You must communicate quickly in a crisis

Every few months at Jetstar we run a business-wide crisis exercise. All the people involved in crisis management take part. Sometimes these exercises are announced in advance, sometimes they’re a surprise. We are presented with a different crisis scenario every time.

We use these exercises to train new team members in our crisis management plan, practice the steps we’ll need to take in a real crisis, and confirm that our crisis checklists and processes are optimised and up-to-date.

Every time we do one of these exercises we learn something new and we continue to improve our approach to crisis management – and, in the case of my team, our approach to crisis communications. Plus we get the opportunity to test and update our systems, checklists, and processes.

In our most recent exercise, social media played a vital role and I was reminded of crisis communications analysis I'd done last year on the '2017 Essendon Airport Beechcraft King Air crash':

On 21 February 2017, at 8:59 am local time, a Beechcraft King Air aircraft operating a charter flight, carrying a pilot and four passengers bound for King Island, crashed seconds after taking off from Essendon Airport in Melbourne.

I’d put this analysis into a graphical timeline to show how the incident had played out on Twitter. I thought it would be useful to share the key lesson from this analysis.

Before I get to that, though, it’s important to remember that one of the key components of any crisis management plan is communications. And, when an incident occurs, you want to be as quick to communicate as you possibly can.

Because you don’t know too much about the incident early on, and you definitely don’t want to say anything that isn’t 100% correct, it’s best to start with just an acknowledgement of the incident and a promise of more information to come. This is what we call a ‘holding statement’ or a ‘holding line’.

When you post your holding line to social media you do two things. First, you reassure people that you are aware of the incident itself. Second, you make yourself part of the discussion early on.

If you don’t post that holding line, all the discussion about the incident takes place without you. And, these days, this discussion happens incredibly quickly – as my analysis showed:

Twitter timeline of 2017 Essendon DFO incident (Ameel Khan)

As you can see from the timeline, the crash occurred at 8:59am and the first tweet about it was posted exactly ten minutes later by talkback radio station 3AW. A passing motorist who had witnessed the crash had called in to talk about what he’d seen.

Two minutes later Channel 7 tweeted that they were diverting their traffic chopper to this area. And, by the time Channel Nine tweeted twenty minutes after that, video from this helicopter was being broadcast on TV and livestreamed by most Australian TV stations on both Facebook and Twitter.

Emergency services had also been tweeting alerts about the incident and the closure of the freeway next to the crash site.

FlightRadar24.com had been tweeting as well. In fact, they tweeted a screenshot of the flight data from their records a little over an hour after the crash.

The Direct Factory Outlets (DFO) shopping mall that the aircraft crashed into didn’t say anything publicly or on social media till almost two hours after the incident. But, given those folks probably don’t do as much intense crisis planning as airlines do, that’s not bad.

The key take-away here is that the bulk of the story about the crash was told within the first sixty to ninety minutes.

The lesson for businesses and for communicators is that, if an incident has anything to do with you, and you don’t jump into the online discussion quickly enough, all the discussion, the speculation, and the apportioning of blame will happen without you.

Basically, you will have lost the opportunity to share the authoritative account of the incident. Instead you’ll be stuck battling the numerous unverified, limited-knowledge stories and opinions that will already be out there.

In the case of the Essendon DFO crash, there was no charter service operator who could jump in and tell the authoritative story because the person who had chartered the aircraft was the pilot himself. So this whole story was told by other people.

If you do manage a business, however, and you find yourself involved in a major incident, then you must jump on to social media very quickly to make yourself a part of the online discussion. That means, if you haven’t created a crisis management plan, create one now. And, if you haven’t practiced yours in a while, you should go ahead and do that sooner rather than later.

To all the communicators out there who will have to deal with crises in the future: I know how difficult a job you have and I wish you all the best!

Analytics & Tracking on Online News Sites

Ever wondered how you're tracked online? In my continued research on online news sites (e.g.  here's a chart on how much they traffic they get every month) here are a couple of charts that tell you which tracking tools Australia's top online news sites use.

This list was generated using Ghostery so it covers everything from web analytics tools and beacons to ad serving tools and social network platform connectors - basically, anything that's capable of tracking you on the web. 

You can find out more about these tools in this Digital Trends article and in this 'Tracking the trackers' map by the Guardian (part of their larger 'Battle for the internet' series).

