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When it comes to Facebook and Twitter, small businesses – the 10,500 members of SBAM — actually have an advantage over large corporations when communicating with their customers.
A former editor of Computerworld and a highly knowledgeable social media specialist (author of Secrets of Social Media Marketing and The New Influencers,”Paul Gillin blogged for ShopTab “Social Media: The Small Business Owner’s Unfair Advantage”), he cited five reasons why small businesses should engage in social media.
1. The cheap and often free cost of social media and their ease of use. “To get started, all you need is your computer and an Internet connection. If you’re passionate about your work, it costs nothing to start telling people about what you do,” Gillin said. Anyone can own and operate a Facebook or Twitter account. However, big corporations shy away from using social media for legal reasons, even though it is currently more valuable than traditional media sources.
2. Search engines are the “great equalizer” for companies. “Google doesn’t care if you’re The New York Times or Joe’s Hardware Store as long as you have the best content…A small business with great content on its website can compete with a company many times its size.” Gillin also said blogs that are routinely updated and attract links appear often in Google search engines.
3. Small businesses are personal. “Big corporations don’t have personality; they have brand,” whereas people who work for a small company are the brand, and customers know them personally. This is a huge advantage because “customers relate better to people than they do brands,” Gillin said.
4. They’re the fastest way to expand your geographic reach. After creating your blog, install a free analysis tool like Google Analytics to see where your visitors come from. Gillin said the majority of visitors will come from outside your geographic area because “the Internet is global and hyperlinks know no geographic bounds. What a great way to expand your market.”
5. They’re fun. “Social media is a great way to expand your network of relationships, and relationships lead to business,” Gillin said. “In addition to hearing that your business and expertise are important to others out there, engaging in conversations “will broaden your perspective, give you new ideas and make new friends.”
Breast Cancer Action
You told Eli Lilly loud and clear that they need to stop Milking Cancer, so we went to deliver your message via a billboard in their hometown. Here’s the lesson we learned: A pharma company can increase our risk of breast cancer, but a breast cancer advocacy group cannot get billboard space to let the public know about this public health risk. Because we don’t have the money? Nope. Because the billboard companies in Indianapolis won’t carry this message. Barbara A. Brenner says: “When corporate influence runs this deep, the public should be outraged. We certainly are.”
See press release
Where is Googling Going?
Google CEO Eric Schmidt had a lot of people’s wheels turning after his interview with the Wall Street Journal, suggesting young people will one day be entitled to their names upon adulthood to escape the uninhibited comments and unsavory photos of their younger years posted on social media sites.
As a young adult studying PR, watching what you post on social media sites was always stressed to me in my communications classes. Some friends of mine use fake names to escape being found on social sites like Facebook or Twitter. But the real question is how can you escape from an image?
Google already has the technology to recognize faces. According to David Petrou, staff engineer at Google Labs, it chooses not to do so out of concern for privacy issues. Since Google has the technology to connect your image to information about you, it’s only a matter of time before it is used on the average individual.
“I don’t believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time,” said Schmidt. The real issue is going to be how comfortable our society will be with sacrificing privacy for instant information access. We live in a time where what is posted on the Web can be linked to our geographic location. Apps like Mologogo can be downloaded to your mobile phone allowing you to use GPS to track where your friends are in real time.
Currently, Google has three general areas of business – search, advertising and applications (apps). It is most known for its search capabilities and Google AdWords (a pay-per-click system which allows you to create and run ads for your business quickly and simply). Google also has numerous apps like Google Calendars, Google Docs, Google Analytics and Google Talk.
With technology’s ever-changing nature, Google is looking to find what’s in store for the future of search. However, search is said to be slowly fading into the background with all the social media platforms and mobile phone apps that take users where they need to go without using a search engine. In the interview, Schmidt expressed his to desire to be one step ahead of search by providing users with recommendation technology. “They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next,” said Schmidt.
In order to do that, Google would have to collect enough information about you to not only know what you do for a living, but the daily habits of your personal life as well (in addition to tracking your location in real time of course). It’s tough to say how society will feel about mobile technology having the power to direct our behavior. On one hand, you could have your mobile device reminding you to pick up the milk you almost forgot; on the other hand, it could result in a bombardment of targeted ads as you turn every street corner.
