Organizations and Stakeholders


People say I’m well-linked

It’s easy to jump into a social media discussion when talking about networking technology. And that’s exactly what I’m about to do… however, keep in mind that any communication technology can be a networking tool if it helps you maintain relationships.

I have used social media to network with professionals numerous times, mostly using LinkedIn. As you can see from my LinkedIn profile, I have over 80 connections. Some may yawn at my 80 connections, but l am only three internships deep into my field—cut me some slack!

I digress. Establishing my online presence meant having at least four profiles floating around in the web clouds. Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. WordPress… It can be exhausting using all these social media.

The 2008 Bell Labs Technical Journal published an article, “Social Networking: Communication Revolution or Evolution?” This study conducted by Cheryl L. Coyle and Heather Vaughn studied how college students use networking sites. They found that the most influential reason undergraduates use social networking sites was “keeping in touch with friends.

I imagine Facebook, clearly a social site, is mostly used to catch up with friends. But what about using “professional” social media, such as LinkedIn?

According to Linkedin.com, “LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 100 million members in over 200 countries and territories. More than half of LinkedIn members are currently located outside of the United States.”

In 2009, Business Communication Quarterly included Sam DeKay’s research,Are business-oriented social networking web sites useful resources for locating passive jobseekers?” The article discusses “passive job seekers” as people who already have jobs, but are open to new job offers.  DeKay’s research suggests that the nature of the website, with detailed resumes and recommendations, attracts people who would like to advance their careers.  The research did not prove that LinkedIn is used to search for employees, however, it was helpful to recruiters because it was a hub of professional information about a candidate.

A Forbes blog posted last Tuesday by, Ali Brown, cited Lewis Howes who specializes in LinedIn “Master Strategies” and even wrote a book on it. She gave the following 5 tips from Howes on how businesses use LinkedIn:

1.  Answer Questions when businesses post questions about specialties.

2.  Join Targeted Groups and connect with others in similar fields

3.  Create a Company Page and give your business a presence on the site.

4.  Sync Your WordPress and Twitter.

5.  Make Recommendations to others.

Here’s my list of LinkedIn best practices for the recent graduate job seekers.

1. Build upon an established contact. Only connect to people you have met with in person or with whom you have had direct contact. *Tip: include a personal note with the “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

2. Get Recommended. The best way to receive a recommendation is to provide one for someone else. *Tip: Make sure it is a genuine recommendation.

3. Include a professional headshot. A picture of you at the beach will probably decrease your professional credibility.

4. Target organizations. Use LinkedIn to search for connections of connections in an organization you want to work for.

5. Join groups. Numerous groups like Hiring for Hope and JobAngels provide tips for the job seeker like you and me. Be an interactive group member and join the conversations.

6. Stay in touch. LinkedIn is a hub of your professional connections—use it to keep contact with past supervisors and recent connections.

Remember, face-to-face interaction is the most basic and influential way to maintain relationships, but social media can be used to network professionally.  LinkedIn’s platform is “Relationships Matter.” My platform is to build genuine relationships and not network for the sake of networking.


Tips to build relationships using social media

This post includes tips for your organization to use when creating its social media communications platform.


The Human Experience

Your audience wants to encounter your brand through people and Web 2.0 facilitates the human experience online. Social media and Web 2.0 is about hosting conversations, sharing personal experiences, and building community around your brand.

Examples
Many organizations already offer the human experience even on their main websites. Ad Age, for example allows readers to comment on their stories so they not only get the main story, but other perspectives from people who pay attention to the advertising industry. One of these instances is a recent Ad Age article, “SoBe Ditches Creative Agency in New Marketing Approach.” On the Ad Age Website for the article, there are up to 20 comments after it was posted three days ago. The article also features an example video of a new SoBe commercial.

Another great example of a company using Web 2.0 is Nabisco’s Oreo website. This site offers an interactive “Oreo Moments” area to hear other people’s story and share your own about Oreos.

Oreo Moments shares the human experience.

How can you give the human experience?

  • Post images of people in your organization
  • Talk personally and from your experience
  • Post videos. A picture may tell a thousand words but a video can tell the whole story.
  • Host conversations. Always allow other people to comment about your brand.

