Archive for the ‘social media’ Category

Tony Robbins misquotes Gandhi, ignores the error and keeps on Tweeting

May 3, 2012

Not long ago I offered advice on dealing with social media mistakes.  Then I happened across this Tweet from Tony Robbins:

If you are one of the most famous speakers in the world,  it is probably a good idea to quote Gandhi.  Except this quote most likely isn’t from Gandhi.  In fact it first appeared in the book “Documentary History of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America” on page 53:

First they ignore you.  Then they ridicule you.  And then they attack you and want to burn you.  And then they build monuments to you.

Whoopsie.  So I did Mr. Robbins a favor and told him about his error (with my added commentary):

First reply to Tony Robbins on Twitter

And then this a day later:

I have sent Mr. Robbins several Tweets about this. So far he hasn’t responded. (Some of his followers are responding to me, however, asking about the source of the quote.)

To review, we have at least three social media faux pas, and one assumed one:

(1) Misquote one of the most influential people who ever lived (not so bad, because everyone makes mistakes.)

(2) Ignore people who identify the error (much bigger mistake.)

(3) Carry on without acknowledging or correcting the error (much, much bigger mistake.)

And the assumed fourth faux pas:

(4) Outsource your social media without understanding what you are trying to achieve (humongous mistake.)

In the grand scheme of things, I guess misquoting Gandhi isn’t going to harm his reputation.  But what happens when he, or his staff, sends an unintentionally controversial Tweet?  He will be held accountable, even if he didn’t actually say it!  This could harm his credibility and cost him money.

We can learn a lot from this episode:

(1) If you outsource your social media, you should trust the person speaking on your behalf.

(2) Periodically review your content to ensure consistency.

(3) If someone contacts you on social media, especially about a mistake, respond to them.

(4) If you make a mistake, own up to it.

(5) Nobody is immune in this social age, including Tony Robbins.  Even Bank of America had to back down because of Twitter.  Seriously.

(6) Think hard about using social media or you run the risk of harming your reputation.

(7) People are paying attention to what you say, a necessary consequence of being on social media.

As a side note: if I am wrong and Gandhi did say this, I will acknowledge my error, publicly apologize to Mr. Robbins and my social media community.  Until then, I’m still waiting.  And Tweeting.

PS:  In my initial Tweet to Mr. Robbins I wrongly stated the year was 1914.  The correct year is 1918.  Sorry about that, I will try to be more careful next time.

PPS:  See how that works?

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B2B or B2C? With social media, it’s always P2P

April 17, 2012

Oftentimes I get the following question from colleagues and clients:  “Is social media better for B2C rather than B2B companies?”

In short: no.

While it is sometimes easier to see the B2C side of social media — as a way to connect with current and potential customers, thus driving sales and increasing the all-important bottom line — B2B social media is no less important than B2C.

Why?  Because whether your business is B2B or B2C, all business is ultimately P2P: Person to Person.

I didn't have a fancy schmancy photo to add, so I did this little Wordle thingy instead.

Indeed, billion dollar deals will always be conducted over drinks and at country clubs. And the principals still have to know, like and trust one another.  If, for instance, there are two companies with amazing synergies but the CEOs hate each other, odds are the deal will not go through.

Social media done right is about establishing and improving all kinds of relationships.  B2B relationships are as important as B2C ones, arguably more so.  And using social media to establish and maintain solid relationships, manage your reputation and create thought leadership is vital, no matter what your company does.

How to handle mistakes on social media

March 22, 2012

We’re all human.  As such we make mistakes.  But when we make a mistake on social media, it is out there forever and it cannot be undone.  This can be very, very scary for some, and it keeps many people on the sidelines and away from Facebook or Twitter.

Some mistakes are bigger than others.  Take McDonald’s for example.  They started a social media campaign about McD stories which quickly got away from them and made them look pretty stupid.

But the potential for making a mistake should not deter you from using social media. Indeed you could actually turn a mistake into a strategic advantage.

Here’s one way to handle a social media mess-up:

  1. DO NOT HIT DELETE.  Remember, this stuff is out there forever. If you do delete it, someone will dig it up and throw it back in your face, making the situation even worse.  So resist the urge to click delete.
  2. Address the issue.  If you make a mistake, own up to it and quickly apologize to all offended parties.
  3. Learn from it.  Once is a mistake, twice is a habit.  Learn from your mistake and incorporate what you learned into your social media strategy.
  4. Blog about it.  Yup, you read that right.  If you make a mistake, share what you’ve learned and use it as an opportunity to connect with your audience.  While you’re at it, offer concrete recommendations on how others can avoid making similar mistakes.