A current concern of the average American citizen is monitoring the content of their online profiles. In a culture where an angry post or an inappropriate photo is made available for everyone to see, it is difficult to imagine having limited Internet access due to government censorship. However, this is the existing situation in China where the government has been monitoring online content since the introduction of the Internet years ago. While U.S. citizens are censoring what they put online, the Chinese government is censoring what their citizens can access.
The Golden Shield Project, more commonly referred to as the “Great Firewall of China”, operates as a censorship and surveillance program by the Ministry of Public Security division of the government of China. The Great Firewall of China blocks website content and also monitors Internet sessions of individuals. While it is hard to find an exact number, there are rumored to be as many as 30,000 government officials working as Internet police agents. These Internet police ensure that any critical or questionable material is deleted within minutes. The government expects all Internet service providers, businesses and organizations to abide by Great Firewall of China censorship policies.
To better illustrate the present conditions in China, Internet powerhouse Google pulled out of China last January after having trouble adhering to the strict censorship policies. Google decided that it simply was not feasible to censor all their search results. A few weeks ago, China released a White Paper on Internet usage and its future for Chinese citizens.
The overall message of the paper is that China is attempting to embrace the Internet and all it has to offer. They are aiming to be “a leader in global evolution by monitoring and regulating the Internet”. According to the document, nothing that “subverts state power, undermines national unity, infringes upon honor and interests or incites ethnic hatred and secession” is allowed. Also banned are a majority of social networking sites, terror-related sites, gambling sites, rumor-spreading sites, sites that support superstitious ideas and sites with vulgar or adult material.
As an American citizen accustomed to my First Amendment rights, the Chinese government’s Internet declaration seemed oxy-moronic. It came as a surprise that a government would allow for their World Wide Web to have kinks in it. One of the beauties of the Internet is that a majority of its content is user based. Censoring this content and restricting what is shared results in a bland, less enriched pool of resources. Is it possible for a country to attempt to embrace the Internet while at the same time control it?
As oil spills into the Gulf of Mexico, destroying land, ecosystems and livelihoods, social media is in the forefront. Whether it is the general public demanding a resolution, government officials seeking containment and public support or BP trying to restore its image, social media has spread the latest oil spill news faster than ever before.
Within hours of the British Petroleum and Transocean rig explosion, media personnel and the general public used Facebook and Twitter accounts to pass word of the explosion with friends and followers. Many of these social media users wondered who was to blame, what would happen to the fish and sea creatures calling the ocean their home and what affect the spill would have on those who fished for a living. Outrage and concern has continued to resonate throughout these social media sites following the explosion on April 20, 2010.
Thousands of BP critics have launched social media attacks for BP’s failure to prevent the disaster and its inability to stop the flow of oil. Hundreds of Facebook pages exist asking the public to boycott BP, while a fake BP Twitter account making fun of the company has reached a popularity well beyond that of the company’s actual Twitter account.
At the same time, the public has been posting and tweeting ways for others to help relief efforts in the Gulf. Posts telling people where and how to make donations have circulated the Internet.
The crisis communication carried out by the company is something that should be carefully observed. BP’s president, Tony Hayward, made several statements that have caused public outrage. Hayward belittled the scope of the situation in May and suggested that the environmental impact of the spill would be minimal. The company has yet to admit to doing something wrong but claims they are taking responsibility for clean-up efforts. In public relations, the best thing a company can do is to be completely honest about screwing up. BP was not.
The lack of interest and concern BP has shown is evident. The oil spill was a fantastic opportunity for BP to use social media as a communication tool right from the beginning. The company has made some effort to be active through social media- it has a Facebook page, Twitter feed and a channel on YouTube, which cost $250,000 to brand, according to Taylor Buley of Forbes.com . However, the problem is not what outlets of social media BP is using, but exactly how they are utilizing them.
BP should be using their Twitter feed and Facebook page as a forum for discussion as well as a way to answer questions and concerns from the general public. Instead of providing customer service and giving feedback, BP merely gives updates to what’s new in the Gulf. Courtesy of BP, there are plenty of informational videos about cleanup efforts and claims made against the company, but there is no channel of communication in which the public is asked for suggestions about the oil spill.
