Thank for reading the Webbiquity blog this year. Merry Christmas, and best wishes for a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2015.
Guest post by Megan Totka.
Has social media ruined public relations? Can the images of business and public figures still be saved by a crisis management team? In a crisis situation, how long until people expect an answer? Can PR keep up in this online social world? These are all questions I’ll try to tackle here. The notion that social media can have a larger impact than public relations is fairly new. Many business executives see social media as an easy outlet for a business to spread positive information, but what about the flip side? Is your business prepared to avoid a PR nightmare if a customer utilizes social media? When you open your business up to millions of people, safely hidden behind their computer screens, anything and everything can be said. Is your business ready for this new PR battle?
In late January, a Midwestern mom had the horrifying task of trying to locate a source of lead in her home after her infant son was diagnosed with lead poisoning. During the examination, she used a home kit and found lead present on a bolt on a baby food blender made by Baby Bullet. After three attempts to get answers from the company via phone and email, the mom turned to social media. Baby Bullet’s Facebook page lit up. Comments were being posted every few minutes. Parents were outraged. One mom even took it a step further, using parenting blog to chronicle the full story.
It took Baby Bullet several hours to release a statement regarding the matter. They followed up with a detailed letter several days later and asked the outraged blogger mom to post their side of the story too. The entire situation was a PR mess. Something that could have easily been handled internally is now public knowledge to thousands of online users. The brand is tarnished in their minds.
Twenty years ago, this type of situation would have never happened. There wouldn’t have been a Facebook page for the mom to post on out of frustration by the lack of response. There wouldn’t have been a public forum for supporters and haters of the product to go back and forth on the significance and truth of the accusation.
Facebook and Twitter are the two most popular social media sites available today and they are leading the game of social PR trouble. Businesses have to be quick on their feet. They have to beat detractors to the punch. Someone from the business needs to respond to these big deal posts within minutes. There is no time to waste. PR teams cannot just issue a blanket statement. They have to empathize with the naysayers. They have to relate to and create solutions for the issue. Stick with basic guidelines for Facebook and Twitter. Now is not the time to go informal or rogue with your posts.
The public still wants to hear the business tell the truth, but it’s no longer just the complainer who is watching for a statement. It’s his or her hundred followers and maybe their hundreds of followers too. One tweet or one Facebook post or one trending topic is not just one complaint to your company, it’s one complaint that hundreds, or perhaps thousands of readers will see.
Social media has absolutely changed the face of public relations as we know it. This does not, however, have to be a bad thing. Stay on top of your pages. Preemptively strike with great news every once in a while to build up your name. Though a PR crisis is not quite inevitable, it’s still essential to know how to handle one if if comes your way; social media does not have to become your next nightmare.
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.
A famous Monty Python skit “educates” viewers on how not to be seen. While wonderful classic British humor, it’s the opposite of a productive online strategy.
When prospective buyers are searching online for information about whatever it is you sell, or about solving the kinds of problems that your products and/or services are designed to alleviate, your brand should be as widely seen as possible. Your content needs to be relevant of course, and merely being visible doesn’t guarantee you the business, but it is the essential first step.
The framework for maximizing online visibility is web presence optimization—the processes and metrics that enable coordination of the efforts of PR, SEO, content marketing, brand management, advertising, and social media professionals to maximize and continuously improve an organization’s “findability.”
The recent MarketingSherpa blog post Web Presence Optimization: Evolving the view of online success details the evolution of web presence optimization (WPO), the strategy behind it, and the WPO metrics vital to keeping a diverse group of digital marketing and PR professionals on the same page. We think you’ll find the Sherpa post a helpful read; after all, it was written by the author of MarketingSherpa’s Readers Choice Best B2B Marketing Blog of 2012. 🙂
Online behavioral tracking, in theory, is beneficial to both marketers and consumers. When marketers can track a web user’s behavior (anonymously) within a website or across certain ad network properties, they can serve up ads that are aligned with the user’s apparent interests.
For example, if you search for “camping gear,’ visit a couple of websites that sell camping gear, and read a few articles about the latest new camping products, don’t be surprised if you start seeing ads for camping equipment brands and retailers on subsequent websites you visit.
