3 privacy mistakes to avoid in social media

Nowadays everyone has to have a strategy for managing the complexity of social media privacy. Approaches vary:

  • A relatively small number of people just don’t care who knows what about them. By default they let it all hang out. We see evidence of this every so often when someone gets fired by an employer who thought a photo was too racy, or a comment too racist.
  • On the other extreme, certain people have abandoned social networks altogether, or avoided them in the first place. People who have had stalker problems fit comfortably in this category, for example.
  • The majority are somewhere in between. We seek to filter our private information in a practical, socially acceptable way, while minimizing the amount of time and effort we spend understanding policies and tweaking settings.

Everyone in this third group should be aware of three basic privacy mistakes to avoid.

1. Don’t post truly private information on social networks

The most important thing you can do to protect your privacy is to use self-restraint. You simply shouldn’t put information that you consider “private” on social networks. For starters it’s easy to make a mistake with not-always-intuitive privacy settings, thus giving “public” access when you thought it was “friends only”. Facebook in particular seems to change its privacy system frequently in ways that make it easy to make such mistakes (so much so that it almost seems intentional on Facebook’s part).

Also, people you share “private” information with in social media may goof up and share whatever you share with them. This can happen accidentally (see privacy settings, above) or because they don’t realize that some information they receive from you via social networks is private…unlike all of the Continue reading “3 privacy mistakes to avoid in social media”

3 reasons to try social media add-ons for Outlook or Gmail

Contracts expert Kenneth Adams via Rapportive
Contracts expert Kenneth Adams via Rapportive

Social email plugins like Xobni, Rapportive (now owned by LinkedIn), Gist (now owned by RIM), and Outlook Social Connector (supported by Microsoft) can add an interesting and sometimes productive upgrade to your email experience.

Here’s the basic idea. When you’re reading or writing an email, if you have a social media connection to the senders or recipients, or if they have public social media profiles, you see their recent social media activity displayed to the right side of the email you’re looking at.

So instead of having to visit a bunch of different social media sites and look up a contact on each of them, just open an email and their social media information is all right there in one place.

A number of business purposes are served by using a social email plugin.

1. Staying in touch

Social media updates can help you understand what a contact has been up to, or is doing right now, just as you are sending/receiving email from them. This is useful in much the same way as using a shared calendar at work, which allows you to know when someone is going to be busy or on vacation while you’re trying to schedule a meeting with them. But the social media updates offered by these plugins provide more Continue reading “3 reasons to try social media add-ons for Outlook or Gmail”

3 ways we fool ourselves with social media metrics

This is part three of a series of posts about using social media metrics.

This is not the porn industry here, kids, and this is not about buying a house… SIZE DOESN’T MATTER!

– Steve Olenski, Too Many Social Media Marketers Still Believe Size Matters

An optical illusion: our brains add information that isn't there.
Would you believe the squares labeled “A” and “B” are identical shades of gray? Click the image for proof. (Developed by Edward H. Adelson of MIT.)

Don’t worry, it’s normal (statistically speaking) for people to fool themselves with statistics. So normal, in fact, that the fields of psychology and statistics can tell you exactly where things go wrong. Read on to find out how you and your organization can avoid being fooled by the Fundamental Attribution Error, Sampling Biases, and Information Cascade when you are evaluating social media metrics.

But first, what are we being fooled to believe? People would like to believe that more social media followers are better, more comments are better, more shares are better, etc. This might be, but isn’t necessarily, true. In fact the opposite may be true. Sometimes less is more. Consider the following hypotheticals, based loosely on real world examples:

Ignore social media metrics before abusing them

This is the first in a group of posts in which I explain why I have advised some clients to adopt a “dynamic brochure” social media strategy, focusing on publishing, active listening and “pulse” metrics while ignoring “performance”-related metrics.

Winning the social media game
Racking up “likes” in the addictive game of social media isn’t the same as delivering ROI

As a client once pointedly asked me, “how much social media do we need?”

The answer lies in measurements of both the pulse and performance of social media activity.

Yes, I know measuring social media performance is almost universally considered a best practice. No, I’m not intimidated or uneducated when it comes to metrics (quite the opposite: I have an undergraduate degree in social psychology from a department with a hard-core approach to statistical methods). I am opposed to the abuse of metrics, however, and I accept the fact that not every organization is prepared to use them correctly.

For many businesses, the measurements that are accessible aren’t actionable. And often enough accessible metrics are abused just because they are the only ones available. I advise those organizations not to focus on metrics, and the strategy described in this post is for those organizations.

What do I mean by pulse and performance? Let’s say you are Continue reading “Ignore social media metrics before abusing them”

Want popularity in social media? Start with the primal urges.