A communicator has to recognize that particular audiences have particular needs. It will be difficult to attend to the specific needs and give the human experience using the same old Web 1.0 corporate website. Giving the human experience means you might have to choose one of your specific audiences for each facet of your social media or community. For example, Disney fosters communities for many different audiences. For a couple of examples, Disney offers a Moms Panel and a site for kids to play games.

Using social media is about putting a human or a personal experience with the any topic you search.  If you’re not ready to give the human experience on your organization’s website like social media is a good place to start.

Are you giving the human experience?


Using social media to build relationships with journalists

At my internship at Frederick County Government in Maryland, one of the valuable lessons my supervisor stressed to me was about media relations. She introduced me to the local reporter that covers the county government news whom she had been working with for some time.

As corporate communicators, journalists are key stakeholders. Though some people argue newspapers and other traditional news media are becoming a thing of the past, reporting news itself is in absolutely no danger. Journalists are not going away, they are just writing different media.

We corporate communicators are still counting on pitching journalists to share information about our company. Now, we can use online resources, such as social media, to build a relationship with journalists.  We have the opportunity to give them valuable material to make it more likely that they will talk about our organization in their stories, online or otherwise.

In a previous post, News organizations using social media, I discussed how news organizations are using social media to report the news. If they’re using social media, we can make it easier for them by giving them material that is easier to work with.

What do journalists want?

Part of building relationships with journalists is consistently giving them credible information they can use. Online journalists want rich content and multimedia to post on their news and social media sites. Here is a list of things we can pass along for a journalist to use:

Social Media Release Template.

Social Media Release Template. Shift Communications.

  • Photos
  • Graphics
  • Quotes
  • Video
  • RSS feed
  • Links
  • E-mails of experts in the company

Remember, we want to make the journalist’s job of compiling information as easy as possible to make it more likely that they will talk about our organization.

How can we send this information to the journalist?

We can use our own company’s website and social media sites to post valuable content and make it easily searchable for journalists to access. Our sites can include online news rooms where we link to past releases and multimedia about our company. For individual story ideas, we can send the media a social media news release that is almost exactly like traditional news releases but includes multimedia such as b-roll, audio, and images pertaining to the story. We can use to post the social media releases such as online wire services pitchengine. We can also use our organization’s social media to pitch bloggers. Journalists can scan our Twitter page with links to our news and easily pick up story ideas.

Building a relationship with a journalist is key

In PR and corporate communication, the most valuable element of our work is being human. Our communication is still based on personal contact. Being conversational, though still professional, will aid our credibility. Journalist will know they can come to you for quality, relevant information.

For more tips on pitching to journalists online and building relationships, check out Christine Kent’s blog post “Eight Ways to befriend Journalists Via E-mail.”


Social media and investor relations

investor relations handshake

google images

Investors are key stakeholders to any organization, and it is important to keep the communication lines open. Companies using social media are starting to adopt social media platforms for shareholders as well as customers and employees.

Q4 Web, software that helps corporations manage content and disclosure, gives great examples of the tools you can use social media for IR such as RSS feeds, web site monitoring, and online newsrooms.

What are the benefits of using social media for IR?
• Have control over web disclosure
• Be more transparent to the SEC and in compliance with Reg FD updates
• Have more communication vehicle to disseminate information
Report records and analytics

IR social media platforms in the works
While some companies are waiting to see how other companies have applied social media to IR, other companies like Sun Microsystems, Dell, and eBay are a few early adopters of using social media for IR.

sun-microsystems

Sun Microsystems uses social media for IR. google images

Sun Microsystems has an “Official Investors Communications Portal” that highlights everything from CEO webcasts to Sun stockholder information. Sun Microsystems does not have a separate Twitter page for investors, however, the Sun Microsystems Twitter page updates followers in what software the company has recently invested.

Dell has it’s own IR blog, DellShares, that includes posts about Dell’s earnings, acquitions, and analytics. The blog moderators encourage positive and negative feedback on the site and will respond to comments. DellShares also has its own DellShares Twitter page. The following video is Dell CFO, Brian Gladden, discussing Dell’s Q4 earnings.

ebay logo

Ebay also uses social media for IR. google images

eBay, the Grand Central Station of online shopping, has an IR blog, eBay Investors. This site reports quarterly earnings, stock quotes, and presentations from various webcast events.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
A key theme to adopting a social media platform is to add lines of communication. You probably shouldn’t replace your traditional IR communication platform with social media. The social media is just another way to help your organization be more transparent to investors and the SEC.

