Tag Archives: Twitter

How Average Players Use Twitter and a Human Voice to Become Social Media Superstars

February 22, 2012

4 Comments

Have you heard of Brandon McCarthy, Paul Bissonette, Pat McAfee, and Antonio Brown? If you're like most people, you probably haven't. We're not exactly talking about Kobe Bryant or Derek Jeter here. Why would you know anything about a middle of the road starting pitcher, a left-winger with 5 career goals, a punter, and a wide receiver who has been a starter for exactly one season? If you happen to run an organization or handle public relations for an organization though, you should get to know them because there's plenty you can learn about communications, public relations, and branding from them.

Take a look at their Twitter feeds – they talk about partying, drinking, farts, pranks, and the women they go out with. They make fun of their teammates, curse, and share personal pictures. They're pretty much your typical PR person's worst nightmare. They don't speak in sanitized sports jargon ("we just took it one game at a time out there and gave it all we had"), they don't attempt to drive traffic to the team's website or sell merchandise, and they don't try to cultivate their "personal brands." They are, for better or worse, acting like themselves and talking to their fans on Twitter like they might talk with a group of their friends.

Thing is, they're GOOD at it. And the very reason they're good at it is because of, not in spite of, their complete and total disregard for traditional PR best practices. In the same way the Pittsburgh Penguins have actual players deliver season tickets to their fans, the Green Bay Packers players ride little kids' bikes to practice, or baseball players toss foul balls to their fans in the stands, these players aim to forge a personal connection with their fans. They're good at using Twitter because they're not interested in using it for PR or marketing or branding – they're using it simply because they enjoy interacting with their fans. 

If you've read one of my favorite books, The Cluetrain Manifesto, you'll recognize that this desire to get beyond the marketing and the branding and speak in a human voice is one of the major tenets of the book.

"Markets do not want to talk to flacks and hucksters. They want to participate in the conversations going on behind the corporate firewall."

Though this certainly applies to professional athletes and their fans, the ability to speak in a human voice and forge real relationships with your fans and customers is one that translates easily to the business world as well.

Do yourself a favor and check out the Twitter feeds for some of the less well-known athletes on Twitter and I bet you'll start re-thinking some of those PR and marketing best practices you've read about. What makes them so effective? 

  1. They're honest. [tweet https://twitter.com/BizNasty2point0/status/168081177054412801] Politically correct? Ummm…not exactly. Honest? Definitely.
  2. They're real. [tweet https://twitter.com/Mrs_McCarthy32/status/171452231684591618] This is just one of many conversations between Brandon and his wife. This is a conversation I could totally see myself having with my wife too. Rather than just being some rich ballplayer living a life beyond my imagination, I've gotten a glimpse of him that I'd never get in an interview or on the back of a baseball card.
  3. They put their money where their mouth is. One of my favorite stories of the year was this one where Antonio Brown answered a fan's offer to go out to lunch which then led to an actual friendship. This is a story about a player going above and beyond what's expected of him. He realizes the esteem that his fans hold in him and
  4. They're funny. [tweet https://twitter.com/PatMcAfeeShow/status/166997616498974720] A little humor goes a long way – this particular Tweet was retweeted more than 50 times, but McAfee's feed is filled with funny Tweets like this.
  5. They're random.  [tweet https://twitter.com/BizNasty2point0/status/167862185110941696] Somehow, I don't think this Tweet would have made it past the approval chain in a typical branding campaign. It doesn't direct anyone to a website, it doesn't hawk any merchandise, it's totally random and shows his followers a totally different side of himself.

Now think about your employees. Think about how (or even if) they're communicating with your customers.  Are they allowed, nay, encouraged, to be honest, real, empowered, funny, and random or are they hampered by restrictive policies, approval processes, and message platforms? Instead of worrying about the damage your idiot employees will cause by using social media, maybe you should look into why you've hired and developed idiot employees? Instead of trying to mitigate the trouble they may get into, consider the opportunities that exist. Organizations have become so risk-averse so as to not offend anyone that they end up saying nothing to everyone. 

