Another BP #fail

At least BP covered all their social media bases.  You can find them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Twitter and even Flickr.  In a crisis situation such as the Gulf oil spill (you may have heard about it) social media outlets present a unique opportunity to circulate company messages in a timely and focused manner.  Concerned citizens can get updated information directly from BP in the company’s voice, without an attached agenda of news networks.  Information directly from the horse’s mouth – what a wonderful thing!

And surprisingly, as noted in NPR post, BP has been good about sharing information using social media, however their messages and tactics have not stood the test of time.  Meaning (strike number one) BP rushed out information using social media channels that turned out not to be accurate and (strike number two) they put out the same information using social media channels as they released through more traditional PR channels like news releases.

Broadcasting the same information over both social media and traditional channels is a completely viable strategy and messages should be integrated, but social media (especially in a crisis situation) requires a little something extra: conversation.  BP is just talking at people, which is okay for an ad campaign, but not very effective on Facebook where people want and expect interaction and conversation.  No one likes being ignored, especially over such an emotional and serious issue like the oil spill.  And with their anger building, many people are flocking to satirical, negative Facebook and Twitter pages like Boycott BP and @BPGlobalPR to vent their anger and avoid a lot of the inaccurate spin that BP’s PR team is pushing out.

So BP, in addition to washing pelicans and hermit crabs and stopping the bajillion gallons of oil shooting into the Gulf every second, needs to revisit their social media strategy or risk #failure in yet another aspect of this tragedy.

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So many blogs, so little time

Hello loyal reader(s).  You may have noticed that my “daily” blog has once again become more of a “bi-weekly” or “not this week” type of publication. I have actually been blogging quite a bit…just not here.  My very last graduate class at American is called Internet Advocacy and I’ve been busy writing (required) blogs about our weekly readings.  So, check it out (if you are REALLY, REALLY bored at work).

This is my outlet to communicate about communication – social media, advocacy and politics in particular – as assigned by my professor in COMM 551.

http://commfessions.tumblr.com/

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A quick recap of Facebook Community Pages

Well, sort of.  Unfortunately anything having to do with Facebook cannot be explained in less than 1000 words and at least 100 million angry users.  But I’ll do my best.

Facebook recently launched a new feature called Community Pages that are a new breed of topical pages tied to users’ stated profile interests.  These pages are owned collectively by the community and show a Wikipedia entry for the topic, as well as comments from others that mention the brand, candidate, topic etc.

Brands, as you can imagine, are slightly miffed by this uncontrolled presentation of their brand content. This feature has the potential to confuse users who are connected to the Community Page rather than (or in addition to) a company or candidate’s official page. It seems to me that these pages will just get in the way and these pages may just be more brand clutter on Facebook.

But Facebook’s development mantra has pretty much been “shoot first, apologize later” and it seems they’ve done it again with the community pages.  Either they really want to better connect their users (BS) or these pages are really meant to pressure more brands into creating their official pages and buying millions worth of advertising.

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Social media backlash pushes Nestlé to evaluate palm oil policies

Well what do you know? Nestlé listened.  Following a two month Greenpeace assault on palm oil purchasing practices of the food giant, Nestlé announced earlier this week that they will stop purchasing palm oil (used in many popular products like Kit Kats) from companies that own “high-risk” plantations and farms.  These high-risk plantations are accused of driving the destruction of natural habitats for animals like the orangutan. The new “zero-deforestation” policy is in partnership with The Forest Trust that will work with Nestlé to amend its palm oil purchasing policies.

Nestlé’s decision comes after a tumultuous 8-weeks in which Greenpeace released a provocative video on YouTube to raise awareness of Nestlé’s questionable methods for acquiring palm oil.  The video, which likens eating a Kit Kat to eating an orangutan, was subsequently removed by Nestlé; an action that spurred an even greater backlash from the Greenpeace community who bombarded Nestlé with calls, emails and Facebook page comments. Now enter social media “meltdown” as Nestlé representatives responded to Facebook comments with mild requests for users to stop using altered versions of the Nestlé logo as their Facebook profile picture or risk their comments being taken down.  Needless to say, users were not happy with this restriction of their right to publicly protest on an open forum like a company’s Facebook page and the comment threads were shared on blogs and news articles across the Internet – directing even more negative attention toward Nestlé.

