Archives for category: Twitter

As we approach the 10th anniversary of 9/11 two things struck me – 1. How would it have been different if social media had been around? 2. I still was carrying a lot of emotion when it came to 9/11.

Everyone has a story of where they were when 9/11 happened. It didn’t matter if you lived in Manhattan or Des Moines, Iowa, your world suddenly stopped that day. I had just moved back from New York City to my hometown of Chicago a month before it happened. I did know people who lost loved ones from 9/11 and I did feel a sense of guilt for leaving the city behind.

I found out about the attacks when my father called me at work. He had been home watching the news and called when the first tower was struck. I kind of brushed him off because I was busy and had no idea the impact of what he was talking about. He called back when the attacks continued and I began to worry because his voice was wobbling. After all dads don’t cry often. At least my Dad doesn’t. I remember hanging up the phone and watching the office file one by one into the conference room where there was a TV. We were all watching in horror before they made the announcement to evacuate the building. There was a mad rush as we tried to get away from the tall skyscrapers of downtown to the train station. It was the longest elevator ride down 21 floors I had ever experienced.

Once home, I remember trying to call my friends back in New York and not being able to get through to any of them. All the phone lines were tied up and at the time texting never crossed my mind. It was a helpless feeling to not be able to connect.

Fast forward 10 years, and I truly believe that if I received the same call from my father today, Twitter would have been one of the first places I checked for news and Facebook the first place to check on my friends. Imagine going through half your phone list calling them  one-by-one versus scanning a newsfeed and knowing instantly. Sure Facebook could feel less personal then a phone call but at that time it wasn’t about being personal it was just about knowing he or she was alive.

We’ve seen how people have used social media to connect over and over when disaster strikes from cleaning up cities post riot in London to posting a lost and found on Facebook after tornadoes struck the South. Social has allowed us to organize quickly, connect no matter what the distance and “see” the disaster firsthand through the tweets, posts and pictures of those on the ground.

Part of me is glad social wasn’t around when 9/11 hit because it was so horrific. Part of me wish it had existed so I could have received more answers more quickly.  Either way I’m taking time to deal with some emotions (to feel, not wallow) on Sunday and to be grateful for all the good that has happened these last ten years.

How do you think 9/11 would have been different if social media was around?


As social evolves, businesses and organizations are becoming more savvy on how they use social to reach goals. Here are two ways to use Twitter to get new business:

The Passive Approach: Position yourself as an expert to get referrals. Follow others in your field, create an industry specific list, tweet from conferences, share news articles on relevant topics. Be the expert of whatever it is that you’re passionate about. It’s important to try to be specific about your expertise, so you can make yourself easy to find. If you’re a lawyer  don’t just talk about law in general but make your Twitter handle reflect the type of law you practice and the industry you focus on.

The Aggressive Approach: Go find your customer.The search function is highly underused by most companies in their Twitter strategy. Not that you want to cyberstalk people by any means, but it would be nice to find your customer and let them know you are out there.

If you are a restaurant with a focus on healthy, low-cal, fresh food , search for people in your area who are tweeting about exercising, use the term “fit” or perhaps even “diet.”  Reach out to them by following with the hopes you’ll peak their interest and get a follow back. It’s not about spamming someone, it’s about delivering content to someone who has similar interests and has given you permission to share in those interests via a follow.

What other ways have you seen Twitter used to gain business?

While pitching new business I’ve realized that people have very different perceptions when it comes to social. I’m sure people had these same questions when PR first came into play and perhaps even advertising. The age-old “do we have to do that? I think we can make do with what we’ve always done”   will always be some people’s attitudes.

But social media is at a place and time where it is now at least being talked about, thought about, shunned by some and embraced by others. Here are three different attitudes toward social and my suggestions for approaching them whether it is new business or upper management.

There are the believers. They’ve seen how social media can build loyalty, handle customer service issues and transform relationships. They understand that social media is most powerful when it works hand in hand with traditional efforts. They don’t feel threatened, they embrace it and dive into the data.