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The Social Media Resolutions I Want You to Make

January 6, 2011

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Ugh – the phrase 2011 social media resolutions returns more than 12 million search results on Google and I find most of them totally insufferable. Let me guess – in 2011, you resolve to “blog more often,” “double the number of Twitter followers you have,” “stop spending so much time on Facebook,” and “engage more with your customers/readers?”  Two years ago, I even did one of these posts myself.

So why do I have such an aversion to these posts now? To start,  most of them are cliche (blog more often!), totally ambiguous (engage more!), or common sense (listen to other people!).  For most people, the social media resolutions post has become blog filler that doesn’t really offer any value, to the author or to the reader. Now, if you really want to make some social media resolutions, here are the ones that I wish I’d see more of among those 12 million.

  1. I will stop using the terms “guru,” “ninja,” “evangelist,” “rockstar,” and “czar” to refer to people who know how to use social media.
  2. I will blog less.  I will stop filling the Interwebs with my self-important crap and instead blog only when I have something valuable to share, not so that I can maintain some search engine ranking or social media web ranking.
  3. I will do at least a cursory Google search before I write a new post to see what other people are saying about the topic about which I’m going to write.
  4. I will not copy and paste other people’s entire blog posts onto my blog with two lines of “analysis” and claim it’s a post that I wrote.
  5. I will write about someone other than myself or my company at least once in a while.
  6. I will read every blog comment I write at least once to myself before clicking submit to make sure I don’t sound like an idiot.
  7. I will check the facts of the content that I post before I upload it.
  8. When I make a mistake, I will apologize and correct it as soon as possible.
  9. I will attribute all content to the original author if it’s not my own.
  10. I will stop getting frustrated with people who don’t understand social media and instead will empathize with them.
  11. I will finally come to the realization that for all the hype I help spread about Twitter, it’s still only used by less than 10% of the U.S. population.
  12. I will stop telling my clients that they have to have a Facebook page, Twitter account, Second Life presence, or blog. I will instead help them integrate these tools into their strategies where it makes sense.

What about you – what social media new year’s resolutions would you like to see more of?

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The “Getting Started with Government 2.0” Guide

April 2, 2010

92 Comments

In the last few months, I’ve received an increasing number of “hey Steve, how would you recommend someone get started in social media or Government 2.0?” emails, and I’ve gotten tired of sending out the same emails time and time again. I’ve been meaning to write a post like this for a while, but even I was little overwhelmed at the resources available! So, here’s my attempt at creating a post (with comments) that will hopefully become a helpful resource for those interested in learning more about social media and the Government.

*I realize that there will be GREAT resources out there that I miss in this post – PLEASE add them below as a comment so that others may benefit!!!

The Fundamentals

  1. Government 2.0 is about more than just social media. I define it as “the strategic use of technology to transform our government into a platform that is participatory, collaborative, and transparent” but that’s just one definition – there are a LOT more.  However, to make this post manageable for you guys, I’ll be focusing primarily on the social media and communications side of Government 2.0 here.
  2. Read the Twenty Theses for Government 2.0 – if you’re interested in this world, read these basic tenets of how social media and the government works
  3. You’re not going to learn this stuff via books and blogs alone – you’re going to have to get your hands dirty and actually use these tools to interact with the people you’re trying to reach.
  4. Don’t apply mass media (press releases, TV, radio, etc.) rules and processes to this. Good fundamentals in interpersonal communication will serve you well.  There are no audiences or eyeballs any more – you’re going to be dealing with real people here.

    Gov 2.0 milestones from 2009

  5. Getting “good” at this is going to take time. I can’t give you a checklist of things to do and magically, you’re going to be good at it when you’re done. While I wish it were that easy, just keeping up with all of the changes that are taking place in the government is hard enough. The environment has changed so much even in the last year. That’s why all these steps will get only get you started – it will be up to you to keep the progress up!