A recent conversation with the founder of a newly-launched company seeking to catch a wave of social media buzz inspired me to create a video post for the Audienz Blog entitled The Masolovian Solution for Social Media Audience Building. The idea is that Maslow’s list of basic human needs can be used to help you spot the images and stories that are going to attract and engage your social media followers. Check it out, and please give me your feedback!

9 timely social media and brand communication insights from SIC 2011

SIC LogoI recently attended the 2011 Seattle Interactive Conference (#SIC2011) at the downtown Seattle convention center. Besides enjoying the opportunity to catch up with friends in the local marketing and social media communities, I was impressed by the overall caliber of presenters and the hard-won insights they shared. Looking back, they gave us a snapshot of the state of the industry as of Q4, 2011.

The following are some of the presentation takeaways I jotted down at the event (click on any of the items in this list to jump down to the details):

1: Identify and engage with your brand’s social media advocates
2: Brands must plan in advance to be authentic in social media conversations
3: Preempt negative comments about your brand to rob them of their power
4: How to make a “good” social media video
5: Comcast “sucks” if it still hasn’t addressed the underlying problem
6: Social media ROI requires a multiple touch attribution model
7: Brand advocates disproportionally influence content consumption, conversions
8: Content is the carrier, the click is the action
9: Seek to increase social media engagement with actual customers
More insights from SIC 2011

#1: Identify and engage with your brand’s social media advocates

Kim Johnston, VP of Marketing, Desktop Virtualization, at Parallels, spoke Continue reading “9 timely social media and brand communication insights from SIC 2011”

A social media primer for indie filmmakers

Last week I had the pleasure of spending an hour over coffee with a couple of Seattle-area independent filmmakers to talk about their social media strategy. In honor of the occasion I put together a short (9 slides) introduction to social media.

While there are details that are specific to filmmakers, most of the concepts are relevant to almost every organization, both commercial and non-profit.

When to delete posts to your company’s Facebook page

There are many ways to approach fan participation on business Facebook pages. I think the only wrong way to do it is to neglect your responsibility for figuring out how you’re going to handle it.

I recently contributed a comment to a blog post writtern by Lindsay Allen (guest posting on Amy Mengel’s blog) entitled “Facebook etiquette: To delete, or not to delete?” Lindsay pointed out two real world situations that might be encountered by a business’s Facebook page administrator.

In the first situation, excited fans of a company repeatedly leaked certain positive information about the company on the company’s Facebook page. Because the company wasn’t ready to discuss this news yet, it promptly deleted all of these fan posts, thereby giving those loyal and actively participating fans a bit of a slap in the face. What is more, the company created the appearance that it was trying to stifle conversation about something that was no longer a secret – not a particularly good image for the company. Lindsay concludes – and I agree – that the company should have recognized the fact that the secret was out, let go of the illusion that they could control this information by deleting posts about it, and stopped deleting those posts. Instead they should have pushed ahead their official announcement about the issue.

In the second situation a disgruntled  former Kohl’s employee (everybody’s favorite contributor, right?) posted something sexually suggestive about a current Kohl’s employee. Again, not a very good image for a company to present on its Facebook page. Lindsay concluded – and again, I agree – that Kohls should promptly delete such posts.

In a comment to Lindsay’s blog post, Ron from the software vendor Zend asked for opinions about whether he should allow posts to his company’s Facebook wall that were essentially promotions for other companies. I responded, in part:

[Lindsay] hit the nail on the head when she asked (about the Kohl’s situation) “[W]ould you want to read something like that about a store where you shop?” I think it’s about the flavor and group culture you want to cultivate. Coincidentally, I just visited Gary Vaynerchuk’s Facebook wall and since he’s all about self-promotion – he’s the new guru of self-promotion, IMHO – anything goes on his FB page. Not to my taste: I’m not likely to hang out there! But Gary V’s approach fits his brand. Would I expect that on Zend’s wall? No, I would be put-off and think you guys weren’t reading posts on your page. I would also expect “spam” to be deleted as a courtesy to me and my time. In other words, different content for different communities. But either way you pay a price as well, by setting the tone for conversation and creativity in posts.

(By the way, I respect Gary V as a marketer, and as a force of nature. I just didn’t personally enjoy reading the posts on his Facebook wall.)

Amy, the blog’s primary author, replied with an additional point that I think is significant: even if your Facebook page’s intended community isn’t offended by posts to your wall, other members of the public might be. So be prepared for backlash if you don’t exercise some level of editorial discretion over what winds up posted on your wall.

UPDATE: Dianne Jacob in her Will Write for Food blog recently posted a to-the-point profile of a popular food blogger’s decidedly non-laissez faire approach to moderating blog comments in order to create the type of experience she thinks her readers will enjoy: Blogging Pro Not Afraid to Delete Comments.

Promoting a contest on Facebook? Heads up, new rules!

