Archives for posts with tag: fear of social media

Everyone makes it sound so simple. “Draft your content and put it on Wikipedia.” “Everyone who is anyone has a presence on Facebook.” And I guess it is simple…if you don’t care what the end result looks like. But to use either tool – or any social media tool to build your web presence – the right way takes planning, time, an infinite amount of patience, and a little HTML knowledge (or some good sites to go to for help), as well as a bit of willingness to give up some flexibility in how you are presented online and how you can use these tools.

I just finished both, a little roughed up by the processes, but I will be okay after a weekend of relaxing, not looking at either site, not even to look up new information on Tudor history or chatting with my favorite friends, and a couple of glasses of wine.  This piece discusses some issues I came across working on both, and hopefully it will provide you with pointers and information to make the process a bit easier for you as you embark on these tasks.

Facebook

You know that Facebook was not built for business use, right? Right. It was built for people to connect on a personal level and communicate with each other. But companies and organizations all over the world are using Facebook for this exact purpose. Facebook’s 500 million users seem not to mind; Facebook has even created “Business Pages” for companies to use. “Business Pages” allow you to set up a local business page, a page for a brand, product or organization, as well as an artist, band or public figure page. You also have the option of setting up a “Community Page” or a “Facebook Group Page.”

Again, it seems easy enough. But you need to keep a couple of things in mind:

  • If you don’t want your “Business Page” to be connected to your personal Facebook account, you will need to set up a dummy account. Facebook doesn’t really like people doing this. Facebook also doesn’t want you to set up multiple “Business Pages” under various accounts, or having a number of accounts connected to one e-mail. But it really doesn’t give you much of a choice. Dummy accounts may create confusion among people who try to look you up to send you a friend request.
  • You have some tough choices to make in choosing which type of page you want to create and with each choice you are giving up something in terms of the kind of information you want to convey. Each page is set up differently and has different functionality. For example, the “Facebook Group Page” allows you to communicate directly to your “fans,” but the others don’t. However, the “Facebook Group Page” probably isn’t the best choice for more traditional companies. They will want to post business hours, website links, press releases, etc., and you can do that with the Facebook Group Page, but you may need to build some FBML pages and kind of Jerry-rig it to make it work for you. I don’t think it gives you the clean professional, corporate feel you may need. If that is not your organization’s goal, that’s fine, but if it isn’t, you may have to give up communicating with fans beyond the wall postings.
  • Once you choose the kind of page you want and set it up, it gives you set tabs to use for inputting information, but you also have the option of creating custom FBML pages. I found these immensely helpful, but it did take some playing around with them to get it to work for me. You will also need some understanding – or have someone around who has some understanding – of HTML. Facebook Markup Language (FBML) enables you to build full Facebook Platform applications. You can make changes to the profile, profile actions, Facebook canvas, News Feed and Mini-Feed options. FBML is an evolved subset of HTML with some elements removed, and others that are specific to Facebook. I found that using straight HTML worked for me. But I understand it and how it works, and I sleep with a web developer, so I had free help to do the things I couldn’t do on my own.
  • You can delete Tabs on Facebook, according to what you will need and use on a regular basis.
  • You can create protection settings to prevent people from posting links, pictures, etc., which is good. They can still comment but they can’t post jokes or something to the page and you don’t get their updates.
  • Oh, and if your company changes their name – and this does happen – you will have to delete the old page and create a new one. Facebook doesn’t allow major edits to business pages. Crazy, isn’t it? Oh, and they don’t have tool to help you migrate fans either. You will just have to keep posting and reminding people on the old page to go and become a fan of the new one.
  • Here are some sites I used to pull a “Business Page” together:

Facebook needs to do better. It seems pretty shady to me to rake in ka-zillions of dollars from companies using the tool, but not allowing them the flexibility to do what they need to do. I am not advocating allowing companies to spam people. I also know I should have limited expectations from something I am using for free. But why not have a tool to migrate fans seamlessly? Why not allow edits to pages without creating a new one?

Wikipedia

The online encyclopedia. Again, it seems like the perfect place to increase your online presence and simple enough – type up some marketing and communications-division-speak, allow your c-level employees to add their spin, give it a good scrubbing by your legal department and post it to the site, right?