 

Alphabetical List of Trackers

Source: Ghostery tracker alerts on each news website
Pro Tip: To view full-size, right-click and open image in new tab

List of Trackers by Popularity

Source: Ghostery tracker alerts on each news website
Pro Tip: To view full-size, right-click and open image in new tab

Facebook Serves Me Ads

As someone who works in social media I look at the ads I get served on Facebook with a professional interest. Given that I haven't actually put that much information about myself on Facebook, it's fun to see how good (or bad) a job marketers and ad buyers have done in targeting those ads to me.

Of course Facebook does have a lot of my demographic data as well as my detailed social graph (though I do keep getting asked to "complete my profile", which is entertaining). It also has a history of all my likes, comments, and shares; each of which probably has multiple keyword and category associations. 

So, in what I'm hoping is the first of an ongoing series, here are the ads Facebook served me today and my thoughts on them:   

What ads do you get served on Facebook? And are they any good? 

Where do I go for News and Opinion?

While trying to decide whether I’d sign up for a Fairfax Digital Subscription or not (I ultimately decided not to) I thought it would be fun to document my news media consumption habits. (Being a nerd is so much fun!)

Here’s what I came up with.

Breaking News 

Where do I go to get breaking news? 

When a news tory breaks the first site I check is Twitter.

I then move on to Reddit to see what news content has been aggregated and bubbled-up by the online community. There I get both first-hand news and news that’s been collected by various outlets.

Next I check the BBC because they'll always have the most reliable and least biased story.

Finally, I go to Google News because that service quickly aggregates lots of news stories from multiple online sources, covering multiple angles.

If the breaking news is Australia- or Melbourne-specific I also check the Age and the ABC (though, in most cases, their news stories get captured pretty quickly by Google News anyway). I sometimes also check the online streaming versions of ABC News 24 and a few radio stations like ABC NewsRadio, 774 Melbourne, and 3AW.

More in-depth news and editorial opinion

What if I want more depth? 

When I want a little more depth to a news story my first stop is usually the BBC. Those folk not only excel at presenting an overview of what’s going but they also give a bit of background and then flesh out those bits of the story that are important at the time. (I usually follow this up by a few quick searches on Google and Wikipedia if I want more information.)

However, if want a much deeper analysis or some high-quality editorial opinion on a particular topic or story then the sites I go first to are academic news outlets like the Conversation, a bunch topic-specific blogs (I subscribe to a lot of blogs via RSS), and sites with strong editorial voices and traditions like the Guardian and the Economist.

I then visit a bunch of independent news outlets or, categorizing them more broadly, sites from which I get smart, well written, and mature news reports, opinion, and discussion. These include ProPublica, The Global Mail, New Matilda, Salon, Slate, the Atlantic, and a handful of others. 

Aside from those major sources I also read some blogs and feature pieces on the ABC and Fairfax websites (e.g. stuff written by Lauren Rosewarne or Sam de Brito). However, ABC and Fairfax don’t have the depth of coverage that the sites mentioned previously do; nor do they have as many contributors whose editorial opinions I value that much.

Local News & Opinion

What if the story is local? 

When a news story is local my preferred sources are the Age and the ABC (including, as mentioned above, the online streaming versions of ABC News 24, ABC NewsRadio, and 774 Melbourne). Though, increasingly, the Guardian with its new Australian edition is becoming a bigger part of my regular local media consumption.

Meanwhile, 3AW and the Conversation, while good sources, don’t cover as much as the Age and ABC do.

Daily Media Consumption

Speaking of my regular media consumption, these are the news sites I check on the tram both to and from work every day and also on weekend afternoons:

Daily Media Consumption.png

The top four are the important ones: I check the Age for updates on what’s happening in the city and around the country. I check the BBC and the Guardian to find out what’s going on in the world. And, I check the ABC to read more about what’s going on in both Australia and the world.

If I have time left in my commute then I then close that folder and check Reddit (the app in the background in the top left hand corner).

And if after that I still have more time I sometimes check my RSS feeds via NewsBlur and occasionally read the stories I’d saved earlier in Pocket.

As you can see, restricting my Fairfax consumption to thirty articles per month isn't going to be difficult because Fairfax is already a pretty small part of my news media consumption mix. This despite the fact that I check the Age website every morning because, when I do, I only occasionally click-through to read a whole article - I usually just skim the headlines.

