Archive for August, 2010

Should you be selling through your Facebook fanpage?

With Facebook giving users ever more room for customisation on their Pages, businesses can now take advantage of the option to sell their goods through Facebook. One of the largest payment process apps for the pages is Payvment. This lets you feature your products for visitors and fans to purchase directly.

Payvment has recently announced a new export tool, allowing Etsy sellers to upload all their products up onto their chosen fanpage. The process should be a popular one considering the number of Etsy and Folksy sellers now embracing social media as a promotional tool. It’s not a bad move for Etsy too, giving them a wider customer base and an edge over similar handmade marketplaces.

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How to attract and retain social media “super-fans”

One of the greatest advantages of a decent social media strategy is having an army of fans who can sing your praises and recommend your products and services to their friends, family and followers.

Unfortunately, not all your fans will become the kind of “super-fan” who can help promote your brand organically. Turning an average fan — who rarely visits or interacts with your page — into a passionate advocate for your products and services isn’t easy. However, there are certain steps you can take to help them transform.

How to gain “super-fans”

Three benefits, other than ROI, that social media can have for your business

The first thing most companies want to know on approaching a social media or community management plan is, what kind of ROI will I get? Which is fair enough. After all, what’s the point in investing huge amount into a strategy if the bank is empty at the end?

But social media can have a multitude of other benefits for a company, helping improve their reputation and providing a solid standing for further improvements.

Intrigued? Check out three of the benefits below.

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Privacy in Germany

If you reveal information about yourself on Facebook can you complain if it used against you? In Germany apparently the answer is a resounding ‘yes’ – the government is drafting a law that will make it an offence for employers to snoop on job candidates’ social media pages during the hiring process.

There’s no question that Facebook has become a useful source of information for employers, double-checking up on job candidates to see if their online personality matches the person they met at the interview.  A survey last year showed that nearly half of businesses do this, and a third of them admitted rejecting candidates after discovering they had lied about their qualifications or were accustomed to dissing their former employers.

Well, why not? If you’re talking to the world you shouldn’t be surprised if the world suddenly sits up and pays attention. But Germany is always a special case where privacy is concerned, its citizens having endured first the Gestapo and then the East German Stasi constantly snooping on them. Apparently this comes naturally to some German employers as well – there has been a spate of scandals in recent years about businesses spying and eavesdropping on staff members, even putting cameras in toilets and changing rooms.

Obviously the ban won’t apply to LinkedIn and the like, nor will firms be banned from using the Internet to gather general hiring information relating to job candidates. But where Facebook and other similar sites are concerned, in Germany it’s as though a big PRIVATE sign is being slapped on the door.

Interesting to see what politicians elsewhere will make of it. Could it catch on?

Lessons of Reverb PR agency ruling

By now most of you will probably have read about Reverb Communications, which has had to settle with the US Federal Trade Commission for misleading consumers online.

The PR company was accused of writing positive reviews in Apple’s iTunes store without revealing it was being paid to do so. The PR company is alleged to have posted reviews about their clients’ video games ‘using account names that gave readers the impression the review were written by disinterested consumers’.

The FTC said that advertisers should not pass themselves off as ordinary consumers touting a product, and endorsers should make it clear when they have financial connections to sellers.

This is yet another example of a PR company failing to understand the culture of social media. You have to be transparent – otherwise you are going to get burned. Without transparency there is no trust. Other established PR agencies have fallen into the same trap, with damaging repercussions for the companies they represent.

Leading organisations need to be very careful about taking on mass media, established PR agencies. ‘Astro turfing’ (ie faking grass roots support online) as it is called – will get more exposure as the social web spreads; and companies caught doing it will lose the trust of their key stakeholders and could face the ridicule and outrage of bloggers and users of Twitter and Facebook.

It is in the interests of companies to be transparent and honest as spinning can be exposed so easily online. Traditional media spinning does not work in the networks of the social web. Openness is the best PR you can have. And that is not something that PR agencies have traditionally been good at.

You can catch up on the story here.

TV and social media: friends forever?

Could social media take over from television as the premier advertising channel? That’s the question asked by Deloitte UK in an interesting new study.

At present the relationship is more symbiotic than competitive. The firm’s survey of 4000 adults underlines in particular how social media is helping to amplify the reach of television and finds the effect is particularly strong among 18-24 year olds, who comment on social networking sites at least occasionally on programmes they have watched. Obviously, online recommendation can be make or break for some programmes and commercials.

But the study also suggests that the relationship between the two could become more adversarial, as social networks continue to expand their reach and value, and start to attract more advertising revenue than TV. With precise targeting and real-time measurability, social media enjoys advantages which TV just can’t match, it argues.

The report has been given to attendees at the Edinburgh International TV festival, and can be requested here.

A novel car campaign

Hyundai is the latest car maker to shift to social media for its advertising. It’s innovative launch campaign for the 2011 Sonata this summer uses conventional television ads but centres mainly on testimonials from prospective buyers on YouTube and Facebook.

