Corporate communications + Public Relations Adelaide


August 2011

The Twitter 101 Everyone Thinks I’ve Written

I often receive tweets asking about my Twitter 101 blog post.

The thing is, I haven’t actually written a Twitter 101 post. So you can consider this my ‘cheat’ and shortcut.

In previous posts, I have outlined some Twitter tips for newbies, and touched on some principles of etiquette that I think are nice to know. These are listed below:

You might also want to read my article in The Advertiser  where I explained hashtags.

But in addition, don’t forget that Twitter itself has an awesome Help Centre with lots of great articles including  How Should I get Started Using Twitter  and ‘Following’ Rules and Best Practices.

So, please consider this your new Twitter 101 post. And enjoy!

Oh of course – please add any tips below if you think I’ve missed something.

The perfect social media manager

A lot of blogs have been written about the ‘perfect social media manager’ or, as often called these days, ‘community manager’.

Social Media Today wrote about “What Makes an Exceptional Social Media Manager” and there are some great traits listed on this blog by Powerhouse USA (an older post, but still valid).

As social media seeps more into organisations, employers are grappling with finding the right person to manage their online forums, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, blogs and so on.

(In the worst case scenarios, I hear Members of the C Suite musing over asking their children or grandchildren to manage their business’s social media platforms. They have a misguided view that because teens spend a lot of time texting or on Facebook, they are “digital savvy” and will be able to guide the face of the organisation online. That is of course a ridiculous presumption, and I’ll  use this blog post to outline some reasons why).

There is such a thing as the Perfect Social Media Manager for your organisation.  To my mind, the Perfect Social Media Manager has some building blocks to begin with – some DNA if you like.

The Perfect Social Media Manager:

  1. Enjoys communicating and in particular communicating online. Quickly learns about online community expectations and absorbs the etiquette of a place rather quickly. Is likeable!
  2. Has high standards when it comes to communication. They want to respond promptly and accurately. They care about impressions made online.
  3. Has patience and tact and doesn’t cave under pressure. They don’t have a tantrum after reading ‘stupid questions’ online day after day. They’re not easily upset by criticism, but focused on setting the record straight or getting it right.
  4. Is ethical. They don’t misrepresent themselves or their organisation online. They don’t fudge the facts, they don’t pretend to be something they’re not. They are aware of ‘duty of care’, copyright, defamation and so on.
  5. Has a way with words. Ideally they have excellent grammatical skills. They also have a wide vocabulary and can swiftly recall the most appropriate words to use in a tweet to convey context and emotion. They know where dashes and semi colons go and they don’t have a desire to use eight exclamation marks in a row. They can shape a blog headline to make an old school sub editor weep with joy. They know best where to weave a link into a tweet.
  6. Understands search engine optimisation and that the words, images, alt tags, hyperlinks and URLs they use can make a difference.
  7. Knows their client/business inside out. They’re able to answer customer queries online without having to read the manual.
  8. Has a passion for the online space. They don’t begrudge checking Twitter on the weekend. The don’t begrudge a platforms’s changing terms and conditions. They absorb change as part of their role and the nature of the social media beast and they thrive on being up to date.

So: the Perfect Social Media Manager is a person who knows their organisation and how it works; they’re passionate about social media and aren’t afraid to use it; and they are an exemplary ambassador for your brand.

Think that’s impossible?

It isn’t. I’ve seen it. There are examples locally.

Some social media managers are just hitting their stride; others are doing such a fantastic, seamless job that you don’t know about because they’re not making any mistakes. (In that way, they’re a bit like a PR professional).

And that eight-point list above? If you think your grandson can do all that – go for it.

But finally: the Perfect Social Media Manager cannot exist without the ‘Perfect Employer’. If, as an employer, you find the Perfect Social Media Manager, please move to the back of the room, don’t ask to vet every tweet, and be grateful that they’re there.

Ban social media? What a riot.

Someone is murdered with a hammer. Do we ban hammers? No, we can’t because there’s these things called nails and these things called houses that shelter us, so we kind of need hammers to be available.

Someone is run over by a train. Do we ban trains? Sorry, we can’t.  Public transport must continue apace and we can only put up more safety rails and signs. And avoid eye contact.

There are riots in London. British PM David Cameron mutters about banning social media.  [Insert sigh here].

Riots have been happening for centuries, but apparently if we shut down Facebook and Twitter, everything’s going to be okay and we can go back to watching re-runs of The Bill where DI Meadows ensures that all is calm at Sunhill.