And you later discover that the article was deleted.

Or you write an article and post it, only to have some anonymous person post information – along with a news article, a PDF with legal documents connected with the situation, and photos – of a PR nightmare the company endured five years ago that you thought the world have forgotten about. You try to delete it, and you are contacted by the Wikipedia folks because deleting that information is a big no-no, since there are solid sources on the topic and not a total lie. In fact, it is completely true.

Wikipedia is for posting bare-bones information and facts, with plenty of sources such as news articles, web links and links to other Wikipedia articles. It is not a forum for marketing-speak, and it is not a free advertising or public relations tool.

There is plenty of information on how to write a good Wikipedia article and avoid trouble. Before writing anything, or even presenting the idea to a client or manager, I would thoroughly do my research and present them with the facts on Wikipedia. Yes, this includes admitting the negative aspects of being on the site, as well as the positive. It is also a good idea to have a plan in place for how to handle negative information posted to the article, and edits made by some well-meaning person with nothing to do. You can go in and make changes to obvious grammar and spelling errors or things that are flat out lies. Vandalism is usually caught quickly and taken care of by the fine folks at Wikipedia. But anything else may land you in hot water. You can post information to counter or refute negative items written into the article, but here you tread a fine line as well.

I have more of an understanding and appreciate for the strict rules Wikipedia has in place, than the ridiculous hoops you have to jump through to get a Facebook page to work for your company. I love Wikipedia and I can spend hours reading articles on the site. I go there for information, with a healthy dose of skepticism because I know anyone can go in and make an edit, but if I wanted spin, I would go to an organization’s website or news outlets that favor them. I don’t expect to drink corporate kool-aid on Wikipedia.

Some helpful tips for posting an article to Wikipedia:

  • Have some understanding, or someone close by with some understanding or thorough knowledge, of HTML. Wikipedia uses its own version of HTML, but it works the same way.
  • Search for organizations like yours, sort through the good and the bad articles, and if you see something you like, click on the edit box to grab code to use for your own article.
  • The code you grab from another page may not be completely flexible for your needs. Again, it helps to have someone close by who knows HTML, or to have some understanding of it yourself.
  • Copy and paste isn’t always your friend. It can be your absolute worst enemy.
  • If you have quite a bit of information to post, and lots of links, have them on hand in a Notepad page. DON’T USE WORD. This helps a BIT with the cut and paste issue. But be careful.
  • Take your time. Don’t rush this. It is not as quick and easy as you think.

I’m glad I did both. I learned a lot and I am proud of the results. But it wasn’t easy. Luckily, both sites provide a lot of information on how to set up these pages and Wikipedia’s information is far superior to Facebook. T here is also a wealth of information online.

Good luck!

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with learning more about Yammer. Yammer is an intra-company/enterprise version of Twitter, designed with the goal of helping companies and organizations evolve into more productive and integrated organizations.

Launched at TechCrunch50 in 2008 (also known as TC50), a conference and tradeshow that showcases the best Web 2.0 start-ups, Yammer won the grand prize, and now claims to have more than 50,000 companies around the globe using the tool. Yammer won’t drop names, but they state that Fortune 500 companies, Hollywood studios and many small to mid-sized companies now Yammer, and the Web site lists Fox, Adobe and Hill and Knowlton as users.

Yammer is the result of founder and CEO David Sacks and engineers at the other company he founded, Geni, wanting an internal communication tool to connect with employees throughout the organization.

How does it work? It all starts with one simple question: “What are you working on?” Co-workers post and share update on their projects. Company news can be sent instantly. People in an organization can send links, ask questions and get help from anyone in the company. Everyone on the network can see who is following who, who is the most followed, and ultimately, who are the movers and shakers in the company.

Yammer also serves as a company directory in which every employee has a profile, and as a knowledge base where past conversations can be easily accessed and referenced.

Basic Yammer service is free, and companies can pay to claim and administer their networks. All communication within the company is completely private and secure – not even Yammer employees can see what is going on within individual organizations. The privacy of each network is ensured by limiting access to those with a valid company email address and information isn’t shared with third parties.

