Sesame Street continue their social media success

by ItsOpen

Image by pipot83 via Flickr

Whoever is dealing with the social media for Sesame Street this year deserves a medal. The classic TV series has always been popular with children and parents alike for its fun take on education. Many of the characters have taken on a cult status over the years, with Elmo in particular becoming a hit toy every Christmas and gracing the t-shirts of trend-loving students.

But this year its cult status reached new levels, with a series of parody videos on YouTube.

The latest video spoofs Apple with the song “There’s an app for that”, for the ‘iPogo’ (an interactive pogo stick.) Have a look at the video below.

The Old Spice spoof is another must-watch, getting over 2.6 million views in just five days.

Companies often want to produce videos that they hope will go viral, but they tend to go about it the wrong way: by saying “let’s make a viral”. If you set out to make a ‘viral’ rather than thinking about what people might genuinely want to watch and forward to friends, you’re already on the wrong track.

The creators of Sesame Street have thought about what they do best, thought about what people on the web are interested in, and made them something that’s both true to their brand and perfect for sharing online.

What’s your favourite successful brand viral?

Corporate Social Media Summit Thoughts…

by Justin Hunt

We all enjoyed attending the inaugural two-day Corporate Social Media Summit in London last week. It was good to hear from a whole range of companies including PepsiCo, Dell, DHL, Intel, Nokia, Citi and UMBRO about how they are evolving their social media strategies.

I moderated a session on how companies can manage their reputations online through social media with Colin Hensley, head of corporate communications for Toyota and Jakub Hrabovsky, head of social media and web relations for Vodafone.

Here are some of the key points I made to the audience before Colin and Jakub took to the podium:

Customers feel that they are now the brand owners. Through social media, they want to tell you what the brand means.

They expect brands to engage in the same transparent and direct way as they expect from everyone in their lives.

Networks of people are now becoming the key force in brand communications. In this new paradigm, brands protect themselves by aiming to always create great products and services which customers love, and by dealing with individual customer complaints quickly and effectively.

Within the context of social media, brand communications has to move from aiming for solely commercial transactions to demonstrating that you share the interests of your audiences.

Protecting brands online is about building and participating in fresh networks with your customers and being useful and helpful within those networks. Because, at the end of the day, those customer networks are more efficient than any large organisation.

If you create a good relationship through those networks then it will spread fast, magnify and build positive word of mouth. Remember in this realm one person really counts because they have a whole network which they are a part of on Facebook, Twitter etc. However if you contribute to a poor relationship with your audiences then it will also spread fast with obviously less desirable consequences.

The art in this context is to make sure you use social networks strategically – and really think through how you are going to act and behave on your social media presences.

RockMelt leads the pack for social browsers

by ItsOpen

Just a few weeks ago, ItsOpen discussed the possibility of social browsers in the future. Now a new browser turns this possibility into a reality.

RockMelt is a browser with inbuilt Twitter and Facebook functions. Invitations take a few days to come through, so have a look at the video below to see the social browser in action.

Are social browsers like RockMelt set to replace normal browsers?

Five lessons we’ve learnt about social media

by ItsOpen

The last twelve months have seen companies adopt social media strategies by the truckload, leading to some excellent examples of social media….and some examples of what not to do. There’s been some interesting developments on Twitter in particular, where bad news spreads fast.

So, what have we learnt about social media?

Though shalt not steal

The web has provided a whole new way to crowdsource business ideas and creative processes. But that doesn’t make it a general free-for-all when it comes to words and designs. A writer called Monica Gaudio alerted the social media world to a plagiarism case, where her work was featured in a food magazine without asking for permission. Sadly, it’s a common occurrence, but it’s the response from the editor of the Cooks Source that shocked people.

‘The web is considered “public domain” and you should be happy we just didn’t “lift” your whole article and put someone else’s name on it….. you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally.’

To make it worse, the editor then went on to say that Monica probably should have paid her, considering the favour she did for her on editing. A further statement on the Facebook page seemed to mock Monica, and boasted that their followers had gone up.

