Julius Duncan's Blog

Brands for a social age

Archive for the month “April, 2010”

Promoted Tweets – Social Reputation gold

Twitter’s new ‘promoted tweets’ feature could turn out to be a hugely significant development for Social Reputation practitioners. For anyone who hasn’t caught up with Twitter’s plans yet, in a nutshell, it allows brands to place a special promoted tweet at the top of the Twitter search results for a selected word, or brand name. Early adopters of the format are Starbucks, Virgin Atlantic, Red Bull and Sony Pictures.

In some ways it’s similar to a ‘sticky thread’ in a forum, a post that stays at the top of the discussion irrespective of the time of posting. It’s this ability to buck the usual ‘real time’ rules of Twitter that makes Promoted Tweets so interesting for those looking after a brand’s reputation.

Put yourself in the position of a brand that is facing a reputational firestorm online. The community is angry, Twitter is abuzz and you need to get your point across to try and restore some balance. Up until now any comment placed into the Twitter stream by a brand would rapidly get ‘pushed down’ into the conversation by subsequent Tweets on the same subject. By using Promoted Tweets you will be able to ensure that your content appears at the head of the results when individuals search terms relevant to your situation. A carefully considered Promoted Tweet, signposting readers to additional content that supports your argument, will become a key tool in turning detractors around. What’s going to be interesting to watch is how successfully brands can bring together the skills required to really make the most of this golden new tool.

As outlined by Twitter COO Dick Costolo, at the Chirp conference for Twitter developers last week, in order to be successful with Promoted Tweets, brands will have to do more than simply purchase the space. Promoted Tweets that aren’t replied to or retweeted, in Costolo’s language those that don’t have ‘resonance’, will be pushed out of position. So, success will be down to mastering both paid media and earned media skills. In a crisis situation the key will be doing that at speed, and in a way that sees the brand join the conversation as a prominent, yet welcomed voice. Get that right and another of the Promoted Tweet’s unique attributes will kick-in, the fact that it’s an ad format that’s easily shareable. People who find the content engaging will retweet it to their own streams creating a powerful visibility beyond the Twitter search results pages. 

Social Reputation gold.

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MP’s on Twitter – Day 1 scorecard

There has been lots of comment about this being the first ‘social media Election’ in the UK. Undoubtedly the social networks are in place, there is scale in terms of numbers participating, and the political parties are fighting to win on this battleground.

So how did sitting MPs rate on day one of General Election 2010? I’ve conducted an unscientific survey to find out!

Methodology

1. Search ‘MP’ in Twitter

2. Analyse content generated by UK MPs on day-one of GE 2010 (April 6th).

From a random sample of 25 UK MPs, 17 tweeted today (68 pct), nearly all referring to the official start of the Election campaign. Some of those without any content updates had been dormant for some time e.g. Tom Brake.

While this doesn’t in any way claim to be a comprehensive analysis, it does bring up some interesting points.

1.  There is apparently no consistency in content/message across party MPs

2. Similarly there is no evidence of a coordinated effort to ensure the campaign is kicked off via Twitter on day one 

3. Comments lack calls to action and clear opportunities to engage further.

If this is to be the first ‘social media Election’, one where parties can use it to make a difference, it will take more than a presence on platforms to make it happen. Content that engages and includes a clear online call to action would be a good start. Some content aggregation via the parties’ main sites/social outposts, would add consistency and visibility to individual MP’s content. Finally, genuine opportunities to debate issues online direct with candidates would see social media used to its full potential.

Game on. Let’s see if any one of the parties can use social media to its advantage in the closest Election for decades.

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A cultural approach to social media guidelines

Examples of company employees creating Social Reputation issues or crises are numerous. A common theme is for staff to attack their customers in a conversation with friends, and/or colleagues, on their personal social networks. These  comments get picked up by the crowd and amplified online. When they achieve enough momentum mainstream media run with them as an easily acquired newsworthy story, giving further legs to the sorry tales of customer hatred. Staff at each of  Ryanair, PC World, and Virgin Atlantic all gained infamy in 2009 for their comments about customers. In the case of Virgin Atlantic thirteen cabin crew were sacked.

So, as an employer, how can you prevent this happening to you? Sorry, but you can’t. There is always the risk of unintentional slip ups, ignorance, or rogue staff with an axe to grind, putting your organisation in a similar position. 

But you can mitigate the risks through a set of Social Media Guidelines. These Guidelines are designed to provide staff with a framework for what you consider appropriate behaviour within social media.  There is a huge range of guidelines out there, ranging from several pages, to just a few words.

This diversity reflects the unique culture of every company or organisation, and culture should be the key consideration when you’re creating them. So don’t spend weeks drafting policies in an ivory tower, dig into the culture of your teams, think about your customer service approach, your brand and your overall tone of voice. Talk about it, run some workshops to find out what your frontline staff think, kick out a set of guidelines that are a ‘living document’ and take feedback.

In this way you’ve got a chance to create something that can be ‘lived’. And that just might stop you joining the growing list of self-inflicted crisis case studies.

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