Mind Your Manners by Claire Wallace

There is a problem in society today. An epidemic of epic proportions. It’s time that someone say something about it.

I’m, of course, talking about the fact that we are too connected. Now, at face value, that comment might sound absurd coming from a social media manager such as myself, but hear me out. We are a too connected society. Let me illustrate my claim to you to put it in perspective. Last week, I caught up with a coworker over lunch. We hadn’t physically seen each other in almost a month, although we do catch up on email and instant message more often. It was still nice to physically be in one another’s presence, even for the short hour that we had together. Unbeknownst to my colleague, I started doing an informal observation of her. Specifically, about the number of times she would look at her phone. I counted–no exaggerating here–10 times. In one hour! She even did it while I was in mid-sentence, responding to a question she had asked me!

A friend of mine who has recently departed New York City was one of the worst offenders to be around. We would be in mid-conversation when out would pop the phone. And at those moments I trained myself simply to stop talking. Because it didn’t matter what would come out of my mouth next (“You’re right, I do think that you should buy those pair of jeans,” “I can’t believe that she would ever say something so horrible,” “I think our friendship is dead because you care more about your phone than listening to me”) he simply would not hear it. He was too engaged with whatever message or app sprung to his attention at that moment. And like Dug (the “talking” dog from UP who was keenly aware of squirrels in the nearby vicinity), my friend’s attention would be instantly diverted into the digital world at a moment’s notice. Sometimes having episodes last past the somewhat acceptable 15-30 second range, to well within the unacceptably rude 2 minute-or-longer range.

And then there’s my loving partner. At the end of a long day, after dinner is finished, the kitchen cleaned, the shows watched, and the teeth brushed, what does he like to do. Check Facebook. And check Facebook. And then check Facebook some more. I can be talking to him about our plans for the weekend, my thoughts for dinner tomorrow, even sharing some love and attention his way. Once that app is opened, I might as well be talking to a fence post. I resign myself to ending our conversation time, and picking up a magazine off of the bedside table and begin focusing my own attention elsewhere. But then, he tries to bring me into his world by sharing aloud the more humorous updates he’s come across. Even playing some videos at full volume so that I have no choice but to put down my recently picked up magazine to participate in his digital time.

Are we fooling ourselves by thinking we are good at multi-tasking? Can we truly pay attention to two conversations happening at once? I know I certainly can’t. But it goes beyond the “ability” to (or not to) multi-task. It goes deeper into the heart of humanity. We as humans are programmed to enjoy and long for connections with other human beings. But now with the advent of the digital age, those connections can be instantaneous, with someone hundreds of miles away, and with multiple people at the same time. All of which are great technological achievements. But just because we CAN connect with anyone at any time, does that mean that we SHOULD? My answer is not at the expense of actual face-to-face interactions.

I have a strict “no phone checking” policy when I’m physically engaged with another human being. Sure, I’ll pull out my device to share a funny video, or my latest Tumblr posting, take a group selfie, heck even to jot down something interesting my friend shared that I just know I’ll have no chance of remembering on my own. But Facebook, Twitter, texting… my digital social world can wait. I want my actual social time to be uninterrupted by my digital social time. If it was so important for us to be together and present in one another’s company, then I should honor that time. Not continuously make plans with other people while in the middle of an important (or even an unimportant) conversation. It’s common courtesy. I would have loved for Emily Post to have lived in our time. This digital world could use some lessons in etiquette.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Ann Douglas

Friendship Statue ~ Kiev

While news articles favor a tragic spin on a story (see: the dying role of the social media manager) I prefer to think of the unexplored angle that this news brings. As more and more companies are shifting the responsibility of social media from community managers to all of its employees, there is tremendous opportunity afoot.

For starters, those of us in the social media manager role have been working on our own, or in small teams, focused on figuring out social, and making it work for our companies. And we have certainly done our best, although we still sit in a bubble, for the most part. Kept separate from the business and sometimes, separate from our marketing department.

Certainly, this separation isn’t always intentional, but as people have been selected for or hired for the role of social media manager, there has been a label attached to them. “Send it over to John. He does social media.” “Ask Janet, she’s the Twitter guru.” And, while flattering, being given all the responsibility for managing the company’s voice is a huge responsibility. One that we don’t take lightly, but one that we can’t do alone.

Well, we can do it, but do we really want to?

