Recognizing the Impact of Social Media

via Twitter.com

More than 327,000 tweets per minute.  More than 4.2 million likes on Facebook.  More than 800,000 retweets.

It beat the previous photo share record holders of  Mark Zuckerberg’s wedding photo and a glass of beer tribute to a fallen soldier.

http://twitter.com/BarackObama/status/266031293945503744/photo/1

(Special note: While the photo was posted election night, it was actually taken three months ago on the campaign trail.)

The impact of social media in today’s world is significant as the “four more years” photo was posted to Facebook and Twitter before a mass email was sent and even before the crowd was addressed in Chicago.

Regardless of your political affiliation, you have to recognize the impact of social media and the juggernaut it continues be.  How do you capture lightening in a bottle like this?  It happens at the intersection of timing and emotion.  It’s organic.  Social media is how the world is communicating.

Next time you have something big to share – how will you do it?

Twitter Wins During Presidential Debate

The first presidential debate took place last night at the University of Denver between U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney.  It’s no secret that Twitter users “tweet in” for current events, and last night’s showing proved no different with more than 10 million tweets during the 90-minute debate, making it the most tweeted about event in American political history.

On its blog last night, Twitter released a minute-by-minute chart displaying high and low messaging points during key moments of the debate.

Twitter Blog: Presidential Debate Breaks Records, October 2012

Via Blog.Twitter.com

The night’s most tweeted about subjects included the performance of debate moderator John Lehrer and Big Bird. The Twitter Government account, @gov, tweeted that the phrase “Big Bird” had generated about 17,000 tweets per minute.

With every current event, there is always a PR lesson to be learned.  The iconic home appliance brand KitchenAid discovered this quickly last night after an irresponsible tweet was sent from the company’s official account. The brand issued an apology soon after via Twitter and later to media.

With Twitter’s crisis communication moments and the constant stream of conversation, outlets like Politico seem to think that Twitter jumped the shark last night with the inability to follow comments due to the overwhelming volume of tweets sent. Of course some would disagree, as Twitter continues to prove that watching live and current events with the Twitter community has become a part of the culture for many.

We Want To Play! Filmmaker Helps Caine’s Arcade Become a Reality

One of the great benefits of social media is its ease of spreading awareness. But in order for the word to spread, someone has to see an opportunity and tell a story.

Caine is a 9-year-old boy who built an arcade made from cardboard boxes at his dad’s auto parts shop. His father’s shop was visited by many customers.  Sadly, his ingenious idea went without recognition because they didn’t see the opportunity. But it took one man, a filmmaker, who was simply looking for a used auto part to notice a story in Caine’s Arcade.

The filmmaker, Caine’s only customer, purchased a fun pass (500 turns for $2) and was amazed by the kid’s creativity and enthusiasm during their interaction. So much so, he decided to plan a flash mob to get customers for Caine. His father, who didn’t believe Caine’s story would mean anything to anyone, also allowed the customer to shoot a short film about Caine.

The filmmaker created a Facebook event page asking people to show up and play at the arcade. News spread quickly. The local NBC affiliate made a visit to the Caine’s Arcade; people from around the world were leaving comments and sharing the event. It even landed on the front page of reddit. On the day of the event, Caine was surprised by a mob of people shouting “We want to play!”

The launch of the short film and Caine’s Arcade Scholarship Fund also went viral. According to Vimeo statistics, the film received 3.3 million plays, 11,200 likes and 637 comments. Caine’s Arcade Scholarship Fund asked page visitors to donate $1 or more to help Caine go to, and prepare for college. The cause has raised more than $200,000!

Everyone can relate to a story, because everyone has a story. Caine’s Arcade went viral because someone stopped and realized that there was an opportunity. It takes people like us, in the public relations and advertising world, to find good stories in the most unlikely places. Caine’s story connected with viewers, and as a result, many people took action. Be aware of your surroundings the next time you’re out and about.

