Tag Archives: social media

Tweet This, Facebook That

SmallBusiness.com has an interesting post about how the uses of Facebook, Twitter and Reddit differ depending on the subject:

  • Platform usage is context-dependent. Entertainment events are more likely to be discussed on Facebook, while sporting events (and live news events), like the NFL Kickoff or the Napa earthquake, are more likely to be discussed on Twitter. Reddit tends to be the dominant platform for political and international discussion.
  • Timing is crucial when posting to certain social networks. Facebook tends to be the dominant platform to discuss and publish stories 2-3 weeks around an event; but Twitter and Reddit are more reactive, dominating 2 to 3 days around an event.
  • Within 24 hours of a major event, 85% of sharing occurs on mobile devices.

This next one was very interesting:

  • News events like the Napa earthquake and the Ferguson riots are highly localized with sharing. Missouri saw a 7.7x surge during the riots.

Back in the early days of blogging it became trendy to “liveblog” at conferences. Basically attendees would send out rapid fire blog posts sharing what they were seeing, hearing and learning. While it still happens that action has been largely replaced by people Tweeting their experiences and using a hashtag so that their observations will be group with other attendees’ in a stream of conference-related information that any Twitter user can see. That’s why every conference now has a #ID printed on everything so that everyone knows which one to use and they can generate some real-time conversation.

Facebook is also used at conferences but usually it’s people posting photos, letting people know they’re there, or at the end of the day saying things like “Had a great day at JonCon. Can’t wait for tomorrow’s session on excellent enemas!” It’s not nearly as spontaneous and, to use a real world analogy, is the conference yearbook vs. Twitter being the conference newspaper.

What does all that mean? If you’re using social media for business, church, non-profit, school, club or whatever, you need to make sure you utilize the proper social media channel at the right time. If you don’t you’ll be whistling in the wind.

Social Media Tools Reveal Tools

Boiled down to their essence, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. are communication tools. They enable anyone who has them to communicate in a way that used to be restricted to people who could afford to buy their own printing press, radio station or TV station. That’s pretty cool, but just like any other tool it can be dangerous for those who maybe shouldn’t be allowed to walk with sharp scissors. A couple of cases in point:

The former executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party has tweeted that Ebola victims should be euthanized to help prevent the spread of the disease. Here’s a couple of his tweets:


The second example is an image of Vladimir Putin that some conservatives are sharing on Facebook and suggesting that we Americans should follow his lead:

If you’d told me 20 years ago that Republicans would be looking for policy inspiration from a Russian autocrat I’d have said you were nuts. Ronald Reagan must be spinning in his grave.

The first example is obviously pretty extreme, but it’s a big deal because the person who posted it is prominent in his field and is seen to represent a large group of people. In the past, before he could express himself directly to so many people with just his two thumbs and a smart phone, he would have needed a witness to capture the moment and then share it via one of the traditional media outlets in order for anyone to really see it. In other words he likely would have had a media professional around to say, “Whoa, that’s some bat**** crazy stuff you’re spewing. Let’s not share that with the rest of the world.” Now he has all the tools he needs to reveal himself as a tool without anyone’s help.

The second example is a classic case of someone sharing what they think is an astute observation, no matter how half-witted it is, and then have it shared by like-minded people. This is interesting to me because it tends to say as much about the sharer as the creator and so over time people reveal their character and intellectual outlook by what they support and share. The only corollary I can think of from days gone by would be people posting signs in their yards or putting bumper stickers on their cars, and that by it’s very nature provides a much smaller window to the soul than do peoples’ social media activities.

Of course there’s a positive side to this. People can share inspiring messages, truly insightful observations, interesting facts, etc. on social media just as easily as they can negative/hateful thoughts, dumb ideas or historical inaccuracies. All-in-all it’s a net positive, especially when you consider that in addition to all the positive stuff we find via social media we also have a much more effective way to identify the tools in our midst.

Playing Foursquare

Finally I'm seeing a payoff for the ridicule I've endured for continuing to use Foursquare.  I'm not really a hardcore user because I probably forget to check into places I visit about 50% of the time, but when I do check in I get one of two reactions if I'm with someone: if they're an "online" person they say "Are you still using that goofy service?" and if they're a Luddite they say "Is that another one of those stupid social media things you're into?" My reply is usually a shrug or I'll say, "Well sometimes I can get a discount." But all this time what I've really been hoping for is a way to track where I go and the kinds of places I prefer and finally Foursquare has come through with Time Machine.

This screenshot below is a map that shows my 1200+ checkins over the last few years and some graphs that show the kind of places I like visit. It won't surprise anyone who knows me that I really like coffee shops.

Here's what's really smart about it though: the time machine then asks if I want to see the future and then takes the opportunity to recommend places to visit based on my history. What I like about this is it highlights parts of Foursquare that I haven't used, didn't really realize I could use, and will now probably utilize. Basically they've helped me understand that this could be much more than just a gimicky, fun, service as Fred Wilson pointed out in his post about Time Machine:

I've been using Foursquare for about four years and have checked in almost 5,000 times. That's an average of 3.4x a day. No wonder Foursquare is so good at making recommendations for me when I am in places I don't know much about.