Advice: For these folks, make sure they set realistic, measurable goals tied to business sales that can make other non-believers in the company understand.

There are those who are still on the fence. Okay, so this is more than a fad, but I’m not sure it really does anything for my bottom line. Seems like a bunch of people wasting time on-line.

Advice: Show them what people are saying about their brands online. Explain how the word of mouth newsfeed works. Too often we assume people know and understand the impact of a brand/business mention on social.

And there are the anti-social. I’m not saying they are hermits, I’m just saying you won’t find them using a hashtag anytime in the near future.

Advice: Do what you can to get them on social media. Without getting your hands dirty, social is a hard thing to wrap your head around no matter how many presentations you sit through. There is a a-ha moment that happens somewhere between a poke on Facebook and claiming a deal on Foursquare.

Any other advice you’d like to share?

I’ll never forget my first manager, Virginia. As a junior PR person, she would take me in her office and make me role-play various media pitches via a fake telephone conversation. There was something humiliating about it. Not to mention it didn’t work.  Still I had to make my way down a long phone list, bugging reporters when they were probably busy writing.

So one day, unbeknown to Virginia,  I ditched the phone for email pitches instead. Wouldn’t you know it, the responses started coming in. I was reaching reporters in a way that they wanted to be reached, on their time. Fast forward ten years and as a PR professional, frustrated with Vocus’ database tool, I decided to use social to research contacts as well as reach out to contacts.

Much like email in 2000, I found that social was a better tool for getting the job done. Here’s why:

  • Social often gives a fuller picture of the journalist. On LinkedIn you can see what jobs they’ve had in the past and where their interests may be. On Twitter you can read their mini bio, often much more reflective of their personality than anything you’d find on the newspaper website. You can also see what topics they’ve been tweeting about – what’s been pressing on their mind.
  • Social also gives you permission to jump into a conversation in a natural way. You can comment on things via Facebook or Twitter that may have nothing to do with your clients, but is more about relationship building.

From a journalist’s perspective social can be a really useful tool as well.

  • Social is great for finding sources.  I recently tweeted about my undying devotion to the Flip camera, and a journalist from the Associated Press found it, set up an interview and the next day my quote was in 100+ papers across the world. Pretty cool. Social allowed the reporter to cut out the middle man in terms of finding a source. As PR professionals, a.k.a professional middlemen, that’s something to think about.
  • Social is good for identifying what people are buzzing about.  It makes sense that a journalist would want to write about a topic that’s important to his/her readers. Again, Twitter is great as it lists Trending Topics. You can also see which topics are popular by looking at social share buttons on a blog or other sites. If a topic has been retweeted or shared on Facebook quite a few times, the public has essentially raised their hands and said they are interested.

As communication tools change so do the way communication professionals interact with one another, and that’s a good thing. I’m pleased to say my days of role-playing and mile long phone lists are long gone. Of course they’ve now been replaced by @’s, hashtags and likes….I wonder what will be next.

I feel for the social media agency rep who was fired by Chrysler this month for writing disparaging remarks about Detroit. That rep not only lost his job but his error was smeared across the traditional news.  Gilbert Gottfried also caught heat this month when he made jokes about Japan. While wrong, he is a comedian and comedians tend to push the line on current events and topics we don’t talk about. It’s kind of what they do. So when Aflac axed him, his Twitter jokes had cost him a pretty penny I’m sure. (I had no idea he was their spokesperson in the first place).

So what can you do to make sure you don’t end up with a Tweet mishap? Here are a few tips:

1. Put your client/work Twitter handle on a separate app then your personal Twitter account. With so many Twitter apps out there, you have plenty of options and you can make sure you don’t have the wrong account selected before you tweet. It’s actually quite easy to do, especially on mobile.