The editor clearly didn’t understand the legalities of taking someone’s work, and clearly didn’t anticipate that followed.

Paperchase also had trouble when Hidden Eloise, an illustrator who sells her designs on Etsy,  blogged about how they had stolen one of her designs. Their slow and ineffective response led to a huge amount of bad PR across Twitter and Facebook.

The Lesson

Bloggers have a powerful voice. Befriend them instead of alienating them.

Respect the power

Nestle unfortunately learnt this lesson the hard way. Already a brand connected with all kinds of PR disasters, the company’s connection to the deforestation in Indonesia was unearthed by Greenpeace, and the message spread like wildfire on Twitter. Since then the brand has been in trouble with various activists on , and continues to struggle with its brand reputation.

The Lesson

Run your business in an unethical or disrespectful manner, and you can expect to be exposed online.

Don’t cut and paste

Tiger Airways made the mistake earlier this year of giving every negative comment a bit of a brush off, along the lines of “You get what you paid for.” This, understandably, only riled commenters up further.

It then got worse. They started deleting any negative comments, and banning users who left them.

Overall, not a great way of communicating with customers and visitors.

The Lesson

Reply to each follower individually, and try to take a negative comment as constructive criticism. It might help your business improve.

Create some rules

Underestimating the social media usage of employees was a mistake Domino’s made at the start of the year. Prior to the success of the Domino’s Foursquare campaign, the company was the victim of a recording made of two of its employees, who were filmed wiping mucas onto sandwiches. Nice.

Domino’s were quick to issue apologies on Facebook and Twitter, and produced an apology video on YouTube

Great response, and a lesson learned about how employees have to be careful on social media too.

Vodafone had a similar problem at the start of the year, when an employee posted an obscene remark on their Twitter feed. Like Domino’s, they were quick to respond and suspended the employee immediately.

The Lesson

Put together a social media policy pronto. There’s a great list of social media policies over on Social Media Today.

Don’t blame the intern

Habitat came a cropper back in 2009, when they misused the in their tweets. Hashtags are terms or words added to tweets, like #HarryPotter or #RoyalWedding, that allow people to search for all the discussions related to that topic.

The company inserted popular hashtags  into the start of all their tweets, in order to raise the profile of their content. The practice had already begun to irritate followers, who called it ‘spamming’, but the use of a tag for the Iranian election really angered people. A backlash occurred, with Twitter users retweeting and criticising the move. Explain this more – link to what a hashtag is. Imagine you’re explaining to someone who doesn’t use Twitter.

The Lesson

By patronising followers with blatant advertising and the misuse of hashtags, the company was left picking up the pieces of a damaged brand name. Worse still, the company blamed the intern! If you’ve got a social media policy in place (see above), this sort of thing should never happen, but if it does blaming the intern is a terrible excuse — not only does it make an unpaid, untrained work experience person the scapegoat, it doesn’t say a lot about how seriously you take your social media strategy.

What lessons have you learnt about social media this year?

Should the Queen be on Facebook?

by ItsOpen

HM Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kin...

Image via Wikipedia

Last week, the Queen signed up for Facebook. While it’s doubtful she’ll be uploading photos from a night on the sherry or telling us about Christmas quarrels with Philip, she will have her very own fan page on the site.

Those who ‘like’ the will be able to see regular news, exclusive videos, photos and speeches from the Royal Family.

The Royal Family even have their own Facebook application, “Near Me”, designed to show users if there are any Royal events happening nearby.

But how sensible is it to create a page where ‘fans’ can comment on the page? The Royal Family tends to evoke strong opinions from the British public, and a page like this might open them up to a lot more abuse.

However, the Queen is exceedingly popular on the other side of the pond, so I’m sure the page will get just as many likes from our American cousins.

It’s not the first time they’ve used social media. They’ve already got a Flickr account, where they regularly upload photo updates. The Twitter account has been going since 2009, and they’ve even had a since 2007.

Unsurprisingly, you can also download the Queen’s speech as a podcast.

Do you think it’s a good idea for the Queen to be on Facebook?

