There are plenty of entries in the Big Book of People Who Have Underestimated Social Media (and the Internet) including entertainment executives, snarky marketers, defenders of traditional content creators, Joe Theismann, etc.
Added to the list recently was another casualty from the Oklahoma Legislature. The latest and greatest social media case study came with the debate HB1895, which would have eliminated the Oklahoma State Arts Council and its grants to arts events and organizations around the state.
When word got out about Rep. Josh Cockroft’s bill, the social media community jumped into action to smack it down.
Jonathan Fowler, the business leader who supports the arts and the Norman Music Festival, was pleased with how social media rallied behind the arts and how quickly the word spread.
Here’s what Fowler said in an email to Smirk New Media: “I was very impressed with the outcry on social media networks and how that translated into real action. I so often see photos for some ’cause’ where I am told to like or share something, and if I don’t then that clearly means I am the enemy of that cause. Those photos rack up thousands up on thousands of likes and shares and rarely translate to real action to benefit a human being. This was totally different.”
Fowler went on to say, “This went from outcry to action quicker than I ever expected. In addition to that this wasn’t just a liberal, or arts community driven effort. All over Oklahoma people from both sides of the political aisle and the business community came out in support of the Oklahoma Arts Council. It was a great example of the positive power of social media.”
The bipartisan support for the arts on social media used the #HB1895 in their discussions about the bill, and the Oklahoma Artist Coalition meeting featured #vocal4okarts. Next, a Facebook page Oklahomans Against HB1895 created another place for Oklahomans to organize and pledge their support to the arts online. The page facilitated a conversation on how the individuals think the arts positively impacts the state.
Kyle Golding, CEO of the Golding Group, a business consulting firm which supports and helps many non-profits, also spoke out for the arts. Golding followed (and spurred on) the conversation on both Twitter and Facebook.
“I started posting economic impact facts, linked to my blog post about arts and economics and the NEWS OK video about the arts conference,” Golding said. “After that, I posted the Economic Impact Report. Finally, when Rep. Cockroft stated in an interview he had received ’1,000 emails, but only 4 were negative’ I reposted that quote with his email address. That’s when his office started responding directly with a form email that was basically his blog post from the week before. That email was spread all over Facebook, showing how insincere he was in responding to citizens.”
Wrapping up the conversation is Jennifer James of Oklahomans For the Arts, which keeps an eye on such bills and defends against them.
Jennifer attributed this success to social media and the grassroots community as a whole.
“After a moratorium was placed on the Art in Public Places Program, Oklahoma’s art leaders led by Jim Tolbert, knew that we were facing a possible sea change with public funding for the arts,” Jennifer said. “These leaders created a new nonprofit to advocate for increased support of arts, culture and arts education in Oklahoma and they named it Oklahomans for the Arts. Our focus since that day has been primarily on public funding for the arts via the Oklahoma Arts Council.”
The Oklahoma Arts Council posted its own response to the legislation in a blog on January 23. The post explained that 85% of its funding comes from state appropriations. Also, 80% of the Arts Council budget goes directly to projects in communities all over the state through grants.
“With limited funds, and a part-time director, OFTA sought to advance arts advocacy almost exclusively through social networking,” Jennifer said. “We’ve been active on Facebook, Twitter and Blogger for nearly two years. Just two or three days before we learned of HB 1895, we reminded our friends on Facebook about the struggle Kansas has had since they lost their arts council two years ago. We even said, ‘This could happen here. We did not know then that the language for HB 1895 had been written in early January.’”
In 2011, Kansas became the first state in history to completely eliminate funding for the arts. That caused the state to also lose over $1 million in matching funds from the National Endowment of the Arts. After extreme public outcry, some funding has been restored, but its budget is less than half what it was in 2010.