With this approach, you can create critical thought leadership and offer compelling content for your audience.  In fact a mistake could turn a negative situation into a positive one and improve your reputation.

One final point: don’t let the fear of making mistakes deter you from using Facebook or Twitter.  Instead, use these challenges as teachable moments so we can all benefit from your errors.

In the long run you will benefit with an improved reputation, greater wisdom and a more socially engaged company.

Thinking about replacing your website with a Facebook page? Think harder.

March 7, 2012

If you are thinking about replacing your website with a Facebook page, perhaps you should think a little bit harder.

See, some companies have scrapped their websites and replaced them with Facebook pages.  This is not a good idea.

Why?  Because using a Facebook page as your website is like changing your car’s oil with a hammer.  Or using Excel as your calendar.  Or have a rabbit herd your sheep.  (Never mind that last one.)  Websites contain, or at least should contain, content about your organization. Social media sites like Facebook enable conversations with your stakeholders.  Why would you want to use good tools for the wrong reason?

Granted, it might be a good idea to make your website socially enabled — that is, to install a social component.  But it is generally a bad idea to replace the site with a Facebook page.  I’d suggest you keep your website and use social media to connect with your audience.

Social Media Overload

February 29, 2012

Facebook.  Twitter.  LinkedIn.  Google Plus.  Pinterest.  Meetup.  Yelp.  WordPress.  Blogger.  Bitly.  Plurk.  Tumblr.  Plaxo.  Klout.

Gaaaaaah!

It’s easy to experience social media overload.  Even though I have been using social media tools for some eight years now, I still feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of applications out there.  Indeed Wikipedia lists over 200 “major active social networking websites.”

But what can you do?  If you decide to ignore social media, you are removing yourself from the real-time global conversations taking place, conversations which are happening with or without your participation.

So how do you decide which tool(s) to use?  While one cannot possibly use every social media tool out there, I’ll give you the same recommendation I give to my clients:

(1) Create a Facebook profile and connect with people you know.

(2) Get on LinkedIn, connect with colleagues and join a few groups that are relevant to their lives.

(3) Hop on Twitter and follow people you find interesting.

(4) Say nothing.

That’s right, don’t say a thing.  Instead, spend just a few hours a week listening to conversations.  Get a feel for how the applications work.  See what other people are saying.  Maybe ask a question and see what happens.  That way, you don’t have to worry about doing something right or wrong.  You are just listening!

Once you begin to understand how the tools work, then you can make a wise decision on which application(s) to use. Dig deeper into the ones you like.   Post something interesting.  Some tools may not work for you: that’s okay, just let them go. If you want to return, they aren’t going anywhere.

Social media can be daunting.  But by taking baby steps and simply listen, anyone can start using these tools.  Who knows: you might end up becoming an aficionado like me!

The Value of Social Media

February 20, 2012

In recent days I have read several articles questioning the value of social media. While many of their facts are probably correct, the implicit conclusion – that social media is overrated – is based on a false premise.

First we have an article from ZDNet entitled: “The hollow emptiness in social media numbers – most accounts are fake or empty.” Here, the author is says, and I quote, “With the possibility that nearly 50% of social network users could be fake or empty user accounts — this is a massive issue for social media marketing.” [emphasis from the author]

Second, Marketing Week (UK) says: “Social media “less useful” than thought.” The sub-heading says, “Almost half of consumers object to brand advertising on social networks that uses profile information, according to new research by YouGov.”

Assuming both articles are factually correct –  that empty accounts signal a problem for social media, and people generally do not like it when advertisements are shoved in their faces – both are based on a false premise.

Social media is not marketing.

Social media is a conversation.

Websites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are forums to ask and answer questions, connect with brands, talk with other consumers, manage reputations, share information, engage in conversations and – perhaps most importantly – to listen.  Ultimately this conversation can, and does, lead to increased sales, improved reputation etc.  But it is not marketing in the conventional sense.