Trying to develop a content calendar, listening to what others are saying about us, and managing and engaging conversations in a way that nurtures leads is quite a plate-full for any one person. The truth is, we need help. And often. Social media is a daily, even minute-ly job that requires constant focus. And while some people think that we are just sitting around dreaming up hashtags all day long, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Our burgeoning plates are overflowing with tasks. This is why we need help. We need our other employees to work with us to make our impact on social media strong and meaningful. We need marketing to share content with us, develop on-message information that is social-appropriate. We need sales to help us identify appropriate leads an nurture them all the way to clients and customers. We need our colleagues to promote our channels and content. They are the mouthpieces that can help our message reach audiences and funnel followers to our corporate channels.

And we are ready to help! Since stepping into our roles, we have been informing our peers about the vital role that they need to play in our overarching social strategy. We have offered to give them training, provided high-level and detailed information to help them “get” social. Now, we need them to mobilize. To take charge of social media. And make the impact resonate even further. Our employees are some of our greatest assets and our biggest proponents. But instead of cannibalizing our jobs, they are stepping up to be our partners. It’s now in their job description. We’re all in this together.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Matt. Create.

Powerless

Last week I discovered a article on CNN that used recent research on jobs to predict the death of the social media manager. Being that this is my current role, I was immediately drawn in to learn more.

Because of the nature if social media, and its influence to effect all parts of our lives–both in our personal and our professional lives–social media is becoming everyone’s job. But that’s not good news for social media managers. Or is it?

The job market may reflect the fact that jobs titled “social media manager” may be declining, but that doesn’t mean that their job is becoming any less important. Quite the contrary. With the charge that “social is everyone’s job” these managers now have an entirely new cohort to help manage. Namely, all these new employees that are being empowered by social.

Social media managers haven’t been living in a delusional world. They understand that every human being that chooses to participate in social, can, and probably should. The fact remains that up until recently, only a few people (those currently in the roles today) had enough experience and know how to actually run social media. They are the pioneers. The ones who took the risk and saw the potential that social media offered when their counterparts were still afraid to to take the leap.

So we have all been placed upon metaphorical pillars, tasked with “figuring social out for our companies” and, in a lot of instances, to do so in our own personal silos, and sometimes, on our own.

But in the back of our minds, we knew this wasn’t how social media should operate. Especially if it was to be successful in the business world. One person can’t be the sole voice of a company, nor should they be. So we have worked diligently to help our counterparts become comfortable with social, understand engagement activity, and get a grasp on measuring the return on social (or, to be blunt, proving why we should have our jobs in the first place). And the more we talked, and shared about how successful we have been, our colleagues became curious. And the very thing they had been avoiding all this time was now a new frontier that everyone started viewing as the promised land that me and my counterparts had realized years ago. Our evangelizing of social now appears to have become our downfall.

Or has it? True, more and more employees are being charged with taking on social as part of their everyday roles an responsibilities. Yet, for most, a skills gap still exists. It’s the age old adage, “they know enough to be dangerous” that now is keeping social media managers up at night.

We’ve spent our brief careers understanding the psychology of how our customers, clients, and influencers are talking about and interacting with our companies and our brands. (Arguably, we’re still figuring it out!) Now, we have another group to understand: our fellow employees. With this new power that they have been entrusted with, will they make the right choices on social? Will they share thoughts and comments that are in line with our brand positioning? What’s going to happen when a social media gaffe happens now that we have an increased number of public relations spokespeople?

Until companies can close the social skills gap, put processes in place to address these questions, and, quite frankly, trust their employees the way they trust their social media managers, our jobs will still be important. I think a more appropriate headline would be “the transformation of the social media manager.” It definitely has a better spin to it. At least that’s my messaging to my boss!

Image courtesy of Flickr, Daniele Zedda

failure

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” By now, 10th grade literature has come full circle, and we’ve all undoubtedly heard the immortal words of Charles Dickens. Certainly within Marketing, we’ve all heard these words and believe they ring true. Especially the last half of that sentence. It’s hard not to focus on “the worst of times” when budgets for marketing seem to be shrinking every time we turn around. And even worse when our workloads continue to increase as our colleagues abandon us for other opportunities (or worse, because of being severed).

But this week, I attended the Brand Innovators BtoB Summit in New York and was reminded of the numerous reasons why it really is “the best of times” for marketing. Especially in light of the digital revolution that has fundamentally changed the way that the buying (and selling) process takes shape. Jonathan Becher, CMO of SAP, delivered a riveting keynote at the conference that helped frame this golden age of marketing. He reminded us that this famous Dickens’ quote did not end with the statement above. The next portion of the opening paragraph of A Tale of Two Cities is “it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.”

