• 08Oct

    Is it better to shout or whisper with social media?One of my clients, NETSHARE, is an expert in executive career management, and the company has introduced me to some of the leading experts in career transition and executive job search. One of my favorites is Randy Block, a career transition coach and consultant, who hosts NETSHARE’s Ask the Coach member support calls as well as their San Francisco regional meetings for executive job seekers. Randy recently shared some advice on social media as it relates to job search and posted it on The Obvious Expert. The result is an article outlining 10 (okay, 9) things you should NOT do in social media marketing. I am sure you will find that these points are enlightening as to what NOT to do:

    1. Don’t prepare. Jump into your social media marketing without a plan. Don’t consider the objectives you want to realize or what your competitors are doing in their efforts on blogs.
    2. Be first on the block – Be the first in line to try new platforms and technologies before you know if they will be effective or a waste of time.
    3. Control the interview – Don’t let go or listen but dominate the conversation so it’s all about you and your needs.
    4. Spill everything – Share your innermost thoughts and secrets online and hold nothing back because you want the world to see the “real” you, right?
    5. Look everywhere but in the eye – There is an online equivalent of not looking the party in the eye. Don’t engage with your audience in a direct and personable (not personal) way
    6. Trash your boss – Always be negative about your boss and the competition because that says so much about you.
    7. When in doubt, bluff – No one checks, right? So make stuff up because the Internet doesn’t promote transparency; how will they find the truth?
    8. Show desperation – Make it clear to your online followers that you are desperate for their business because it will make you so much more attractive.
    9. Take notes throughout the interview – Admittedly, this one doesn’t translate well from career coaching, but the point is to pay attention to the other party, not your own agenda.
    10. Don’t ask questions – As with item 3, assume this is a one-way conversation and that you know more than the other guy, so don’t ask for advice or insight.

    I assume you get it. If you look at the common theme here, it’s about dialogue, and working with other social media contacts to demonstrate your value, your brand, and your insight, and to invite them to share their value, their brand, and their insights. Social media is about exchange – you show me yours and I’ll show you mine, but it’s not about showing off.

    Many thanks to Randy for his insight

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  • 05Oct

    I have been working on a project lately for a financial services client; a crisis communications plan designed to help them deal with a variety of public problems. We developed scenarios to cover financial meltdown, executive malfeasance, data loss or theft, robbery, fire, flood, pestilence, and a plague of locusts. The client was pleased – “Very thorough” was the response – but in the process of developing the crisis plan I recalled a number of points I had forgotten about crisis management.

    The first revelation was that in order for there to be a crisis, you have to have a victim. This seems obvious, but I have known a number of chief executives who look at an internal product failure or a bad fiscal quarter and decide it’s a crisis that needs addressing. Unless the public, or employees, or stockholders are going to be affected (and usually in a dramatic way), there is no crisis.

    I also discovered that NOT having a crisis communications plan in place can be expensive. You can’t just think in terms of losses in revenue, reputation, or brand equity. The premiums for E&O insurance are higher if you don’t have a crisis plan waiting in the wings. After all, statistics show that every organization will encounter a public crisis sometime in the next five years.

    It’s also crucial that you not only identify corporate spokespersons in advance, you need to train them! CEOs think that talking to the press is the same as schmoozing a venture capitalist or addressing the board of directors. They are wrong! Crisis communications requires a level of understand and finesse that is unlike any other type of PR. If you have doubts, go to YouTube and look up any CEO dealing with a company crisis. If they have prepared, it shows.


    What’s wrong with this picture? Would you trust this man with your crisis message?

    The real trick in crisis communications is being responsible and admitting there is a problem without pointing fingers or assigning culpability. This is a fine line that can be very hard to walk. If you speak frankly and address concerns quickly about what you know, and stay within your area of responsibility, you can avoid laying blame or making statements that you will have to recant later.

    Above all, crisis communications calls for authenticity It’s not just about saving the company’s reputation or shoring up stock price. It’s about being a stand-up corporate citizen that cares about customers, employees, or the planet – whoever has been affected by the company’s error.