The company’s social media outlets have become a place for bashing the corporation instead of a forum for people to voice their opinions about a possible solution.
BP’s lack of care for the public’s input is apparent in their social media campaign, and it is a taking a toll on their reputation. If social media is going to be used during a crisis, in order to be successful, it needs to be facilitated so it is clear that the company is listening to its customers.
Jaclyn Klein and Rachel Krasnow
Ann Arbor, MI, June 17, 2010 — In a day and age where people are leading parallel lives via the Internet, it’s not shocking that researchers are frequently finding new trends pertaining to social media. It’s also no surprise that with so much new information available to the public, controversy surrounding Internet privacy has surfaced. Eiler Communications finds that with the social media being such an important tactic for marketing, it is imperative that company employees manage their online content. Failing to do so not only puts your personal reputation at stake, but your company’s as well.
“As new media is evolving as another public relations tool it is imperative that clients are educated on proper usage,” explained Larry Eiler, Chairman of Eiler Communications.
With that said, the younger half of the millennial generation has been accused of putting too much information about themselves on the Internet. However, new research from the Pew Research Internet and American Life Project suggests that part of this age group (18-29) is savvier with regulating their online content than their elders.
Not just bosses and friends are interested in checking out your photos, lifestyle approach and posts online. Given that the younger millenials are putting a ton of information on display, they are limiting what other people can see. They are more likely than any other age group to remove names from photos with beer cups and delete embarrassing rants with friends.
The study done by Pew found that 44 percent of young adult Internet users limit their personal information online, while only 33 percent of users ages 30-39 claimed they did the same. The numbers lessen as the ages of users increase. In the same study, 71 percent of 18-29 year-old social networking users surveyed said to have changed their privacy settings, almost 20 percent more than those surveyed aged 50-64. The youngest age group also beat out the other age brackets in other categories such as deleting unwanted comments and removing names from photos.
At Eiler, we endorse monitoring your online content. Although privacy settings differ with each social networking sites, and some privacy policies can be complicated (Facebook). It’s an area worth looking into. Just because young Internet users have grown up using social networking sites doesn’t mean that older users aren’t capable of limiting their personal information too.
It seems Internet users ages 18-29 are motivated to manage online content because they are likely trying to find a job, internship or other work-related gig. This means that these users are consistently aware of what content their potential employers could find. In fact, 26 percent of working Internet users have employers that instill policies about online content.
If you’re not changing your privacy settings out of caution, do it for love. The Internet makes it
simple for everyone to do scouting reports. People are checking up on their love interests. According to a study done by McKinsey, 1 in 8 of couples married in the U.S. in 2006 met online. Pew’s study shows that 16 percent of all Internet users search online for additional information about somebody they are dating or in a relationship with, and about one-third of those using dating Web sites check out their dates online as well. If you wouldn’t want your potential mate to see it, it probably shouldn’t be online.
Hats off to the young millenials; they’re keeping their content controlled- and it’s for their own benefit. Let’s commend them and copy them. It won’t hurt.
Using Facebook used to be so simple. I would log in, check my news feed, write on my friends’ walls and post photos without worrying about everyone knowing where I lived, what my interests were and how I felt at that very moment.
Another issue: your status updates and wall post aren’t just for your friends’ eyes. If you post something that says, “I hate the police!” your post will show up on a specific Facebook page for police. We’ve got to be more careful than ever. The problem is that we’re so used to be able to share our information; it’s hard to start putting it on lockdown.
Yet, we don’t pay for Facebook (but rumor has it we may have to start paying soon). We don’t own Facebook, either- so we have the right to complain? Has Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made it too hard for us to privately create content or are we making it too easy for our content and profiles to be taken advantage of?
“Nerd” has attained positive new popularity across Michigan in the past few weeks since Rick Snyder, well known entrepreneur and strong advocate of building new businesses, began his “nerd” television campaign. As a former head of Gateway Computer and an investor in numerous technology businesses through his investment businesses, Snyder proclaims himself a nerd in the positive and meaningful sense — someone who passionately pursues intellectual activities and is familiar with all of the emerging technologies and businesses that are succeeding across the state.