“Our board believes grassroots advocates are the best people to advocate to lawmakers on behalf of the arts,” Jennifer said. “OFTA monitors legislation and serves as a resource of information. We push things out to our social networks, which includes a robust Mailchimp list. We plant seeds and then hope they germinate. That is what happened with HB 1895. Arts advocates owned this cause and it took on a life of its own. We don’t attempt to control advocates or what they do. Some created their own Facebook pages against the bill. Others initiated T-shirts and bumper stickers. Many wrote unique letters and spoke out with their own unique voices. This was truly a grassroots effort. OFTA’s job is to provide our networks with consistent, accurate information. Oklahoma’s arts advocates defeated HB 1895.”
By definition, marketing is the action or business of promoting and selling products or services. But many in executive management positions at small- to medium-sized companies find it difficult to grasp the concept that engaging in social media isn’t about pushing your product or service.
Traditional marketing as we once knew it revolved around a specific activity – say a direct mailer, television advertisement, pay-per-click ad or print piece – that explained what your product was, where to find it and how it was going to improve your life. Then, using mathematical equations, marketing directors would track if the activity generated a positive ROI (Return on Investment) or if the strategy was wrong and another marketing tasks needed to be implemented.
Social Media, on the other hand, is about connecting and sharing, not necessarily selling. In some ways, social media is really more akin to branding than marketing. Marketing genius Seth Godin defines a brand as “A set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” If you think about social media for corporate use, it’s about making your product or service memorable. You want your product or service to become the talk of the town.
Let’s look at an excellent example of using social media to create a memory that is hard to forget.
I give to you: Moore Liquor. This small liquor store located in Moore, Oklahoma has decided to use social media for two unique purposes that do not in any way relate to trying to sell a bottle of Johnny Walker. Their first Facebook page (found here) is dedicated to making us laugh. About once a week, they post a new message on the marquee in front of the store to give patrons a good laugh and also post it on their Facebook page. A recent photo says “If you value fame more than your freedom, shoplift here.” posted on the marquee. This message itself might not seem hilarious, until you check out their other Facebook page (found here) and learn that recently thefts were becoming a big problem, so they began posting images (via their surveillance cameras) of people stealing alcohol from the store. The pictures are posted and there is a reward offered for anyone who is willing to message the store with the name (or names) of the individuals in the photos.
Their Facebook pages are so popular, with over 6,200 on one page and almost 2,700 on the other, that they have more likes than the popular Original Hideaway Pizza location that has been a campus favorite in Stillwater Oklahoma for more than 50 years.
Social media is about engagement and building a network of people who like similar things. If all you do is talk about the products you are selling- you’re doing it wrong and your social media success will be marginal at best. Determine what your target audience likes (and doesn’t like) and work that into your social media strategy. Make it fun. Make it interesting. But mostly, don’t make it all about you.
Design a policy on acceptable use of social media during work hours and open social media up company-wide. There’s untapped value in these tools and your team can benefit from using them to collaborate and to help in identifying potential customers. Social media has streamlined the hiring process and can do the same in a lot of different areas. Your sales team can use social media to generate leads and easily communicate with customers. Research and development teams can use it to brainstorm new ideas by seeing what is popular and what people are asking for. Design teams can derive inspiration for the next big idea from pins on Pinterest. The possibilities are endless for productive activity on social media.
According to comScore’s 2012 U.S. Digital Future in Focus, the time spent on webmail by 18-24 year olds decreased by 50% since 2010. Email is ceasing to be the only and best way to accomplish team tasks. Google made functionality strides when it converted traditional emails to long-running conversations in Gmail, but things are changing and Gen Y will operate differently than any other generation. More than 200,000 companies worldwide are using Yammer, a social site designed to streamline team collaboration. With both free and paid features, it operates similar to Facebook and Twitter, but exists only for company collaboration, file sharing and knowledge exchange. It’s a web-based and mobile capable platform to encourage productivity wherever your team is working from.
A big mistake businesses often make is allowing one person sole access to all the company’s social profiles. This is setting you up for disaster. I’m not saying you can’t designate one person to be in charge, but other staff members need to have access as well. If someone leaves the company, you could before forced to start over if you don’t have the account information and passwords. Also, if that individual is employed elsewhere, it could also lead to another company receiving your followers. In your social media policy, it should be clear the company owns social each social profile and can revoke an individual’s access at any time.