Never mind that the actual London Fire Brigade  uses Twitter and Facebook. Emergency services around the world (most obviously here in Queensland during the floods) are using social media to help their work. In the aftermath of the riots, London Fire posted the following:

London Fire Brigade thanks
London Fire Brigade thanks

It was in response to posts like this:

"Thanks London Fire" tweet
"Thanks London Fire" tweet

It’s now also well known that UK residents used social media to organise clean-ups, through accounts like Riot Clean Up and tweets like this:

Brighton clean up tweet
Brighton clean up tweet
Northcote clean up tweet
Northcote clean up tweet

In fact, social media has been used to reassure and support people, with accounts like this too  from a police superintendent.

The London Metro Police is using FlickR as a functional, crimestopping tool, to house mugshots of suspected looters, using CCTV footage.

London Metro Police, FlickR
London Metro Police, FlickR

So why lash out at social media?

It’s because social media always has incited passion, and much of this passion is anti-social media angst from those who have never bloody used social media! They may know that their grandchildren “spend too much time on Facebook” and that somebody called Ashton Cooper has millions of followers on some platform called Twitter.

They see people reading the news or exchanging information over smartphones at cafes or pedestrian crossings, and it makes steam come out of their ears because they weren’t the ones who invented it. They’re quite happy with their broadsheets and their cups of tea – no Chai Latte for them please – and what’s wrong with the world the way it is anyway?


Marketing Week 2011: Battle of the Creatives

Marketing Week is always a sensational time in Adelaide – when over five days we’re treated to some of the best speakers from the worlds of marketing, advertising, public relations, digital, government, market research and more.

Battle of the Creatives
Battle of the Creatives

Last year I was part of a breakfast session with Lee Hopkins and Crispin Butteriss. We enjoyed being interrogated by PRIA SA Chair Adam Thomson while the audience clattered knives and forks over plates.

This year, I’m lucky that Jason Neave has me involved in the Battle of the Creatives, a session for Adelaide’s dynamic Young Marketers group which promises to be a bit of Spicks and Specks style fun, with Sputnick firing questions at two teams. Who’s Sputnick? He’s aka the Swashbuckler of course. Obviously.

Want to see me lose my mind on stage?

Or possibly, just possibly serve up some genius answers?

Then see the Marketing Week website and register quickly – there’s just a few places left. Thursday 25 August from 6pm!

Shazam is the shizzle .. and other Apps I like

Here’s a quick post on three of my favourite Apps, and what I’m using them for …

Shazam lets you ‘discover, buy and share’ what you’re listening to. In this age when a lot of radio announcers don’t back-announce the great song they just played, it can drive you nuts not knowing the song title or band.

But with Shazam, you can hold your phone near your stereo speakers and within seconds, it matches the song (where possible, which is most of the time) and gives you all the vital info. (I’ve even been able to pick up the song in a noisy pub).

You get a link to where you can buy it on iTunes and own that ditty forever. You can also share your new discovery on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. (It’s a minor irritation that you can’t add a comment. Sometimes I want to Shazam a song on Twitter to say that it stinks and I hate it, or add some otherwise worthy commentary).

So that’s all very straightforward. But what I’ll also use Shazam for, is to help me collate my votes for the @triplej Hottest 100. It’s an institution. Every Australia Day (26 January) @triplej counts down our favourite 100 songs of the previous year. I often find it hard to remember all my favourites for that entire 12 months (the most recent tend to flavour my vote). With Shazam, I’ll have access to the list of songs I dug during the year. Hey presto!

The other App I like is the much-maligned Instagram. (Maligned by professional photographers, photography enthusiasts and those affronted by some people’s excruciating sense of creativity which is often unleashed on Instagram).

Instagram describes itself as “a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures”

Le Fruitbowl, via iDarkoom
Le Fruitbowl, via iDarkoom.

You know how you can take pics on your smartphone? Well, Instagram makes it pretty. Or grungy. Or 70s. Whatever you like.

Then you can share your image on social networks and email – all the usual features you expect today.

iDarkroom is similar to Instagram. It essentially takes Instagram a step further by offering more creative options – more shade effects, colours and frames etc.

I love these photos Apps as they offer another way to communicate; but also they’re offering me more content options. Instead of searching Google Images or FlickR for the perfect copyright free or Creative Commons images, I can make my own.

It’s something I’ve only started doing recently in Prakkypedia. And you may hate it (I hope not). But if I can create my own images and stay out of trouble – why not?

What are some of your favourite Apps?

Who owns your social media account?

Recently I blogged about why your boss should allow you to use social media in the workplace. This has a lot of advantages (read my previous blog to find out why).

Who owns your social media account?
Who owns the keys to your Twitter account?

But what happens when your workplace not only allows you to use social media, but requests that you use it? Take this to the extreme and consider – who then owns your social media account?

