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Corporate communications + Public Relations Adelaide

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May 2010

Tweets to ‘take your breath away’

I’m constantly amazed by the amount of followers that some Twitter accounts attract.

They’re Twitter accounts that seem to break all the ‘rules’ of Twitter etiquette, carrying out such no-nos as:

  • Broadcasting only. Tweeting without replying to anyone else or even retweeting.
  • Selling only. Accounts that aren’t interested in talking to you or commenting on the news of the day: they’re only tweeting about sales, their expertise or why they can make your life better.
  • Appearing eerily like a late night TV infomercial or televangelist of the 80s.

Here’s a sample of some Twitter account bios and their follower numbers * :

Buy me in 17 easy payment installments!

“I want everyone to achieve their dreams. Please ask me how.” More than 22,000 followers. No interaction with followers, just broadcasting.

“I’m living an extraordinary abundant life and creating moments that take my breath away!” More than 10,000 followers. Broadasting, um, inspirational tweets about ‘creating’ and ‘dreaming’.

“Want to earn some extra spending cash? Click on the link to learn how!” Broadcasting only, more than 16,000 followers.

“Click this link to learn how an internet millionaire did it and why he is giving his system away FREE!” More than 16,000 followers. Broadcasting – and with offensive pink flower Twitter background, to boot.

Why should I be surprised? People buy things after watching TV infomercials. They buy porcelain dolls via easy monthly payments. They believe in horoscopes. They email their bank account details to Nigeria. Why should the Twitterverse be any different?

Why should it be different? I’ll tell you why!

We can read a Twitter account so clearly. It’s not set to dazzling music or persuasive voicer-overs. Tweets that sell you something aren’t couched within polite phrases toward the end of a 3 hour brainwashing seminar. Tweets haven’t stepped into your home to give you a personal demonstration and then hang about eyeballing you until you sign up. Tweets, and Twitter account bios, and their motivations and shortcomings, are blatantly obvious for all to see.

Why, Twitterverse, why ….

* And where did I find these Twitter account fine examples? My own Follower list, of course.😉

Expert is a Dirty Word

If there’s one word that’s derided – nay, spat on – by the social media community, it’s the term “social media expert”.

I guess I have to yell at the outset here, that this is not a blog about my own capacities or some search for approval. I’m just amused by the massive backlash against the term, such an obligatory backlash that one now feels obliged to loudly state at every meeting or every online encounter “I’m not an expert” or “don’t shoot me please .. I really really don’t know anything and besides, social media experts are the scum of the earth”.

And they call her a social media expert!
And they call her a social media expert!

[But if I’m not an expert, then why the hell should organisations pay me for advice? More on that in a future blog …]

“Social media expert” has a bad brand image, perhaps soiled through overuse by the entrepreneurial-yet-seedy-crowd. Here’s some reasons for why this may be:

  1. Social media is constantly evolving and it’s impossible for one individual to keep up with all the possibilities, emerging platforms and latest trends (nor should one be expected to, incidentally)
  2. The ‘social media craft’ is something that, realistically, anyone could learn from their laptop kitchen bench. (I mean, Zuckerberg created Facebook in his college dorm, for chrissakes, and Pete Cashmore started Mashable in his basement … we’re used to “non professionals” creating social media phenomenon that grow into monstrous organisations).
  3. Social media is still seen as frivolous by some, a fad for people “who don’t have a life” or the haunt of pimply teenagers. How could someone possibly be an expert in the field?

So, all over Twitter, you’ll see the bios of people vehemently denying they’re a “social media expert”. Or blogs pointing out how to avoid these outrageous charlatans.

But what does “expert” really mean? According to the Macquarie Dictionary, an expert is “a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field”. Wikipedia elaborates (as it does) by stating that “An expert is someone widely recognized as a reliable source of technique or skill whose faculty for judging or deciding rightly, justly, or wisely is accorded authority and status by their peers or the public in a specific well-distinguished domain”. 

Maybe people in the social media realm are wary of the mantle because they simply don’t want to wear it. It’s a lot of responsibility. If you’re at a party, and you admit you’re an electrician: you know you’re going to be asked to fit someone’s ceiling fan. Or if you announce you’re a doctor: someone will show you their skin rash.

But if you say you’re a social media expert, it’ll be even more excruciating, because your party crowd will be sure to say the following:

a)      I don’t get Twitter
b)       Why don’t you turn off the computer and get a real life?
c)       People on Facebook get stalked and killed
d)      Has anyone really made any money out of it?

Just console yourself that you can snap open your iPhone and tweet to the people who really get you … your fellow social media experts.

Will the real French Connection please stand up …

There’s a lot of talk about Facebook’s ever-changing privacy settings, and its new ‘Community Pages’. Not many people realise yet, but if you type a phrase or word into your Facebook status, it may be drawn into the wall of a new Community Page.

I thought I’d let these Facebook page examples tell the story (read the page description, then the actual posts that get published there):

Cooper’s Beer. A well established South Australian company, already with its own branded Facebook page that has more than 3,000 ‘fans’. I’m sure fans and the company itself might be confused by Facebook’s new Coopers page  , especially the dear mothers who posted remarks about their small sons (called Cooper), only to find these are now appearing on the brewery page.

