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Corporate communications + Public Relations Adelaide

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November 2010

Twitter is the headline

Twitter has many uses but often ‘newbies’ or non-tweeters get hung up on the 140 character limit.

“I can’t keep information down to 140 characters” they say, or “Twitter isn’t very good at detail”.

Think of it like this –  Twitter is the headline. [And yes, this is handy advice for journalists too, grappling with how and why they might use Twitter. Attention media managers: Twitter shares your news of the day! It’s not your enemy, it’s your lure.]

Twitter is today’s equivalent of the headline. It can share the news in a nutshell and propel people to read on. You might even think of it as your sandwich board on the footpath. Just include a link to further information – and that’s where you can go into detail without the restrictions of a small status update.

Twitter is the new newspaper headline
Twitter is the new newspaper headline

Many of my clients create a lot of content every week. They’re producing enewsletters, brochures, annual reports, news releases, posters and more. I like to remind them that if the content is already there, they can extend this onto social media platforms like Twitter. You don’t need to invent your content from scratch. And you don’t need to hide your content away on your official site or with your enewsletter database. Share your expertise publicly, build a new audience and establish your expertise.

So cut your content up into headlines and share it on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook; whatever suits your objectives. Take each one of your major ideas or pieces of news, and turn them into simple sentences that can build an information stream. Of course, you need to remember to read other people’s ‘headlines’ and comment where you can. Don’t be a broadcaster only.

Finally, don’t be fooled into thinking Twitter is made up of small sporadic thoughts that disappear into the ether – Twitter can be a bulletin board for lengthy conversations that become quite complex and profound.

It’s just laid out differently.

Don’t hand over your social media voice

We all know that in business, you can outsource almost anything. You can outsource your accounting, your website development, catering, event planning, staff training and more. Business owner’s can’t do it all, right? It makes sense to give some tasks over to the experts.

Outsource your cleaning, not social media
Outsource your cleaning, not social media

But what about your social media voice?

Should you outsource that?

In the social media age, it’s no surprise that firms have emerged offering social media services, including posting on businesses’ behalf. And many businesses have cautiously taken this on – perhaps relieved that there’s someone there to do this confusing work for them. Many businesses still don’t have an understanding of their own website, let alone Facebook and Twitter.

But I don’t think outsourcing your social media presence – over the long term – is a good idea. And here’s some reasons why:

1.       Your social media fans (if you’re lucky enough to attract any) are fans of YOU or your business; they’re not fans of the consultant you’ve brought in.

2.       To be successful over the long term, social media has to be honest and up front. If you’re not tweeting or posting, you need to tell people that. And this may turn your audience away.

3.       Social media is about having a genuine conversation. If your fans or customers ask what’s happening in your store today, or why you aren’t offering their favourite product anymore, they want to know they’re hearing from YOU. You’re the business owner making the decisions; not your social media consultant. You need to be personally accountable and responsive.

4.       Social media is about breaking down the barriers; breaking down traditional information strongholds. Your fans want to get to YOU, not a go-between. Social media is an agile, free and intuitive way to communicate – when you bring in external parties, it takes that away. You’re bringing in a disconnect and diluting the power of social media.

5.       Your consultant might not get it right. Only YOU know what truly makes you, and your business, tick. What happens when a conversation evolves, via your consultant, that you don’t approve of – that damages your brand?

6.       Logistics. A ‘social media consultant’ slows things down. There’s nothing faster than tweeting your own image of a new product that’s been delivered, or the view from your restaurant courtyard. You’re the best person to tweet when a special guest has checked in five seconds ago. You’re the best person to retweet good news from a business partner. Relying on a third party to do this for you takes the wind out of social media’s sails. If you’re the business owner or manager, you need to take the reins and be your company’s instant broadcaster.

Even more concerning – consultant price packages. How can a consultant state that it requires $500 a month to maintain your social media sites, when nobody can predict the level of engagement that might take place that month? Think about it.

Does it sound like I’m cutting my own lunch? Not at all. I’m a digital & social media consultant within a PR firm. I believe firmly that businesses can benefit from consultants who have spent a lot of time within social networks and can advise on best practice. But in my firm, firstly, social media isn’t a stand-alone item offered to clients. If it suits their brand and business objectives at all, social media is a tool within a client’s overall communications plan.

Secondly, while we strategise for clients, can train them, set them up on social networks and “hold their hand” for a period, we advise clients that they are best representing themselves online for the long term. We wouldn’t represent them at a family birthday party. Why would we get in between them and their fans?

