Thursday, 3 October 2013
The positive opportunities that social media presents are endless, but are you mitigating risk? In this post, we offer some crucial highlights of a joint seminar hosted by Zoodikers and law firm Buss Murton.
The social revolution has taken the world by storm. The lines are blurring between professional and personal communications. As Alex Lee from Buss Murton describes, “…social networks seem now to invade our lives. You can’t go on a newspaper without them imploring you to share whatever article you are reading on a number of social media websites.”
If handled incorrectly, social media can damage a company’s reputation. With 60% of employees admitting to using social media in the workplace, ensuring that your business is fully protected with an effective policy is crucial.
As it stands, Facebook has over 1 billion active users, whilst Twitter and LinkedIn clock in at 200 million active users each. The opportunity to engage in global two-way conversation with an audience of this size should not be ignored, however, problems can arise when companies jump on the ‘social media bandwagon’ too hastily. Taking a leap into the world of social media before being properly prepared can often cause more harm for a business than good.
An audience of this amazing size means that there are just as many people to be exposed to your mistakes as there are to be influenced by your success. Doing everything you can to protect against potential problems before they arise should be second nature to you and your business.
Social media has become a platform that connects every level of your business, from boardroom to consumer. As Econsultancy reports:
“Thanks to social media, your company’s newest, lowest-paid employee may garner more online attention than it’s CEO. That means one thing: every employee has the potential to either help or hurt your company’s image and reputation online. Once you recognize this, the need for a social media policy becomes clear.”
Strategy plays a crucial role in ensuring you are protected against the risks of social media. Katie King, from Zoodikers, informs us that “to ensure success, the start point has to be a really clear strategy.”
A good social media strategy can give your business the perfect edge against your competitors. Setting and following achievable goals, mapping social networks onto your objectives and driving your social media message in a definitive direction can ensure that social media contributes positively to your overall campaign.
For a social media strategy to be effective, it needs to be aligned with your business strategy. The goals of your social media campaign should be interchangeable with the goals of your business to achieve the best results.
A strong, comprehensive social media policy should be your next port of call. According to a recent survey, 8% of companies in the USA have had to fire an employee for poor behaviour on social media and another 20% have had to take disciplinary action.
A staggering number of companies still go without a policy to cover the use of social media in their business, around 24%. Without a policy in place, the business may be held accountable should mistakes happen.
“Even if the faux pas doesn’t make the news, it could still have a knock on effect on business. The offending tweet could be picked up by search engines, or found by consumers when researching your products or services”
As Katie reminds us, 25% of search engine results are now based on social media - if you think you are being too careful, you are not. Ensuring that as many situations as possible involving social media are covered may be time-consuming but will be invaluable in the future. Ensure topics such as confidential information, defamation, illegal practices and the consequences of breaching the policy are covered.
Spreading this information to every corner of your business will ensure that all employees are aware of where the boundaries lie, and exactly where they will be held accountable.
An introduction or update to your company’s social media policy can be the perfect opportunity to train your staff in social media, which can offer an enormous range of benefits. Being appropriately trained on how to use social media will not only make the business’ use of the platform far more effective, but when done in line with the company’s social media policy will result in far fewer misunderstandings regarding appropriate behaviour.
On a personal level, knowing what to post on social networks should not only follow any appropriate policies, but should also take common sense into account. Alex summarised this quite humorously when he said:
“Social media policy point one; don’t be stupid. Two, read point one. Go back to work.”
Common sense seems like an obvious answer, but it is surprising how often it is overlooked. Social media is not as private as some individuals like to believe it is, and everything that you broadcast has the potential to be held against you for many years to come.
Imagine a public place filled with 200 million people all ready to listen to what you have to say. Anything you say will be permanently accessible at any point to everybody there. Would you bad-mouth a client, use foul language, or take the opportunity to really drive your business to the next level of success?
It is important to feel comfortable in your use of social media. Ensuring that you and your business are well protected will give you the freedom to reap the enormous range of benefits that social media offers to you, whilst minimising the harmful risks. A good policy will keep you grounded, a good strategy will keep you moving forward, and some good common sense can prevent mistakes!