2. Know who is handling your account. I’ve heard too many people say: “We’ll just give this duty to an intern.” Would you let an intern produce your TV ad?  How about design your point of sale? Twitter, or any social media for that matter, can reach large amounts of people quickly, and traditional media seems to love to highlight social mishaps which translates into more bad press.

3. Check out your spokesperson before you sign them up. Twitter allows us a sneak peek into celebrities lives more than ever. Follow them for a bit and see what types of things they post before you engage with them in an offline deal. If you don’t like what they say before you sign the contract you probably won’t like it after.

Final words of advice – be kind. We’re all human and I guarantee we’re all going to have a social blunder somewhere along the way. You know just like how we all have our email nightmare stories – replying to all, copying the wrong person, etc.  When it happens take the necessary steps but try to be gentle.

Any other tips?

Call him crazy, call him a fad, but Charlie Sheen has been able to leverage social media to stick it to the man. Social has done two things for Charlie – 1. It has provided him a platform to tell his story after the traditional news segment has ended, and 2. It has  created new news for Charlie so he can continue to get airtime (ie) his record Twitter follower success – 1 million followers in 24 hours.

Ten years ago it is quite possible that Charlie Sheen would have had his story played out over a few days and we would have moved on to another celebrity tragedy, but in today’s world where social media gives a platform for anyone to have a voice, Charlie is stretching his rant and raves out as long as possible. Who knows…Sheen’s Corner on UStream may end up getting just as many views as Two and a Half Men one day. Perhaps it already has.

The Sheen ordeal is an important reminder that Social Media is a powerful tool which allows you to tell your story in your own words to an enormous number of people.   As marketers, you may never have a chance to grab the spotlight in the exact same way Sheen is doing so now, but there are lessons to be learned.

1. Content is king. Be interesting, slightly unpredictable, creative and fun. #tigerblood

2. Seize the moment. If there’s a time when large amounts of people are talking or thinking about your brand, jump in on it and have a voice. It is better to lead the conversation then let others talk about you behind your back.

3. When traditional media puts up a wall – you can’t get a reporter to call back, or you’ve tapped out all your appearances, interview ops -look to social to create new news or to start your own “news” channel.

4. Try to get traditional and social media to work together to really amplify your message.  (ie) CNN promotes your Twitter handle, and you promote your CNN apperance on Twitter.

Who knows how this will end for Charlie.  Good or bad, thanks to social media and the lack of a PR person, he’s going out guns blazing, and something tells me people kind of respect him for it.

Twitter takes time. While running a client’s handle I’ve found myself neglecting my own, yes, I’m on the brink of becoming a Lurker, and that led me to think about the wide range of engagement on Twitter.  

The Lurker: You can usually spot this one as they have an egg-shaped profile pic, no bio and usually under 10 tweets. There are a lot of Lurkers on Twitter. Lurkers can be valuable to some though because they are often there to listen.

Lazy Man’s Twitter: You can spot this one a mile away. They have tied their Facebook account to their Twitter, they tend to only pump out their messages and rarely retweet or respond to anyone. Twitter has basically become their firehose. I’d take a Lurker over a Lazy Man any day. These types of Twitterers probably won’t do you much good because they aren’t in it to be an active participant in the Twittersphere, they are really in it for themselves.

Actively Engaged: This person is following others and being followed. They share relevant links, retweet others and reach out. In other words they play nicely on Twitter. These are gems. Follow them and interact with them. These folks can potentially help you spread your message, if it is one worth sharing, and raise awareness about you with their own followers.

Overly Engaged: These tweeters may appear way too often in your stream of tweets. You can probably recognize these people as the ones you contemplate unfollowing at least once a week. Their heart is in the right place, but they just don’t know when to stop. Perhaps they’re suffering from a bit of loneliness in the offline world? While irritating at times, these tweeters live to tweet and will most likely engage with you and provide an enlightening nugget from time to time. One out of every 100 tweets has got to be somewhat good right?

Did I miss a bucket? More importantly where do you see yourself along this engagement spectrum?