So there you have it, my media consumption preferences. What sites do you visit to get news and opinion? 

Why I Won’t be Getting a Fairfax Digital Subscription

On 2 July 2013 Fairfax Media will launch its digital subscriptions and erect a paywall around its two major newspaper websites, the Age and Sydney Morning Herald. From that day onwards Australian visitors to those sites will be able to read thirty free articles per month but, should they want to read more, they’ll need to sign up as paying customers.

I won’t be one of those paying customers and this mind map explains why:

 

You Can’t Build a Free Global PR Wiki Like This

MyPRGenie, a social-media focused PR firm, wants to create a “free global PR wiki” that will crowdsource contact information for “journalists, bloggers and media gatekeepers”.

Free global PR wiki to crowdsource media contact details

A crowdsourced listing of media contacts is set to launch, providing the PR industry with a database of information on journalists and media professionals.

Launching out of New York in March, the wiki-style platform will be open to PR professionals who contribute to the community by sharing information they’ve collected on journalists, bloggers and media gatekeepers. By sharing their contacts, users earn points which can then be spent to gain access to the global database.

Interesting concept. Probably won’t be successful, though.

Why?

Free

The only free global wiki that’s ever managed to collect a large amount of quality information is Wikipedia – and Wikipedia is run by a non-profit foundation whose philosophy revolves around cataloguing and freely sharing information.

From the sounds of it MyPRGenie’s service will be “free” (i.e. available for you to use) only if you contribute to it yourself; and presumably even then there will be some additional restrictions to what you can access or do once you have that information. Which, of course, means that, unlike the Wikipedia style service they want to be associating themselves with, their service not actually free.

Global

MyPRGenie say they already have a database of over half a million “journalists, bloggers, and content creators” which my guess is they’ll use to seed their wiki. While that number is large I’m not sure this endeavour is a pure numbers game.

When you hire a PR firm to work for you, you pick one based on their knowledge of your industry and the local media market, plus their relationships with various media people. You don’t pick them because they have the largest contacts database.

If I worked for a rival PR agency my argument against using this service would be: “Why would you want to use that? They’ll just send your press releases to a bunch of media and social media people. I’m on a first name basis with the influencers in your specific industry and in your specific market so when I send them something they know it’ll be worth their while.”

PR Wiki

Possibly the biggest problem they’ll face is that I don’t think many PR departments or agencies will want to participate – certainly not major companies with a large contacts databases. Why on earth would companies (or agencies) want to share their PR relationship IP with the rest of the world (which, of course, includes their competitors)?

Wrong Business Plan?

MyPRGenie’s business plan for this service seems to be “build it and they will come (to crowdsource)”. That doesn’t works unless you do things like offer fabulous incentives for sharing IP, have dedicated editors maintaining content quality, and don’t blatantly make money off the data you collect. Now they might actually do all these things and the resulting service might end up being useful to small and medium-sized companies with limited PR budgets and limited relationships with the media. But that’s probably about it.

Basically, I don’t think you can crowdsource this kind of information unless you make it completely free and open like Wikipedia or you run a freemium model like IMDb or LinkedIn in which you get both the demand and supply side to pay for the professional, fee-based version of that otherwise free service.

MyPRGenie seem to be trying a third approach to this information cataloguing problem – one that relies on a few assumptions that I don’t think are particularly valid. It’d be nice to be proven wrong but I don’t think I will be.

Working at Jetstar is Like Working at a Startup

I'm not sure if this applies to all Low-Cost Carriers (LCCs) but working at Jetstar feels like you’re working at a startup. This, of course, is one of the reasons why I love working here.

In a guest post on Venture Beat Elli Sharef wrote about the ‘5 Things You Need to Know Before Working at a Startup’. Three of these apply directly to life at Jetstar:

Ownership

Working at Jetstar you really have to own what you do and, of course, believe strongly in what you're doing. So, for example, if you're the one who comes up with a great idea then you're the one who has to implement it. Sometimes you get to do this literally all on your own from start to finish.

And when you're given ownership on one part of the business – in my case, Jetstar's social media presence – it's all yours to do with whatever you want (given, of course, that what you do makes business sense and fits well with what others are doing; and, if it’s something drastically different, is approved by senior executives).