Thursday, 12 September 2013
Anticipation and excitement are words that can usually be used to describe the feeling that Apple fans have preceding a launch event. This September, things certainly felt different for the company that has a PR machine more effective than Miley Cyrus could ever dream of.
The world’s most valuable brand with influence beyond imagination gathered the world’s media to make an announcement. For the first time since the launch of the iPhone, Apple revealed two new models in a remarkable array of colours - now including a gold 5S! Far from elusive in the run up to the event were the expected features of the upgraded iPhone 5. It now has finger print recognition, the big innovation for 2013.
Importantly for Apple, the launch of the iPhone 5S and new budget 5C also incorporated an event in Beijing in an attempt to reach the smartphone market in China. Analysts suggest that the high-end smartphone market is becoming globally saturated and Apple’s slide in profits does supports this theory so China is important. However China favours homegrown smartphone brands and reaction to the unveiling of the new iPhones was underwhelming. Not the best start for market domination.
Back in the UK, with sentiment dwindling the sweetness surrounding Apple waning, focus on Apple is shifting. The single big event we were used to in the era of Steve Jobs has been broken up into multiple product centred events - add October for the new iPad release into your diary.
The tweets sent about the Apple announcement have been analysed and reports state that of the 1.5 million tweets sent in the 24 hours following the event, 73% were neutral. This means that three quarters of the people that used their limited 140 characters to tweet about the event added little to the discussion. They simply shared the news that everyone had come to expect following the mountain of speculation.
Inspiring love is the cornerstone of Apple’s entire business and brand, but the products they are launching are not innovating, not beautiful and in some ways adding a budget iPhone was not the best decision. The brand needs strengthening, and this new offering demotes the elevated brand to that of a mere common competitor in the crowded mobile marketplace.
Blackberry continues to feel the brunt of the Apple onslaught - but sadly they began to bury themselves many months ago with a multitude of failings. The Telegraph reported that 6% of Samsung Galaxy users would switch to the new 5S, and as iPhones main competitor, this isn’t a disappointing result for Apple. Sadly for Blackberry, this figure increases to 13% of its users, a bit of a blow to the underperforming company.
It will be interesting to follow this inspiring and usually innovative company over the following months. They may have reached their peak, but with an iWatch looming, the iPod, iPhone and iPad may become remnant glimmers in the history of Apple.
Friday, 30 August 2013
You’ve just been handed your exam results. GCSE’s, A-levels, or maybe even your degree. If you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to start thinking about how you’re portraying yourself on social media.
A recent study by On Device Research revealed that 71% of the 16 to 34 year old age group in the UK are not concerned that their use of social media may harm future career prospects. This is interesting to consider when this study also states that in the UK, one in ten applicants in this age group will be rejected outright based on their social media profiles.
The statistics don’t become any less worrying; 68% are undeterred when told that social media could affect their future career, and are more likely to have altered their profiles to impress their friends than they are to impress future employers.
This is a pivotal stage in your life. UK youth unemployment rates in 2013 have passed one in five, standing at 973,000 young people currently unemployed. Small mistakes could lose you incredibly valuable opportunities.
But this isn’t a cause for panic. At least half of employers looking into your social media profiles are looking for personality, professional image and qualifications, and to see that you are a well-rounded person with a range of interests. Knowing what employers are looking for, and with the right frame of mind, you can use social media to turn yourself into the perfect candidate for any prospect.
With the age limit of 18 years lowered to 13, your first stop on your social media makeover should be LinkedIn. 74% of recruiters are actively using LinkedIn to source new employees, but you will only find around 11% of young social media users in the UK are active on the service.
In comparison, the same statistic for Facebook stands at 72% and Twitter at 40%, but popularity shouldn’t lead your choice. When thinking about future prospects, professionalism and securing employment, LinkedIn always comes out on top.
When setting up your LinkedIn, try to present yourself how you would present yourself when meeting an employer. Image is always important. Take the time to change into some smart-casual clothes and take a professional-looking picture that doesn’t look too formal or too posed. Avoid using party pictures, and pictures of you with other people.