Is your organization ready to use social media to interact with shareholders?


Build a community and they will come

So many corporate communicators use social media to post the latest advertisements or talk about the new bells and whistles for their product. While this is contributing to corporate image, it is not building relationships or starting conversations. Building relationships is key to getting customers to return to your website, blog, or social media site.

Pete Cashmore, CEO of successful social media blog, Mashable, also says using social media is about building a community because it is more important to start conversations among readers than to just be the site that they go to for answers.

Magazine Industry using communities

Parents magazine uses a community. google images

Ripple6, a marketing consulting agency helped Parents Magazine implement their social media strategy, which included a highly interactive Parents community page. This page offers a place for moms to meet other moms or contribute their own story to moms who are going through the same things.

Cosmopolitan, another women’s magazine, also uses a Cosmopolitan community page on their social web site. I can follow conversations that are happening right now. One post on the message board is “Should I keep flirting with my coworker?” People have been sporadically posting answers to this question and to each other since a year ago.

Communities is where the people are, and where you should want to be

Freelance marketing consultant, Helen Leggatt, describes “digital villages” where you can attract your consumers. These villages are where your customers are spending their online time. It is useful to know where these communities are because customers are not going to go out of their way to type “find me a new brand to follow” in Google search.

Are you building a community where your customers would want to be?


News Organizations using social media

msnbc social media sign-ups

msnbc.com

I woke up this morning and as I ate breakfast, I updated myself with the happenings of the world by checking CNN. Another massive earthquake strikes — this time Chile is the victim.

The first item I clicked on was a video about an American Idol star who was in a hotel about 100 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake. He had been sending Tweets about he earthquake since it hit. CNN kept an eye on his Tweets and shared them with its online audience. My personal Twitter page is full of Tweets about the earthquake’s rising death toll, tsunami waves in Hawaii and the like.

How are news organizations using social media?

It’s not news (pun intended), that consumers are a rising influence on any organization, and the news companies are not excluded in this trend. Traditional media sources have turned to online and mobile social media to build trust, develop relationships, and interact with audiences. For example, ABC News has its own Youtube channel where people can watch clips and comment on past news shows. On the MSNBC Web site , people can get MSNBC news sent to their mobile phone, follow it on Twitter or subscribe to its podcasts, RSS feeds or e-mail alerts.  The San Francisco Chronicle Web site links to its staff blogs on its homepage.

Who’s helping whom?

I can’t help but wonder if the news organizations or audiences are benefitting more from the adoption of social media. Personally, I usually find the updates on Twitter from news organizations to be much more helpful than even scanning through headlines on news websites. I also find that every news organizations allows people to subscribe to any kind of feed to get more people soaking in more information from the network.

Do news organizations and social media have the same core values?

On the surface, American journalism and social media have the same core value of democratization of information. Both serve as fast resources of information for the world. Where they might differ is that a core value of journalism is to give accurate, fair information to the publics. Since social media content is generated from individuals looking at their computer or mobile screen, the information is going to be perhaps less accurate and more biased. Journalists can still use social media as more resources to obtain news or just hear what their audience has to say.

News organizations have a new code of ethics for social media

In 2009, many media corporations like The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post adopted ethical guidelines for using social media like Twitter. The rules seemed to generally encompass issues such as:

  • Don’t talk about a story before it’s been published
  • Don’t talk about how a story was obtained or written
  • Don’t mix your personal life with work that will damage the organization’s reputation

To me, the list seems extremely similar to the classic Journalism code of ethics.

Long-time journalist, editor, and journalism professor in New York, Jeff Jarvis, disagrees with some of the adopted ethics policies in his blog post. He says the journalists would miss an opportunity to interact and work with the public to get news, which is the point of using social media like Twitter.

For more information on how news organizations use social media visit…

The Niemen Foundation of Journalism at Harvard blog, Let’s Talk: Journalism and Social Media.”


Small businesses use social media to reach customers

social media

Social Media. google images

The Main Cup is a small, yet popular restaurant in my small hometown, Middletown, Maryland. It’s where college students go to catch up with old friends, where all the high school kids want to work, and where you’re guaranteed to recognize the people at the table next to you.

