Monthly ArchiveFebruary 2009
Social Media 24 Feb 2009 02:21 pm
The social media website, Facebook, has been around for five years. It started as a social networking site for college students who attended a four-year university. Today, anyone with a valid email address can create his own account and it has expanded from college social networking to opening doors and benefiting businesses with several different features.
The pages feature was created to give businesses their own page on Facebook like an individual person. Pages give your business an identity. Once a business creates its page, it can then put pictures, videos and any other type of information that describes the company. People can become a “fan” of your business and follow your page and it’s updates. Any new activity on a page gets posted back to your mini feed for all your friends to see. This is another way to increase others awareness of your business.
The groups feature is similar to the pages feature. Groups are meant to be built around several people rather than an individual business. The difference between the two is that groups do not share as much information with users friends as users interact. For example, posting activity and updates on a users mini feed.
Facebook has a powerful advertising feature. It enables businesses to specify a specific demographic to target, see the number of people that demographic will hit and then advertise to them. This allows businesses to control who they are reaching to and then create an appeal to the specific demographic.
The applications feature allows businesses to have developers write software to help promote their business. Applications give them the full power to say or promote anything they want about their business.
The polls feature is good for marketers who want to get a quick answer about a particular feature they would like to implement or to find out the opinion or information from a specific demographic.
It is very clear how businesses can benefit from Facebook. As time passes, more and more businesses will realize how powerful of a marketing tool the website is. I didn’t realize the full extent to how powerful and beneficial social media was to businesses until I started at Eiler. Now, I think all companies should be using Facebook and other social media sites.
What Does Twitter Do For My Business?
According to the IDC (Premier Global Marketing Survey Company)Internet users spend an average of 32.7 hours online each week. That’s close to half the time they spend on any media (70.6 hours), twice the time they spend watching TV (16.4 hours) and close to eight times as much time as they spend reading magazines and newspapers (3.9 hours). The two fastest growing categories are video and social media (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Wikipedia, Blogs, YouTube, etc).
Clearly, attention is shifting on-line for all of our social and business needs.
Abrams Research recently asked over 200 social media leaders at the Social Media Week 2009 conference, what social media site would you recommend your business to pay for
(if they had to)? Twitter beat Facebook by more than two to one. Why? One of the most typical responses was, “ It is the quickest way I’ve seen to spread information virally to a wide scope of people attached in a lot of random ways.”
So, what is Twitter?
Twitter is a free social messaging utility for staying connected in real-time and is one of the fastest growing communities online. It allows people to send public or private messages in 140 characters or less via the web or mobile phone. Think of it as a Facebook status update on steroids. The idea is to sign up and find people that you want to follow. Once you follow them, you receive updates minute by minute on whatever they “tweet”. A “tweet” is a 140 character or less statement or link to information.
For instance, I follow people that are relevant to my business. By sharing quick bits of information, I can stay connected to them, know their interests and appeal to them for my professional or personal needs. The key is to “tweet” about relevant topics. No one cares if you are having coffee (unless of course you own a coffee business and are sharing your favorite brew). As a Twitter courtesy, if you follow someone they usually follow you back so, get out there and start following and watch your site grow! Think about this. If you send out one “tweet” that directs your followers to relevant news about your business, which directs them to you or your website- you can reach thousands of Twitter followers by the minute.
The key: No one likes a constant sales pitch. Twitter about relevant issues that pertain to your business or your interests. This will position you as an expert and drive traffic to your site.
It’s hard to turn on ESPN these days without a report on Michael Phelps or Alex Rodriguez. Both superstar athletes have suffered massive blows to their public image in the past few weeks, but each has taken a different approach to managing their respective crisis.
Various media personalities heralded Phelps as the greatest athlete in Olympics history (a modern history dating back to 1896) after he swam to eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics. Equally captivating was the recently released picture of Michael holding a bong at a college party in November. The Phelps camp has been frantically trying to save the swimmer’s reputation ever since the picture hit the internet. Strategically, Phelps management agency, International Management Group (IMG) is playing the “youthful spirit” PR card, asking for understanding and forgiveness…a very sound strategy. But the drawn out saga that has unfolded probably wasn’t in their plans. Every additional apology Phelps’ issues goes straight to the front page; every informal poolside press conference has Phelps out of breath and un-groomed. Phelps needs his character and integrity reaffirmed, but neither his coaches nor friends have displayed support to the media. More proactive PR tactics are needed in times of crisis management.
