|In this week's issue:
Like what you read ? Share the love http://us1.forward-to-friend.com/forward?u=75b5be7135a3e05a9fdfe8573&id=c4f642e87f&e=[UNIQID]
Crisis Comms - GE, The NYT, Taxes & a Twitter Campaign
Although Twitter can be an effective real-time communications tool, it is important to recognize that it isn’t appropriate for all types of conversation and audiences. Recently, GE used Twitter to refute a claim made by a New York Times article that the company did not pay U.S. taxes in 2010, demonstrating the limitations of the platform for clarifying complex and complicated situations in 140 characters.
To refute the claim, GE’s public affairs team posted clarifying information on the company’s blog and used its Twitter handle to send the link and related information to reporters and bloggers who had written follow up posts about the initial article or shared the NYT link with their Twitter following. The public affairs team used the following standard tweet in their outreach“@_____ learn more GE tax facts visit http://bit.ly/ea6Ay2” and also requested that individuals who had tweeted with commentary about the NYT article to stop the misleading attacks.
Henry Blodget from Business Insider who had been writing about the claim and received the @reply from the GE Public Affairs team on Twitter, responded with clarification questions. However, the public affairs team “didn’t respond for hours,” which led him to conclude that the company was just “shamelessly spinning.”
A GE spokesperson eventually left a great comment on the Business Insider blog post about the issue, which caused Henry Blodget to pronounce in the comments of his article: “And assuming that's accurate, we have our answer: The New York Times was wrong.”
Yes, GE won over an advocate through their social media outreach, but unfortunately a bulk of the Business Insider piece focused on GE’s missteps. As the GE spokesperson mentioned in her comment, it takes more than 140 characters to explain complex tax structures and that Twitter might not be the best platform for the discussion. Recognizing this, GE might have been better served to use more traditional methods to connect with press and bloggers from the beginning.
So what should you ask when considering the use of Twitter for a complex or sensitive business situation? Here is a list of top questions to consider before you engage in a back-and-forth conversation via Twitter:
If the answer to any of these is “no,” it is probably better to take the conversation offline, where the situation can be clarified with the amount of information that is required.
Can you provide a concise answer or description on the issue at hand?
If not, is there a link you can provide that will give interested parties more information?
Are you able to quickly respond to questions or comments?
Are there additional resources or third-party support that can be shared to back up your claims?
Are you willing to let the Twitter community have an open dialogue about the situation?
Tool Time - Dig Deeper with Facebook Questions
The buzz this week is Facebook’s recent update to the Questions tool, which launched last summer. The tool functions similarly to Quora and Yahoo Answers where a user asks a question and followers offer up answers. Unlike other Q&A platforms, Facebook Questions has a few unique features:
When Oxford Communications Group tested Facebook Questions by asking friends “What do you think the break-through social media site will be in 2011?” it saw a 13 percent engagement rate within 15 hours of posing the question—a dramatic increase in engagement from typical status updates.
Questions can be answered and commented on within newsfeeds and profiles instead of separate pages.
Users can invite specific friends to answer the question and when a friend answers, the question is also posted to his or her profile page – which helps spread the question.
Questions must be structured poll-style with a multiple choice response system - the choices can be restricted or anyone can add answers. If a question requires a long answer or open-ended response friends can use the comment section.
As the question receives responses the option’s box fills to reflect popularity. Facebook also displays the profile photos of respondents next to the options they select.
Here are three ways to use Facebook Questions for your brand:
The key thing with Facebook Questions will be taking action. Once your brand has answers, consider how you will use those insights to improve engagement or better your customers’ experiences. The new Facebook Questions feature can be downloaded here.
Incorporate the Questions tool into a consumer engagement campaign. When Mountain Dew called on its customers to choose the next new soda flavor, it could’ve easily used Facebook Questions as another voting tool. Doing so would reach not just existing Mountain Dew fans, but the fans’ friends as well.
Do some informal, demographic research. Use the Questions tool to learn more about your customers. Find out where your fans spend their free time: the park, a coffee shop, the mall, their car. Use this information to develop strategy and tactics for your next PR campaign.
Assess products and services. Discover what fans think about your products and what you can do to make their experience even better. Ask what their favorite feature on a certain product is, or what feature they think can be improved.
Using Data to Increase Engagement: The Science of Timing
Earlier this week, I attended Dan Zarrella’s online webinar on the Science of Timing marketing engagements on Twitter, Facebook, email and blogs. Dan encouraged participants to go beyond the social media myths (which he calls unicorns and rainbows) and instead approach communications by looking at statistics and data to gain insight on where you can engage most effectively.
Dan shared a slew of data and best practices for engaging most effectively on these platforms. Here is a quick list of my favorites –check out our HYPERtext post for the full list!
My biggest takeaway? Don’t be afraid to experiment often. You need to try a lot of different techniques, timing and tactics to figure out the sweet spot for your specific audience. But don’t worry – Dan has a scientific way to figure that out too. During the webinar, he introduced a new analysis tool, TweetWhen, to figure out when your tweets will stick the best.
On Twitter, bios including words like official, founder, expert, guru and author tend to have more followers.
Retweet activity is at its highest between 2 and 5 p.m. EST. If you’re looking for retweets, tweets shared late in the day tend to be shared more.
On Facebook, don’t crowd your content. It’s much easier to flood your friends’ streams on Facebook than on Twitter. If you want your content to get attention, give it some breathing room and don’t overwhelm your friends.
Email good content on the weekend. Email open rates tend to be higher on the weekends because people are able to give more attention to emails then. Because you’re encroaching on weekend time, make sure it’s great content – otherwise you’re likely to be sent to the spambot or unsubscribed. Weekend bounce rates are also higher.
Mondays are good for something. Blog post pageviews are highest on Mondays.
More is better. Blogs that published more than once a day had way more traffic and trackbacks. Increase the frequency of your posts to get the most benefit.
2011 Shorty Awards Recap (In slightly more than 140 characters)
How can it be that Twitter, a company founded just five years ago, already has a glitzy award show in its honor, complete with step-and-repeats, celebrities and 140-character acceptance speeches? Probably because it’s Twitter we’re talking about – the San Francisco-based company that has changed the media landscape, counts its registered users in the hundreds of millions and barely has enough server capacity to keep up with the millions of tweets sent out daily (read: fail whale). So, to honor this new media cultural behemoth, Sawhorse Media founded the Shorty Awards, which honors the “best producers of real-time content.”
A definite highlight of the night was Conan O’Brien’s personally made acceptance video for the Lifetime Achievement Award. O’Brien has been on Twitter just over a year – certainly a “lifetime” in new media. You can watch his hilarious full acceptance speech here and the full 2011 show on the Shorty Awards’ YouTube Page.
While it has achieved a meteoric rise and gained the notice of Hollywood and international press and notoriety, I don’t think we’ll ever see the show evolve into a four-hour long, stuffy snooze fest like the Oscars. But that’s the way the Shorty Award producers want it – fun, lax and, above all, short.
Visit HYPERtext for the full recap of the evening from Text 100’s Kevin Turner and a video featuring MTV’s Twitter Jockey, Gabi Gregg.