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August 4, 2009

Don’t Ask and Don’t Tell Facebook

The military is trying to devise policies to govern how our service people use social networking sites, according to a story by Julian Barnes in the LA Times. The article implies the Pentagon accepts that military folks are going to use these sites, and there may even be some good that will come from it, but the military is concerned about security. At the moment, the Marines have banned accessing Facebook, MySpace and Twitter from government computers, to make sure there’s bandwidth for more pressing military needs.

Not that anyone asked, but it seems to me that the military would do best by treating social networking sites simply as another place service people will be gathering, just like in coffee shops, living rooms, and bars, and should therefore be training them in the use of social networking sites, with clear penalties for violating security guidelines. Which may be exactly what the military policy is heading toward.

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June 11, 2009

[newmedia] Measuring social media’s effects

NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-emphasizing small matters. Paraphrasing badly. Not running a spellpchecker. Mangling other people’s ideas and words. You are warned, people.

Q: How do you define social media at Whirlpool?
Brian Synder: It has to be defined separately for each area, and we tie it back to business objectives. We track share of voice and favorability. On customer service, we do interesting text mining.
Lee Aase (Mayo Clinic): We use the free tools that are available. “The need for measurement varies inversely with the amount of money you spend on it.” We use the measurement tools to prove the value of what we’re doing.

Q: Your biggest challenge?
Marcel Lebrun (Radian6): We only measure if there’s a practical purpose. Social media are now multi-purpose. We use social media for every possible purpose. So, it’s disrupting everything in the enterprise that has to do with reaching out to customers. But those different practices have different business goals and thus different needs for measurement.

Q: Where it’s going?
Marcel: In the past six months, we’ve gone from explaining what social media is, to businesses understanding that their brand is the sum of all the conversations about it.

[Missed some. Sorry]

Q: How do you measure influencers for a brand?
Marcel: We integrate a bunch of digital breadcrumbs and social metrics. We measure things like how often a person talks about a subject, how much comments, how many unique comments, inbound links, which ones of those are also talking about that topic. Influence is very topic-centric. You sometimes want to see total reach, and sometimes you just want to find the topic geeks.

Q: How do you determine sentiment?
Brian: Synergy1 has humans reading the posts. The Tensity program automates this.
Lee: We eyeball it. And we’re looking for the really positive ones so we can spread the word and engage.
Brian: We look to engage by actually talking about product issues. E.g., an unhappy customer was tweeting about a product arriving damaged three times. We talked with him and redesigned the packaging based on his suggestions. We’ve taught some of our customer care phone folks how to engage via social media.
Marcel: The bulk of brands are at the listen stage. But Dell has a full blogger outreach team, focused on different kinds of users. The measure quantitatively and qualitatively (e.g., stories).

Marcel: The fastest way to get a new feature into a product is to tweet it. The developers get excited. They like being in touch.

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June 10, 2009

[newmedia] Mike Slaby on Obama’s use of social media

NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-emphasizing small matters. Paraphrasing badly. Not running a spellpchecker. Mangling other people’s ideas and words. You are warned, people.

At the Edelman-sponsored NewMedia conference, a panel is beginning on “advancing reputation,” with Mike Slaby (CTO of Obama for America), Debbie Curtis-Magley (UPS), and David Liu (AOL). Premise: Companies can now advance their reputations through the channels they choose, without going through media distributors.

Mike (Obama): A lot of success came from Obama’s skills as a candidate. There was a movement, and our job in the new media departent was how to get the candidate in front of people more. Going into these spaces, you are an equal member with everyone else. It’s not broadcasting. If you tread on people’s space, you’ll piss them off. It’s hard for companies to find a persona and a personality for talking online, but it’s easy with a political campaign because you have a candidate. You have to have one set of values and one story, and you need to talk in the language of your audience. If you’re going to use Twitter, you have to have people in your organization who know how to tweet. And you have to trust your people and the people you’re talking about. We only filtered out comments that were truly, truly offensive. Sean Hannity came after us because someone at our social network made it look like the Black Panthers endorsed Obama on our social networking site, so we set up a profile for Hannity to show him that this was an open space.

We gave out our logos and let people make their own sites. There was an art exhibit of what people made out of this, called “Officially Unofficial.” Some of it I wish hadn’t been made, but so what? It made people feel that the campaign was theirs. This makes marketing people uncomfortable if they’re used to managing messages. You should give up control. It worked for us.

But social media works for politics only if it gets people out into the real world to vote. You have to convert your users into donors, volunteers, and voters. About 30% of our email was doing something in the real world … I’m proud of that.

He adds: Not every business should have a facebook page; it depends on what you’re trying to do.

Also: There are no switching costs online, which is a reason not to build your own social networking site. We had a multi-million person base ready to go, but that may never happen again in politics, and it probably never happens in business.

Q: Why did the campaign refer to Obama as Barack? Wasn’t that too informal?
A: People want an emotional connection. They want to know his story. We needed to talk about him as a person. But now I never refer to him as that. He’s president.

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June 8, 2009

Social media are jazz

Jeneane’s got a great post for businesses that think they’re playing well in the social media sandbox. She asks: You’re playing, but are you playing jazz?

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