I plan on testing Foursquare's recommendations on my next trip. As I use the recommendations I'll probably realize that if I were to check in more often I would get even better recommendations, which will lead to more check ins, which will lead to better recommendations, etc.

Who Owns Your Friends?

Here's an interesting tidbit from JimRomenesko.com about a reporter who had built a following on her Facebook and Twitter accounts, and what happened when the new owner of her station put in place a social media policy:

At this juncture, I am retaining ownership of my existingFacebook and Twitter pages. Therefore, the company has started new social media accounts in my name for me to use during work hours when I am covering stories. The company has administrative control over these accounts.

It would be easy to think this kind of thing only applies to businesses with "talents" like news organizations, theaters, etc., but that would be wrong. As social media in its varying forms becomes  ingrained in the way we do business, the question of who "owns" friends/followers will be as fundamental as who "owns" a salesperson's contact list.  Many companies avoid this problem by having only one official company Facebook page, Twitter account, LinkedIn page, etc. so there's no question about who "owns" those followers, but for those companies that decide to allow their employees to develop distinct social media presences as company representatives this is a vital consideration.

 You might wonder why any company would allow an employee to develop a distinct social media presence. After all, you'd think that would distract from the company's core social media property. That's a valid concern, but when you stop to consider what you pay people to do in the "real world" – attend industry conferences, develop sales channels, develop relationships with the trade media, etc. – why wouldn't you want them to do the same things via social media? If you're willing to embrace the messiness and chaos that this brings to your social media portfolio then you're likely to generate plenty of business through these efforts, but you also better be ready to protect your business by making it clear who "owns" those channels and the related followers/fans/friends.

Social Media Political Derangement Syndrome

Every four years we have to suffer through a Presidential campaign, but in the era of social media the agony has truly been heightened to an almost unbearable level. Not only do we have to listen to candidates and pundits, now we have to bear our (supposed) friends sharing their own, often wharped, views about the various candidates and their supporters. I have to admit I kind of snapped this morning and wrote this on Facebook:

An interpretation of modern American politics based on extensive reading of my friends' Facebook and Twitter posts – in four paragraphs:

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

Teach a Republican to fish and he hires all the non-union fishermen, pays them minimum wage, decimates the fishery, ships the entire catch to the Cayman Islands and has them stored in a secret freezer. He keeps a small portion in the states to live off of day-to-day and pays capital gains on it. Fires all the fishermen and figures out a way to get more fish in China. Blame the lack of fish in American waters on the Godless Democrats' turning us into a non-Christian nation and hope that no one has actually read the Bill of Rights.

Teach a Democrat to fish and he establishes a Department of Fishing, writes 3,425 pages of regulations, hires all the fishermen, pays them so-so wages but gives them killer pensions, accidentally decimates the fishery and taxes the cattlemen to help pay for the clean up. When they get mad he starts talking about rising tides lifting all boats, but gets distracted and starts blaming the Republicans for global warming. 

The Green Party candidate doesn't eat fish so he fries up some tofu and calls the Democrat and Republican mean names.

Admittedly it's not very witty, nor very inciteful, but it made me feel better. Sure, I could turn off social media, but then I'd lose out on this unprecedented opportunity to learn exactly how wharped many of my "friends" are.

Is 140 Enough?

Twitter, the source of much derision for anyone who doesn't use it, was built at a time when SMS texting was the primary form of non-verbal communication on "mobile devices" so it was designed to work within the 160-character confines of the system. Since then Twitter has grown like kudzu and most people use it with anything but SMS – the Twitter website, web-based tools like Tweetdeck or mobile apps of various persuasions. That development has led to people suggesting that Twitter increase the character limit which has led, in turn, to others defending the 140 character limit. Here's a simple argument in favor of keeping the limit:

And, that's how we have learned to use the service. Or, as GigaOm's Mathew Ingram put it the first time Manjoo made this argument: "The point the Slate writer misses (or hints at, and then discards) is that if it did this, it wouldn’t be Twitter any more."

What truly makes the character limit so crucial to Twitter being Twitter is the brevity it forces on its users. Ask any writer and they'll tell you that brevity is hard – any fool can take two pages to tell you how to install a light bulb, but it takes some work to tell you in one sentence. Is 140 characters really "writing"? Not in the traditional sense, but if you haven't used Twitter you have no way of knowing how creative and witty people can be in so little space and it's truly a wonder to behold when it's done well. (See the Washington Post's Gene Weingarten for a good example, although the fact that he uses a turd as his icon might be a little off-putting to some of you).