The Starter Videos

Baby Steps

  • Do a Google search on your name. Find out what’s available online about you already – this is your first impression to most people.  Do you have a popular name and the results are flooded with data that’s not about you? Doesn’t matter – I don’t know that that’s not you.  You NEED to be aware of what’s out there about you and what can be associated with you.
  • Set up a Google Alert for your name/organization so that you’re notified whenever someone writes a blog post, news article, etc. about you or your organization.
  • Read Chris Brogan’s “If I Started Today” and his “Social Media Starter Pack” posts
  • Do some internal research.  Search your organization’s Intranet to see who in your organization is already doing something with social media or Government 2.0.  Find out who the experts are within and introduce yourself to them.  Have a meeting with them and find out what they recommend/where you might be able to help. I know this is all new to you, but chances are, someone has already started doing something with social media internally.
  • Do some external research.  Google your organization’s name and “social media” or “Government 2.0” or “open government.”  Find out what, if anything, is being said externally.  Maybe you’ll find out additional names of people you can reach out to or maybe you’ll find nothing – either way, it’s better to have done your research first.
  • Find your organization’s social media policy/guidelines and memorize them. Print them out and stick them to your wall.  If your organization doesn’t have any social media guidelines, find your external communications policy and see if it’s covered in there. If not, then go and talk with your public affairs/external communications team and have a conversation about this.

Setting the Stage

The government – federal, state, and local – isn’t some late adopter in social media. In many cases, they’re leading the way. Before you start thinking that just because you work in an office that still only has Internet Explorer 6, and any social media knowledge is just going to blow everyone away, take a look through some of these influential  documents on what the government is doing in this area.

Books

If you’re a book reader, go out and get the following:

Daily Reading

Become Part of the Online Community

  • Get on LinkedIn. Here’s a good primer on how to get started there. LinkedIn is the most popular business-oriented social networking site there is. It’s low risk, and it will give you a starting point for your online activities.
  • Join GovLoop, the “Facebook for Government” with more than 25,000 members, and read through their Getting Started Guide. Try to visit at least once a day.

    Join GovLoop if you haven't already

  • Join Twitter (watch Twitter in Plain English). No, it’s not just a site where you’re going to hear what people ate for lunch. This is where you’re going to get a chance to meet and interact with some of the top social media and Gov 2.0 minds in real-time.  Once you create your account, start by following these people/lists:

Protecting Your Privacy

  • As you’re signing up for these social networking services, and you start “getting out there,” don’t forget that there are privacy implications to everything you post online. While the following resources will help educate you on the privacy policies and best practices of social media, I always tell people not to post anything online that you wouldn’t want your boss/mom seeing. I don’t care what check boxes you select or what privacy setting you use – if it’s online, consider it public.  Facebook doesn’t have a setting to prevent “right click, save as” or from hitting the PrintScreen button and grabbing a screenshot. 

Newsletters

  • Subscribe to the Daily Scoop from FedScoop
  • Subscribe to the SmartBrief on Social Media – fantastic daily email newsletter on the top social media stories of the day (disclosure: I’m on their Advisory Board)
  • Subscribe to KD Paine’s Measurement Standard newsletter for the latest news, tips, and strategies for measuring and evaluating social media
  • If you’re a member of GovLoop, you’ll also receive the GovLoop Weekly, a newsletter highlighting the best of GovLoop each week

Bookmark These Government 2.0 Resources

Social Media is About Connecting Offline Too

Becoming comfortable and effective with social media doesn’t mean just mean sitting in front of your computer either.

GovLoop profiles a new member every week, and GovFresh has highlighted several members of the Gov 2.0 community as Gov 2.0 heroes. If you get a chance, introduce yourself to these people as I can virtually guarantee you that someone has already experienced whatever challenge you’re facing and can probably help you overcome it.