Especially if you work for a company with more than 10 employees, monitor what’s being said publicly about your company by potential customers and employees. Don’t be caught by a surprise social media scandal. Searching the different platforms occasionally for public mentions of your brand will help you stay ahead of negative attention.
More and more companies are having branded social media training programs created for their employees. Sprint employees complete a two-hour workshop called the Sprint Social Media Ninjas. After becoming certified ninjas, Sprint employees are continuously asked to contribute ideas for new ideas for the company’s social profiles. Doing nothing is not option. Blaming an employee for a social media regulation that didn’t exist, after an embarrassment, helps neither party. Designing programs specific to each business or organization is a Smirk specialty. Contact us for more information on social media company policies, monitoring or training your staff.
With the explosion of mobile technology over the last decade, specifically smartphones, parents are having a tough time keeping up with the latest trends. It’s no longer cool to use Facebook or even Twitter. Teens are moving to less known social media platforms such as Tumblr and Instagram to communicate with friends to avoid the prying eyes of their parents. But educating our kids about technology and how best to use it is a challenge when parents are unaware of the dangers.
As if the smartphones themselves aren’t temptation enough with their easy-to-use cameras and instant communication mechanisms, now software developers are encouraging behaviors like sexting with apps including Snapchat and Facebook Poke.
Snapchat and Facebook Poke are mobile apps which let users share images or videos that disappear after a few seconds. The sender can choose how long the message will be visible — up to 10 seconds — before it self-destructs (or so they say).
Here are some sobering stats from the site GuardChild.com:
- 20% of teens have sent or posted nude or semi-nude photos or videos of themselves
- 39% of teens have sent sexually suggestive messages via text, email or instant messaging
- 48% of teens say they have received sexually suggestive messages via text, email or instant messaging
Snapchat has taken the app world by storm. At the time of this post, Snapchat is the 15 most popular app in the iTunes app store, ahead of Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook. Teens and 20-somethings are downloading and using this app in record numbers.
Athough Snapchat claims naughty images will never come back to haunt users, people can still grab screenshots from their phones, even though both Snapchat and Facebook Poke notify the sender if the recipient snaps a screenshot. And these screenshots are being used to create Snapchat-themed Tumblr blogs featuring nude or semi-nude teens as well as a one completely dedicated to images of the male genitalia. Nice, huh?
So what can we as parents do to combat this? First, educate yourself. Your kids might think their videos and pics are deleted forever, but inform them that Zach Epstien with BGR.com has detailed a way to retrieve the deleted videos your kid receive. And the photos that vanish after 10 seconds? Nope, those are retrievable too. (TechCrunch wrote steps on how to do that here: retrieve Snapchat pics) The more YOU know, the less your kids can get away with. This includes keeping up with apps like these.
Second, communicate. Some of us at Smirk New Media are parents ourselves, and we want to keep our kids (and yours) safe as well as educate them about digital media. Our kids are exposed to more technology in their pocket than was used in the first Apollo rocket. The key is to set boundaries and talk to your kids. Explain that the “private” video your kid shot of her backside in a thong is not only unacceptable, it could also be viewed by authorities as child porn depending on who it was sent to. If you’re the recipient of those images (even if you THINK they are deleted), you could also get you in trouble with the law.
Lastly, consider using one iCloud account for app purchases, with a password that only you know. This can prevent teens from downloading such ridiculous apps like Snapchat or Facebook poke all together.
What are your thoughts on these apps? Are you familiar with them? We’re here to help.
My thoughts on Manti Te’o case:
Facebook-owned Instagram app capitalizes on the fact that people love visual media. This free smartphone app allows users to upload and edit personal photos, then view and comment on other users images in a real-time feed. Instagram differs from other social platforms because it’s exclusive to mobile. Instagram doesn’t accommodate desktop publishing. Users are able to choose if their photo feeds are public or private.