Nerd is what many people may be emulating as we move inexorably toward Internet 2.0 — the latest iteration of technologies that are compelling all of us to learn anew — and to learn to use new media and technologies to our advantage. Internet 2.0 is commonly associated with web applications that allow interactive information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design and collaboration.
An Eiler intern from 2009 has an interesting blog post on Web 2.0 and its place in the college classroom. Case Ernsting interned for Eiler last year, learning the ins and outs of public relations and the developing field of social media marketing. Case continues to explore digital marketing in his new role as Marketing Representative at MetaSpring Web Design in Ann Arbor. In a recent post for MetaSpring’s blog, Case outlined some key issues with Web 2.0 as it relates to job preparation for today’s college graduates.
Web 2.0 for Your Career
We’ve speculated on the job market in a few posts on this blog. It seems like college grads have the deck stacked against them in many ways. Whether it’s the economy, or skill set, many job seekers are having trouble.
Web 2.0 is a valuable asset to any college grad’s resume. More and more companies are looking to expand their digital presence. As a result, they expect entry-level employees to have the ability to implement web-based strategies. As Casey’s post points out, many recent college graduates are unequipped for these roles.
Here is a clip of the Casey’s post entitled, “Career Development 101: Teaching Web 2.0 Tools in the Classroom”.
“Colleges need to step it up. As a recent college grad, I see academia’s sluggish embrace of technological innovation and Web 2.0 as a disservice to my fellow students. Today’s job market has suffered in these tough economic times, but employers still seek workers who can gather information, assess it and act. Those in the workforce already rely on the web-based information-gathering tools daily, but if you’re currently enrolled in undergraduate college classes, you probably don’t even know they exist.”
For the rest of the post, jump over to MetaSpring’s blog: “Piece of Our Mind”.
The continued boom of various social media sites gives me some reason for concern. As an employer I question if employees become so addicted to using the sites that the main function of their jobs suffers. I’d be interested in others comments. Expectations in our business is that employees are 80-90% billable. How does that happen if a lot of time is spent on Facebook, Twitter etc.
About Eiler Communications &Ann Arbor, Michigan PR Firm &Business and Economy &Business of PR &Electronic PR &Leadership &Marketing &Media &Michigan Public Relations Firm &Public Relations Tools &Social Media 20 Mar 2009 03:51 pm
Are you a thought leader? Thought leaders are credible, insightful industry professionals (often heads of companies) with the expertise to comment on industry trends and issues…basically, the leaders of thoughts. This is highly desirable brand position requiring a focused public relations (PR) effort and a commitment to hard work.
Thought leaders provide insight and vision and therefore, are “go to” sources for members of the media often providing quotes and commentary for news coverage. Highly visible examples include Steve Jobs of Apple, Bill Gates of Microsoft, Larry Page of Google, Richard Branson of Virgin Megastores, or Mark Zuckerburg of Facebook. These leaders provide insight of global scale due to their product’s popularity around the world. It is also possible to carve out a niche for your company’s product or service locally or wherever you define your target market.
A few thought-leadership tips from www.skmarketing.com, a Minneapolis based business-to-business marketing agency:
1. Availability: Respect the hectic schedule of the journalists and other members of the press and return all calls ASAP.
2. Preparedness: As a thought leader, you are expected to possess wisdom and a familiarity with a wide variety of topics in your field. It is advised that you prepare talking points prior to any media engagement/interview.
3. Be Opinionated: Donald Trump might be the best example of this type of thought leadership. Thought leaders are expected to bring something new to the conversation without sitting on the fence. Be bold, compelling and dramatic.
4. Persistence: Create your own fortune through thought leadership tools. Examples include determined press releases, knowledgeable speaking engagements, effective social media, white papers, by-lined articles, and/or case studies.
Eiler Communications has practiced these skills for over twenty years, establishing brand messages and thought leadership strategies for local and national businesses. David Mielke, Dean of Eastern Michigan University’s College of Business, is an example of a local thought leader Eiler Communications works with consistently. Mielke has established a voice in the business community writing articles in the Ann Arbor Business Review and on www.MLive.com, often times commenting on the current state of business ethics. Mielke also serves on a number of economic and business boards.
So, are you ready to be a thought leader?