Your profile should read like the ideal candidate for the industry you are aiming for. Keep them in mind when writing your LinkedIn summary.
When writing for your LinkedIn profile, it can be useful to picture it as being in an interview for the job you are aiming for. If your interviewer asked you to introduce yourself, how would you reply? If they asked about your experience, what would you present? Writing about yourself can be difficult, but knowing how to write about yourself can make things much easier.
If any students have questions about their social media image, or what they could do to improve it, feel free to tweet @Zoodikers or @KatieeKing for advice.
As always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Thursday, 15 August 2013
Although it has long been a problem all over the internet, severe cases of recent internet trolling have grabbed the headlines. Online Twitter trolls have been terrorising high-profile female tweeters, and shockingly, the cases go as far as rape and death threats.
Freelance journalist and feminist blogger Caroline Criado-Perez recently launched a successful campaign for Jane Austen to become the new face of the £10 note. Soon after the story of her success reached the news, the abuse began.
Caroline was repeatedly targeted with threats of rape over a twelve-hour period, which spurred her on to attempt to contact Twitter’s Manager of Journalism and News, Mark S Luckie. Unfortunately Caroline’s contact attempts and those of other tweeters were to no avail. Controversially, Luckie did not respond and raised the privacy settings on his profile.
The Twitter community recommended that she simply log the incidents, to which she responded that the process was both exhausting and upsetting, as the frequency of threats of violence and rape could reach as many as 50 per hour.
Bomb threats were also sent to a number of other women in the public eye, including female journalists Hadley Freeman, India Knight and Laurie Penny, as well as Labour MP Stella Creasy.
The prolonged assault lead to public outcry over Twitter’s handling of the situation, and a petition was created with the aim of adding a ‘report abuse’ button to each individual tweet. By 3rd August, more than 124,000 people had pledged their support to the cause.
Twitter’s initial reporting system involved complainants having to fill in an online form for every complaint, something completely impractical for people receiving abuse of this volume.
Historian and broadcaster Mary Beard took the handling of trolls into her own hands by naming and shaming them on her own account. After receiving a number of tweets from various trolls, Mary retweeted one, which lead to a hasty apology after fellow Twitter users condemned the troll and threatened to tell his mother.
Twitter has since implemented the feature of a ‘report abuse’ button to individual tweets, which it hopes will allow them a quicker and more accurate response when complaints are made, and allow them to swiftly block any user who has broken the rules.
But is Twitter doing enough? It’s important to explore Twitter’s features pre-emptively and understand how they can be used in your defence. Online abuse should not be tolerated. But does Mary Beard have the best idea? Is the exposure and the shaming of trolls bringing them back down to reality?
As always, I’d be keen to hear your thoughts.
Tuesday, 30 July 2013
In the UK, 32 million people are on Facebook, 10 million are on Twitter and 11 million are profiled on LinkedIn. As businesses get to grips with social media’s marketing and brand awareness benefits, its value and risks during a crisis must not be forgotten.
The Oklahoma tornado, Boston bombings, horsemeat scandal, Toyota’s product recall, volcanic ash cloud flight chaos and Eurostar’s snow disruption are some issues which have generated immense social media traffic as footage, experiences and opinions are shared worldwide.
The social media revolution means that even a local crisis can be circulated across the world and become a viral sensation.
Emergency plans deal with business continuity following a crisis, whether that’s a natural disaster, facility downtime, sabotage, equipment failure, replenishment delay, product recall or food poisoning. Crisis communications deals with corporate reputation but many businesses forget to include crisis handling across social media platforms.
Looking after your reputation online and offline in a crisis is about planning, training and practice. It’s important that key people in the crisis communications team have access to social media passwords and account names, but you’d be surprised by how many people leave it to the domain of one team member working in a silo.
Crisis management needs accurate and real-time information, which can be shared across all platforms. This means resource, particularly if you add reputation monitoring and strategy analysis to the mix. The plan also needs to detail how social media feeds can be managed if a crisis hits out of regular office hours.
The crisis team also need to have a good understanding of the social media monitoring tools available to evaluate the impact of the crisis on their reputation. Crisis responders on social media also need to be well trained in responding to customers who are having a negative experience.
