Corporate communications + Public Relations Adelaide


March 2010

The Goodness & Light of Facebook

Yes, you read it right.

This is a pro-Facebook article.

It’s not something you’ll see every day. Nowadays, we’re used to media coverage blaming Facebook for most of society’s ills: it’s been blamed for everything from teenagers being distracted from their homework, through to increasing the incidence of syphilis. (Note: everything distracts teens from their homework – Facebook, TV, snacks in the fridge, a fly buzzing past the desk .. don’t we remember what it’s like to be a teenager? It’s hardly news).
I’m sick of it. This is the Facebook Fightback.

I’m going to start regularly featuring alternative examples of the world of Facebook. I’m going to publish a Facebook ‘happy story’ to remind us that it’s not all bad. And I hope you’ll contribute your examples too.
Here’s my first one:

March 2010 Facebook-is-Awesome-Example
I grew up in Whyalla, South Australia. There’s a Facebook group for current and former residents that allows us to share stories. Many of the posts are lengthy, with eloquent and colourful details that bring the town to life and even make readers emotional.

For those with a connection to Whyalla, this group – with its recall of local characters, the streets we grew up in, the schools we went to, the trouble we got into – broadcasts some powerful stuff.

There’s a Discussion called “The street you grew up in” which is nothing if not poignant. Here, you have people recounting their movements from house to house in Whyalla, and then coming across old neighbours. They can ask each other questions, sing out ‘I remember you!’ and piece together their funny stories.

Here’s some examples posts:
I remember Loring Street the most. I used to walk to school at Scott Street Primary and my brother and sister went to Stuart High. I remember walking to One Stop to get an icy pole in 40° heat and getting fish and chips on a Friday night.

I too remember walking to the corner shop … with my empty coke bottle to get a big bag of 20 cent lollies … and at the end of the street in those days was the bush, endless days out looking for sleepy lizards and bearded dragons and building cubby houses……sigh…..

I must certainly say that just the mere mentioning of Whyalla brings a lot of memories and feelings back. Whyalla, for me, was the entrance door to Australia, it was the first place/city I resided in, and also the place where I got married (Ada Ryan Gardens)… Now I have jumped to and lived in so many cities and countries that is hard to keep track of all the places, but Whyalla will always have a special place in my heart…

It’s great reading these posts. My mum is in Adelaide too and she always runs into someone from Whyalla … The town doesn’t make the people, it’s the people that make the town.

Omg Allison, reading your post is like reading verbatim my childhood and teenage years!!!
Jeez, weren’t we so carefree, safe and happy in them days, as poor as we were.

I have had the best time reading all these memories.

Click ‘Comments’ above to post links to any Facebook groups or page that have made you feel warm inside. If you’re a Facebook fan, join the Fightback!

#SAElection Day Tweeting

On election day in South Australia, I take a last-minute look at what political candidates have been doing on Twitter.

This is a follow up to my ‘Politicians and Twitter’ blog a few weeks ago …

Premier Mike Rann hasn’t tweeted for past two days. Too much to do, to tweet? I would’ve thought using your own direct broadcast channel and conversing with the electorate was more important now, than it ever was. Would have loved to see tweets from the Premier sharing insights like:

• What’s it like, the night before the election?
• How does he feel, going into the polling booth?
• Is he glad election day has finally come?
• What’s his message to the electorate today?
• What party does he have planned tonight? What happens if he loses?

The Premier’s Twitter account did contain a few Twitpics recently – not terribly insightful – and he also attempted to start a #premiermikerann hashtag that didn’t turn out to be too popular.

Opposition Leader and Premier-hopeful Isobel Redmond hasn’t tweeted for the past three days, and the last tweet seems to be clarifying a policy. In fact, her last few tweets are attempting to clear up what’s she’s called “incorrect” media reports. Not a good look to leave on your Twitter page. Why not some positive announcements and tweet interaction with your voters, going into election day?

On the plus side, Ms Redmond did respond to some tweet queries from others, and used the #saelection hashtag – fantastic way to be part of the community stream on the topic. (I’d love to see her team load a branded Twitter background for her, though. You’ve got to use every opportunity to brand yourself, people!)

Michael Wright continues to be largely a conduit for the Premier’s tweets (why bother – I guess he’s playing it safe?); Mark Parnell hadn’t tweeted for the past four days.

Jamie Briggs has been tweeting regularly throughout the election period, including today, commenting on a “great feeling”. He’s had a consistent tweet theme : “rann’s time is up and redmond is ready” .. did you notice?

