Lives Clashing Online: The Importance of a Social Media Policy

Employees' Social Media Activities under the magnifying glassLiveJournal. Friendster. Myspace. Facebook. Early on, social media sites began as online outlets allowing people to express themselves and connect with their friends. It was intriguing, it was experimental, and above all, it was classified personal. Over the years it’s become evident just how public our social media activities are. Recently, a New York Times reporter was reminded of how personal and professional lives are clashing online, by being assigned a social media babysitter.”

The Jerusalem Bureau Chief for the nation’s most prominent newspaper repeatedly posted messages on her public Facebook profile that her employer found to be problematic. As a result, she will now work closely with an editor on her social media posts.

According her New York Times editor, Margaret Sullivan, “The idea is to capitalize on the promise of social media’s engagement with readers while not exposing The Times to a reporter’s unfiltered and unedited thoughts.”

Watching what we say is not a new topic, but certainly one that bears repeating, as more companies are tracking what their employees post online.

As the employee, it’s important to know your company’s social media policy. If they don’t have a policy – ask for one.  Also remember that anything you say online can be tied back to your company, whether you like it or not. Platform Magazine, which included commentary from DVL in its latest issue, advises that before posting on social media to ask yourself, “Would you want your boss to read this?

As the employer, make sure you have a social media policy in place. From creating these for various clients, DVL knows policies can vary from industry to industry and company to company, so it’s not advised to “borrow” one you find online. There are many factors to consider, such as how an individual engages in social media for a company, how individuals engage in social media on company and personal time, as well as how the National Labor Relations Act and employees’ rights affects a social media policy.

Social networking has evolved from its beginnings and continues to grow, but one thing often holds true online and off – think about what you’re going to say before you say it.

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If You Can’t Beat ‘Em…Reasons for Facebook’s Instagram Purchase Become Clear

In the wake of Facebook’s $1 billion Instagram buyout and recent IPO, Zuckerberg & Co. have just thrown us into even more of a tizzy.

Head to the Apple App Store this afternoon and install the newest Facebook offering—Facebook Camera, a standalone photo-sharing app that allows you to take, edit and browse photos on a smartphone.

Wait, isn’t that Instagram? Yes, but wait.

First, the Instagram purchase isn’t final.

Second, Facebook claims that Instagram will remain its own entity.

Lastly, Instagram has only 40 million users compared to Facebook’s 900 million.

Maybe Facebook has once again flexed its muscles, breadth and buying power to eliminate competition.

Follow the links below for more information regarding Facebook’s new app and clarity on the Instagram purchase.

New York Times: http://nyti.ms/LtgIgx

L.A. Times: http://lat.ms/LJbAv8

All Things Digital: http://dthin.gs/Kufiph

Facebook’s Zuckerberg Wears Hoodie to IPO Meeting: What’s *Your* Style Statement?

As Mark Zuckerberg turns 28 and gears up for Facebook’s initial public offering, he is also making headlines for another reason – his hoodie.

The Facebook co-creator and chief executive caused quite an uproar last week when he donned a hooded sweatshirt to meet with potential investors on Wall Street. News and opinions about the now infamous hoodie spread like wildfire, and it even has its own Twitter handle. Some say it was a lack of respect, a mark of immaturity, an act of rebellion. Others say it was sign of strength for the Facebook brand, a steadfast statement of individuality, a testimony to youthful self-confidence.

Zuckerberg hasn’t made a public statement about his fashion choice, and I am sure he won’t, but you have to believe that the billionaire knew exactly what he was doing when he got dressed that morning.

Branding matters, and that rings true for both companies and individuals. The way you present yourself can have a profound impact on the message you are trying to communicate. Make sure your personal appearance matches the image you want to project regardless of if it’s one of rebellion or one of respect.

After all, there is a lot of truth to the statement “image is everything.”

Zig While Others Zag – Willie Nelson & Chipotle

In today’s cluttered world of traditional and social media, getting your message out – and heard – is the challenge we face in this business of public relations. To accomplish your goals, I’m convinced you have to “zig” while others “zag.”

And that’s where Willie Nelson comes in. Willie, known for his commitment to social causes, is also known for his willingness to tackle pretty much any musical challenge (let’s face it, who does a duet with Bob Dylan or records an album of 1930s standards?).

So, when Chipotle Mexican Grill launched a campaign to promote their commitment to sustainable farming, they turned to Willie who covered Coldplay’s “The Scientist” as the soundtrack for their “Back to the Start” short film. Willie Nelson sings Coldplay?

Well, it worked.

The film ran as a commercial during the recent Grammy Awards and Twitter was abuzz that night with fans tweeting that Willie did Coldplay better than Coldplay. Earned media impressions about the Chipotle and Willie pairing have to be in the tens of millions (and all with Chipotle’s key messages about sustainable farming). And the film has enjoyed more than 6.1 million views on YouTube.

The song has been so popular that it’s included on Willie’s highly acclaimed forthcoming album, “Heroes,” out in May that will surely include additional media coverage of the song and cause.

Perfect song. Perfect singer. They zigged instead of zagged.