This is a very important question, which I don’t believe has been debated enough. I’m seeing a growing number of Twitter profiles and blogs where an individual’s social media profile:

• References where they work
• Might include a link to their work website address or work’s Twitter handle
• Might even include the workplace name as part of their personal Twitter handle, for example @AndyAtStarbucks. This is okay. But it is probably not sustainable without a strategy and shared understanding between worker and boss.

They say today’s employee will have many jobs in their lifetime. So what happens when you leave one employer … and take your Twitter account with you?

Take for example the case of journalist Laura Kuenssberg, who amassed quite a Twitter following while working for the BBC. She had more than 58,000 followers – and used the handle BBC in her Twitter name – before leaving the national broadcaster and joining ITV.

What should she have done? Abandoned the ‘BBC’ Twitter profile and started another? Handed the BBC profile to her successor? Or rebrand, rename and start tweeting as an ITV journalist? Who was the owner of her account? There are good arguments for and against holding onto the Twitter account. It’s simply too difficult to tell whether people followed her because she was Laura Kuenssberg, or because she was a journalist with the BBC. There may have been many who followed for both reasons; not to mention family and friends.

The Online Journalism Blog captured some of the debate. And similar questions were raised here when high-profile Australian journalist Annabel Crabb moved from the Sydney Morning Herald to the ABC.

What can be done to avoid this situation? Well, if your employer asks you to tweet for work purposes and to weave the company name into your Twitter name, it’s probably time to write a contract! It could be extremely useful for the future, if you had a documented understanding of who owns the Twitter account.

If you can’t reach an understanding, the best option may be to tweet from a company name only and keep your personal Twitter handle entirely separate.

Of course, this also raises questions about the boundaries we have in our workplace. When we use social media many of us are losing some work/life balance. Our professional and personal spheres are colliding. (I’ll be writing about personal versus professional in an upcoming blog).

Have you been asked to tweet on behalf of your employer; post on Facebook; respond to a blog or take part in an online forum?

@2011census ticks all the right boxes

Once every five years, Australians fill out a census form.

But this is the first time I’ve been able to have fun with the Census, thanks to its Twitter account @2011Census

I’m not the first person to write about this fantastic example of government use of Twitter, and I probably won’t be the last. But I’ve just got to reflect on what a refreshing account it’s been!

For an account that has only tweeted just over 120 times, it’s getting a lot of attention indeed. People have been captivated by its pithy posts, retweeting them and discussing the account in general. Its social media presence has been described as a “Census with attitude”.

So why has it been so successful? It’s because @2011census ticks all the right boxes (pun intended):

  • Sticks to its core objective, and tweets about Census information and reminders
  • Sticks to a brand and talks about Census facts
  • Brings the Census to life by sharing facts in a colourful way
  • Really knows Australians, sharing jokes that resonate with our culture
Census Tweet
Census Tweet
Census Tweet
Census tweet
Census tweet

The ABC’s @triplej has been part of a campaign to encourage Australia’s youth to take part in the Census and Triple J shared some Census tweets on air today. The station is also supporting the fun #censusmas movement (trending over Twitter in Australia today).

I’d been wondering (and tweeting) about who was behind @2011Census and this was posted:

Census Tweet

@census2011 is another Twitter account – I wonder if that was an apathetic attempt to begin a fake account, OR a move to protect the brand? (But if it was a move to protect the brand, you’d think it would cross-reference or promote the @2011census brand).

The Twittercounter graph below documents the steady rise in popularity of the @2011census account.

Twitter counter, @2011census growth
Twitter counter, @2011census growth

So, we need to wait until 2016 for the next round of Census fun? (And by the way, it looks like @2016census has not been claimed yet). Of course, we may not be using Twitter by then. Skynet may have taken over.

Or – fingers crossed – perhaps @2011census will kick on and share the results and insights it gains from this latest round of paperwork?

Is this the best example of government tweeting you’ve seen? Can you think of any other good government Twitter accounts?

Fore.cast : more than another stalking machine

Yesterday I downloaded Forecast and it may be too early to blog about it – but I will anyway.

Forecast is a location-based social media app that describes itself as “a fun and simple way for friends to share where they’re going”.

Which of course is tricky if you don’t know where you’re going.

Fore.cast is in beta

That aside, it has some pros and cons which depend – like most social media – on how you use it. I would recommend you have a good think about its ramifications before you delve in.

When Foursquare emerged, people were concerned about its potential impact on their privacy and it was widely derided as being an aid to stalkers. In the early days of Foursquare, I wrote a blog outlining how it could be used without being creepy. (And of course, if you think you may have stalkers in your life, Foursquare or Forecast would be the last tools you’d sign up for).

Forecast too, would appear to be a little creepy. But first things first …

The Forecast app is elegant and easy to use.