Best examples include Kat Nicholson for Gamers4Croydon regularly tweets, replies, uses hashtags and posts twitpics. And Dr Jane Lomax-Smith continues to communicate to a high standard, today sending out a few tweets about what she’s doing on election morning and feeling “buoyed by level of support today” .

What I’d like to see happen on Day 1 of the new government:
The communications team sits down and starts to work out how to best use social media to engage with the people who put them there.

What have you seen happening on Twitter during the #SAelection?

Who looks after social media?

Businesses and not-for-profits are increasingly adopting social media as part of their communications programs.

This isn’t a blog about how ‘social media has become mainstream’. What I do want to ponder is: who’s best suited to manage these social media strategies?

Is it an organisation’s:
• marketing department
• public relations team
• advertising team or
• (if an organisation is lucky enough to have it) its digital marketing department
• a multi-disciplinary team?

I tweeted the question recently and received a variety of responses, but little agreement. It reminds me a little of the great website debate of 10 years ago: who owns the company website? Corporate? IT? Marketing? [Sadly, some companies still haven’t resolved this.]

So where does social media sit? This is a real issue for me.

I work within the public relations field, and the social media campaigns I help manage often delve into the world of marketing. I’ve got a BA in Journalism and Masters in Communication Management … I don’t have the energy to become a marketer, too. But I know the marketing discipline would add definite strengths to some social media projects.

But do marketers care enough about regular two-way conversations with stakeholders? Probably not as much as PR bods, who are charged with caring about what all audiences say about their clients, wherever they say it.

Social media and PR work well together.

A PR professional can see where social media fits within a business’s overall communications strategy. Good PR bods recognise the need for two-way communication within an organisation, and social media is today’s key to two-way communication tool. PR professionals are also focused on outcomes, on reaching the right audiences in the right place, with the right message. We won’t play with social media just for the sake of it.

As Lee Hopkins has said (and said often), it’s about strategy. Who’s best able to steer your social media strategy for you? It’s not just about opening a Facebook page, boosting membership numbers, and blasting followers with regular marketing messages. There’s got to be a rhyme and reason to all this. If you’re not asking that question yet .. believe me, your followers soon will. Consumers are becoming more savvy and selective: they won’t follow everyone forever.

There needs to be a long term view. What’s going to happen to that Facebook page in a year, in two years? What does the organisation want to achieve? What does it believe in? What type of relationship does it want with its stakeholders?

New ‘Social media specialists’ who are setting up shop specifically to push organisations onto platforms like Facebook need to take a chill pill. They’re membership factories … with a finite membership. It’s a recipe for disaster.

IN SUMMARY: social media is turning into a specialist role for people with multi-disciplinary skills. The ones who rise to the top will be those who respect other specialities, ask for advice, and follow a STRATEGY.

Who Gives a Hoot? What happens when sites go down?

I was staring at my PC screen recently.

Staring at an owl wearing a hard hat. Hootsuite was down for maintenance and it was darn annoying.

It brought home the fact that I rely on Hootsuite a great deal to manage multiple social media accounts. Many of us do it now – we’re using Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Seesmic, Facebook, YouTube, FlickR, YouTube, Blogger – for business.

When our telephone line goes down, we call our phone provider. If the electricity fizzles out, we call the building manager. If the newspaper doesn’t get delivered to the office on time, we can call the newsagent and ask what’s going on. They’re all being paid by us. They’ve got service agreements with us. And there are consequences to those services being unavailable.

But when happens when our free online tools fall over?

Not much.

Services like Hootsuite, quite rightly, do not promise they’ll always be there for you. In its terms, owner Invoke Media states in part:

“Your use of the Service is at your sole risk. The service is provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis … Invoke Media does not warrant that (i) the service will meet your specific requirements, (ii) the service will be uninterrupted, timely, secure, or error-free, (iii) the results that may be obtained from the use of the service will be accurate or reliable, (iv) the quality of any products, services, information, or other material purchased or obtained by you through the service will meet your expectations …”

But it’s no fickle matter if these services are unavailable. Increasingly, we’re relying on free social platforms as main communication channels. We’ve all read about major companies like Pepsi, Coca Cola, Ford and Holden devoting more resources to sites like Facebook, rather than official sites. When these online tools are gone, it’s an interruption to our services.

Imagine a world where social media is ‘taken away’ (hideous, isn’t it?) The Social Media God decides the experiment is over, and we all need to go back and play on our standard dotcoms.

Boom! In an instant, you’ve lost your thousands of Fans – their names, locations, likes and dislikes. You’ve lost all the comments you’ve been gathering, all the interaction you’ve built up. You’ve lost photos and videos. Not to mention search engine listings.

That’s why it’s important to back up that information. How many of us do that? When was the last time you archived a social media account? (I’m making a mental note …)

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