Marketers want to put their ads in front of people who display an interest in what they have to sell, and consumers (presumably) prefer to see ads relevant to their interests. And as long as the tracking is done anonymously, no one’s privacy is actually violated.
There is a problem, however, when anonymity is lost and marketers are able to learn far more about you than they need, or you want them, to know.
I recently visited a marketing interaction software vendor’s website (doesn’t matter who–I’m not out to besmirch the company, but rather look at a disturbing practice that goes well beyond a single organization) and read in disconcerting detail about what’s possible when the vendor’s product is combined with analytics, post-click marketing software, online databases, marketing automation software and social media monitoring tools.
Anyone familiar with website analytics tools understands that when you visit a website, certain bits of knowledge about you are collected: your (approximate) geographic location, browser used, device used, network (corporate or ISP), and of course your behavior (pages viewed, time spent) while on the site. But it’s all collected anonymously; Google Analytics and other website tools can’t identify you specifically.
Even when this data is paired with website visitor intelligence packages, you remain individually anonymous. The site owner knows a bit more about you (e.g., the size of the company if you’re within a corporate network, your industry, your office location) but still nothing personally identifiable.
This technology crosses the line from helpful to creepy when these online behavior elements can be traced to you as an individual, and then supplemented with other online databases and information sources.
Here’s an analogy: you attend a local business networking event, and meet John Doe. He tells you that he knows a bit about you because he’s seen you mentioned on Twitter and read your blog a few times. You’re flattered—this social media stuff works! And you have a fan.
Now, slightly different scenario: again, you attend the networking event and meet John Doe. But this time, he doesn’t just know about your blog, he knows when and where you were born, where you went to high school and college, your home address, the age and approximate market value of your home, the type of car you drive (and the fact you had some major service work performed last week), how many kids you have, how old they are, that you have a dog (aging and with a bad hip), and your entire work history.
That’s not flattering, it’s creepy. You don’t have a fan, you have a stalker.
How is this possible in the behavioral tracking realm? It can happen when you lose your anonymity by providing the most rudimentary personal information on a vendor’s website, such as entering your name and email address in order to register for a webinar or download a white paper.
Visitor tracking and marketing automation systems can now use various technologies to tag you, and from that point on, everything you do on the vendor’s website is attributed to YOU, individually. Furthermore, the vendor can now tie this behavior to personal information purchased from online database owners and scraped from social media profiles and updates.
Using this information, the vendor can display different products, offers, even prices to you. Helpful? Possibly. Creepy? Most definitely.
What to do about this is a thornier question however. Industry self-regulation would be the ideal answer in theory, but it often fails or falls short in practice.It’s tempting to call for government regulation, but as we all saw with the SOPA and PIPA debacle, the heavy hand of government often hurts or threatens the innocent in its ham-handed efforts to punish the guilty. Stopping copyright and IP theft seems like an eminently laudable goal, but the government’s approach was horrendous.
The same risk certainly applies here, though it’s probably inevitable that legislation will end up being part of the public response. Along with that, individuals need to careful about what they post online, companies need to accurately disclose their information use policies, and creative developers need to continue creating tools that enhance web user privacy.
But ultimately, companies need to more respectful of their customers. Collect reasonable information, but not everything available. What counts as “reasonable?” Ask your customers and prospects. Happily, ethical companies can do the right thing today. Unhappily, unethical or overzealous marketers are likely to bring down upon the industry government regulation that, if history is any guide, do as much harm as good in the end.
Few phenomena have ever spread as far and grown as rapidly as social media; obviously, this has tapped into something essential to our nature. What is it? The answer may come from the email marketing field. According to a recent study by email service provider Aweber, four simple words virtually guaranteed to get an email opened are: “You are not alone.”
That is what has driven social media adoption. From freedom seekers living under oppressive regimes connecting with each other and with people around the world who support them, to individuals with uncommon viewpoints or highly specialized professional interests connected with the like-minded anywhere on the globe, social media is about not being alone. It’s a way to find and form relationships with others who share our particular interests and passions, whether down the street or on other continents; interesting people with whom there has been no practical way to engage before.
