Twitter is Growing Up

We have come to understand and love those 140 characters with which we may express ourselves. What was once frustration for lack of expressive space is now a simple exercise in  effective resource-management.

Many feel that sense of abbreviation to be the beauty of Twitter. That we can only throw out a little information…enough for a joke, a location, a question, and not an emotional dump. For businesses, those 140 characters are communication outreach attempts to the public. They are a way to let people know that you are there, and that you care in the only way people will pay attention to nowadays…concisely.

That is why surprise was the emotion felt by many 3 days ago when Twitter announced that it would now allow “Expanded Tweets” 

This Tweet upgrade will allow for a few new features. Users will be able to essentially preview a tweet before clicking and plunging in with both feet. We will be able to see Pictures, Headlines, Videos, and of course a description of the story.

Of course I think of this from a journalistic paradigm, and I am excited by the prospect. This will make for better and more alluring story presentation, and will allow a journalist to more efficiently decide what is worth the time it will take to click through.

Here is an interesting article I found on Mashable that takes on some of the journalistic pros and cons of this new move for the communication giant.

What do you think? Does this stray away from the heart and soul of Twitter too much? Do you like the idea?

Of course it really is all up to the users in the end.

Who is Special?

Entitlement. 

It is a word that many believe defines the American youth-culture. From a very young age we feel we deserve things: Smart phones, iPods, Xbox 360s, Trendy Clothes, money from adults, movies, recordable TV services, incessant internet connection, Machines that make the air in our homes and vehicles cooler for our physical enjoyment, animals to keep us company, and the list does go on. That is only as children.

We are then classically trained from this point that when we grow up, happiness comes from a large income, a larger house, faster/more expensive machines, and a physically attractive counterpart to share it with. The shame comes when life rarely doles out all these items to anyone.

We are all different to varying degrees, but at the same time, there are very few of us who are not guilty of feeling entitled at some point.

David McCullough Jr. is an English professor at Wellesley High School, and he has a pretty firm grasp on the idea of cultural entitlement. He was also chosen as the graduation commencement speaker for the class of 2012. During his speech, McCullough very eloquently told the graduates that they were “Not Special” but that “Everyone is”.

He urged them to consider what life is really about, he urged them that, to this point, it has all been fairly easy, he urged them to be realistic. I encourage you to watch as much of this video as you have time for.

Very quickly, the speech achieved over 1 million views on Youtube and other news websites. CBS, and other major networks brought Mr. McCullough on the air to talk about his controversial speech. Many media and online sources dubbed it the “You’re not special” speech.

It has now received global attention. McCullough has repeatedly stated that he is not bitter, nor was he trying to bring down the graduates. He was trying to show them that real life was about to start for them.

This is an example that illustrates the unpredictable nature of the viral, online world. In a matter of days, a commencement speech can turn one man’s life upside down.  One thing that Mr. McCullough recognizes, is that his “fame” is only for a moment, and he wishes the “cameras were on the graduates”.

Believe Me

Mr. Brian Solis, author of the book Engage has a lot of great insight into the Social Media Landscape. He effectively lays out a road map of sorts (though a tad philosophical at times)  for all us upandcomers to the work world.

In chapter 21 of his book he lays out the “Social Media Compass”

At the center of this compass is our brand. This is what we have to define, and stay true to throughout the life of our company. Outside this compass we have outcomes that we are led to. One the most important outcomes in my opinion is being believable.

We have all see used car ads, or campaign ads, or many other types that seem unbelievable to us. So we do not invest in them. Mr. Solis has a great way of defining where we should be heading to be believable as a company.

“Words such as  transparency and authenticity are overused in any discussion related to socialized outreach and therefore lose a great deal of their essence and meaning. It is more convincing and consequential in any encounter if you are believable. This can be passionate, exuberant, and contagious, unlike authenticity and transparency.”

One brand that comes to mind when I think “believable” is Pure Michigan.

The promote their brand passionately by simply showing the state of Michigan off to the world!

 

Don’t you want to go?