In December, Instagram announced big privacy and terms of service changes. This week they sent out a reminder email to users that the changes go into effect Saturday, January 19. Backlash followed the initial announcement because the original revision claimed perpetual rights to sell users’ photographs without notifying or compensating a photographer. Under that policy, Facebook could license all public Instagram photos, past or present, to other companies, including for advertising purposes. This would make Instagram the world’s largest stock photo agency.
After a public outcry, Instagram changed their tune and announced that the policy change wouldn’t be so drastic anymore after user feedback. In a blog on their site, Instagram Co-Founder Kevin Systrom stated they had no intention of selling users photos and acknowledged user-uploaded pictures are not Instagram property. However, Instagram is exploring how advertising will be integrated into their platform and once they’ve decided concretely what they’re going to do, they’ll announce official plans to the public.
The app gains a new member every second and hosts over one billion user-uploaded photos. It’s one of the fastest social platforms to reach 100 million members. It took Facebook four years to reach 100 million users and Instagram reached the milestone in a little over two years. The average Instagram user spent 257 minutes accessing Instagram in August (All Things D). Twitter users over the same period only accessed the site for 170 minutes.If you’re looking to manage an Instagram account on a computer, check out Statigram. This French-designed tool allows users to view, promote, manage, analyze and engage other users on Instagram. This tool provides free profile, content and engagement statistics similar to Klout, but with more useful options. You can add a tab to your Facebook fan page that will display your Instagram feed, create a photo gallery widget for your website, launch photo promotion contests and create a patchwork Facebook cover photo filled with photos from your Instagram profile.
Instagram is looking for ways to maximize advertising profits and marketers have to keep an eye on how this issue will evolve in coming months. Systrom basically expressed that Instagram is trying to find a way to piggyback off of Facebook sponsored posts, but they need to find an Instagram spin for it. They want to gain from business promotion, but have to find a way to not alienate its average user base.New policies could benefit or harm your brand’s promotional efforts on the app. As always, Smirk New Media will keep you updated on how Instagram advertising expands. Until we know more, Instagram is a force to be reckoned with and every brand should explore if they could be effective on Instagram.
Social media provides so many opportunities to connect with the public instantly. The downside of the positive opportunities is the possibility for instant embarrassment.
Twitter isn’t the top used social media network, but could arguably be the most powerful. Reckless personal use of this platform has caused politicians to resign, gotten a Greek triple-jumper banned from the London Olympics and lead to the firing of a Chrysler marketing executive.
It’s obvious that in a moment, with a careless decision, a bad post on social media networks could negatively affect your life or brand. Posts can be deleted, but not always forgotten.
In the Chrysler case, a marketing executive was fired after tweeting an expletive filled rant about Detroit’s driving issues. Chrysler has just released a new marketing campaign promoting its made in Detroit status and the controversial was the exact opposite of its branding message.
Simply, think before you post. But, it can’t be that simple because if it was possible for people to just change behavior, they would. The larger conversation is that social media training is now necessary in the workplace.
Implementing a code of conduct will protect some employees from themselves. Negative actions on social media are usually dealt with after the fact. Your employees must understand their behavior is a reflection of your brand. With any behavior correction, the punishment can’t effectively prevent embarrassing behavior without a warning.
Social media training doesn’t have to be approached as a negative experience. It’s an opportunity to understand the dynamic of personal social media use before committing an action that can’t be reversed.
Nothing is truly private in the digital age.
Smirk New Media offers social media training services that can be tailored to individual situations. Let us know how we can help you.
I often get asked about why Smirk New Media is called Smirk New Media. Here’s a quick origin story:
After trying a bunch of very stiff and “business-y” names on for size, my wife and I looked at each other and said it was time to just get real with the name of my new social media consulting business.
Smirk New Media was born in 2010, letting people know the attitude we had and the business we were in. Social media has always been the intersection of a punchline and a very serious way to connect with your customers.
Smirk - that intersection of a grin and a grimace – fit perfect.