“YouTube, the Movie?” A short history of YouTube

The Social Network – the movie about the founders of Facebook – is currently number 1 in the Australian box office. When I exited the screening with some Adelaide Twitter friends recently, we joked that we’d catch up again when the Twitter Film was screened.

This got me thinking about other young founders of social media networks, including YouTube. How did it all happen? And where are they now?

How many of you have seen the very first YouTube video ? … Finished watching? Educational much?  It’s fronted by one of the three founders – Jawed Karim. He’s no David Attenborough  but this is clearly Beta territory so we’ll forgive him.

YouTube
YouTube

The best thing about this insightful elephant clip, is it’s a pithy 19 seconds long and amateur footage. This set the bar for what was acceptable, which sustains YouTube’s ongoing success.

It’s been said that the co-founders couldn’t even pay anyone to post on the site, in the beginning.  They advertised on Craigslist with no result. That’s what happens when you’re the new kid on the block. This official YouTube blog houses ‘The Real History of YouTube’.

And these days, the founding trio’s YouTube channel is not up to date. How sad.

So where are the founders now? Chad Hurley seems, incongruously, to have gone on to work with Formula One teams. Steve Chen seems to be focused on his golf swing (and why not indeed, after you sell to Google for $1.65 billion). The most recent video he’s “liked” is about learning to play guitar. Don’t you think it’s hilarious that he hasn’t branded his YouTube channel or uploaded a profile pic? Why do it if you created the darn thing, right?

Likewise Jawed Karim (the elephant specialist) doesn’t have any recent activity on his YouTube channel.

Back in October 2006, Jawed presented to the University of Illinois, talking about how YouTube came to be. It’s one of the worst pieces of footage I’ve seen on the site  . It does however relate why YouTube’s so successful now and the problems the trio had to overcome. And he shares what is one of his favourite clips – a Where The Hell Is Matt movie.

The  Jawed presentation is out of date and a whopping 50 minutes long, but Jawed does relate the basic premise of many successful YouTube clips which have launched the careers of their makers: “If you have a good idea, you can make a video that can get an audience of millions almost instantly for free”.

He says there were a couple of events in 2004 which fuelled a desire to quickly share footage. His first example is the infamous Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake wardrobe malfunction. As Jawed points out, this only happened once on television and you could never see it again, thus people turned to online footage. He also spoke about YouTube’s ability to house mobile phone footage of the devastating 2004 Tsunami as another turning point.

Today, YouTube continues to be a repository for compelling viewing; the site we turn to when we’ve missed something on TV or for crowd sourced footage when somebody with a camera is in the right place at the right time.

But of course, YouTube is also the home of celebrities and funny videos that kill thousands of office hours around the globe every year.

Recently, ReadWriteWeb updated its ‘best YouTube videos of all time’ list. Not surprisingly, music clips from popstars were the most viewed, as well as videos of babies with a remarkable talent for chuckling or annoying their siblings. I was surprised at the lack of videos featuring cats, as these are the ones that seem to be sent to me the most (despite the fact that I’m a dog lover! Jeez, people!)

What’s your favourite YouTube video? Do you subscribe to a channel that you visit regularly?

A Saturday worth sharing: TEDx Adelaide

 I attended the TEDx event  in Adelaide yesterday. And I was deliberately unprepared.

I didn’t read the speakers’ booklet. I didn’t delve into their CVs, visit their websites or try to forecast what they would say. I wanted each speaker to be a surprise as they took the podium, and to be open to insights from worlds I don’t usually delve into. (Host and event organiser Kristin Alford  helped with this – her pithy intros allowed the speakers to set the scene for themselves).

So on this brilliant Saturday (instead of doing the laundry or tidying the house or taking my nanna nap), I was treated to a virtual rendition of Farmers Union Iced Coffee, amazed by the DNA of the platypus, moved by black and white photographs of cheeky little brothers in Palestine, and heartened by an explorer’s work in moving electricity retailers away from fossil fuels.

One of the talks that I want to delve into was by Jodie Benveniste  who championed the role of parents and pointed out how competitive parenthood can be. There’s immense pressure to have perfect children and to be the perfect parent. I agree – but I don’t think this competitive nature is restricted to parenthood. New parenthood merely puts it into focus for us.

By nature, human beings are competitive and (at the risk raising the eyebrows of Byron Sharp  with an anecdotal ‘gut feeling’ that I’m about to elaborate on) I posit that being competitive is part of our survival instinct.

Theory: I want to be the best at my job, I want a promotion first, I want the best car park, the nicest house in the street, the best retirement plan … because these things assure my comfort, my family’s comfort, our status and safety into the future.

