock climbing. To find out more about Beth, check out her blog sociauxanswers.wordpress.com or follow her on Twitter @beth_carroll.

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Review: Twitter Platforms – Seesmic

9 03 2010

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This past week I’ve been playing with Seesmic, the second most popular program. Now this application has two different ways to use it, Seesmic Look and Seesmic Web. I’m honestly having a hard time finding what’s different about Seesmic and what makes it better than the other options such as TweetDeck or Chromed Bird, etc.

Seesmic Look was my first stop. While this application is very pretty and almost reminiscent of Apple’s design with its bright colors and smooth lines, it fell short. It’s simply a window that is constantly open and quickly runs out of API calls (how many times it can get updates from Twitter). So, not only is it another application open on my task bar, but it isn’t always up-to-date. The print is also large, which I don’t see the point in, I’m not blind and neither are most Twitter users. It seemed a little too dumbed-down. There was some fun animation, but honestly, this doesn’t help me stay connected. I can’t see DM’s, mentions, searches or anything else in the same window.

Now turn to Seesmic Web. This is a little better. It’s a lot more like TweetDeck, with multiple columns and no fancy designs. Just cut and dry, which I liked much better. The only down side is that it’s a web page you have to have open all the time. It has columns and you can customize it so it’s more conducive to efficient monitoring.

As you can probably tell, I’m a fan of TweetDeck. It made the easy transition into my work day. I can monitor my coverage and what others are thinking and saying quickly and easily. Only a few months into the Twitter world, TweetDeck makes my integration simple and even fun.

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Crises: The Twitter Effect

8 03 2010

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Guest Post By David Clare

In Public Relations crises happen all the time. Hopefully not all the time for your organisation, but in the entire industry they happen quite often.

An organisation would hopefully have some sort of plans to call upon when a crisis presents itself. Quality issues management before hand would see to that. These plans would have information on who to communicate to, how to communicate and more importantly what to communicate. The key to handling a crisis is therefore communication.

Communication has changed a great deal in such a short time. Social Media is the new kid on the block, traditional media and heavy users of old formats were wary of this new medium, many barely recognising it as any more than a fad. Now it is commonly accepted that Social Media is important for communication, since it is the format a vast majority of an organisations publics will use.

In a crisis there is one perfect contender for the method of communication… Twitter. This Micro-Blogging Social Network is perfect in the event of a crisis. Tweets are short and to the point. Information in a crisis is not always available, and going on the radio, television or interviews for print would require spreading any information available pretty thin.

Twitter can update using whatever information available, even with little information it could look more substantial due to the limitations of 140 characters.

Twitter has reported many crises now, The Miracle of the Hudson River Plane crash is a major case study. This story broke on Twitter, and the first image of the plane was on TwitPic – which also crashed, due to the high number of people trying to access the image.

Others disasters have occurred and the stories have broken on Twitter. The Jakarta bombings in 2009 and the Turkish Airlines plane crash in Amsterdam. Some may not break on Twitter, but the publicity is multiplied by the sheer amounts of tweeting. From my own observations Haiti was a trending topic non-stop for three weeks.

What needs to be done now is for organisations to use Twitter more and more in crisis management. The tweets are perfect for updating publics and journalists. It can also help the image of the organisation in crisis. By simply using Twitter it sends out the message that you are willing to communicate, listen and sympathise with people affected. The Marriott group had this exact reaction when they used Twitter to communicate after the Jakarta Bombings mentioned earlier.

So when you create your Twitter plan, don’t just use it for customer service, think of the bigger events that may occur. Plan now for using Twitter in a crisis, and in the unlucky event a crisis may occur it should be a smoother ride.

Check out David and more of his ideas here: www.theprview.co.uk

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Update: TweetDeck iPhone App

2 03 2010

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I LOVE the TweetDeck iPhone app. I have been using it relentlessly this week and it is great.  I was apprehensive at first, but it is so streamline that it is hard not to like it.

What I love:

Sync. I love that the columns that I create on my computer automatically sync with my phone so I never miss a thing.

Simple. It’s easy to use and not overwhelming like I feared.

Links. The app allows you to view links from other tweets within the app so you don’t have to wait to go to the browser.

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Review: Twitter Platforms – TweetDeck

23 02 2010

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When I first joined twitter, I was happy with just the web version. I mean, it’s easy to use, simple, and you can customize it. What more could you want? Clearly, a lot more. As time went on I got more curious about the line below each post claiming where the tweet came from. Whether it was TweetDeck, Seesmic, Co Tweet or one of the many others, these Twitter platforms seemed just as popular as the Web version. Out of the few PR pros that I’m following at the moment, TweetDeck is a clear favorite. I had to investigate.