    So if you haven’t revisited your crisis strategy lately, it’s time. Make sure you have assigned your crisis team, refreshed your contact list, and trained your spokespersons. There’s nothing worse than getting caught unprepared. And when you are caught unwares, repairing the damage to your reputation and your brand, and rebuilding your sales could take more time than you can afford to invest.

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  • 03Oct

    Have you noticed how many social media experts have emerged in the last two years? It seems as though anyone with a background in PR or communications has become a social media whizz kid. If you have been working in marketing communications long enough, integrating new channels like Facebook and Twitter into your current marketing strategy is mostly common sense. As with any communications program, the objective is to deliver the right message to the right audience in the right way.

    This is why I find it increasingly fascinating that more and more social media universities have been springing up. I have sat through a number of webinars, offering great insight and revelations as to how to harness social media for wealth and fame, only to come away scratching my head, waiting for the big revelation. Many of those offering social media nirvana were selling Ponzi schemes in another life. Social media snake oil seems to run rampant on the Web. However, there are a number of respected professionals like Paul Gillen and David Meerman Scott who do understand how to leverage social media for effective marketing and offer sound thinking with minimal hype.

    So how do you decide of social media training is going to be beneficial? Social marketer Larry Brauner has a seven-question litmus test to determine if you will get what you need from a social media training program. I want to share them here for your consideration:

    1. What are your needs and expectations? What are you really looking for from social media? Is it about building your business, changing careers, making money? If you are clear about what you are looking to accomplish you will be better able to find the right program.
    2. Does the course match your needs? Once you understand your objectives, you can assess whether the curriculum is on target for you.
    3. Does the course justify the cost in time and money? Assess what kind of return you are looking for from social media and invest accordingly. And don’t expect a fast return. Any course that promises overnight success is snake oil.
    4. Do you qualify for the program? Make an honest assessment of your social media skill set, including your web skills and your strategy. Are you prepared to follow through on your social media plan?
    5. Are you sufficiently motivated? Effective social media programs are long-term, and require an ongoing commitment. If you are ready to run the marathon and make the commitment required to yield a return, then you may be ready. Consider the commitment carefully before moving ahead with a social marketing program.
    6. How qualified are the instructors? This is where you need to apply the sniff test – if the training program smells a little off, it probably is. Make sure the instructors can walk the walk as well as talk the talk, and get references.
    7. Can you afford to lose your investment? If the course costs more than you can afford to lose, then don’t do it. Social media is not a magic bullet and will not yield instant returns that will cover your costs.
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  • 01Oct

    TwitterIconMany thanks to Paul Gillen for sharing his latest insight on Twitter traffic trends. There is a common perception that Twitter generates mostly meaningless traffic, like what I am having with my coffee or who I am voting for on American Idol. Paul conducted an innovative experiment. He clipped a 100-block stream of Twitter traffic go assess the amount of useful traffic. If you are discriminating about your Twitter followers (I at least make sure there is a bio with something remotely relevant before I follow someone), then you should see similar results.

    What Paul found was:

    • 42% of the tweets were random.
    • 12% contained news of general interest, including a lot off real-time information about the Samoan tsunami.
    • 33% were referral links to interesting information.
    • 7% were notable quotes.
    • 6% were either self-promotional messages or requests for advice.

     Actually, the most telling statistic was Paul’s statement:

    “The bottom line is that the 4 1/2 minutes it took me to read 100 tweets yielded at least 20 items of interest.”

    That’s powerful. And it demonstrates the power of Twitter to promote your brand online. If you can come up with an online persona that you can promote through multiple social media outlets – Twitter, Facebook, Plaxo, LinkedIn, whatever – then you have something worth promoting.

    The other aspect of Paul’s anecdotal research I found interesting was that 45 percent of the tweets included a link. I tell my clients that social networking is about laying out a trail of online bread crumbs that lead a path do your door. Linking to interesting content is what makes you interesting and significant on the social networking world.

    I follow a number of people on Twitter, but there are only a few I listen to closely. Like the old EF Hutton commercials, when they tweet, I listen. That’s online brand building.

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