The character limit also promotes sharing, because the less space someone has to write the more likely he is to simply provide a link with a quick (hopefully witty) intro. So rather than reading an unnecessarily long missive about a subject you get to read a quick intro and then view the source piece itself. Here's an example from Weingarten:

"Women may not be any smarter than men, but they are definitely less stupid." My new column:http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/maga …

Sure, some folks use Twitter poorly, but some people who own Porsches drive like granny going to church and that's not the car's fault. Hopefully Twitter will stick to its guns and keep the 140 character limit. As the article linked to above points out, Twitter can expand and improve its service (i.e. photo sharing, links to expanded posts, etc.) without altering its fundamental 140-character DNA, and if they're smart that's exactly what they'll do.

FWIW, here's a link to probably the worst Twitter account in existence.

Xbox Not Just for Gamers

Two Christmases ago our big family gift was Xbox Kinect. Normally with a gift like that I'd put family in quotes because we'd all have known that it was really a gift for the kids, but in this case it was a true family gift that's used more by the kids than the parents. Why's that? Because while the kids (our youngest son in particular) use the Xbox as it was originally intended – to play video games – the rest of us use it as an entertainment center. Apparently we aren't the only ones:

As promised, Xbox has rolled out three big content partners, beefing up its role as a big television player in the living room. Starting today, HBO Go (for participating providers), Xfinity and MLB (for subscribers) are debuting on Xbox Live, adding to Netflix, Hulu, ESPN and many more. And marking today’s announcement, Xbox said more people are now using the console for entertainment purposes (TV, movies and music) than gaming. (Emphasis mine)…

As we’ve written several times before, Xbox is television’s largest social network. While these new apps don’t take advantage of many Xbox Live features, the obvious next evolution is to become more social, engaging and connecting subscribers over voice, video and data. The foundation is built, and the scale is there (Xbox sold 426,000 units in February alone). And now it’s just up to developers to evolve a consumption experience to a social experience, tapping the Xbox Live wiring to make it happen. Stay tuned…

It's been obvious for a while that the wall between most households' primary entertainment vehicle (television) and primary information vehicle (computer tied to internet) has been crumbling, but it's fascinating to see how it's happening. In retrospect it makes total sense that the video game console would become the vehicle, but we've been witness to far too many failed "WebTV-ish" experiments to say that it was obvious to many people beforehand.

Why Business Blogs are Still Relevant

I've had the opportunity to sit through my fair share of presentations on social media and how it could/should be integrated into companies' communications mix. Over the last year I've heard a disturbing number of people say they've nixed their blogs, and sometimes whole websites, and concentrated solely on their Facebook presence. What's the disturbing number? At least one and that's one too many.

If I were to delve into all the reasons why this is a bad idea I'd be writing a 10,000 word treatise, so let me just point to one reason I think blogs still have a place in every company's communication toolbox. It's a case study from right here in the Piedmont Triad as related by Matt Evans at the Triad Business Journal:

Kestler recently took a trip to visit some of those suppliers, and posted a photo of his trip on the company's Facebook page.

Then came the invective – the company’s page was inundated with ugly and obscene comments that questioned Kestler's patriotism. The photo had to be removed from the Facebook page.

But Kestler didn’t want to leave it at that, and composed a blog post responding to the comments. In it, he traces his family roots back to the Revolutionary War and talks about his company’s history of paying above-average wages and providing good benefits to workers.

To me this case highlights the best that blogs have to offer – they're a great way to have a "conversation" with customers that's more than one or two sentences (or 140 characters) in the comments field of an almost ethereal digital environment (Facebook). With a blog you can provide the kind of context that doesn't work well on Facebook, and more importantly you own it so you can make sure that what you write appears as you want it to. Even better you can invite comments from your customers and retain the ability to review them before they go live on your site – this helps you keep the invective down and prevent the conversation from spiraling out of control. Does this mean you prevent all negative comments from appearing? Absolutely not! Rather, you simply prevent name calling or pointless diatribes from hijacking the conversation. Good luck pulling that off on Facebook.  

Sure Facebook's an important place to be these days, but it's far from the only game in town, or from being the most important for your business.

Local TV News on Social Media

I have a question for local TV news folks.  Do you think your social media outlets, Facebook in particular, should reflect your station/corporate values?  I would imagine the answer is yes, and if it is you really should be careful what you post or link to on your Facebook page.  Although I think it's perfectly appropriate to link to stories you don't air on your regular broadcast since, like your website, your Facebook page is a great way to expand your coverage, I don't think it's appropriate to link to stories that you wouldn't air on your broadcast because it's simply too racy. 

If you'd like me to give you examples I'll give you two just from this week: a story about a guy having unnatural relations with a dog, and another story about a guy who got a tattoo on a certain body part that resulted in him developing an unexpected condition normally associated with a Viagra overdose.  Sure, some people will find them funny, and I've been around long enough to know that stories like that grab attention, but if they aren't an accurate reflection of your organization's values then you really shouldn't post them.

By the way, the same can be said for any organization in any industry.  Just because they're a different venue that might have a slightly edgier audience than your norm doesn't mean that your social media outlets should not reflect your values.  Remember, you are what you post.