Yammer now has the ability to create groups within a company in order to communicate with different teams inside an organization without broadcasting what is said publicly. Companies can also host Yammer inside their corporate firewall. It is available on iPhone, Windows Mobile, Blackberry and Android.

I think this is cool and this says a lot. I have worked at companies where they utilized internal instant messenger tools and I thought it was the biggest pain in the behind. The main reason was that I didn’t feel it used the way it was supposed to be used. What was supposed to be another tool in your arsenal to be more productive and help others mainly became a method of someone keeping track of when you turned your computer on and off, or firing off twenty-million questions a day when they could just pick up the phone and come over to discuss a project.

Not exactly best practices for workplace productivity.

With the appropriate buy-in from The-Powers-That-Be (Yammer can be started by any employee, but I wouldn’t recommend that unless that employee is THE decision maker and can do what they want), Yammer can help end the dreaded silos that occur in many companies, facilitate efficiency in working across various groups in an organization, and fairly and equally promote exemplary work among employees. Yammer could also serve as a blueprint for new employees entering an organization on how it operates, its culture and how to succeed.

An additional use, particularly for public relations departments in organizations that are reluctant to use social media to communicate to external audiences, is to introduce a tool used internally to showcase how, say, Twitter works, and what is can do. Baby steps are necessary for many in upper-management, and this could be a start to embracing social media.

Econsultancy recently completed a study that revealed almost two-thirds of companies have experimented with social media, but haven’t launched significant campaigns. The biggest reason cited was “lack of resources.”

Hmm. Do you buy this?

Seeing as many companies block the use of sites such as Twitter, Facebook and MySpace by its employees, one could start to assume that the biggest reason for not making a serious effort to use social media and/or reputation and buzz monitoring tools is that they perceive a lack of control over it. So management attempts to control it from within by blocking the use of these sites (under the guise of taking away possible distractions from the work at hand), and don’t seek to understand it and how it can work to their organization’s advantage.

Several other issues could be at work here as well:

Tech Adverse Management: There are very intelligent people at all levels of management, including the very top, from small companies to international corporations, who call people into their offices to open Excel documents. They aren’t stupid by any stretch of the imagination. But they have talked themselves into believing they don’t understand “tech stuff” or “social media stuff” and so they stay as far away from it as possible. Now, in this case, what are the chances of getting these individuals to buy into participating in social media or use online tools to monitor what is being said about the company?

Public Relations Adverse (or Illiterate) Management: I feel the public believes that most CEOs are dynamic extroverts who glow at the thought of being called upon by the media to talk about what they know and the company. Nothing is further from the truth. Some, whether it is through previous bad experiences or just a distrust of the media in general, literally lock down their public relations departments, permit them only to send out the occasional new product or company announcement press release, then refuse to entertain any questions the media may have. So if traditional PR scares the pants off of them, participating in online discussions or reaching out to bloggers is out of the question.

The Legal Department: Everyone knows the function of the legal department is to keep the company from being sued, and if they are sued, to settle it as quickly as possible. Fine. But some are more…let’s say, diligent, about its role than others. I have worked with company legal departments who asked for SIGNED photo release forms from the Stepford-pretty models featured in stock art photos used in company-issued newsletters. I have been called and questioned about the use of the word “innovative” in a press release – and then forced to remove it, because I couldn’t prove that the product I was announcing was innovative. ‘Nuff said.

Fear: All of the issues above stem from fear of some kind. But the biggest is possibly the fear of suspecting negative things are being said, and not really wanting to confirm them. It might be worse than originally feared, company management might actually have to do something about it and aren’t ready to do so for whatever reason – money, resources, being forced to answer to shareholders, employees, vendors and the general public.

Lack of resources, when so many people participate in some type of social media such as LinkedIn or Facebook, is an excuse, and a pretty lame one.  There are well-publicized stories of companies that allowed unchecked online conversations to ruin the public’s perception of the organization and adversely affect its bottom line. The conversation goes on, 24/7, whether companies want it to or not. You can’t control everything being said online, but you can get your messages out there effectively and use it to control any situations that may arise. It’s as simple as the click of a mouse…

See the complete article, “PR Pros Still Experimenting With Social Media” at PRNewsonline.com.