The more things change…

Public relations professionals can’t seem to stop talking about the dramatic changes our industry is experiencing, particularly as social media becomes firmly rooted in communications playbooks and technology offers more ways to shape our clients’ brands. However, change is nothing new to PR, or to communications in general.

In his book “I Live in the Future & Here’s How It Works,New York Times technology writer Nick Bilton points out that “new” methods of communication have been rocking our world practically since the beginning of time. He recounts a long line of doomsday scenarios that came with the invention of the telephone, the printing press, the television – the list goes on and on.

With each new innovation, behaviors shifted and certain aspects of communications changed forever. But through the ages, there were also many constants. Public relations is no different. While we are experiencing change that feels monumental, there are some tenets that are the same today as they were 20 years ago.

Ethics matter

Whether communicating via a 140-character tweet or at a good, old-fashioned press conference, honesty and integrity always win the day. Doing the right thing for the right reasons never gets old.

Listening is key

Making an effort to listen to clients’ objectives and strategize accordingly is timeless. Wants and needs don’t always match up – it takes an active listener to navigate that gap.

Relationships rule

The two-martini lunch may have been replaced by the tweetup, but either way, investing time and effort to develop mutually beneficial partnerships with media, clients and vendors is critical.

Substance trumps style

Bells and whistles are abundant in the digital age, but if they aren’t supported by relevant content, attention spans will be short.  This is especially true in media outreach, where the best way to make news is still to do something that is newsworthy.

Target, target, target

Knowing your audience and how to reach them is a tried and true recipe for success. Clients who requested a paper newsletter in the past most likely wanted the same thing a client improving their social media game wants today – more tools to connect with a core audience.

The list of new opportunities and changing tactics seems to be endless. But the constants in our industry, while less frequently debated, also exist in abundance.

What are some of the things that you’ve noticed haven’t changed in PR over the past several years or even decades?

What Are Your Neighbors Reading? Bitly Will Show You

Where do you get your news? According to a recent article and interactive map featured on Forbes.com, that all depends on where you live. And we don’t mean because your local paper has the market covered.

A service that shortens URLs and allows for link tracking and analysis, Bitly recently mined data from millions of clicks on abbreviated and shared links to determine just where residents of the United States are heading for news and information. The data scientists who performed the analysis looked for news sources and individual articles that were unusually popular in certain states compared to national averages.

Bitly was able to do this because, as they say, “When you share or click a link on a social network like Facebook or Twitter, you’re most likely using a Bitly link. Bitly provides the infrastructure for social sharing across networks, and in the middle, collects a huge amount of data on how real people share ideas.”

Some of the results of the analysis are fun and occasionally surprising, while others are a bit more predictable. It’s important to remember what this data is really showcasing — not the demographic reading the article, but the demographic clicking on a Bitly link to the article.

While we like to think that everyone is exposed to Bitly links through social media interactions, not everyone is so plugged in. As a result, maybe it’s only the USA Today readers in Nevada that are clicking on Bitly to read articles, but more Nevada residents are actually reading CNN on their own. Maybe Huffington Post readers in Tennessee are simply more compelled to share what they’re reading through Bitly than New York Times readers. Because of this, it’s difficult for this data to be comprehensive. However, so long as we remain aware of what the data really indicates, this colorful map is quite a handy tool from a PR perspective.

One interesting observation is that the Washington Post’s interview with Joe Paterno about the Penn State scandal was a big hit in Tennessee and Alabama, while that paper’s general influence is contained to Maryland, Virginia and Kentucky. It’s observations such as this that just might change the way you think about your media outreach.

National coverage is great, but this map urges you to think about what “national” really means. And furthermore, this map is really telling us where news is being accessed via Bitly, something that’s very relevant to PR professionals as our goal is to find ways to spread information as effectively as possible, often with the help of social media. Which outlet’s articles were relatively popular in nearly every state? USA Today. Do you want to achieve national coverage, but Oregon is the heart of your story? NPR is your place.

Forbes will be updating the map monthly to assess the previous month’s hits, and it will be interesting to see how these maps morph, if at all. Maybe we’ll start to see more of a trend emerge as to who is reading which articles from which outlets.

In the meantime, it’s a pretty entertaining feature that you just might want to take a peek at when it comes pitching time.

Using my Smartphone to make a phone call – are you kidding?

blog.rebtel.com (imageshack.us)

There’s email, text, instant messaging, Facebook, Google +, Twitter…the list goes on and on for ways you can stay in touch with your family, friends and clients.  We’re more wired and connected than ever, but for some reason, we seem to have a growing aversion to actually picking up the phone, dialing numbers and making a call.

How many times have you either been told or said yourself – “I don’t know the answer to that, they haven’t responded to my email.”  All of us are guilty of it.  It’s like we think that somehow that’s the only way to get an answer.

I’m not knocking on technology – it definitely makes us all more efficient and the world a better place.  But sometimes people are moving so quickly that words are left out, or tone or entire responses are completely misunderstood.  And that can be a big problem if you’re communicating with your mother – let alone a client.

So the next time you’re waiting on that email response, consider picking up the receiver on that archaic piece of equipment sitting on your desk.  Taking the time to actually reach out by phone to someone could make all the difference in your relationship with your mother…and your client.

After all, there’s nothing wrong with true human interaction.