This level of ownership, control, and direct responsibility is both exciting and terrifying.

Mentoring and Guidance

Because in a startup you're often doing stuff that is new and innovative you don't really have people who can guide and mentor you in your role based on their years of experience in this field. Case in point: before Jetstar no other full-service carrier (in our case, Qantas) had launched a low-cost subsidiary that was as successful as Jetstar is now.

On the social media side of things, for example, I certainly don't know of any other large, customer-focused, seven-year-old Australian company that, while partnering with a large sixty-year-old Japanese company, is providing customer service to people in Japan in Japanese via Facebook and Twitter.

A lot of what we’re doing here is new and innovative. This is stuff that no one or very few people have done before and it’s incredibly exciting to be at this leading edge.

Pressure

This third point is important because it determines whether you'll be at Jetstar for six months or five years. Sharef puts it really well:

The pressure to achieve results, hit metrics, achieve growth, and get more traction can be overwhelming for many. We’ve seen lots of people quit startups because they realized the emotional pressures were simply too much for them. It’s awesome to know your work can help make or break the business, but with great opportunity comes great responsibility!

The good thing is that, while the pressure may be high, the rush I get from making a real difference to what Jetstar does on social media is incredibly rewarding. Certainly at this point in my career I can't think of anything else I'd rather be doing and anywhere else I’d rather be working.

What People Want From Social Media

Thomson Dawson published an article on Branding Strategy Insider a couple of weeks ago called 'Social Media Marketing Is An Oxymoron'.

In it he argues:

There is no place for marketing in social media.

Think about being at a party having an enjoyable conversation with someone of like mind, then some annoying person interrupts your conversation to tell you how great they are and why you should engage with them. This is basically what most "social media marketing" really is.  People hate being interrupted.

While I agree that people hate being interrupted by companies who are trying to talk to them or sell them something, I don’t agree with his generalization because I think the situation is a little more complex than that.

You are the Product

I think people understand and accept that, when companies provide them with free online services (such as an account on a social networking site), those companies aren’t doing this out the goodness of their hearts. Even Governments don’t provide services for free (yaay, taxes!) so there’s no reason to believe that any company would.

Instead of paying money for those services what people give these companies in exchange is:

  • information about themselves and their relationships with others online (referred to as their ‘social graph’ – a term coined by Facebook),
  • information about their interests and where they spend time on online, and
  • their attention (so that third parties can market stuff to them via advertising).

The Silicon Valley way of putting this is:

If you're not paying for something, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold.

And people are more or less okay with that ‘product’ – that online version of themselves – being sold to companies. They know that, in turn, those companies will use this opportunity (i.e. the time they spend on various social media platforms) to sell stuff back to them. If this sounds familiar that’s because this is essentially the advertising-based free-to-air TV model (though with more sophisticated ad targeting).

So people expect to be marketed to on social media.

Not the Whole Story

But, that’s not the whole story because, sometimes, people don’t just expect to be marketed to, they want to be marketed to.

They want companies to sell them the stuff they want, when they want it, where they want it. In addition, they expect to talk to companies about their products and services – both before and after purchasing.

What People Want From Social Media

The way I see it, people seem to want five broad things from companies in the online and social media space:

1. Information

This includes things like product information, contact details, terms and conditions, sizing charts, and so on. People look for this information on websites and Wikipedia pages and they search or ask for it on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and forums. They also discover products on sites like Pinterest.

2. Help

This covers everything from help with product information (when you’ve just entered the market for that product) all the way to customer support (after you’ve bought the product). People look for help on websites or they ask for it on Facebook and Twitter. And, depending on what the company offers, people might also ask for help over the phone, via Skype, or using live web chat.

3. Deals

This includes things like exclusive or early sales/deals, as well as prizes or other kinds of loyalty rewards. People look for deals on websites, in mailing lists, or on company/brand Facebook Pages and Twitter streams. These people aren't the most brand loyal but they do drive a lot of sales.

4. Connection

This covers a whole bunch of engagement, participation, and ownership needs that include a continuing two-way dialog; input into what companies do and how they operate; and a general sharing of thoughts, ideas, and values. People look for this connection on company blogs, on Facebook and Google+ profiles, and, in smaller chunks, on Twitter. The people who engage with companies in this way are generally the most loyal and are often the company’s strongest advocates. Or, in the case of engagement via Kickstarter, they’re also the company’s founding members and/or financial investors.