When put in the context of marketing, certainly we can draw comparisons to both ages (although, with the numerous social media gaffes out there today, we’re much more inclined to think of it as the age of foolishness). But first, let’s talk about the age of wisdom. Never before since the advent of marketing have we had the amounts of data and the tools to analyze such data to make appropriate business decisions, all at our fingertips. Crispin Sheridan, Global Enterprise Search and Testing Lead at SAP, shared a captivating presentation all about the testing model that he has helped implement, looking at engagement and interaction from test audiences which has helped shape their website and the specific calls-to-action (CTAs) that they are currently implementing. By harnessing this knowledge, they company has seen improvements in all engagement metrics (time spent on site, click throughs to additional pages, downloads of thought leadership, and even an increase in qualified leads coming from the site). But the important takeaway here is to ask, “are you measuring the right things?” Metrics like impressions, Retweets, and even followers aren’t always the things that matter. But by first starting with the mindset of “what do I want the outcome to be?” the appropriate KPIs that you should measure will become cleare.

But with so many new channels, mediums, and tools cropping up almost daily, certainly this could also be an age of foolishness. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As the rules for marketing change, so does everything else, including culture. A marketing culture that is afraid to take risks (and maybe even fall on their face) is not a culture of innovation. Because there are no rules (or at least, not that many) for these new frontiers yet, this is the perfect incubator to try out new things and find out what works and what doesn’t. Diesel has a great ad campaign running called Be Stupid. And while the messaging might not resonate with all audiences (although, it most definitely resonates with THEIR target audience), the underlying message certainly does: Nobody accomplishes anything without being a little stupid. Being stupid is being brave. Stupid isn’t afraid to fail. That is a message that Becher summed up nicely with his little catch phrase, “Failure is the new black.”

While the debate continues on what the future holds for marketing and for the CMO, certainly there is abundance of opportunity out there, if we are willing to seize it. By taking the vast amount of available knowledge and applying it to business decisions, we are certain to bring the voice of the market to the business. And by being foolish every once in a while, our own risks might even be rewarded. Or not. But the important thing is that we try. Thomas Edison sums it up nicely, “I didn’t fail. I just found 2,000 ways not to make a lightbulb; I only needed to find one way to make it work.”

Image courtesy of Flickr, Beat Küng

Turn For Clearer View
By now you’ve got the hang of your timeline and searching for people. But are you looking to get more out of Twitter? Try discovering your Discover Tab.

How does it work?

Based on your current location, what you follow and what’s happening in the world, Twitter dishes up breaking news that’s made just for you. To get even more out of your Twitter experience, start by clicking over to the Discover Tab now and let’s walk through all Discover has to offer you.

Tweets

I frequently check out Tweets for all the most interesting news stories and current events that are custom tailored. Each one is handpicked and based on the connections that you already have in Twitter. You can see what content is the most popular and the most being shared in my network. Tweets also includes to top trending content based on recent popularity as well as your connections, location and language.

Activity

Find out what your connections are up to. See the new people that your followers are following, Tweets they are favoriting and retweeting. Activity also shows when your connections start curating lists, and who they’re adding. Activity is a great way to see how your connections are currently using Twitter and can give you some ideas on who you can start following, retweeting, and favoriting.

Who to follow

Like the little window in the lower left on all Twitter pages, Who to Follow gives you tailored suggestions on people you might be interested in, based on who you currently are connected to. Based on the relationships of people you follow and your email address book information, Twitter will give you some smart recommendations and help you find more content that you might like.

Find friends

Search for your friends who might be on Twitter, or use the connection services available to have Twitter look through your address book and see which of your contacts are using Twitter. Follow certain individuals from your imported address book, or follow them all. You can also invite your friends to join Twitter, if they currently don’t have an account.

Browse categories

Instead of searching for individuals or keywords, Browse Categories helps you find more Tweeters to follow by grouping popular accounts based common interests. Browse through all of the categories that Twitter has curated (like music, sports, entertainment, and more) and see if there are any that you are interested in.

The best part of using the Discover Tab is that the more you get out of it (e.g.-the more accounts you begin to follow and more connections you make) the more tailored and useful Discover will become. And try it for the Twitter mobile app. Tweets are displayed even more visually by using any photos or media as backdrops for the individual Tweets. Almost like looking through an Instagram feed.

Now, take that ol’ Discover Tab for a spin. You might just find that it’s a fun, new alternative to simply checking your timeline.

How are you making the most of Twitter? What other tips of the trade do you have?

Image courtesy of Flickr, Express Monorail

#idea #mobileart

Hashtags are being used broadly by most users on Twitter to help group ideas and help individuals insert themselves into existing conversations. Marketers are finding that hashtags really are on the new frontier of connecting with potential consumers on social media.