Talking recently with Cheryl Burgess (@ckburgess)—partner and CMO at Blue Focus Marketing, a B2B social branding consultancy firm in Bridgewater, New Jersey; 2011 & 2010 winner of the Twitter Shorty Awards in Marketing; and author of the Blue Focus Marketing Blog—we were both struck by how many of the same people we know through social media (and we both learned about some interesting new people to follow as well). Many of these were other B2B marketers, but others were social media experts, journalists, PR professionals, or just plain fascinating personalities.
Cheryl and I thought it would be a great idea to collaborate on this special social media project—and so the process began for creating the 2011 #Nifty50 List of Top Twitter Women. We decided to recognize and share the names of some of these noteworthy individuals with our respective readers and followers, starting today with 50 remarkable women (just in time for Mother’s Day, as we’re pretty certain that every woman on this list either is a mom, has a mom, knows someone who’s a mom, or some combination thereof).
One source of inspiration was Twitter’s Top 75 Badass Women by Diana Adams (@adamsconsulting) and Amy D. Howell (@HowellMarketing), a list on which Cheryl was honored. Though it’s a remarkable list, to keep ours distinct we haven’t duplicated any of Diana and Amy’s picks.
Next month, we are following up with our list of 50 men, just in time for Father’s Day. This list will be posted on Cheryl Burgess’ Blue Focus Marketing Blog. Whatever your role in social media, we hope you find this list valuable in expanding your knowledge and your network.
Jennifer is the General Atlantic Professor of Marketing at the Stanford Graduate School or Business, and author of The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways To Use Social Media to Drive Social Change.
Diana is a USC grad now based in Atlanta. She heads up Adams Consulting Group, a technical services firm specializing in Apple Macintosh desktops, servers and laptops. Diana writes for BitRebels.com and InkRebels.com, and as noted above, her post on Twitter’s Top 75 Badass Women was one source of inspiration for this #Nifty50 list. She’s smart, personable, sometimes controversial and never dull.
Hailing from San Antonio, Alicia is founder and CEO of Sanera, a professional development and training firm for sales and business leaders. She describes herself as a “small business coach, speaker, corporate trainer, blogger, singer, lover of life, dreams, family and God.” Alicia is a warm and outgoing social media pro and creator of March Marketing Madness.
Allison lives in the New York City area and works with the Marketing team at Google to explore the changing face of media, mobile and consumer behavior, drive new thinking internally, and communicate Google’s visionary concepts to wider audiences.
Ambal is co-founder of ClickDocuments, based in Silicon Valley. She’s an entrepreneur, marketer, blogger, and alum of Wharton and Purdue. Her Connect the Docs blog—frequently featured on the B2B Marketing Zone—is a platform for her own thought leadership content as well as frequently solicited insights from other B2B bloggers.
Director of Sales for @klout. Though fairly new to Twitter, Amber is active and highly engaging, and her following is likely to grow quickly. A USC grad, Amber’s past includes stints at Hulu, Yahoo!, and the E! Entertainment Network.
Amy serves as social media editor for the St. Paul Pioneer Press as well as the Features/Travel editor for the newspaper. She’s an informative and prolific Twitterer, and active in Twin Cities social media.
A B2B marketer, strategist, writer and Author of eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale. Friend, mentor, and source of inspiration. Also an expatriate Minnesotan now living in southern California (we miss her, but can’t blame her).
Interactive Minnesotan skilled in web strategy, conversion rate optimization (CRO), e-commerce, SEO, social media, QR codes (she knows a lot about QR codes), design, UX, analytics and inbound marketing. Angie is also a Search Engine Watch columnist and speaks at national events including SMX, SES, and OMS.
Expert Community Manager with the Focus Expert Network, a network of thousands of leading business and technology experts who answer questions and post thought leadership content. Becky is also an MBA Candidate at San Francisco State University with a strong appetite for Social Media and Marketing.
Jenara is an Asia-based filmmaker, organic farmer, and freelance journalist for Fast Company magazine and CNNGo, as well as a Harvard and Berkeley grad. She’s interviewed the famous and not-so-famous from high fashion superstars to up-and-coming designers to UN leaders, literary giants, cashmere producers, and royal mistresses, and her work has also appeared in TIME, BlackBook Magazine, and NextBillion.