So the take away from this idea is this. Stop advertising at all times. People do not respond well to pushy brands. Be excited about who you are, that is what people will respond to.

We Still Care

I do not watch TV news very often anymore. I’d rather catch up on what’s been going on via the internet. And there are a lot of other people who feel the same way. In fact, I can only think of one person around my age bracket who still watches news on TV. 

There is nothing wrong with the TV, but I spend so much time on my computer that I usually come across it there. 

A topic that has been all over the news lately is K2. K2 is really just another name for Synthetic Cannabis, a marijuana like drug that is sold in many party stores and gas stations in the Metro Detroit area. This drug effects people in all sorts of horrible ways, and has led to brutal and violent crime.

Almost two months ago, Tucker Cipriano and friend Mitchell young murdered Tucker’s father and beat his mother and brother badly; they were both very high on K2.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “This is SO sad, what does this have to do with Social Media?”


Well, I am about to tell you. 

What came after the murder was a community outreach so great that it still reminds us that we are still good people. And a lot of it was social media based. Immediately after the murder, there were community memorial services and a group of people got involved. What was even greater is that very quickly a fundraiser was started to help the family who had just lost their father. 

The Cipriano Classic was a 5K fun run held at the YMCA where Mrs. Cipriano worked. All of the proceeds brought in from this event were going to the Cipriano’s children. What was expected to be a small event attended by only a few hundred people blew up! Over 2,000 people came out to show love to the Cipriano family. How did all of these people get involved? Social Media had a lot to do with it. 

There were SEVERAL Facebook Events started about the Charity Run and each had a varying number of people pledging to get involved. 

Videos about the run were circulated and bits of the news stories were disseminated via Youtube.

 

All in all the kids got a nice donation from the public, but that was not the most valuable part. Un-purchased Social media played a major role in bringing a community together to aid a hurting family. 

That’s something all of the S.M. community can be happy about!

No Longer the Usual Suspects

I remember the 90s. They were not too long ago at all, but still that decade was SO different than the era we live in in 2012. The music we like, the way we dress, the cars we want to drive, the way we view the environment, technology, and many others areas are so different. One of the greatest areas of growth from then to now is the internet. Along with the internet comes social media, and the modern business model.

remember these guys??? Thankfully, I don’t!

The key words are now: ENGAGE-CONNECT-COMMUNICATE-RELATE

So naturally, our influences in the social and business world are no longer the same. As usual, Mr. Solis, has some good thoughts on these matters. He lays them out in chapter 19 of his book, EngageAccording to Mr. Solis, “Influence is not popularity, and popularity is not influence. Influence is the ability to effect action. In Social Media, influence is our quest…” 

So how can we as PR people make sure that our brand becomes an “influencer” in our market? Well, Chapter 19 lists a few really great tips that we can learn from. The first step to becoming influential is to take part in the online conversation. We can never be a key component if we were never a component at all. There is a caveat to this idea that Mr. Solis would warn us about. He encourages us to always “Engage with purpose”. Do not simply be present, this will never be enough. A brand needs to at all times have its core values in mind when engaging in online conversation. Whether using marketing or unmarketing tactics. By doing this, we can be purposeful in  our conversation, and also strive to build an association with people. This association will lead to influence.

Another thing that we can all do to boost our brands is shift from “monitoring to action” (Solis, pg. 187). We all know that we should search the internet thoroughly and often to check on the status of our online presence. This is the only way that we can always know where we stand with the public. However, that is no longer enough. We have to get involved in what is gaining  momentum without us. Is there a social trend or opportunity for one that reflects our core values? ENDORSE IT! Show all of that public that you care about their cause and that it reflects you as a company, and you will gain those people as a loyal public.

Utilizing these few ideas are just a few ingredients in a rather large recipe. However with each effort to be more online savvy, we increase our clout out there. Who will be the great influencers if the 2000s? They are already among us, and using social media in cutting-edge ways.

-Paul Martell

How Shall We Reach Out?

