Corporate communications + Public Relations Adelaide



The Age of Measurement

Has there ever been an age where we’ve been so publicly measured?

As social media becomes embedded in our lives, there’s a growing number of tools available to measure our online performance, to assign us a grade, a rating or a name.

Seriously. It’s getting beyond a joke.

As a social media professional, I want and need analytics as much as the next social media consultant.

But the burgeoning number of tools that will show me how I’m tracking personally online – and which will serve me up some handy recommendations – is frankly making my head spin.

On any given morning, I can check how my profiles are faring online using Crowdbooster, TwentyFeet, Klout, PeerIndex, TwitterCounter and more recently SproutSocial. I can check out my WordPress site stats, Facebook Page Insights, YouTube channel views, GooglePlus pluses, Instagram likes, bitly link results and Google Analytics.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

As I said, I need to measure my results and those of my clients. It’s part of my job and I’m damn appreciative of the measurement tools at hand, particularly when they’re free.

How does your online performance stack up?
How does your online performance stack up?

But that shouldn’t stop us all from considering when ‘enough is enough’ and if there is in fact an insidious side to this that has an impact on us as human beings.

When I take a break from Twitter for example – when I’m more quiet than usual because I’m on a freaking holiday (something social media consultants should never do, right?) – I know there’s  a good chance my Klout score will dip, as will my PeerIndex listings. I may even lose a few Twitter followers. I’m punished for being offline.

Once upon a time I was addicted to Guitar Hero on Wii. Periodically, it would display a message gently suggesting it was time for me to take a break. There was a timer built in, to assess how long I’d been relentlessly playing, and I assume for occupational health and safety reasons, the Wii would kindly remind me of the outside world.

But social media dashboards don’t do that.

They’re invested in an endless spiral of pushing you to tweet, post and blog more and more and more.  Measurement dashboards like Crowdbooster and Klout provide advice about how to drive your score higher. And you can bet this revolves around posting more often, and posting content that’s “more engaging”.

Of course, we’ll all react differently when using these dashboards. Some of us will take it with a pinch of salt, other more sensitive souls will be saddened when they lose followers or nobody reads their blog. I have seen people sharing tweets of alarm when their Klout falls. But if we’re mature enough – and social savvy – we’ll recognise that our digital scores rise and fall according to our activity and think nothing of it.

I just hope that impressionable people, and perhaps especially younger people, don’t begin using these dashboards and think that these tools are a measure of their self worth …

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?

Twitter has delivered for ‘traditional’ journalism

There’s been a lot of talk about what Twitter and other social media platforms can do for politicians –  especially in Australia where the federal election will be held tomorrow.

Stephen Collins pointed out (quite rightly) that “the average punter is still relying on the tabloids, commercial radio and mainstream evening news and current affairs for their political information”. News Limited said (probably with relief) that “it was touted as the Twitter election, but two-and-a-half weeks in it has become clear the new media is far from usurping the mainstream outlets for the political parties.”

Even more analysis was given to politician’s use of social media, particularly Twitter, where not surprisingly MPs were given a resounding #fail.

But what about the so-called “traditional media”? What has social media done for the press pack following the election campaign?

During this election period, journalists have taken to Twitter like a toddler discovering their first lollipop. They’ve been using the power of the platform to quickly share election campaign insights – everything from doorstop announcements through to behind-the-scenes fun on the tour bus (remember Latika Bourke’s great piece on John Faulkner’s discovery of Twitter? )

Twitter: addictive qualities for media, too.
Twitter: addictive qualities for media, too.

The election was called on 17 July but speculation started weeks before when Julia Gillard became the Prime Minister.  On that day – 24 June – the Twitter follow numbers for key media tweeters jumped dramatically. Tweet accounts for @abcthedrum @samanthamaiden @annabelcrabb @latikambourke and @laurieoakes all began to rocket on that day. Previously, their numbers were quite static.

Twitter ‘quality assessment’ tools like Klout provide more insights.

Annabel Crabb has a good Klout score of 41,  and Latika Bourke has a whopping 67. Both are called ‘personas’ that have built a brand around their identity. Laurie Oakes a more modest Klout of 22, though he’s been categorised as a ‘broadcaster’ (very apt). Klout tells Laurie: “You broadcast great content that spreads like wildfire. You are an essential information source in your industry. You have a large and diverse audience that values your content.”

(I’d love to know how much traffic the Twitter account @abcthedrum drives to the Drum website. Anyone got any insights?).

Social media has helped Australian political journalists to build their own personal profiles and also the profiles of their media outlets. They’ve been able to tweet links to their articles and position themselves as the people to follow for news updates. Isn’t that the ideal position for a journalist to be in?

So rather than take a combative approach to social media, the journalists who “get it” are leveraging digital channels and benefitting from social media – in a way that’s still elusive for most politicians.

Have you been following more media Twitter accounts? Are you following #ausvotes? Tell me about your experience …

Confessions of a Twitterholic

At a recent Socadl Tweetup*, a few late-stayers cosied up around one table.

There was silence for a moment. So of course I tried to fill the silence. I piped up: “Hi, I’m Prakky, and I’m a Twitterholic”.

Michelle Prak, Twitterholic
"Is this the face of a Twitterholic?"

 Everyone laughed. I don’t know why – it was true. (I suspect that a few might have laughed because they’re Twitterholics too, while at least one laughed nervously, perhaps thinking: “Shit, I knew I shouldn’t have come to one of these #socadl tweetups!)

Now, I’m not sure of all the steps you take when you attend Alcoholics Anonymous, but from what I’ve seen in Hollywood movies, ‘fessing up and outlining your addiction stories are mandatory. So here goes with some Twitterholic confessions:

  • I do sometimes tweet while walking down the street.
  • I do stop walking in the street, letting people bump into me, while I tweet.
  • I have tweeted while laying down in bed.
  • I have woken in the morning and checked Twitter before I get up.
  • When I owned a Nokia E71, I got sore thumbs from tweeting.
  • I have accidentally retweeted myself.
  • I have bumped into my own scheduled tweets in cyberspace.
  • I have checked my Klout, my Twellow score, Twitrank and many other ways of fruitlessly assessing my ‘worth’ in the Twitterverse.
  • I have unfollowed an annoying person on Twitter. Then checked their tweets to see if they bitched about me.
  • I have tweeted during a favourite TV show and missed ‘a good part’.
  • I have wished somebody would shut up so I could check my tweets.

These are just a few random Twitterholic symptoms. Do you recognise any? What have you found yourself doing with Twitter?

* Socadl stands for ‘Social Adelaide’ and denotes a group of social media enthusiasts who often get together in Adelaide, South Australia, for tweetups face to face, and lots of learning and sharing online. Follow @socadl on Twitter.

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