Alex Rodriguez and his PR staff were far more aggressive in handling his recent admission to steroid use in Major League Baseball (MLB). Sports Illustrated broke the story on Sunday and Rodriguez disclosed all in an interview with ESPN’s Peter Gammons on Tuesday. He attacked the allegations and tried to minimize the damage by giving answers to questions sports fans were asking. Pulling a page from Phelps’ book, Rodriguez blamed his humanity for “making a mistake”. While Rodriguez’s image will never be the same, he was able to control the story, instead of letting the story control him.
These two sport-related cases offer lessons in crisis management. While the public will never forget these two incidents, savvy PR practices can minimize the damage to their respective reputations. Basketball’s Michael Jordan was able to stay in the public’s favor for years despite gambling allegations. Many businesses, company leaders, athletes, celebrities, etc. make mistakes because they are human. PR specialists must realize this fact and build a plan to emphasize the way individuals learn from mistakes.
Social Media 12 Feb 2009 01:03 pm
I was recently watching the news and heard that the postal service is considering cutting back from delivering mail six days a week to five days a week. This made me think about the impact that email, social media and other web technologies are having on the postal industry.
If you think back to ten or so years ago, the main way that people got mail was by sending it through the postal service. Today, that is no longer the case. I personally can’t remember the last time I actually mailed something; I usually receive information technologically. I receive messages via email, Facebook, or Twitter. You can also pay your bills online using a credit card versus mailing a check. This is all having a negative impact on the postal service industry.
The Postmaster General, John E. Potter told Congress “that massive deficits could force the post office to cut out one day of mail delivery per week.” Potter asked lawmakers to lift the requirement set in 1983 that the agency deliver mail six days a week.
Why is the postal service facing massive deficits? The service is faced with decreasing amounts of mail and rising costs. Potter claims “that the post office was $2.8 billion in debt last year and if the current trend continues they could face a net loss of at least $6 billion this year.”
202 billion items were mailed last year; that is more than 9 billion less than the year before. Potter also said, “even though the annual rate increases, 2009 could be the first year since 1946 that the amount of money collected by the post office declines.” Taking this into consideration, the cost of six-day delivery may now be unaffordable.
When you hear this, you automatically assume that mail will no longer be delivered on Saturdays. This isn’t necessarily the case; they would suspend mail delivery on the day with the lightest volume.
Social media is also becoming a very popular communication tool amongst Public Relations firms and other companies. All of this makes you wonder if email and various social media are going to one day completely take over the communication world?
Last week I wrote about including “Going Green” in business plans of the future, not only to help the environment, but also to sustain company coffers. This strategy is readily apparent following General Motors (GM), Chrysler and Ford’s visit to Congress last month and their subsequent unveilings at last week’s North American International Auto-show (NAIA).
In December, the CEOs of Detroit’s Big Three trekked out to Congress on the wheels of their newest hybrid vehicles in search of a Bailout. Although the CEOs were successful in acquiring a $17.4 Billion loan, the trip cost the automakers a great deal of credibility and public perception. GM CEO Richard Wagoner defended the decisions of the last few years as “right for the time”. GM’s resolute decision-making resulted in sluggish development of fuel-efficient vehicles; a disparaging trend given the nimble (and successful) movements of Toyota and Honda. The U.S. auto leaders needed to become relevant and responsible once again. Like many businesses both in Michigan and around the world, they turned their focus to environmental issues.
The Big Three were able to secure the congressional loan on the merits of their plan to go green and produce hybrid vehicles; an act that will benefit all three companies financially and in the public’s eye. A report in the Michigan Business Review identifies the mission ahead:
“[Chrysler, Ford and GM] face the challenge of introducing new products while convincing the public that they’ll be around to build those products.”
These new products include a more fuel-efficient, direct-inject turbocharged engine called Ecoboost from Ford…which sounds cool enough to be in a Batman movie. GM is looking for big returns on their E-Flex platform in which vehicles are battery dominant and plug-in capable. Chrysler is making the most of its new bailout bounty by promising three electric vehicles by 2010, shocking to some. Until these new innovations reach the market, PR opportunities such as the NAIA and news reports must be considered deftly. Going Green isn’t enough anymore to sway the American consumer. Companies now must to show purpose with environmental measures, especially when they are receiving our tax dollars.