As a result of the targeted Greenpeace campaign and the added headache of a social media crisis, Nestlé was forced to pay attention and had to address the problems with the palm oil it buys. Hopefully, Nestlé’s new policies will help save some orangutans and make some of us feel better about eating Kit Kats.

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Zero to Hero: Does increasing Twitter followers increase influence?

The HORROR!!!!  Because of some bug yesterday, Twitter follow/following numbers were at 0…for everyone.  Even Ashton Kutcher.  What?  No follow/following numbers?  How will we know who the “influentials” are if we don’t know who has millions of followers?  Well, its a good thing that a recent study by Meeyoung Cha of the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems in Germany (via Harvard Business Review) has officially proven that the number of Twitter followers an individual has is largely meaningless.  Whew!  We can all relax. Maybe.

Cha’s study discredits the notion that increasing followers increases influence.  And while counting followers is not necessarily a bad metric, it is not sufficient to capture influence.  Cha suggests that businesses should try to increase audience responsiveness, in the form of retweets and mentions, rather than just increasing the number of followers. I think influence is driven by trustworthiness, consistency, reciprocation, and technical expertise, not just by numbers as Cha suggests.  However, reach can be considered an important feature of influence as it enables the sender of information to have their message at least seen by a large number of people, and probably internalized and acted upon by some.

However, messages passed on within more strongly connected trusted networks have greater impact than those circulated through more dispersed communities.  So it’s give and take.  With a million followers, you have more people seeing your message, but have fewer guarantees they find value in it and be motivated to action.  But with 50 followers who you’ve shared a non-Internet based conversation with in your lifetime, you don’t have as many people seeing your message, but they are probably way more likely to trust and act on your recommendation or solicitation.

I’m torn on this debate.  How important is increasing Twitter followers to increasing influence?  Thoughts?

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Confessions of a former Abraham Harrison intern

On Friday my time as an intern with Abraham Harrison came to a close, and I remain overwhelmed by how much the experience has taught me and how all that I’ve learned is now influencing my career path.  During my internship I not only gained new skills, but deepened my interest in social media and digital public relations and made professional connections that will continue beyond my internship.  Since May is a time when many graduates reflect on their time at school, I figure I should do my due diligence and share a bit about my own journey with AH and my preparations for a new career. Continue reading

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Lighten up PR!

I’ll take my PR with a side of hilarity and bacon please.

Here’s a little excerpt from Humor Can Create Engagements by Aaron Perult at Forbes.com

Mistakenly, most PR execs are convinced the world lives and dies on the pages of media such as The Wall Street Journal, and lean toward using speakisms such as “strategic,” “results-oriented,” and “synergies,” words that have little meaning to actual human beings.

As a result, the companies and brands represented by these boredom ambassadors become further detached from consumers. They lose opportunities to endear themselves to audiences new and old, and instead reaffirm the stigma that they are managed by out-of-touch corporate drones just looking to turn a buck.

Consumers are, in fact, willing to engage with companies and brands in today’s online social forums. The trick is that people are looking for authentic, self-deprecating voices willing to not take themselves too seriously. Consider whether the PR staff for Hormel’s bacon brands could better spend their time creating an online, regional and national event vehicle like the World Bacon Games–where they hand out medals made of delicious bacon–as opposed to pleading with food reporters to write glowing reviews about their products. Since there are hundreds of bacon enthusiast websites and blogs online, and statistics such as between June 2008 and June 2009 there were more Web searches for “bacon” than “Barack Obama,” that would be a good bet, yes.

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