Congratulations if you made it this far!  At this point, you will be pretty overwhelmed – that’s ok!  Back when I got started with social media at my company, it took me around six months to go from “hmmm, this is interesting” to “let’s actually do something with this as an organization!” Spend some time reading, learning, playing, meeting, and talking with people until you are comfortable with the concepts and tools of social media and the government.

The Sunlight Foundation's interpretation of a logo for open government

Taking a Strategic View

Once you’re comfortable with the principles and tools of social media, now you can start applying them to your organization. Start by reviewing this handy social media strategy worksheet from AIDS.gov, as well as this super list of social media case studies from organizations around the world. From the public sector, check out all of the case studies that were highlighted at last year’s Gov 2.0 Expo Showcase and this year’s Gov 2.0 Expo.

Your next step will likely be step 3 in my “Bringing Social Media to Your Organization Playbook.”  By this point, you should be pretty saturated in the world of social media, (and have hopefully dropped me a tweet or two), so I’ll end this massive post here as you should be well on your way to adding yourself to my lists of resources above.  Just keep in mind that you may soon find yourself following the evolution of the social media evangelist – be aware of the stages that you may very well find yourself in, and start identifying ways to mitigate the challenges that they may present.

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Knock Down the Social Media Dominos

November 23, 2008

29 Comments

Image courtesy of Flickr user rosendahl

Image courtesy of Flickr user rosendahl

If you’re on Twitter and follow Chris Brogan, you’re probably familiar with the “Chris Brogan” effect.  Basically, Chris has built up such a loyal following that whenever he tweets about one of your blog posts, tweets, etc., you immediately see a spike in your own Twitter followers and traffic to whatever he linked to.  In the social media community, Chris is a big domino, or as Malcom Gladwell put it in his book, the Tipping Point, a “connector.”  By reaching Chris, you’re not reaching just one person, but a whole army of people who are following him.

As a social media consultant for my government clients, this is a powerful concept, but it’s not new.  In the traditional media, why does the front page of the New York Times have more impact than the Des Moines Register?  It reaches more people.  It has more credibility.  It reaches a more influential audience.  This same concept applies, albeit in a different way, to social media.  The influencers are no longer restricted to just mainstream media like the Times or CBS News.  They are individual people now, not just age-old institutions.  Each niche topic area now has their own connector, their own Chris Brogan – someone who can reach a whole new audience that you haven’t been able to tap into.

An argument that I often hear is, “why should I spend the time hassling with some blogger with a few thousand readers, when millions read the New York Times?  Aren’t I wasting resources that could be used on securing media with a larger audience?

If I’m the public affairs officer for a smaller government agency trying to get the word out about a new program, I’m spending more time reaching out to the prominent bloggers in that topic area because I know that if I can get their support and they blog about how wonderful my program is, their readership will not only become aware of my program, they are more apt to support it because it’s coming from a trusted source.  And if I’ve identified the right bloggers, chances are good that the next domino, the beat reporter for the local paper, is also reading that blog.  They’ve now come across this great program that has the support of someone he or she trusts instead of receiving a pitchy, biased email in their inbox.

How many pitches does a reporter get each day?  How many does he actually follow through with?  What if he’s one of the readers of the blog that you’ve engaged?  Reaching out to an influential blogger is like knocking down that first domino.  By reaching someone like Chris Brogan, you’re also going to reach scores of other social media luminaries like Robert Scoble, Geoff Livingston, Jeremiah Owyang, each of whom has thousands of followers, including members of the traditional media.

So the next time you’re working on your media relations plan, make sure you’ve identified the people who are talking about your program, your agency, or your topic area and you have a plan for engaging with them (note I said engaging, not pitching to them – be a human being and just talk with people for once!).  Make sure that you’ve built relationships with these connectors, these social media dominos.

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