5. Jobs

For a specific group of people who are in the job market, what they want from companies also includes job offers, engagement with HR teams, and information about the company and its culture. People look for this information and engagement on websites, via Google searches, on blogs and forums, on LinkedIn, and, increasingly, on other social media platforms (i.e. not just on LinkedIn).

It All Comes Down to Targeting

What it comes down to, then, is the idea of audience targeting. Companies need to have different approaches for engaging with different audience groups. And, if an audience group is receptive to being marketed at, then companies should jump right in.

For example, if was on a message board talking to people about a specific kind of computer that I wanted to buy in the next six months, I’d be more than happy to hear from a company representative about a product they sell that’s in this category. On the other hand, I would be upset if I was marketed to when I wasn’t looking for that kind of communication or engagement.

So, if companies get that targeting aspect right, then ‘social media marketing’ is a completely valid concept.

We’re Still Not There Yet

Sadly, a lot of companies are terrible at this kind of communication. They continue to treat ‘social media’ as just another advertising channel though which they talk at people.

Which, by the way, reminds me of this fantastic cartoon from Hugh MacLeod:

ifyoutalkedtopeople

I guess it’s this kind of misinformed approach to marketing via social media that prompted Dawson to write his article in the first place. And, in that, I agree with him completely. A lot of companies still don’t get it right and that really needs to change if they want to make the best use of the social media opportunity that they are currently wasting.

How these companies need to change is, of course, a whole other massive topic. Fortunately, it’s a topic that will keep people like me – people who understand both marketing and social media – employable for at least the next few years :)

New Job: Social Media Manager at Jetstar

Yesterday was my first day as Social Media Manager at Jetstar. Yes, that means I have a new job :)

For those of you who might not know, the Jetstar Group (usually just referred to as Jetstar) consists of four low-cost airlines:

Jetstar was launched in 2004 and, with its 79 aircraft and over 7,000 employees, currently flies to 56 destinations in 17 countries across the Asia-Pacific region.

My job is a Group role (i.e. it’s a corporate function that works across all four airlines) and is based at the Jetstar corporate headquarters in Melbourne, Australia.

Why did I change jobs?

For a number of reasons:

  • I love the airlines/aviation industry and working for an airline is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.
  • Jetstar is a great brand that is run by good people who provide a valuable service. It’s a brand I respect and is a brand whose values I share (i.e. providing good value for money, making smart use of technology, and making travel to popular destinations accessible to lots of people).
  • I’m making a career path adjustment that sees me changing my focus from building and managing websites to helping companies and customers communicate better with each other using social media. And while this is a slight narrowing of focus (e.g. in my current role I won’t be looking after the Jetstar website) it is also an increase in overall responsibility (i.e. I get to work on more strategic corporate communications objectives).
  • My new role is more challenging because the scale and scope of customer engagement is greater (e.g. it’s across the entire Asia-Pacific region as opposed to just within the state of Victoria) and the aviation industry is more exciting, more innovative, and moves much faster than the water industry.
  • I have a greater opportunity for personal growth because I now get to employ my social media skills to their fullest. I had been wanting to increase my social media focus at Melbourne Water but, with all the other work I was doing there, this wasn’t something I was able to do.

I also get to work with one of my former managers who I really like and work really well with. And finally, as someone whose family is spread across multiple countries, the travel benefits of working for an airline are important to me personally.

What does the new job involve?

Broadly speaking, my overall objective is to improve the communication, engagement, and understanding between Jetstar and its customers. Specifically, I get to do this via social media. Though, practically speaking, this engagement will be integrated across multiple communication channels.

How exactly I go about doing all this is something I will share on this blog (and probably also on Twitter) over the coming weeks, months, and years so stay tuned.

Communicating with Charts and Infographics

I love using pictures, charts, diagrams, and infographics to illustrate and explain complex or hard to visualize ideas, concepts, and relationships.

Using Charts and Infographics at Melbourne Water

Since we deal with pretty complex subjects at Melbourne Water it makes sense for us to use well designed charts and infographics to explain what we do and how we do it. So, over the last year or two, we’ve been working with various vendors to produce graphics and animations that help us communicate better. We’ve also been improving our own chart-making capabilities so we can explain things more effectively to our more interested (which usually means more nerdy) audiences.