French Connection.  Supposedly a scheme through which heroin was smuggled from Turkey to France and then to the United States, culminating in the late 1960s and early 1970s .. but now populated with remarks about people’s fashionable trousers.

Stallion was apparently an American pop group with one hit in 1977. But looking at the Stallion page, you can imagine the types of comments being drawn in from some unsuspecting Facebook users.

And, from the dozens of Community Page returned for a search on ‘Levis’, which one are you going to join? How about this one  or this one?

Community Pages, as they stand now, are a mishmash of results that aren’t benefitting anyone.

Have you come across any of interest?

Take a Pollyanna view

I talk to a lot of organisations about social media. So I tend to hear the same questions again and again.

Social media doesn't have to be a car crash
Social media doesn't have to be a car crash

You can probably guess what sort of questions they are. I’ll write a FAQ list one day. But in the meantime, I want to share one of the most intriguing questions:

“What happens if somebody says something bad about us?”

It’s every organisation’s fear. As soon as they put up their shingle in social media, opening themselves up to public comments, they tend to wonder what will happen when someone criticises them. (Nobody ever asks: what happens if someone praises my product? What happens if someone says I’m their favourite supplier of Whatchamacallits?)

So what’s my response?

I tell them, “you should almost want somebody to say something bad about you”.

If somebody criticises you, it’s an opportunity for you to talk about yourself. It’s an opportunity to put the record straight. They’re publicly asking a FAQ. Organisations should be rubbing their hands in glee at this chance to shine.

…that’s provided they’re doing the right thing of course.

If you’re in business and proud of your product, if you’re a good employer, if you care about the community you operate in, and you’re open to continual improvement, don’t be scared of social media. Use good judgement with your content, yes. Have a management strategy and a clear understanding of what you want from social media. Be ready with answers to frequently asked questions. But be confident that social media can support you. Your customers and audiences can use social media – so can you.

Social media presents another opportunity to brand yourself. At the risk of sounding very Pollyanna , public slanging on a Facebook page or other social forum is a chance to turn someone’s frown upside down. If you’re criticised online:

  • Investigate the issue quickly
  • Don’t take it personally – treat it as a concerned question
  • Write a factual response
  • Always, always thank the person for their comment
  • Take their opinion on board. Should your business be changing something about the way it works? Social media comments are often precursors to wider community concerns.

Have you ever asked an organisation a question on a social media platform? What did you think of the response?

How #Adelaide took over the nation …

 It’s nice to read a story about the little guy doing well, isn’t it?

Well, this is a story about the #Adelaide hashtag. (Now, there’s a story that wouldn’t make sense two years ago ..)

For some time now, the #Adelaide hashtag has been one of the most popular tags on Twitter in Australia. Time and again, the #Adelaide hashtag produces more tweets than its bigger city cousins such as Sydney and Melbourne. So relative to its population size, Adelaide punches above its weight in hashtag city.

Why is that?

Well, a lot of that is due to Adelaide tweeters who understand the hashtag phenomena and indeed, rely on it. Twitter accounts such as @Adelaidetweet and @Glamadelaide actively encourage Adelaide-dwellers to put the tag into their tweets, in order for them find and re-tweet ‘the best of Adelaide’ and keep people up to date with local news.

These two Twitter accounts have been so devoted to the #Adelaide hashtag over the longer term, their own tweets and RTs have encouraged others to use the tag and become part of the local conversation. So now, Adelaide organisations or those individuals wishing to seen to be part of #Adelaide actively use the tag to become part of the category. It’s become a 101 of being on Twitter in Adelaide.

When I occasionally take a look at #sydney or #melbourne tweets, they seem to have a different flavour. They have less colour and personality, and are more often used by organisations than individuals. They’re often about sales, jobs, flights, tickets and so on.

 #Adelaide tweets are like that sometimes – but more often, they’re community-friendly. They’re sharing advice about road conditions, getting excited about rain (yes, that’s exciting news in Adelaide – because it’s rare!), talking about where they’re eating tonight, or what market is open this weekend.

On any given day, you’ll find that @Adelaidetweet leads the field in using the #Adelaide hashtag.

Now, I’m often asked who is behind @Adelaidetweet .. and I’ll never tell. (And no, it’s not me). And I’ll admit that when #Adelaidetweet set up, I didn’t understand the concept or its potential for longevity. I didn’t see how it would work out – why would people want to follow a Twitter account that just RT’d all the time?

But #Adelaidetweet has morphed into a stream of Adelaide news, a curator, a broadcaster – as it sifts through #Adelaide tweets, adds a touch of editing here and there, and promptly RTs them. Some RTs are obscure, but for the most part, if you’re following @Adelaidetweet, you get a good sense of what’s happening in town, and what queries you can help Adelaide dwellers with.

So, hat’s off to ya, Adelaide. Keep up the hashtagging.

Do YOU use the hashtags of the city you live in? Are they useful? Tell me what you think …

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