Brooklyn-based Maria calls herself an “interestingness curator and semi-secret geek obsessed with design, storytelling and TED.” She’s also the editor of Brain Pickings and writes regularly for Wired UK magazine, The Atlantic and Design Observer.
Connie is the Community Strategist for the Alterian (formerly Techrigy) SM2 social media monitoring platform. She’s been named by Forbes.com as one of 20 top Women Social Media & Marketing Bloggers. Connie recently migrated from the frozen tundra of northern Minnesota to much balmier climate of Minneapolis.
Diedre is the president of Mango! Marketing, author of PR 2.0: New Media, New Tools, New Audiences and Putting the Public Back in Public Relations: How Social Media Is Reinventing the Aging Business of PR, an adjunct professor in the New York city area, and co-founder of #PRStudChat.
Deb is a journalist-turned-PR pro. She’s president of Strategic Objectives, an award-winning PR agency in Toronto. And she’s energetic and inspirational on Twitter.
Eileen has more than 14 years of digital healthcare marketing experience. She is an opinion leader on social media, and has been invited to speak at industry conferences and quoted in publications. As @eileenobrien she moderates the #SocPharm tweetchat on Wednesdays at 8 pm EST which discusses pharma marketing and social media.
Oregon-based Ekaterina is a corporate social media strategist as well as a “speaker, connector (and) passionate marketer.” She’s also a frequent guest-poster who’s written bookmarkable pieces like 9 Ways to Sell Social Media to the Boss.
Ellen Hoenig Carlson
Based in New Jersey, Ellen is focused on simplifying consumer and healthcare marketing for “elegant solutions in a complex world.” Though she writes mainly on pharma-related subjects, her blog topics also include branding, family, fundraising, innovation, leadership, and Twitter.
Ellen writes for Fast Company magazine and helps run the 30 Second MBA site.
Connecticut-based Elise is active in social media, an enterprise technology sales and business development pro who is passionate about inside sales and sales strategy. She’s a fellow member of the #Lebronians team “drafted” by Robert Rose in FollowFriday & Who’s The Lebron In Your Strategy – Maybe It’s You.
CMO with Siegel + Gale, a brand strategy, customer experience and design consulting agency in New York.
CEO of Chicago PR agency Arment Dietrich, author of spinsucks.com, Vistage member, author, speaker, communicator and writer of amazingly entertaining and insightful rants like Get Rich Quick! Lose Weight Tomorrow!.
Based in New York City, Gretchen is the best-selling author of The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun, the account of the year she spent test-driving studies and theories about how to be happier. On her blog, she shares her insights to help readers create their own happiness projects.
Heidi is a fascinating marketer who shares practical advice about marketing and life from New York, NY.
Minnesota social media rock star, Business Development Director at Pixel Farm Digital, founder of the annual Twin Cities Top 10 Titans in Social Media awards, talk show regular on myTalk 107.1, and never boring.
Karen heads Reciprocate LLC, a small business marketing consultancy in Minneapolis. She’s an expert in social media marketing (particularly LinkedIn optimization), a small business advocate, trainer, speaker and coach. She’s active in local community and business organizations as well as social media.
Katie reports on technology and pop-culture for one of the world’s greatest newspapers—the Wall Street Journal—and is the author of If You Knew Suzy: A Mother, a Daughter, a Reporter’s Notebook.
Eve Mayer Orsburn
Eve is the author of Social Media for the CEO: The Why and ROI of Social Media for the CEO of Today and Tomorrow and CEO of Social Media Delivered, a firm that helps companies leverage LinkedIn, Twitter & Facebook & blogs. And yes, she really knows LinkedIn.
Based in Chicago, Lisa is CEO of C-Level Strategies Inc, CEO Connection Co-Chair, Leadership & Executive Marketing Consultant, and #LeadershipChat co-Founder. Like Elise Segar and Cheryl Burgess, Lisa is a star of the #Lebronians team.
Liz is the founder of SOBCon, a brand strategist and leadership trainer based in Chicago. She’s also an insightful, prolific and generous social media presence.