In the next couple of weeks I am going to do a test of some of the most popular Twitter platforms and see how well they work, how easy they are to use and which I like best.

A few weeks ago I downloaded TweetDeck and have been testing it out. With famous people like Ashton Kutcher and Mark Zuckerberg praising it, this couldn’t be too bad. Their blog is quite entertaining and helpful, I recommend checking it out.

TweetDeck is a program that organizes your Twitter account (or accounts, if you want) into columns allowing you to follow multiple things at the same time and cross promote.

What I love:

    Interface. The platform fills your whole screen with all the information your heart desires.

    Small Icons. While there seem to many smaller icons, this is where the power is. From RT to automatically shortening URLS in your tweets, these icons are far from small.

    Mentions Tab. LOVE this, otherwise, it’s easy to forget to check who is talking to you.

    Customization. Move columns where you want, make new columns and make things easier to read and keep what is important to you on top. you can even have the platform show in a single-column view, making it look like the old AIM buddy-lists we used to keep docked on our screens. Remember those days?

    Pop-up Notifications. This way I don’t have to constantly check the program itself. If I see something interesting pop-up in the corner of my screen, then I can choose to interact.

What I don’t love:

    Interface. The platform takes up my whole screen! It’s one more program to have open on my desk top. Once I close it, the whole program closes and while I then gain space on my screen, I lose my Twitter options– although, this can be changed. I just don’t like that it’s automatic.
As you can see, there isn’t much I don’t love about TweetDeck. It will be hard to part ways and try a new platform next week.

What I’m unsure about:

    TweetDeck iPhone App. Have you tried it? I’m wary of it being too crowded.
What Twitter platform do you use? Why?
Do you like TweetDeck? What makes it the best?




Superbowl and snow storms

7 02 2010

At the moment Twitter is over capacity. AWESOME. Aren’t people watching the Super Bowl? Is this the first year we are tweeting while watching the Super Bowl? Here in the DC area I blame the more than 20 inches of snow we got this weekend – otherwise know as the “snowpacalypse”, “snowgasm” and “snowmaggedon” — for the lack of Super Bowl parties, leaving millions stranded on their own couches watching the game with just their iPhone, BB or Droid. Happy tweeting!

Also, I loved that the Federal Government announced that it will be closed in the DC area tomorrow during the opening game coverage. What better way to reach the DC population? This way you get to know pre-game how much you can party, you don’t have to go to work tomorrow, so why not live it up? Even if it isn’t at the Super Bowl party you were planning to go to. Unless you were the host and are now unfortunately stuck with a ton of snacks and drinks.

Now, the reason we really watch the game…the ads. There was quite the firestorm of conversation on Twitter about the quality of ads. I personally loved the Google ad — but it did go a little quickly. I felt that the minute I was reading what was being searched for, they were on to the next search. PRproSanDiego had some great insight, that it was meant for those with ADD, and I agree. The chatter also indicates that Google is ‘the man’ and no one is really ready to support them, Denny’s seems to be the clear winner. I have to agree, results are what matters. If Denny’s gets the customers in the door tomorrow, then that’s what counts. Does Google really need more users? Do they need PR? When the name of your company has become a verb — I think you’ve done enough. I guess they can afford to spend the money though, so why not? That’s not exactly PR strategy.

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Blogger Resources

2 02 2010

As a newbie to the blogosphere, I’m thirsty for new ideas, trends and hopefully helpful tips on how to make this a success and meet others doing the same.

The Blogger Black Book looks like a great site for getting into the Blog realm. My company is hosting its annual domestic trade show in September and we are trying to incorporate a ‘blogger track’ to our educational seminars. We are finding this EXTREMELY difficult, as weeding through the blogs that are simply Joe Shmoe in his kitchen talking about his recent trip to Paris vs. blogs that are geared toward giving others travel tips, guides and write about destinations from a more outside perspective.  This Black Book not only has the option of purchasing blogger lists for PR professionals but allows bloggers to add themselves to their lists to start getting press releases and other ideas.

The other question is in pitching ideas to bloggers. Most bloggers don’t want to start receiving a ton of e-mails from companies and organizations they don’t care about begging to be in their blog — but how else are we (the PR side) supposed to get blogged about?

What do you think? Have you heard of them? How do you find bloggers?

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