The company’s Facebook page invited applications to join a test drive campaign and post uncensored comments recorded by a hidden camera. These are also featured on the TV spots and YouTube.

More details here.

The risks of doing nothing with social media

Some leading organisations are reticent about engaging with social media, others are more proactive. The risks of doing nothing though are high.

Here is a list of a few of the risks if you do nothing with social media:

1) You will not see or hear what your customers are saying about your brand and product and services

2) You will not be where your stakeholders are

3) Disaffected customers could coalesce around you in seconds and you will not be prepared

4) Your brand/organisation will lose relevance

5) Your recruitment will suffer because new talent will not have time for an organisation that does not use the latest social media tools for business communications

6) Your competitors will move into this space and gain advantages over you

7) Customer complaints will fester and go unanswered

8.) Your recruitment costs will continue to rise whereas social media can slash the cost of recruitment

9) You will squander the opportunity to set the news agenda by using tools like Twitter to publish your results

10) NGOs will capitalise on your dinosaur-like attitudes by moving swiftly and setting up groups on Facebook and building online coalitions

11) Investors will read forums for insights into your business which you will not know about

12) You will not reach stakeholders who do not read newspapers or who do not watch much television

13) You will fail to see how journalists are using social media for research for their stories

14) You will be vulnerable to a Twitter story leading search engine queries about your firm

15) Opportunities for coverage of your stories will shrink as traditional media shrinks

16) Contact books based on established media will lose their influence as bloggers become more influential

17) If a crisis breaks, you could be advised by a PR agency whose mindset -led by an old board – has been deeply defined by the rules of established media. Which means the advice you receive could be suspect as it is not attuned to the new fast-evolving culture – even though they might say it is!

18) Younger members of your organisation who are more open to social media will feel disenfranchised and morale and productivity will drop

19) You will miss out on opportunities to leverage these new tools to boost your communications messages

20) Your company will be seen as faceless and not accountable or open

21) Your communications will be based on a broadcast model at a time when users of social media are not impressed by adverts shouting at them to buy products and services

22) Your press releases will not gain coverage

23) Your content will not be easily found

24) Your messages will become inaccessible

25) People will not visit your website in significant numbers or for any lengthy period of time

26) You will fail to capitalise on the marketing opportunities presented by these new disruptive social technologies

27) You will fail to see the value in treating your customers as partners and jointly developing new products with them

28) There will be no opportunities for you to have direct one-to-one conversations with your customers

29) You will be left behind, be playing catch up and fail to use social media to expand your customer base

30) People will not know the true story about your business

31) If you are slow to engage with social media you will be slower to learn and you will lose competitive advantages.

I could go on. Essentially the status quo is no longer a strategy, as probably most of you know. You have to be where your stakeholders are, whether you like it or not.

Feel free to add any other points. It would be great to have your thoughts too!

They can’t do it all!

Been having some amusing phone calls with in-house heads of communications who are being bombarded with calls by digital and PR agencies and ad agencies all claiming to now offer social media.

The fact is that none of these agencies can do everything – whatever they might say. No one can be in the best in everything and one size does not fit all within this market.

I had a conversation with an experienced observer of the digital scene who said he knew of well-known agencies who often dropped the ball in certain areas where they claimed to be highly competent in a very glossy way.

ItsOpen (itsopen.co.uk) has been in social media for more than two years and some of our team have been involved in social media longer: I was writing about social media for The Guardian in 2005 and have the article to prove it!!

In the early days, it was extremely hard in some situations to get the attention of some companies who simply thought social media was a fad which could not be taken seriously. Some still hold that view, despite the mounting numbers and hard evidence to the contrary.

Many agencies are now simply adding on social media because they feel they should. Not because they actually specialise in the area.

Social Media is all we do at ItsOpen (itsopen.co.uk). We are not good at everything and we aim to concentrate on what we do best, based on the feedback we get from our clients and stakeholders.

PR agencies may claim to specialise in social media but many of them don’t. In fact, the boards of these companies – who set the culture – are often immersed in an established media mindset. I know examples of chairmen of famous PR companies, listed on the stock market, who simply see social media as another channel. It is hard for them to think
otherwise as their rise can be attributed to their brilliant understanding of established media and the contacts they built through established media. They spend their private time with representatives of the same mindset who simply reinforce the culture.

Wise clients know who is simply chasing a slice of the social media pie and those that are genuinely committed to social media, have something different and valuable to offer, and are naturally interested in all the latest thinking, and were before the change driven by these highly disruptive technologies began breaking into the mainstream.

Many leading companies have learnt – often to their cost – that their established media PR agencies with their established media credentials, are not always best equipped to help them successfully navigate the fast moving and unique culture of social media.

ItsOpen’s social media training – a sneak peek

In this video you’ll see snippets from Justin’s introductory session to a full day social media workshop that ItsOpen gave to a FTSE 100 client recently.

The training workshops ItsOpen do are highly tailored to a given company’s industry and the issues they are facing.

If you are interested in our social media training we would be very happy to hear from you. Together we will discuss and plan the day and come up with the best tailored training solution for your company and your staff.