To be sure, the field faces many challenges, including how to deal with the aforementioned empty accounts.  And while the ROI of social media is oftentimes difficult to quantify, there are only two things I can be sure of:

(1) There is a real-time global conversation taking place right now on social media about topics that you are interested in; and

(2) These conversations are happening with or without you.

So, is social media overrated?  In my opinion, that is the wrong question to ask.  The right question is:  are you engaged in the conversation, or is it happening without you?

Don’t Do This on Twitter, Part Duh

February 1, 2012

(Note: I was going to call this Part Deux, but this one takes The Duh cake.  Mmmmm, cake.)

So my significant other and I went to a local bar/restaurant to watch the 49ers game, she being a San Francisco native.  In the middle of the game they switched bartenders.

Unbelievably, this new fellow ignored us:  he did not ask us if we wanted anything, never refilled our water glasses (!!!) and completely disregarded us for over an hour.   We had never seen, or heard, of anything like this. Rightfully furious, the Sig Oth Tweeted her disappointment, saying:

Bar X then favorited that Tweet.

Yup, you read that right:  this bar decided that her criticism, broadcast to over 100 million active Tweeters, is one of their favorite things.

Wow.  It is not every day that I find myself with a loss of words.  This is one of those days.

What can you do if you get criticized on any social media site?  For starters, here is what you should not do:

(1) DO NOT FAVORITE THAT CRITICISM.  

(2) DO NOT DELETE THE COMMENT. (Some tools, like Yelp, do not allow you to delete criticism anyway.)  If you can delete the comment and do so, you are sending the message that you do not care. And you are missing an opportunity to improve your brand.

(3) DO NOT IGNORE THE PERSON WHO IS CRITICIZING YOU.  Ignoring the comment implicitly validates the criticism.

What should you do?

Engage that person in a conversation!  For instance, you can reply with, “I am sorry you feel we did not provide 100% customer service.  What can we do to make things right?”  and/or “Please call us so we can talk about this.”

Remember: social media is not really marketing.  Rather, it is a conversation:  a place to listen, manage your reputation, connect with people worldwide about myriad topics and turn criticism into an opportunity to improve your business and enhance your brand.

So if you are facing a social media challenge, don’t ignore it.  While you’re at it, don’t brag about it either.

Don’t do this on Twitter

January 22, 2012

Here’s a great example of how not to use Twitter.

In an effort to further engage in the conversation on Twitter, I followed a whole bunch more people.  Sadly, one of them was this fellow, who thought it would be totally awesome to post at least 30 Tweets in a row.  I tried to zoom out as much as possible but I still couldn’t capture every Tweet he sent in a burst. I quickly unfollowed him.

Don't do this on Twitter

So yeah, if you are looking to use Twitter, or any social media tool, it is important to engage in the conversation, not just talk about yourself. Especially 30+times in a row.

Social Media Marketing? Not quite

June 23, 2011

The interwebs are chock full of articles about Social Media Marketing.  Indeed, every day it seems I am inundated with articles featuring Five Amazing Tips to Increase your Social Media Presence.

The below infographic illustrates the mindset of many such emails I receive:

Clever, but not quite right

In my opinion, using Social Media to simply talk about yourself misses the point.  What makes Social Media different than, say, a newspaper advertisement, is that Social Media enables you to listen to what people are saying and engage in conversations relevant to you and your potential customers.

So instead of using Social Media to promote your company, treat Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn like huge, interactive phones.  In addition to talking about your business, join groups to speak to potential customers, listen to what they are saying and discuss relevant issues.  In this way, you’ll gain credibility as well as increased sales.

Thoughts on Social Media

January 31, 2011

These days companies are scrambling to understand what social media is and how they are supposed to use it.  The first question many business leaders may ask is, “How can we use social media?”

While logical, that’s not quite right in my opinion.  Instead, the first question should be, “What are my business objectives, and how can social media help me meet those objectives?”

Social media is a tool and can be used in many ways.  The analogy I like to use is a hammer.  A hammer can be used to install a window or break one.  Similarly, social media can be used to get you new clients or ding your reputation.

So the first thing you need to do is understand what you are trying to do:  do you want to recruit better candidates?  Improve your sales and marketing?  Bump up your website on Google search?  Enhance employee communication?  Something else?

Next you’ll need to get your messaging together, which I will discuss in a later post.  Meanwhile feel free to add your comments below about this new and exciting field.