Don Tapscott speaks to the Social Media Leadership Forum

by Justin Hunt

We are thrilled that Don Tapscott, author of the international bestseller, Wikinomics, is going to be speaking with members of the Social Media Leadership Forum next month.

Don Tapscott is one of the world’s leading authorities on business strategy and organizational transformation and he will be discussing his new book, MacroWikinomics, co-authored with Anthony Williams. Which is the sequel to the groundbreaking and best-selling Wikinomics, with new ideas and applications for mass collaboration.

We’re delighted to confirm that Don Tapscott will be talking to the Social Media Leadership Forum about some of the key themes in MacroWikinomics, how collaborative technologies are transforming industries and why businesses must change the way they are run.

“A masterpiece. An iconic and defining book for our time.” Mark Parker, CEO, Nike Inc

An extraordinary book…should be required reading for all who want to create positive change for institutions and organizations.” Linda Lorimer, Vice President, Yale University

This event is only open to members of the Social Media Leadership Forum. If you are interested in joining the Forum to listen and discuss issues with Don Tapscott, you can find more information about becoming a member here.

More information about Don Tapscott here.

The Social Media Leadership Forum is run by ItsOpen(

The history of social media

by ItsOpen

Think the world of social media is fairly new? Wrong! It actually started way back in 1978, when Ward Christensen created the bulletin board system. Since then, various models of social media have emerged, including AOL 2.0, Napster, Friendster and, more recently, Flickr, Ping and QR Code.

Want to know a little more about the history of social media? Have a watch of this video below.

from on .

What was your first experience of social media? Were you on Friendster or Friends Reunited?

When are Facebook users most active?

by ItsOpen

When it comes to using Facebook for business, the time you post is as important as the actual content.

Recent research conducted by Vitrue identifies the busiest times on Facebook, when users are posting and commenting the most.

The most popular times for users to post and comment are 11am, 3pm and 8pm, so scheduling your posts for these times should maximise your results. If you only wish to post once a day, make it 3pm as it’s the busiest time of the day. In fact, make it Wednesday at 3pm and you’ll get the busiest traffic of the week. The quietest time is a Sunday, so it might be best to give the activity a rest then!

Do you schedule your posts for a specific time each day?

Twitter trials promoted tweets in Hootsuite

by ItsOpen

Twitter launches promoted Tweets at Ad Age Dig...
Image by David Berkowitz via Flickr

Twitter has begun testing promoted tweets on users of web-based social media client Hootsuite.

Promoted tweets from companies such as Starbucks and Virgin are now appearing in Twitter streams even if you don’t follow those companies. Like Facebook, the advertised content is targeted based on the kinds of people and products users already follow. So, if you’re a caffeine fan and follow several coffee and energy drink Twitter accounts, you’re more likely to get promoted content from companies like Red Bull or Starbucks

The move follows several months of testing sponsored search terms in the trending topics section.

As a Hootsuite user, I’ve seen the promoted content in action. Promoted tweets obviously depend on how many people you follow, but in my Twitter stream they appear once or twice an hour, and they’re clearly marked as a promoted tweet. It’s mildly irritating to see tweets appear from USA-based companies, but there is (currently) an option in the general settings of Hootsuite to turn these test tweets off.

It’ll be interesting to see how the tweeting public will react to these promoted tweets. Will they accept the ads in the same way they have on Facebook, or will users be driven away by the uninvited content? CEO Dick Costolo stated at the start of year, “Is it great in search and horrible in the timeline? We are going to test and test and test,” which indicated that this test run might not lead to a full implementation.

Have you seen any promoted tweets? How did you feel about them?

Microsoft and ASDA talk about the recent Facebook event at the Social Media Leadearship Forum

A few weeks ago Marcus Wareham from Facebook (Head of Strategy & Planning – Europe) gave a talk to the members of the Social Media Leadership Forum.

We asked two of the forum’s regular members what they thought about the event.

The interviews with Allister Frost, Integrated Marketing Communications Manager, Microsoft UK, and Dominic Burch, Head of Corporate Communications and New Media, ASDA, are embedded below.