It leverages Foursquare, so life’s a lot easier on Forecast if you’re already a Foursquare user. You can log in with your Foursquare details, quickly add Foursquare friends, and seamlessly send an email invite to others to try Forecast.

Forecast then asks you “Where are you going?” and your most popular Foursquare checkins are thoughtfully laid out in a list for you to choose from. (This is when you’re reminded, again, of what an open book you are).

It then asks “When will you be there?” (okay, starting to get creepier now).

Your friends can be alerted to your planned movements via push notifications. I recommend going to your settings and turning these notifications off, as they can be quite annoying. (If you are in fact a stalker, they are extremely useful).

You can opt out of all alert notifications, and select just a few notifications. For example, you can opt to only be notified or your best friends’ plans.

So how could one best use Forecast?

Here in South Australia, we have a lot of major events including day-long wine festivals that take in different wineries and cellar doors. Forecast would be a great tool here.

Say for example you’re going to a wine festival, you’ve got four or five favourite wineries on your list. You jump into a car with a few friends, but you know there are a lot of other pals at the festival too. You’ve probably scheduled your day, roughly. Your friends probably have too. Forecast can help you share your itinerary and try to catch up.

I could input into Forecast “I’ll be at Petaluma at 10am, Shaw + Smith at 12 noon, Hahndorf Hill at 3pm” and friends who would like to meet me at one of those wineries can pick the one that suits them.

Similarly, Forecast could be used to coordinate with your friends at music festivals, schoolies weekends and sporting events.

Of course, you can simply coordinate with your friends via texting or phone calls. But Forecast has the advantage of being a readily-available list that you can refer back to. You can also add comments to people’s forecasts and of course, there are the notifications that can be pinged to your phone, so friends that change their plans can notify you easily.

Forecast is still in Beta. I don’t think it’s a tool I’ll be using daily, but for special occasions like day trips with lots of socialising, it’ll be a very handy app indeed.

Do you think you’ll be using Forecast?

Why bosses shouldn’t ban social media

Are you ‘allowed’ to use social media during working hours?

Does your boss frown down on Facebook or tantrum over tweeting?

It’s an interesting issue in this so-called social media age, when many of us have smartphones in our backpocket or sit in front of a computer screen for much of the day, with our networks constantly beckoning us to check in, update and participate.

More and more workplaces are introducing social media policies – which range from banning social media use and threatening dismissal, through to encouraging staff to use social media and providing hints and tips.

There are plenty of blogs on this topic written by lawyers and HR specialists. But in this blog post, I want to pose some questions about what happens when we frighten staff away from social media, because frankly, one day those employers may be sorry!

Why would your boss be sorry they blocked social media?

  1. People are already talking about you / your boss / your boss’s business online. If you’re hooked into social media, there are more chances for you to know that – and to respond.
  2. One day your boss will want social media nouse within the organisation, it’s just a matter of when. The more staff are across the channel, the better.
  3. These days, issues and crises can arise online. And where should you respond? Online of course. Yet if your employer doesn’t have any online accounts (or they are small or inactive accounts), it can be mighty difficult. This is where employers are often relieved to find staff who do have a large digital footprint, who can help spread their message. (Yet how will staff react, when social media has been frowned upon for so long?)
  4. There are often causes or competitions online which offer rewards for organisations or businesses.  But in order to reap those rewards, you need to garner online support. Charities do quite  a lot of this via Twitter, for example, by asking followers to support or retweet them. They can seed this activity via staff who are active on social media. If you’ve banned your staff from using social media…? Well, you get the picture.
  5. One day your boss may ask how much Klout (or equivalent) you have. Because they may need that Klout for a new online campaign. If you have an impressive Klout however, you may be so disgruntled at your boss’s lack of previous support, that you’re unwilling to lend it to the organisation.
Klout - one day your boss might want some
Klout - one day your boss might want some

This might sound simplistic or naïve, but I’ve seen this happening already. Employers suddenly find they’re “ready for social media” but their past attitude means an awkward and significant culture shift within their workplace. In addition, they have a limited in-house social media skills to call upon.

Social media networks take time to build. Social media etiquette  – particularly for different online communities – takes time to absorb. The earlier you start, the better. And there’s no better place to begin than allowing your employees to participate.

Of course, this participation needs to be within reason. Your employers don’t need to watch YouTube videos all day or read every Facebook post in their news stream. However, unblocking social media sites and allowing staff to periodically check into social media sites can be a worthwhile investment. It’s also another way to reward, respect and motivate your staff.

Are you allowed to use social media sites during working hours?

Further reading
Digital natives will change old school workplaces

My next blog post: Who owns your social media profile?

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