Here are some of the things we’ve done.

Explaining Systems

To explain how a system like Melbourne’s Water supply network works, you can use a static and somewhat technical map like this:

Melbourne Water Supply System Map - Old

Or you can use an animated map to really show people what’s going on (click through to see what I mean):

Animated Melbourne water supply network map

That animated map has proven to be very popular: over the last year it’s been viewed over 40,000 times with visitors spending an average of two and a half minutes going through it.

You can explain complex systems without animations, too – like we’ve done with our Eastern Treatment Plant’s sewage processing diagram. This diagram comes in two parts. First, there’s a high-level overview:

ETP sewage processing overview diagram

And, then, there’s a more detailed explanation of the steps we take to process sewage at this plant (including the tertiary treatment bit that’s currently being built):

ETP sewage processing detailed diagram

Explaining Relationships

Another important use for graphics is in explaining relationships between things.

For example, the Melbourne Water website gets about about 10,000 visitors per day. However, this figure jumps to 25,000 when it rains and over 40,000 when there’s a big storm in Melbourne. This happens because people want to know what effect the rainfall is having on our water storage levels.

To explain this relationship, we first used a simple column chart to show the basic trend (though the figures in it are from about a year and a half ago):

Web Traffic Depends on Rainfall bar chart

We then drilled down into a more detailed example and plotted the amount of rainfall recorded in Melbourne in August 2010 and compared that to the number of website visits received over the same period. The relationship between the two is quite obvious when you look at this graph:

Effect of Rainfall on Web Traffic line chart

These diagrams were made to be printed, by the way, which is why the text size on the axes isn’t all that large.

Telling a Story

At times, though, all you want to do with a graph is tell a story.

For example, we used this simple graph to explain the how Melbourne’s dams staged a remarkable turnaround in 2010, jumping from 25.6% full in July 2009 to 53.7% full in December 2010:

Melbourne's dam levels in 2009 and 2010

And we used this graph to explain that Melbourne’s total system storage depends a great deal on how full Thomson Dam is (because Thomson is almost 60% of Melbourne’s total dam capacity):

Melbourne Dams as a Percentage of Total Capacity

More generally, we use this graphic to explain to Melburnians just how big Thomson really is:

Thomson dam is twice the size of Sydney Harbour Bridge and 628 the size of the MCG

Showing Cause and Effect (i.e. Explaining More Complex Relationships)

Recently, though, we’ve gone one step further and have used a couple of charts to explain what, at the face of it, seems to be a strange result: rainfall for spring 2011 was 28.5% above average but water flowing into the dams (i.e. streamflow) over the same period was 22.4% below average. This happened because of what we call the ‘sponge effect’ and we used this graphic to explain what happened:

Effect of spring rainfall on streamflow - Spring 2011

Now this type of graph isn’t for everyone to read and understand but, that’s okay – we know that a lot of our website visitors are water nerds just like us and that they appreciate the extra effort we make in explaining these results to them.

Hopefully, this use of charts and infographics to explain complex things is something Melbourne Water continues to do in the future. I know I certainly will.

Notes from WebForward 2011 Conference

Last week I attended the WebForward Conference in Sydney (which itself is part of the larger CeBIT Australia Exhibition). It was a really good event during which I got to hear from and meet a lot of interesting people.

The conference had two streams: social media and mobile. I hopped in and out of both streams and here are my notes from the talks that I attended.

Latest trends and techniques in the on-line marketing space and a look into the future

WebForward 1

  • Speaker: Tony Keusgen, Head of Technology - Australia/New Zealand, Google
  • Why is there still a difference between ‘traditional’ and ‘digital’ marketing in a corporation’s budget? Why is digital still considered to be “new” media?
  • There’s a huge correlation between offline marketing and online searches
    • For example, if you were to place your ad on a number of city buses you could tell, by analyzing Google search on the relevant phrase (assuming its unique enough), when those buses first hit the streets
  • Predictions for the future:
    • 80% of screen time will be digital
    • Mobile devices will enable two-thirds of purchases and pay for half of them
    • Consumers will have more power and 80% of future engagement will be opt-in and 2-way
    • Real-time will play a big role; already 30% of Australians consumers access the web via their mobile phones while in a physical store
  • Use evidence-based marketing; don’t assume you know what the market wants
  • Don’t be scared to experiment with new things and try new ways of doing things (it’s okay to fail, stop what you were doing, and move on to other ideas)
  • 12% of all Google search queries in December 2010 came from mobile devices
  • Location marketing is key: A third of all searches conducted on mobile devices are location based
  • In the US, a quarter of all searches conducted on mobile devices were voice based
  • Think about doing how-to videos on YouTube
    • 2.4 million search queries per month on YouTube for how-to content
    • 32% of videos watched on YouTube are of how-to content