I thoroughly enjoy a well done viral video. We all have seen them, and look them up again from time to time. A viral video can instantly launch a brand in a great way. I think of Old Spice, a company that was once on the decline. They are now a household name in the Viral Marketing world. Their entire campaign is composed of viral videos, some that garner more than 40 million views. Does Old Spice Chase us down and interrupt our shows and force us to view? No, really only during the Superbowl, Old Spice puts out an interactive and high quality message, and the we seek it out.

This is the Superbowl Ad that really launched Old Spice’s Viral Leadership:

A personal favorite of my own is from the company Blendtec, which puts out very high-end blenders that can blend almost anything. I am not in the market for a blender, but when I am, I will wish that I could get a Blendtec blender. Why? Because their Viral Video campaign is so awesome that I go back to watch videos from their channel semi regularly. Watch this video, you’ll see that it not only is hilarious, but it also proves just how powerful/durable a Blendtec blender is:

 

Those are two excellent examples of relatively unknown product brands that utilized very effective Social Media tactics to meet their objective of promoting brand-awareness. Before I stumbled across the Blendtec video that a friend shared with me, I had no idea Blendtec existed. Here is the profound truth: had that friend not shared that video with me, I still wouldn’t know they existed, nor would my family, nor a large number of my friends.

In the Social Media Landscape, when a consumer likes your message (i.e. video, post, blog, podcast, channel, site, etc) then there is a good chance that consumer will boost and promote your brand by sharing your link, or “liking”, following, or any of dozens of other means of sharing your message. This type of exposure is invaluable for a corporation. This type of consumer marketing is nearly a word of mouth endorsement that can spread across thousands in hours.

This is a blessing that is new to the social media era. We PR people must be conscious of that, and try to put our messages out there responsibly. While viral videos were the primary topic of discussion in this post, the same rules apply for a variety of other social media tactics. Remember that they can hurt even more than they can help. So check your online presence thoroughly and often.

Viral, instant mass exposure is the way of the present, and the way of the future. Being on top of that idea will take a company far.

-Paul Martell

A Digitized Volunteer Army…@twelpforce

In Twitter’s beginnings, there was a frenzy of people and companies learning how and why to use it. For myself, I chose to not get involved and stick to Facebook. Only a few years later, I have come to see the exemplary means of communication and connection that Twitter offers to individuals, and the PR machine that it can be for companies.

Brian Solis, author of the book, Engage, discusses the business idea of “unmarketing”. While a rather larger term/idea, one key aspect of unmarketing, is communicating with the public without trying to ask them to purchase what your company is selling. Initially this may seem like wasted time and effort from a revenue driven standpoint, but that is not at all the case. People are more and more aware of marketing and advertising, and the public is becoming more and more resentful of traditional sales tactics. Many people can and do skip ads on TV, and install ad blocking software on their computers. So how do companies bring in people to do business with them without these ads? This is where unmarketing comes into play. If a person trusts a company to care about more than just his/her money, even if it’s just a little more, than it is likely that that person will do business with whom is trusted.

Best Buy understood the idea behind unmarketing. In 2008, Best Buy recognized that people and employees were talking about Twitter. By 2009, the Twelpforce was created and implemented. Twelpforce is a group of a few thousand Best Buy employees who have volunteered to be a part in a huge team dedicated to answering the public’s questions on twitter. Everything tech related is a go! The twelpforce is instructed to help honestly and sincerely as the number one and only priority; direct sales and marketing is not a priority.

This is the TV Ad for the Twelpforce Campaign:

Twelpforce was a risky investment for Best Buy. It required the attention of a large number of employees, and there was certainly the risk that, like all things internet related, the company could be embarrassed in a number of ways. Despite all that, Twelpforce successfully reaches out to 44,202 followers, and has answered tens of thousands of questions, all without shoving anything Best Buy related down consumers’ throats.

This campaign has worked to create customer trust and loyalties that could never be gained through traditional advertising. Instead of the companies screaming and crying for the public’s attention, the public knows us enough to come to us; that is the goal.