This small-town restaurant has almost 900 fans on its Facebook page. On the Facebook page the business owner, everyone knows as Bob, updates the status of the restaurant’s openings, menus, and entertainment. Fans often post on the page and respond to each other’s comments.

I’m guessing small businesses love social media.

Social media is a cheap way to get rich information to customers and help build relationships. Here are some of the ways small businesses benefit from using social media:

  • It will direct people to your website.
  • You can find out what people are saying about your organization.
  • It’s so cheap!
  • Many of the social media sites don’t require you to be tech-genius to use them.
  • It gets you involved in what so many people are using.
  • You can use the social media to build upon the face-to-face contacts you have.

Just to name a few!

Small Business owner, Jo Dodds, gives advice to help business owners fulfill the need to network with locals and find out what people are saying about their company.

Like jumping in a lake, it might not be such a good idea to jump into social media head-first.

It’s important for business owners to know the drawbacks of using social media as well.

In his blog, Small Business Search Marketing, marketing consultant Matt McGee discusses some worries of small business owners who use social media.

It’s up to you to do the research.
Only you can weigh the advantages/disadvantages of using social media for your small business. As long as you use social media to fulfill the needs of your customers and you’re willing to respond to what they have to say, you can reap the many benefits of new communication technologies to get your small business’ name on the map.


Is your audience listening to its friends?

I heard it through a friend that word-of-mouth advertising is the best marketing you can get your hands on. In recent years, companies have depended on boosting their image using social media. They use the social media to have conversations with shareholders who will tell their friends, who will tell their friends… The phenomena looked like this representation of Social Media Marketing Revolution Animation of Audience Growth.

The Edelman Trust Barometer, a recent study of who people trust as it deals with business, found that people are putting less trust in what their friends tell them about corporations.

In Michael Bush’s article, “In Age of Friending, Consumers Trust Their Friends Less,” in Advertising Age, he talked about the president and CEO of Edelman, Richard Edelman, said that companies are going to have to rely on more than just peer-to-peer advertising because we live in times that people second-guess sources of information.

One group of sources of information that gained trust in the business-place in the past year was CEOs. It might be useful for your organization to use a CEO blog in addition to counting on WOM advertising to reach its audience.

In his blog post, “What does the decline of peer trust mean for social marketing?” Jesse Stanchak says that he’s friends with a lot of friends-of-friends on Facebook, but he wouldn’t necessarily believe them when they say they like something from a particular company.

I can relate to this because I’m not going to go see a movie some person from my old high school said was good in his Facebook status. I am more likely to see the movie if one of my close friends said it – but social media marketing has always been about spreading your corporate image to as many acquaintances as possible.

I’m not saying your organization doesn’t have to give up on its peer-to-peer advertising goals, but it can’t count on it to alone. You’re going to have to take measures to think of other sources potential customers will trust.


How are audiences using social media?

ladder

google images

As I was in class this week, we discussed how Forrester researchers came up with “Social Technographics” to help organizations know how their audiences are using social media. I have to wonder, what kind of user am I?

Forrester created a ladder model of types of social media users ranging from “Creators” to “Inactives.” Audiences can participate in different groups, but the ladder is ordered from most active to least active in the world of social media.

There are seven groups on the “Social Technographics” ladder, and Forrester has even updated the ladder to include “Conversationalists.” A group of Marketing Professionals and Professors who began the Marketing Profs Blog describe these new “conversationalists” rung on the ladder and what it means that Forrester added it.

I have come up with my own list of the general types of social media users:

  • Doers – These people who create the social media and start the conversations. They were the   first bloggers.
  • Talkers – These are the select individuals who keep the conversations going and speak their minds in the world of social media and influence everyone else.
  • Readers – Make up most of the online population. They are influenced by the talkers and doers, so it’s extremely important not to ignore them.
  • Not-interesteds – People who do not use social media, but they still might be in your target audience.

PR Professional Todd Defren discusses Audience Targeting in Social Media and the same types of audiences in his blog PR-Squared. He uses similar names for the people who are the people who care the most about their subjects, the people who change other people’s minds on a subject, and those who are the general social media users.

So, which am I? I was relieved to find out that I didn’t have to choose one. Being a corporate communication student, I am a Doer, a Talker, and mostly a Reader when it comes to my social media usage. Which are you?