Bruce WilsonThis morning I learned via AllFacebook.com that Facebook has updated its rules for how businesses can promote contests on Facebook. The new rules are here.

If your business is promoting or planning to promote any kind of contest on Facebook, where contest entrants are selected for a reward either by random chance or because of merit, then this will probably change the way you promote your contest on Facebook. Particularly if you don’t want to have your business’s Facebook page deleted, causing you to lose all accumulated fans.

Although most of the rules seem geared towards companies that are using dedicated Facebook “applications” (specially created interactive offer pages) to manage their contents, and are spending enough money on their promotion that they will be assigned an account manager at Facebook, the rules apply to all types of contests promoted on Facebook. Even small ones.

Here are the three pieces of advice I gave to one small business client that wanted to promote its contest on Facebook without building a relatively expensive Facebook application just for this purpose.

1. Don’t mention the word “Facebook” anywhere when promoting the contest on Facebook. So we’re just saying: here’s our contest, contact us to enter it.

2. Offer an alternative way to sign up for the contest. My client has a physical place of business where most of its interaction with its Facebook fans is happening already. So customers can actually write out an entry and hand a piece of paper to someone working there. (I know, it’s old school, but a surprising number of people still know handwriting and paper is still widely available.) We’re also providing the company’s email address in the Facebook posts that promote the contest as an alternative “online” method of entering.

3. Don’t require people to do anything on Facebook as part of the contest. In other words, people have to be able to enter whether or not they are fans on Facebook and whether or not they post anything about themselves, your company, or the contest on Facebook. (This is easy to remeber if you are already following rule 1, above.)

Another approach: if there’s no reward, there’s no contest, and these rules don’t apply. Or if your deal is set up such that there are no winners and losers, in other words, everybody who signs up gets the reward, then its not a contest.  As far as I know you can still promote non-contests on your Facebook page which ask people to become fans, post something to Facebook, etc. in exchange for a reward. In the case of my client, if we wanted to make it a non-contest we could have eliminated the gift certificates going to the winners, or given everyone who entered something just for entering.

Finally, even if you use a dedicated Facebook application to run your contest, have received permission from your Facebook Account Manager, and otherwise follow all of the rules, please be aware that you are prohibited from rewarding the winners with a “prize or any part of the prize [that] includes alcohol, tobacco, dairy, firearms, or prescription drugs.”

Dairy? You betcha, that’s the rule. That leaves out most Starbucks products as prizes, for starters. OK, I’m taking this as a sign that these rules aren’t fully baked yet–watch this space for further updates (your cue to subscribe to this blog via email, RSS, or Twitter).

Help your business page get found on Facebook

If your business has a Facebook page, or wants to have one to stay in touch with your customers, you should think about how customers are going to find your page when they’re on Facebook.

Many businesses find that their names aren’t as unique as they thought on Facebook. For example, I’m working with a coffee house called El Diablo. Searching for El Diablo in Facebook results in around 100 pages as there are many people and businesses calling themselves “El Diablo.” Unfortunately, becoming one of the top three El Diablo pages in terms of number of fans–thus putting them on the first page of search results–was not an option. The page was already named “El Diablo Coffee Co.,” and quite properly the owner doesn’t want to screw around with her branding. Besides, in order to change the name now the page would have to be deleted (at least under the current Facebook pages rules) and started over with zero fans, which would have been an unhappy surprise to loyal fans.

I did two things to help El Diablo become more findable for its customers.

First, I acquired the Facebook “username” El.Diablo.Coffee for them, which means that both
http://www.facebook.com/el.diablo.coffee and
now point to El Diablo’s Facebook page.

Signage at El Diablo Coffee
Signage (and Jeff) at El Diablo Coffee

Second, I created a number of inexpensive (color-copier-on-cardstock) table and counter-top signs inviting customers to become Facebook fans and Twitter followers. Signs next to the register and the beverage pickup area also led to conversations with the staff about becoming Facebook fans which have helped educate the staff about the Facebook page and how to help customers become a fan.

Three weeks after acquiring the short name and putting out the signs the number of Facebook fans had tripled over the number added during the prior three months.

Lessons learned:

One: When first creating a Facebook page for your organization choose how to enter your company’s name with care. You may want to choose the “common” name (like El Diablo) rather than the official name (like El Diablo Coffee Company) if it is still unambiguously your company’s name, doesn’t conflict with your brand image, most closely matches what your customers will be searching for, and achieving a number of fans putting you into the top three results seems attainable.

Two: choose an easy to spell, remember, write, and print username.

Three: use signage to show your customers how to find you and show your staff how to help your customers find you.

In subsequent blog posts I’ll discuss how to use your website, blog, and other web properties to promote your Facebook page, and vice versa.


> Creating a page on Facebook.

> Creating a username for a page on Facebook (click on “Set a username for your Pages” at the bottom).

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