There may be a story that you can tell.

 

Top Twitter Takeaways from UT’s Social Media Week

Leading up to Social Slam 2012, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, School of Advertising and Public Relations hosted Social Media Week. This two-day event featured presentations, panels and interactive sessions with social media experts from companies like Scripps Network Interactive, Cox Enterprises, McCormick & Company, Inc., and Dell(home of the splendid Social Media Command Center).

The digital world is growing and re-shaping public relations, marketing and advertising – not to mention communications in general. A new report cites 39 percent of Americans spend more time socializing online than they do offline.

An event that would typically cost hundreds for professionals to attend, UTK provided this learning experience geared toward students to teach best business social media practices.

Thanks to the beauty of Twitter and the hashtag (#), those not in attendance could still absorb great information. Search #UTSMW  on Twitter to view tweets related to the event. Many of the sessions are available online to view at Ustream, but if you don’t have 8+ hours to watch every session, don’t worry…DVL has compiled our top 15 Twitter takeaways below:

Twitter: Go where the people are and build your message there. #utsmw -@UTSMW

You can’t always expect your entire audience to be seeking you out.

Twitter: Listen. Engage. Act. You have to do all three, and you have to do them in order. #UTSMW

Find out who’s talking and what they’re saying. Interact with content that they’ll care about. Use feedback to better serve them.

Twitter: Not every social media platform is appropriate for every audience. @kgranju #UTSMW

Believe it or not…not every business “has to be on Facebook.”

Twitter: Purposeful Edutainment: don't tweet just for the sake of doing so. "It's about conversation." -@adamcb #utsmw

Have a plan and strategy in place.

Twitter: "@elizhendrickson @adamcb says new SM metric is "PTA" (People Talking About it), not impressions. #utsmw" Don't collect fans, engage fans! -@camimonet

Don’t focus on the number of “Likes,” but the quality of engagement.

Twitter: Social media has expanded customer service even further. Sorry businesses, you cacn't escape. #utsmw -@utsmw

Showing them you care – in real-time – can go a long way.

Twitter: Final word: Social media lets companies get past "the velvet rope" and reach clients they might not have been able to otherwise. #utsmw -@utsmw

Discover a whole new world of engaging with customers and clients.

Twitter: EdgeRank is how Facebook has figured out who your close friends are (and why you no longer see "that girl from high school"'s posts). #utsmw -@utsmw

Facebook’s algorithm decides which posts you get to see in your news feed – and where they show up.

Big underestimation... Twitter: Facebook contests can be surprisingly complicated to run. A "like" is not equal to a vote. #utsmw -@utsmw

Facebook has strict rules about how you can conduct contests, giveaways and sweepstakes on its platform.

Twitter: Now in a psychology class where it is impolite to Tweet during speakers/presentations #feelingdefensive of #UTSMW -@CaitlinBradley

Remember, not everyone was born with a smart phone in hand…

Twitter: Great quote! "For this generation, a retweet from an athlete is like an autograph" @tomsatkowiak #utsmw

From the “Social Media Use of UT Athletics and Policies for Student Athletes” session

Twitter and College Sports: Top twitter football page is Michigan w 86,000 followers. They put a hash tag on their field to raise awareness. UT is 20th w/ 21,000 #UTSMW -@ErinWhiteside

Michigan’s “Big House” is the largest college football stadium.

Twitter and College Sports: On a side note, if you're aching to see that Pat Summit tribute again, here it is, courtesy of @Vol_Sports's: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYqHMcn_Fbw #utsmw -@UTSMW

Had to share this touching tribute to Pat Summitt, “Chances,” from the UT Athletic Department:

And just for fun…

Twitter: This is hilarious! Thanks #UTSMW http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUs7iG1mNjI -@Holly_Kane

Katie Couric to NBC “Today” show producer, circa 1994: “Can you explain what Internet is?”

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.