RadiumOne digital ad agency just released results of a new survey showing that close to half of users click on hashtags to explore new related content. This isn’t too surprising when you think about human nature and how curious we can be. People see the hashtag and want to click it to explore it, see what people are saying about the term, and then in turn find a way to use it in their own Tweets. This is a very important statistic to note, especially for social media marketers.

These social media marketers (like myself) understand that including hashtags also makes your tweet more discoverable when those 50% of curious consumers click on a hashtag that you’re employing.

The study also found:

  • 58 percent of respondents utilize hashtags on a regular basis, and 71 percent of regular hashtag users do so from their mobile devices
  • 43 percent of respondents think hashtags are useful and 34% use them to search/follow categories and brands of personal interest
  • 51 percent of respondents would share hashtags more often if they knew advertisers awarded discounts for sharing product based hashtags
  • 41 percent of respondents use hashtags to communicate personal ideas and feelings

And if you’re still unsure of the power of hashtags in generating conversation, just follow any of the advertisers and television shows that are currently employing the use of hashtags with their media. Within seconds of a hashtag flying on a screen, Twitter is all but flooded with comments and activity related to the hashtag.

It’s a powerful little device that has the power to bring people together and help make the Twittersphere just a little bit smaller for people and brands that want to reach other people.

How are you using hashtags?

Image courtesy of Flickr, misspixels

The Tides Motel
Recently, I was given the opportunity to be a guest Tweeter on the @LifeAtDeloitte Twitter feed. While it was exciting to share what was going on in my world, I also found a compelling need to sell my job to the followers. Why would anyone want to know what was going on in my life? Why would they choose to follow me? What could I share with them that would be fulfilling? I learned a lot from my time as a guest Twitter, and have an even deeper appreciation for what I want to Tweet on my own handle!

Tips from a Guest Tweeter

1. Plan. It sounds silly, but having a plan in play about what I would actually Tweet about went a long way. At the beginning of the week, I mapped out all the meetings and responsiblities I had, and each night I would revise my schedule and plan out Tweets to send accordingly.

2. Time Management. I also made sure that when I had the time to spare (and was able to do so) that I drafted my Tweets ahead of time. This way, I was able to make sure that I always knew what was coming next, and had, at the very least, an idea of what I would include in my link.

3. Space out interactions. I wasn’t able to have the access of a tool like Hootsuite, so I had to actually go into Twitter each time I wanted to Tweet. This made it even more important to have my plan in place. Once I knew what I was going to talk about, I made sure I spaced out my Tweets relatively evenly throughout the day. Thanks to my smartphone, I set timers to remind me when it was time to send my next Tweet. It helped ensure there was a steady flow of content and not bursts followed by lengths of silence.

4. Interact. Throughout my Tweeting tenure, I would get @ mentioned or have people replying to the feed. It was important to me to make sure that I reached out and responded to each in a timely manner. I installed the mobile app on my smartphone and kept myself logged in under the credentials. Each time someone would mention me, I would receive a notification instantly, and was able to quickly go in and respond.

5. Follow engagers. Every time someone engaged with one of my Tweets (reply, retweet, favorite), I made sure I went back to start following them. Following users who interact with you help build a relationship and can lead to better engagement down the road. I even was able to bring some of those people over to my personal Twitter handle and start following me there, even after I transferred my credentials to the next guest Tweeter.

6. Make it interesting. This was probably the most challenging piece of the puzzle. How do you convey what is essentially a string of status updates as something that was interesting and engaging to followers? That was pretty tough but I was able to employ some tactics like sharing photos and videos of where/what I was doing. I tried to always keep in mind “Why would anyone care about this?” at the top of my mind before I started typing.

7. Make it personal. Given that this feed was one focused on what professional life is like at the company, this may not seem as natural. But by making it personal, it lent a lot of authenticity to the feed. I gave my honest thoughts, views and opinions. I shared what was going on in my personal life mixed in with my professional life. And being a telecommuter, I took a picture of my desk each day (I managed to be at 5 different desks in 5 days!) which gave people that glimpse into what I was really up to and where I was working from.

8. Have fun! This was probably one of the most fun weeks that I have ever spent on Twitter. It was a lot of work, but it was also very rewarding. I got to interact with an entirely new group of followers and get to share what life is really like for me on a day-to-day basis. But more than anything it was pure fun. I loved every minute of it, and hopefully I was able to convey that message to the followers of the feed.

Now it’s back to reality, but I learned a lot that I can hopefully carry over into my personal feed and start making it even more interesting!

Have you seen any examples of good guest Tweeters on corporate handles? What made following them interesting for you?

Image courtesy of Flickr, timsamoff