Through some recent debate about which social tools are best and why, I have been listening and reflecting on how my own business has been impacted. It is one thing to spend your time researching and writing and another to spend your time helping 20+ clients win everyday in this 24/7 viral world we live in. The challenge is surfing through it all to find what works for you and your business. Time will limit what resources companies can dedicate to the social channels. I think some channels are better for certain businesses. Digital and social don’t mean a “one size fits all” strategy.
Memphis in all the big media headlines this week took our community by surprise reporting the historic flood of 2011 and showing the absolute worst pictures and images of a flood that has impacted just 1% of our City. Now I will say right here that this post is not meant to be insensitve to those who are affected. I am writing this from a public relations perspective and from my own personal observations and experience dealing with media and crisis management. I think we (our whole community) underestimated the power of the national media and their ability to portray things differently than they happened.
As little as two or three years ago for most of us, we relied on information mainly from the mainstream media. Today, the internet is content rich (and of course has been for longer than a few years) and with “everyday” folks like me joining Twitter, Facebook, RSS feeds, etc. the content available is incomprehensible. I could go into all the stats available to support it, but since that’s not where I’m headed, I’ll skip that. Where I am headed is this: you are defined, categorized, listed, judged and perceived by both the content you post AND the company you keep.
Yes, I said that and—although I don’t have the metrics to prove it—I can tell you from my own personal experience online that it’s very true. I have tweeted “You are what you Tweet” and what I mean by that is this: If you want to be recognized for a certain type of skill, industry, vocation, cause, etc, tweet 80% of content about or relevant to that subject(s). A new 80-20 rule: I tell clients to post 80% about business related content and 20% other stuff. What’s other stuff? I say reserve it for this: fun with other Twitter friends, hobbies, and family—but not too much. I think this is a good formula in general for keeping your “stream” valuable and credible, yet interesting while simultaneously demonstrating that you are indeed a real person with a sense of humor and knack for attracting like-Tweeters. Ah-ha!
When a crisis comes knocking-no matter how prepared companies may think they are-generally speaking, the first 48 hours will set the stage for how a company will respond and deal with the crisis. Clearly, in the case of BP and its recent disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, nobody was prepared for the magnitude and impact of such a horrific accident. Not only were there human casualties, the environmental and economic casualties continue to mount-likely for a long time. A few things make this crisis unique: first, it is not a single event that is over quickly like a hurricane, earthquake or on-land explosion which passes in a relatively short timeframe.
Secondly, the “fix” is miles beneath the ocean so access has proven to be challenging. It is also unique in that it will impact the Gulf of Mexico’s natural habitat with unprecedented damage to the environment-maybe permanently for some areas but it’s still too soon to tell. Finally, this crisis could have long term, devastating economic implications for the entire coastal region from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama to Florida. These states are the “coastal playground” for the entire Southeast and are dependent upon tourism, fishing and recreation.
In short, so much devastation paints a nasty picture for BP and its Top Brass. It’s what I call “bet the company” crisis communication and it requires immediate, transparent and straight forward strategies from day one. BP has done the exact opposite, waiting until last week to unfold their high profile (and expensive) ad and messaging campaign which I believe will be wasted on a large population of angry people whose emotions will run high as the consequences of the spill continue to lap onto the beaches, the marshes and wetlands and creatures of the sea.
Memphis made history on the Internet this month, as one of the world’s most respected bloggers, best-selling author Chris Brogan, spoke for the first time in our river city.
As he spoke, the audience live-tweeted, blogged and broadcast the event over the Internet, showcasing Memphis to hundreds of thousands of listeners across the globe. You can search Twitter.com (type #BroganMemphis in the search box) and you will see the incredible information that was shared on how social media give us all a big voice.
Brogan, president of New Marketing Labs in the Boston area, left Memphis a fan of our great city, though he chided us on our need to put social media to greater use. He has already shared several posts about our city to his more than 136,000 followers on Twitter. Others in attendance at the event, as well as those who follow them in social media, brought #BroganMemphis to an audience of, literally, several hundred thousand.
After hearing Brogan speak, I participated in a roundtable discussion with some incredible people who flew into town from across the country, and even Canada, to be together and talk social media. These social media “power players” not only realize the importance of social media, but they are also using it to leverage, promote and protect their brand. Needless to say, my brain is in high gear, churning and thinking of better ways to help my clients and my community.