Even big brands find it difficult to get the information balance right. Eurostar was criticised for its failure to communicate with passengers after heavy snow in 2009 left trains without power and 100,000 passengers stranded. Around 2,500 people were stuck in the Channel Tunnel for up to five and a half hours without air conditioning, lighting, sanitary conditions or access to information. In February 2010, Eurostar launched its corporate Twitter feed and now has a customer care feed operating from its contact centre.
This year, the horsemeat scandal has been difficult for supermarkets and food producers on social media. Findus suffered a reputational crisis after its packaging was manipulated using Photoshop and circulated worldwide across Twitter and Facebook. Tesco is also facing a barrage of criticism every time it posts pictures of burgers, which is making the upcoming barbeque season difficult.
If you’re on the facilities management sector for example, disrupted travellers offer an opportunity to engage with customers and help them find essentials, such as restaurants, water points, battery charge, pay phones, internet access, vegetarian food, gluten-free snacks, wheelchairs and baby food.
Social media feeds can also help manage expectations during delayed services, such as waiting times for food, toilets and mobility assistance. They can also respond to criticism about facility quality.
Twitter, Facebook and YouTube give businesses the chance to broadcast public information messages in real time and to manage customer expectations about service issues. It also allows you to engage with negative responses, apologise and explain what has happened.
You cannot completely control conversation on social media but you can manage your response to what is being said by listening and responding. To listen you have to engage and to engage you need resource. Make sure that those looking after your social media feeds enjoy talking, writing, networking, and can elegantly handle conversation with unhappy people. Often social media is given to the most junior team members and they might lack the experience and training to recognise a potential crisis from a distance.
To conclude, ignoring social media during a crisis is a huge reputation risk to your business. Start to plan now and think about your crisis plans. Have a look at your crisis communications plan and keep these points in mind as you do:
- Does the crisis communications plan fail to mention reputation management online?
- Does the plan’s crisis communications tasks include social media responding, updating and monitoring?
- Does the plan list your sector’s key opinion leaders, such as bloggers, journalists, industry critics, top trade publications, important tweeters, industry associations, etc?
- Is there a crisis holding statement for Twitter and Facebook?
- Is there an “emergency” web page set up with a holding statement, which is ready for publishing in a crisis?
- Does the plan’s social media resource look scant? Do more people need training?
- Does the crisis communications plan include social media and crisis simulation?
- Is crisis management and response handling on social media part of your regular training programme?
In the meantime I wish you the very best of luck in your crisis communications planning.
Monday, 15 July 2013
The video revolution has undoubtedly taken the Internet by storm in the last five years. With the rise of YouTube and countless other video hosting sites, recording and sharing video has never been easier and is now providing new and exciting opportunities for businesses of all sizes and across all sectors
Producers now have access to increasingly affordable and good quality video recording devices and recently, companies such as Apple, Facebook and Dropbox in particular, have integrated video into their marketing campaigns.
Dropbox is an excellent example of how easy it is to increase sales in this way. By simply creating a video tutorial, hosted on their website, they increased their conversion rate by 10%. This might not sound like much, but a 10% conversion is equivalent to 10 million customers and $48 million worth of revenue. All this from just 2 minutes of video.
So why is video so popular?
It has always been said that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. Images have a much bigger impact on the human mind in comparison to reading or listening. Combining these creates an even more memorable experience. Thanks to social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, a successful video will go viral in just a few minutes. The fact that video can have such an impact on lead generation and brand awareness are just a few reasons why it is so important for facilities managers to exploit this growing trend.
Video is not only important for companies to market their products and services, it can also be a great tool to extend the life of industry events. For example, there will be occasions when press will be unable to attend your event. It is becoming commonplace for journalists to track event conversations on social media through the use of hashtags, but what if journalists were able to watch the event from wherever they are, at a time convenient for them? By providing a video, this boosts the chances of your event being mentioned and discussed in newspapers, magazines and trade journals.
Many sectors are seeing a rise in the number of ‘vlogs’, otherwise know as video blogs. This is a great way for CEOs and senior management to communicate directly with the industry, discussing topical issues of interest to them and their company. Links to vlogs can be posted across social media platforms, driving traffic to the video and generating discussion.
