The Ten Commandments of Social Media Crisis Management

Writing for BuzzBin, Priya Ramesh does a good job listing the Ten Commandments of Social Media Crisis Management, but I think it needs one more.  Here’s Priya’s 10 (condensed by me) and my essential 11th:

1. Thou shalt move at lightning speed: This demands a sense of urgency to react in a matter of hours and not days.
2. Thou shalt build a micro-site to provide 24/7 updates: This serves as THE go-to site for all up-to-date information on the situation.
3. Thou shalt deploy a round the clock Twitter monitoring schedule: Simply by monitoring and responding to tweets, you are letting the audience know their outpour is being heard on social channels.
4. Thou shalt NOT delete negative comments on the crisis: By deleting negative chatter during a crisis, you are only aggravating the situation.
5. Thou shalt train your crisis team on social media: Crisis communication in 140 characters is very different from issuing a press release or calling a press conference.
6. Thou shalt be willing to say “Sorry” openly on the WWW: Get used to openly apologizing on social networks and take full responsibility for the crisis.
7. Thou shalt create hyper-transparency on the crisis situation: The more you are open to sharing information on social networks to build transparency, the better.
8. Thou shalt proactively alert bloggers on PR crises if you can: This is a very powerful tactic to neutralize the negative sentiment online.
9. Thou shalt NOT feed the troll: There will always be a set of constant complainers who thrive on crises and leverage the situation to further badmouth your company –  disengage them.
10. Thou shalt not merely blog and tweet for crisis’ sake but LISTEN and ENGAGE: Companies that demonstrate that they have listened and taken the right action are the ones that maintain a favorable image online.

And here’s an essential additional step from me:

11. Thou shalt own your social media identity: Take steps now to ensure that social media accounts related to your company, its brands and executives are created and already under your control. After the jump,  why this is so important: Read more of this post

Mark Zuckerberg,TIME Magazine Person of the Year — But Not Mine

Mark Zuckerberg TIME Person of the Year 2010In a year full of the famous and infamous, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg is TIME magazine‘s Person of the Year.

While you cannot debate that Zuckerberg and Facebook made news on a global basis in 2010, I don’t agree that his selection was the most worthy.

Let’s talk about impact. True, Facebook is the most impactful social network worldwide, but even with 500 million members, that’s still only about 7% of the world’s 6.9 billion population.  A large number to be sure, but why recognize him now? A hit movie? A killer ‘60 Minutes‘ appearance? The fact that the “enfant terrible” of social media appears to have finally grown up?

Newsworthy, yes, but surely others were more deserving. Love him or hate him, my choice is Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks site who have made a far more serious impact worldwide not only on government and the military, but also on the state of journalism itself. For that matter, strong arguments exist for former BP chairman Tony Hayward or, for group recognition, The Unemployed American. It wouldn’t be the first time a group was the “person”.

Take it from me, a former co-winner of TIME’s Person of the Year (2006).

Updated Feb 4, 2012: My apology to Mark Zuckerberg (among other things) 

Twitter Top 10 Trends 2010 – Hold the Toast

Twitter logoTwitter released its list of the most popular trending topics for 2010 and as I reviewed the top ten, it strikes me how its diversity reflects the widespread interests of Twitter users themselves.

Of the ten, two come from the News Events category (1, 4); one from People (8); two from Movies (3,9); two from Technology (6,7); and three from the World Cup (2, 5, 10):

  • 1. Gulf Oil Spill
  • 2. FIFA World Cup
  • 3. Inception
  • 4. Haiti Earthquake
  • 5. Vuvuzela
  • 6. Apple iPad
  • 7. Google Android
  • 8. Justin Bieber
  • 9. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows
  • 10. Pulpo Paul

And while it is surprising that none from the Television category made the Top Ten, Twitter-haters be advised — Toast is nowhere to be found.

To Stop the Bleeding AOL Applies a Patch

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When I was at AOL, we had two areas that appealed to our members literally where they lived: Digital City (later CityGuide and now City’s Best) for local content features; and AOL Local which provided local based community forums. These areas really resonated with our members because as vast as AOL was in its hey-day, these relevant offerings touched them on a personal level.

Flash forward to the present, and those halcyon days are long gone. AOL is now a smaller player on the online scene with niche properties replacing the walled-garden portal. And, it is making a big splash in the formerly safe-haven for local media — hyper-local news — with Patch.

Patch sites have sprung up all over the U.S. and their success is taking its toll on local news orgs. It just launched its 500th site in Hopkins, Minnesota and despite Patch editor-in-chief Brian Farnham’s contention that, “We aren’t there to compete, but to just add another voice to serve the community,” Patch is causing local news media to make changes.

After the launch of Sonoma (Calif.) Patch, the local Sonoma Index-Tribune was forced to drop its three-month-old content paywall in order to compete.

Will Patch be AOL’s salvation? Combined with it’s niche sites (TMZ, Popeater, LemonDrop, et. al.) I think it just might. What do you think?

P&G Shifts Ad Dollars from Soaps to Social

Further proof that social media is here to stay:

P&G info on WkipediaProctor & Gamble, the consumer products giant for whom the term “soap opera” was coined, is dropping its advertising on soap operas after 77 years, and shifting their ad dollars to Twitter, Facebook & YouTube.

