Archive for the ‘Community’ Tag

Social Media: Conversation for the greater good

A friend of mine used to work for the Los Angeles County Department of Health and would often tell me about their proposed initiatives and how they were working on new ways to spread the message about health issues using social media.

Like many companies, they followed the typical route:  creating a MySpace page and/or a YouTube channel, and would regularly publish content. However, unlike most companies, any Health company or Department has the added luxury of having to sell a “product” that is often incredibly “unsexy,” which often results in lower CTRs and a harder sell. They also bear the burden of marketing a product that people are often unable to interact with or, in some cases, are ashamed to interact with.

Think back. How often do you scan the internet, looking for the latest public service announcements? Probably never. And, if you’re like most people, if you do see one on TV, online, or anywhere else, you probably don’t talk about it with your friends or family because it just doesn’t have the same “appeal” as talking about the latest movie trailer or tv show you watched, right? For the few of you who said that you DO actually talk about the PSAs you see on TV with someone you know, 9/10 chance that the PSA you watched had to do with drugs or alcohol. And the person you talked to? Your child/parent/dependent, right?

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Hiring trend: Social media– contractor?

With the economy in dire straits, it seems as though many companies are turning to hiring on social media strategists as consultants instead of full-time,  full-salary (and benefits) roles. Though this is a bitter-sweet turn of events for the social media field, it’s also a great opportunity for true pros to prove their worth, all while having the flexibility of bouncing from company to company.

Why this is good for social media: By continuing to offer positions (though they’re contract positions) it proves that companies are still willing to spend some of their limited budget on social efforts, and understand their value. By offering the position as a contract role, the company is able to save on their end by not having to pay for pesky things like benefits and contributing to your 401k.

Why this isn’t good for social media: By failing to completely integrate a team member into a brand or company, that team member (or in this case, social media strategist) isn’t given the opportunity to truly embrace the brand in a way a “full time” employee might. They’re also (potentially) seen as a much more expendable line-item in the company’s budget. Continue reading

It’s all about the STRATEGY

True “experts” like Robert Scoble and Chris Brogan have argued that the term “social media expert” is, for most people, a moot title– a point I agree with. In an industry that’s constantly changing, it’s impossible to be an expert in a field that has no predefined boundaries. (Perhaps the only exceptions are Scoble and Brogan, who have proven themselves champions in multiple battles, though the war has hardly been fought). 

With that being said, it comes as no surprise that an article published on cnet today discusses just that: the title, and role, of the social media “expert.” The article, which covers the high ticket price many social media-ites demand(ed) points out many of the flaws many companies are seeing in their current social media “strategy.”

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Word Cloud Resume

I was perusing Oliver Blanchard’s “The Brand Builder” blog a little bit ago and came across a post that showed his blog as a word cloud. I’ve seen this done in the past, but what caught my eye was Oliver’s mention of David Bernardo’s Resume as a word cloud. I clicked. Yep, it was awesome, and expressed a resume in a truly unique way. 

So naturally, I felt obligated to enter mine and share it here. I was pleased to see that “community” ended up at the core of my word cloud.

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To create your own, visit Wordle and give it a shot.

The Emerging Role: Community Manager

I previously worked for a start-up called, Passenger, where I was as a Community Manager for brands like Nike, JcPenney, and ABC. While at Passenger  I posted to the company blog about the role of a Community Manager. Though the post remains mostly relevant, it does read much like an advertisement (ironic since at the time I clearly remember trying to ensure that it didn’t feel like an ad, but instead embraced the voice of the company, just as any Community Manager would do.) 

I’ve included my post below, and have amended it slightly to reflect my current views, noted in purple

Please note, that this was written while working for Passenger, not Yahoo!, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the company at this time. 

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Pottery Barn: Where’s your Community?

Back in July I bought my first place– a purchase that has completely changed the way I shop. Now, instead of only perusing stores and websites for jeans, tops, and accessories, I find myself checking out the home section too. I’m excited by looking at paint swatches and watching HGTV’s “My First Place” and seeing how others “pull it all together.” And right now, I’m also quietly obsessed with Pottery Barn. 

Pottery Barn‘s website is pretty robust– they have a “Style House” section that features videos, design tips “for every room,” design tools, and heck, they even have a “furniture facts” section– where you can learn about your new sectional. But what their site lacks is a community element– something that surprised me. Continue reading

Social Networking– Target: Teen/tween Girls

Recently Tampax (yes, that Tampax) launched an online community for teen and tween girls, called the MonthlyGiftClub. The community focuses on brand awareness, membership and encourages girls to participate by providing free product samples and customizable avatars.

The site is a seemingly natural hybrid between teen magazines “gross out” stories, SecondLife, and branded online marketing/communities, but to me, it seems to miss its mark, courtesy of the site’s focus: hygiene.

Perhaps I’m too out of touch with teen and tweenage girls, but the first thing that came to mind was, “what teenage or tweenage girl would want to share and collaborate about ‘that.'” I fondly remember reading YM Magazine and scanning the “OMG” stories that showcase girls’ most embarrassing moments– each focusing on making the reader feel better about themselves and their lives. (Mostly because you were so thankful that your day wasn’t as bad as the girl who slipped on a puddle of milk in the cafeteria and mooned her entire class). I have a hard time believing that same type of subconscious validation and ego patting will take place in this community, though I could be wrong.

Most girls turn to online communities as an escape or an extension of themselves– that’s why sites like SecondLife succeed. But just like any other product review, when things matter, people typically trust people they know before anonymous faces or products they meet online. Perhaps I’m outdated, but isn’t this the sort of conversation typically reserved for mothers and daughters, or sisters?

It’s possible I’m totally off my mark, but from the look of the site it seems like a much too stuffy format to lure legitimate community members in. Maybe with a redesign and a little less emphasis on the “blush worthy” products like feminine hygiene they’d find success. Until then, it looks like another community for the sake of community.

Transparency is King

It never fails: as soon as a company decides they need a blog, online profile, or heavy online presence, the first question they ask is: how much do I have to share?

Without a doubt, the response they’ll typically get is: As much as you can.

This gradual shepherding of information into the mainstream is part of what makes sites like Dell’s IdeaStorm a success– the ability to listen and respond is becoming more and more valuable. But just how transparent do you have to be? Naturally, you shouldn’t share anything that is considered a “company secret” or the “secret sauce”– you want to set yourself apart from the competitors, not give your competitors an unnecessary edge.

Open source products only work when the focus is continual collaboration, like freeware or shareware, so unless that’s your goal, it’s best to keep it under your hat.

However, the best things to communicate openly about are bugs, issues, site outages, or the inability to meet a specific deadline. Today, bloggers all over are praising BrightKite for wearing their heart on their sleeve, and essentially enabling users to laugh while being frustrated. Rather than shrinking behind the “its coming soon” moniker like so many large companies, BrightKite acknowledged that yes, they’re behind, and they haven’t released a product they said they would.

The amazing thing about the internet is that it’s powered by people– so when you treat users as people, instead of numbers or earnings, the response is astounding. People are much more tolerant of delays when their patience is acknowledged. Just read some of BrightKite’s user comments, if you don’t believe me:

KJB: Awww… not going to throw the little red fruits… but I am glad there’s an update. Gracias.. gracias.. gracias..
chartier: I’ll second Robb’s comment. Transparency is much appreciated, and the sense of humor is a nice touch. I would much rather wait for good software than download a 1.0 that barely works. Keep up the great work guys!

By addressing the issue up front, BrightKite removed the fuel from the fire, and made way for a different kind of complaint: Did anyone else notice that there’s mo variation in the size of the tomato splatters? Shame. 🙂