The power of combining social media and video has recently been displayed by Vine; a simple application for iPhone and other smartphones, which allows the user to take 6 second videos and share them online at the touch of a button. After launching in January 2013, the app has already gained more than 13 million downloads in the Apple app store alone, and topped the Google Play charts within a week of its launch for Android. In response to Vine’s successful partnership with social network Twitter, last week, rival Facebook announced Instagram’s new feature, 15 second video recording and sharing.
Gaining fame and popularity for its easy photo sharing capabilities, Instagram will now be able to record short videos and allow the user to share these via hashtags as they do with photos. Facebook have also been clever enough to enable Instagram to record longer videos than its rival Vine, but have kept a realistic time limit of 15 seconds to avoid long download times, keeping the Instagram experience as it always has been; instant. If the new Instagram capabilities become anywhere near as popular as the original photo sharing application – it will be huge.
It would appear that video is here to stay and facilities management companies must act fast to avoid missing out on such interesting and interactive ways of communicating with their target audiences. Video doesn’t have to be expensive or extremely time consuming. It is simply a great tool for communicating with your audience in an accessible way, styled to suit your brand.
Next time you’re at an event, why not take a short video and find out what video can do for you?
Friday, 14 June 2013
The most popular social network in the world and most visited website, Facebook, has announced that it will introduce the use of hashtags on the site.
Although in use beforehand, social networking (Twitter mostly) has popularised the use of hashtags to group short hand comments together, and as a way of joining conversations across users of similar interests. By searching a hashtag, Facebook users will be able to see comments that include that topic, whether they are friends with them or not.
Sites that have already introduced hashtags include Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, LinkedIn and Instagram - owned by Facebook.
For businesses, this shines a brand new light of potential on the site.
In the past Facebook statuses have always been mostly private. It was difficult to gauge the interest of the individual unless you were friends with the person, or they had disabled all privacy and you searched out the individual to access their page. This was laborious and ineffective. But with the introduction of hashtags, businesses will have a much easier way to identify their target Facebook audience from its rapidly growing 1.1 Billion population.
Facebook’s own example of potential was the buzz surrounding a recent episode of Game of Thrones. Their news page revealed, “The recent "Red Wedding" episode of Game of Thrones, received over 1.5 million mentions on Facebook, representing a significant portion of the 5.2 million people who watched the show.”
Considering over a quarter of the audience of the show discussed their experience on Facebook, we have pretty sound evidence of Facebook’s place in the consumer market.
In fact, research shows that 56% of consumers say they are more likely to recommend a brand after becoming a fan on Facebook. It is quickly becoming the most accessible and influential customer feedback hub in the world, and that kind of access could work wonders for businesses, opening up new channels for PR influence.
Back to the Red Wedding example, clicking a hashtag would have revealed everyone who had commented on the episode. Imagine the potential for businesses with an audience of that size! Facebook hashtags will offer valuable statistics, discussions and opportunities to respond to such consumer feedback.
But monitoring the audience is far from the only benefit that hashtags will bring for businesses using Facebook. The world’s most popular website will now join the ranks of sites used by cross-platform hashtag campaigns, a rapidly growing marketing technique that reaches a huge number of consumers.
Social Media Today’s list of 6 Cross-Platform Hashtag Marketing Campaigns makes mention of Nike’s #MakeItCount campaign. The hashtag was initially used to promote the release of a product (The Fuel Band) via a viral YouTube effort and spread rapidly across Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. After continued success, the tag gained more celebrity involvement, prominent featuring in their London store, and integration into their television adverts. The tag quickly became far bigger than the product, and developed itself as a tool not just for advertising, but for brand awareness and customer involvement.
A hashtag therefore has enormous potential. It can band together a target audience, it can cross platforms, and can become the perfect hook for any campaign.
With Facebook joining the hashtag revolution, businesses need to ensure that they are using them to their full potential. If they do not, they risk losing a potential audience of 1.1 billion, which will always be a number too big to ignore.
The Zoodikers team looks forward to hearing your views...