OK: All the hype about Brogan making money off the social media world: First of all, I am glad to know that we are all in social media to ultimately develop revenue (OK, not everybody but I admit most). Of course it’s mostly about meeting people and establishing relationships that lead to engagement. Bottom line is this—tweeting is a waste of time if you can’t show your company or boss how you are helping to contribute results. It’s not what’s on your virtual resume or “footprint” that counts—it is what you contribute to your team. REVENUE rules. You would think in this economy people would “get it” and it continues to amaze me that some people feel entitled to their jobs! >> FAIL. If you are not generating revenue, adding monetary value to your organization, you should re-think things. Gone are the days of cushy corporate 9-5 jobs. The re-set button has been pushed and we are never returning to what was. The new world is tough and getting tougher. Cheers to those who can add value, be helpful and monetize—fairly—their work. Chris Brogan is one of them. I know recently he’s been criticized about this but I can tell you, he is –to me—an innovative businessman. He’s awesome, geeky, smart, fun and accessible—but remember, he’s in it to build a business and I respect him for it. As a small business owner, I get it, support it and have been around long enough to know that change is the ONE thing we count on. Just because someone starts out in one place doesn’t mean they stay there. Today’s businesses that succeed are flexible, dynamic and open to new. Chris Brogan is evolving as we all are and that’s the fun part about any business.
Social Media 101: Chris Brogan’s new book: I love it. It boils down great ideas, Chris’ own experiences, tools he likes, tools he’s not sure about, his opinions on things, examples of folks he respects, the list goes on. Businesses can learn tons from this new book. Some good points: Twitter is a great way to promote your business blog and links; Photo Share rocks; Clients and how to involve them on your blog; The importance of Strategy (one of my favorite words); Specific uses of social media for industries like real estate, banking, etc.; Blogging tips including good examples for titles (the importance of brevity). GET THE BOOK. You’ll love it if you get what I meanJ
The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree: I have had the pleasure of contacting Chris to invite him to Memphis May 6th to speak to Memphis businesses on how social media gives everyone a big voice. In planning our event (check my website for registration/info) I have had the great pleasure of working with Diane Brogan—his booking agent and Mom. All I can say is that she is a wonderful person, a joy to work with. We have had phone conversations and some e-mail exchanges. I haven’t even had to talk to Chris yet (although I look forward to it). It is evident to me that family is most important to the Brogan crew and I think that’s the coolest thing of all. I have tweeted recently that #DianeRocks and she does. If every other speaker I’ve booked had been so easy/fun. Thanks Diane! Maybe Chris will get to be the honorary Peabody Hotel Duckmaster while he’s here in our River City!
Cool People coming to #BroganMemphis: We have 14 (and counting) cool Tweeps flying to Memphis for the May 6th event. Soon I will list them all as we’re still compiling the list!!! From Canada to PA to NYC to MO…the CMO crew is coming in. What a huge tribute to Chris and to the Power of Twitter. This idea came to me while talking with Twitter friends Glen Gilmore (aka @TrendTracker) and Anne Gallaher (aka @AnneDGallaher) and with their encouragement, my being on Twitter and Chris Brogan talking back to me (imagine that)…here we are! Thanks to all our sponsors: FedEx, Peabody, Pinnacle Airlines, JudyMac Team, The Memphis Daily News…we’re going to “trend on Twitter with the Power Tweeters” in May! Join us if you can. My website has all details at www.howell-marketing.com
Thanks for reading this! I look forward to your comments and any questions you may have. Rock on!
As a “Twitter Evangelist” I feel like I preach daily about the benefits of Twitter for businesses. And not just Twitter, but all social networks as a rule. Posting online about your business clearly improves your search rankings and can dramatically improve your business “digital footprint” as my friend Brad Wilkerson likes to say.
It can also help you tell your story, promote events, promote your news (PR), recruit good people, etc. The benefits far exceed the negatives in my opinion.
Someone asked me recently how I come up with content for my blog. Honestly, when I started it, I had that same question but if you are on Twitter daily–as I am–there is unlimited content and ideas coming out of the “tweet stream” across my iPhone. Just today, I saw some debate on the benefits of hiring a “virtual assistant” to “tweet” for you. Really? I was amazed but I’m sure people are doing it and thinking of doing it.
We’ve been helping our corporate clients with social media or online social network strategies, uses and policies of late and as I have been reading through the volume of information, I thought I’d post and share the “best of the best” that I’ve found thus far (I would say Harrison Ford, Robert Duvall, Clint Eastwood if we had to equate these corporate studs to cinema action heros). Jumping into social media if you are a business is intimidating and risky to say the least.
I tell our clients often that “social media” does not replace traditional communications and core strategies that work and will continue to work (generate revenue). Social Media gives businesses another form of information distribution and simply put, is a great way to communicate information to an unlimited number of people (customers) efficiently.