Organizations and Stakeholders

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.

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?

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

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.”

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?


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?

Pick the people, then the tool

As professional communicators, we are sucked into the latest way to get a message out and not thinking enough about who it’s reaching.