Officially, an expert in inbound marketing, online visibility and personal branding, via social media, SEO and SEM. Also big on green business marketing. Unofficially – friendly, smart, and writer of many highly bookmarkable blog posts.
Lucretia M. Pruitt
Living in and tweeting from beautiful Denver, Lucretia refers to herself as a “random muse, speaker, ex-CIS Professor, social media devotee, geek, mom, wife, & insomniac.” Lucretia is a highly engaging and sophisticated observer of technology developments.
Digital PR Specialist for the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, Lisa describes herself as “a gal constantly awed by the intricacies of human behavior. Love my family, peeps, dogs, film, food and learning.”
Mari (like Ferrari) describes herself as a “passionate leader of social media, relationship marketing and Facebook mastery,” but most of us know her as the ultimate guru-ess of Facebook marketing and co-author of Facebook Marketing: An Hour a Day. Formerly Canadian, now living in San Diego (nicer weather, but even worse taxes).
A phenomenally busy yet amazingly prolific blogger, Missy is a marketing pro at healthcare network Allina, co-founder of the Minnesota Blogger Conference, and is also active social media as the MarketingMama.
Idea generator, b2b marketing professional, creative director, process engineer and writer at MLT Creative in Atlanta, as well as a mother, friend, sister, daughter, diabetic, crocheter and jazz fan. She’s also really nice.
Sally is a scientist with Icarus Consultants in New Jersey, a pharmaceutical / biotechnology-focused marketing strategy firm. She blogs about marketing strategy, market research, science, oncology, hematology and immunology.
Working and tweeting from New York, Michelle is a creative director, brand strategist, and author of The BrandForward Blog. She spends her time exploring the future of advertising, social media, and emerging technologies and just being pretty cool.
A staff writer for the New York Times, Jennifer writes about the use of technology and social media in politics, government, and real life.
Susan Kang Nam
Splitting her time between New York, Andover (MA) and elsewhere, the dynamic Susan Kang Nam is founder of Cebisu Research Inc., a member of Andover’s Harvard Club, founder of Boston-based career club Salty Legs, “an entrepreneur, former recruiter and non-profit advocate who grew up in Asia (Korea, Japan) and US (Hawaii, California, New Jersey, NYC) and since 1994…using the world wide web exploring different platforms to engage in various of conversations”—and a classical pianist.
Prolific Twitterer, Bostonite, CEO and founder of the oneforty social business software hub, as well as co-author of Twitter For Dummies.
Rebel has been a marketing and business consulting for more than 20 years, is a popular speaker and author of Defy Gravity. She’s also a self-described “spiritual seeker, horse crazy, ski freak, and animal lovin’ nature gal.”
Based in Boston, Rebecca is a singing Inbound Marketer with all-in-one marketing software platform developer HubSpot. She’s also a founder of a cappella group Common Sound. And yes, she is a rock star.
Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Harvard Business School Professor, author of SuperCorp: How Vanguard Companies Create Innovation, Profits, Growth, and Social Good – a look at how a new generation of values-driven businesses do well by doing good, and a living legend in the world of business strategy.
A social media communications manager for PR/social media monitoring provider Vocus in Washington DC, Stacey runs the popular monthly #prwebchat on Twitter. She is a former model, auxiliary member in the U.S. Air Force, and a self-proclaimed “SEO nerd” who loves NASCAR, steak and rock n’ roll. Definitely one of the most awesome and unique bios in social media.
CEO of Small Business Trends, an online small biz community reaching over 250,000 each month. Anita tweets from Cleveland, Ohio, the hometown of rock n’ roll.
Liana ‘Li’ Evans
Liana describes herself as “an online marketing geek girl who loves all things social media.” She’s a top expert in social media and SEO, and the author of Social Media Marketing.
Wendy is a blogger and digital marketer focused on the pharmaceutical industry. She’s an executive vice president at at Intouch Solutions, a marketing agency serving the pharmaceutical, animal health, medical device, and similarly regulated industries.
Based in Trumbull, CT, Wendy is an award-winning PR and marketing communications executive who helps B2B companies become well-known brands, and a truly engaging social media personality.
Watch next month (close to Father’s Day) for the Nifty 50 Men of Twitter for 2011.