In today’s consumer-driven society, a drive for survival and desire to thrive, has morphed into “I want the newest Nike sneakers, the latest Apple iPod; I want to be first on my block with a 3D television and my spray tan needs to be more realistic than Cindy’s”.

Burundi Community Drummers, TEDx Adelaide
Burundi Community Drummers, TEDx Adelaide

The segue was a recurring theme yesterday, so I’ll jump onto the bandwagon and attempt a segue here. This urge for competition – driven by consumerism and people who clearly have too much money – is one of the reasons why (as Carla Litchfield told us), some people are paying a high price for gorilla flesh. Yes, they want to eat blackmarket ape.

Is this the same Competition + Consumer creating the bland modern suburbs that are spreading like a virus over the planet and taking away public spaces where young people used to congregate (as outlined by Dr Ianto Ware)? Is this Competition + Consumerism responsible for our water supplies drying up while we create ever-increasingly more effective ways to rape the soil and very few ways for how to maintain and improve it (more eloquently outlined by Mark Tester)?

The mantra of the official TED conferences are ‘ideas worth spreading’. The speakers in Adelaide yesterday didn’t disappoint – they had ideas worth spreading.

Whether the audience agreed with the ideas or found them ‘worthy’ doesn’t matter. What matters is that we gathered (many of us strangers) to meet with people we might ordinarily never come across.

Speaker Wend Lear urged us to acknowledge our own ‘gift’ because everyone has one, but seldom makes the most out of it by sharing it with others. The gift of TedX Adelaide was to remind us that ideas exist, they don’t dry up, we can have an idea at any stage of our lives, and even every day. There are not a finite number of ideas.

Ideas are important and they can help us change direction into futures that are exciting as tribal drumbeats on a Saturday afternoon.

There’s a wealth of information on the official TEDx Adelaide website http://tedxadelaide.com/ , if you’d like to absorb the day yourself. This includes speaker bios, photographs, podcasts and very soon, video footage of the event.

If you’re interested in TED (technology, entertainment, design) and its origins, see the official website here http://www.ted.com/

The most controversial tweets of 2010 (Australian edition)

Recently, I eagerly opened a Twitter link to read about the year’s “most controversial tweets”.

I was quickly disappointed to realise it was an American article [should’ve known! Curses!] including reams of tweet from US sports stars who I either a) had never heard of or b) didn’t care about.

So with some help from my Twitter friends, I’ve compiled a quick list of Australia’s most controversial tweets from 2010.

Danni Minogue, dear sweet controversial tweeter
Danni Minogue, dear sweet controversial tweeter

A quick caveat: I’m usually the champion of social media and don’t like to side with traditional media when it wants to give social media a kick. In this article, I’m not endorsing the view that “Twitter is bad” but pointing out that people can say stupid things on any platform. I’m sure the list of controversial things said at speakers’ podiums or boardroom tables this year would be much longer …

THE CONTROVERSIAL TWEETS (in no particular order):

‘‘Will someone throw a shoe at this guy NOW’’
Sydney resident Maissa Alameddine’s tweet, which appeared on the ABC’s Q&A television show, where former Australian Prime Minister John Howard was being interviewed. A little while later, someone in the audience actually did throw a shoe at Howard. Read more.

“I do so hope Bindi Irwin gets laid”
Catherine Deveny, Age columnist, at the Logies awards night 2010.

“In front row for John Mayer. I may not take home gold logie but now have herpes”
Wil Anderson, comedian tweeting from the Logie awards night 2010 [I know! Wht a night, right?].

“Suck on that f—gots. Probs the best game I’ve ever seen!! Well done boys.”
Former Olympian Stephanie Rice, tweeting after the Wallabies’ Tri-Nations rugby victory over South Africa in September.

“Gay marriage=kids with no mothers or fathers, parent-less generation; uncontrollable depression and suicide. Is that the Aust we want?”
Wendy Francis, Queensland senatorial candidate for the Family First Party, sharing her views on same sex marriage.

Ruby Rose v Ros Reines on Twitter, where they argued over whether Ruby was ‘available’ to media during a red carpet event. Read the highlights captured by Mumbrella.

“All my followers get free 8 dollars poker money by signing up here’ with a link to the popular 888.com site”
Australian cricketer Shane Warne was blasted for promoting gambling.

“Congratulations to Ray Meagher for winning the Gold Logie. I’m so happy for you!Danni Minogue at the 2010 Logies. Sounds innocuous enough, right? Oops. She tweeted the result before it was televised.

What are your thoughts on these tweet ‘controversies’? Can you think of any more to add to the list? You may have a few examples from your own circle of friends.

[And will these tweet ‘controversies’ boost the audience for next year’s Logie Awards? Something has to!]

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