It’s enough to make a social media guy like me jump for Joy.

You got the OK to author the company blog. Now what?

Good news! You got the OK to author the company’s blog. Now what?

Heidi Cohen, writing for the  Content Marketing Institute, lists 9 Must-Have Elements for Company Blogs, specifically:

  1. Determine your blog’s business objectives
  2. Define target readers
  3. Develop your blog’s voice
  4. Outline creative elements
  5. Compile a list of regular features and columns
  6. Determine who will write the posts
  7. Create an editorial function
  8. Develop your editorial calendar
  9. Set metrics to assess blog contribution

A good start, do you have any others?

Determine your blog’s business objectives

Your objectives have an impact on just about every aspect of the blog. Among the top business blog goals are to:

  • Build the brand by providing content to support your offering. This information should engage prospective customers.
  • Expand reach by offering prospective buyers solutions to their product needs though a variety of content forms such as checklists and how-to videos.
  • Support sales by giving potential buyers useful information. The specifics depend on your products. It can be a 360-degree video to show clothing details and fit or a list of technology specifications.
  • Position senior executive(s) by spotlighting their thought leadership. This can be important for firms that are strongly associated with their founders. It requires buy-in and commitment from executives to actively post.

Define target readers

Your readers should be in line with your blog’s goals. When describing potential readers, it’s a good idea to characterize them in terms of demographics, psychographics and past behaviors. Also, consider how this segment behaves on social media: are they people who create content, comment on content or just read content (aka lurk)?

Develop your blog’s voice

Since company blogs often include work from a group of contributors, it’s important to define various post attributes to ensure consistency across different writers. For instance, here are some characteristics I suggest bloggers consider:

  • Have a personality
  • Tell a story
  • Be contextually relevant
  • Sound like a real person
  • Have a point of view
  • Avoid sanitized corporate-speak.

Selecting your blog’s theme is part of this process since it drives how your content will be rendered.

Outline creative elements

Set guidelines around branding. How will you integrate your brand into your blog presentation?  Include:

  • Color scheme
  • Typography
  • Post length
  • Use of other media.

These factors should be in line with your overall branding and brand presentation since you want your blog to reinforce your message on other platforms.

Compile a list of regular features and columns

Decide what major content categories you want to include regularly, either weekly or every other week. Within these topics, develop specific columns and describe the focus. The aim here is to ensure your content is in line with your business goals and target reader’s needs. Think in terms of creating regular columns around frequent posts, topics or categories. As part of this process, determine how often you will post new columns to your blog because these elements will become the basis for your editorial calendar (see below). When selecting which features to include, decide on post frequency and how many bloggers you will need (or will have) since good content takes time to create.

Determine who will write the posts

Instead of assigning blogging as another to-do to staff members, ask for volunteers from across your organization. Get the HR department involved so that you can incorporate this work into people’s on-going jobs rather than making it yet another thing to do. Be sure to highlight how writing blog posts is career-enhancing and profile-building.  Wherever possible, recognize participants’ contributions. Your goal is to make corporate blogging alluring.

Among the business areas to check for potential bloggers are: product, marketing/PR/communications, senior executives, buyers, creative department, customer service and/or volunteers. Bear in mind that employees may be reticent to write for a public audience. Assure potential bloggers that they will receive editorial assistance. Remember, once members of your staff are actively involved, it’s important to develop guidelines for social media participation to define what employees should and shouldn’t do.

Create an editorial function

Ensure the blog has one consistent voice and posts have been edited for basic grammar. An employee or an outside freelance editor can fill this position. An additional benefit is that this can help mitigate writers’ concerns about the quality of their posts. The blog should be written so that it sounds like real people talking, not corporate speak.

Develop your editorial calendar

Coordinate your regular features and columns with your on-going editorial calendar. The goal is to ensure that your blog is synchronized with your marketing, PR initiatives and other corporate communications. Where appropriate, incorporate a call-to-action and promotion code to your marketing. While not foolproof, this can help get some traction with monitoring your results.

Set metrics to assess blog contribution

Imagine…No John Lennon – Dec. 8, 1980

December 8, 1980, thirty years ago today, I was watching the New England Patriots lose to the Miami Dolphins 16-13 on ABC’s Monday Night Football. In 1980, there was no bigger weekly event on TV than MNF, boasting its seminal announcing team of journalist/commentator Howard Cosell (at the same time the most loved and most hated man on television) with NFL Hall of Famers Frank Gifford and “Dandy” Don Meredith. I had just moved from the living room to the bedroom to watch the end of the game, when I heard Howard’s pitched voice:

John Lennon, dead at age 40. I was stunned. You have to remember, the Beatles defined a generation of music lovers from the mid-60’s through the early 70’s, and even beyond if you consider each band member’s post-breakup solo acts. For many of us, John was THE Beatle. The intellectual one, the one who courted and relished in controversy. The working class hero. The one whose personal invitation to Paul McCartney to join him in the Liverpool based band The Quarrymen led to the Beatle’s creation, and the one for whom the band’s demise was ultimately blamed. And, along with Paul, 1/2 of the most successful song writing tandem in history.

We all thought “All you need is love,” and “Give peace a chance,” were great lyrics but when John sang them you knew he was a true believer.

Girls loved Paul, but guys loved — and wanted to be as cool as   — John.

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