Integrating a mobile strategy into your marketing plan to cover multiple channels

WebForward 2

  • Speaker: Antonio Addario, Manager - Direct Channels Strategy, Efficiency & Innovation, ING Direct
  • The online magazine Mobile Marketer is a great resource
  • Some of the steps you need to take to figure out your mobile strategy are:
    • Do lots of research (e.g. find out which apps people are willing to pay for in various app stores)
    • Know your customer really well (both the people and the technology they use)
    • Define your success
    • Identify the key capabilities of all your online and mobile offerings; then select the ones you want to offer on your mobile platform
    • Evaluate your development options (i.e. reuse/buy/build)
    • Do plenty of promotion for your new offering
    • Get your mobile offering to upsell for you (e.g. tell people to your other services from within the app)
    • Measure success (KPIs, adoption, etc.)
    • Listen to your customers and make the improvements they want

Utilising mobile marketing to promote your product or service

WebForward 3

  • Speaker: Julian Peterson, Marketing & Online Director, Time Out Sydney
  • Time Out is 40 years old in London but 3 years old in Sydney and 6 months old in Melbourne
  • A branded app can work well if your brands are similar and have the same core target audience (Time Out’s app is cobranded with Smirnoff)
  • Time Out Australia used the app platform already built by London (which, as it happens, was work done by an Australian firm) so that made life easier for them
  • The app does curated content and is really popular with their targeted audience

Recognising the benefits of mobile marketing to drive innovation and growth

WebForward 5

  • Speaker: Nandor Locher, Manager e-commerce, Virgin Australia
  • A lot of the time, when you’re doing mobile marketing, you’re not really being ‘innovative’ in the true sense of the word
  • It’s critical to focus your efforts on the unique advantages offered by mobile technology
  • Mobile offerings are becoming part of a company’s larger product offering and are not just another marketing channel (e.g. like being able to check-in to your flight from the web, being able to do travel stuff on your mobile is now part of the broader travel services product offered by airlines)
  • Mobile is becoming a ‘hygiene factor’ in the travel industry; i.e. if it’s not there, people will go to your competitor
  • The ROI from the mobile offering is low so, for Virgin, their offering is largely a medium- to long-term brand and product augmentation investment
  • It’s important to have a brand presence in the various app stores
  • Integrating mobile with social media is important; particularly since social media is used so heavily in the travel industry
  • Thanks to mobile devices, downtime has become the new uptime (e.g. Virgin increased sales by 150% by moving their happy hour sales to a downtime period for the target market)
  • Depending on your offering, the usage and usefulness of mobile websites is sometimes greater than that of native phone apps (which many people download and then never use)

Understanding how to drive your brand via mobile

WebForward 4

  • Speaker: Stephanie Carrick, Senior Producer, Triple J Unearthed
  • Triple J Unearthed is one of the largest online communities in Australia (250k registered users)
  • They had to had a mobile presence (18-35 is their target market, after all)
  • Their app focuses on users listening to music (i.e. they focus on their core value proposition)
  • All their music content is available for downloading (for free)
  • The app is a huge success, with over 420k downloads in 18 months
  • Because of the app, they’ve seen a 50% sustained rise in traffic to their website (i.e. they’ve tapped a whole new audience that was inaccessible via radio)
  • It’s crucial to have app maintenance budget because you will need to update it regularly from now on

Using Augmented Reality Technology to promote your business

WebForward 6

  • Speaker: Glenn Cooper, Executive Chairman, Coopers' Brewery
  • Brand and brand history plays a huge role in the decisions companies make (particularly in family owned businesses like Cooper’s)
  • Doing a mobile app – that too, an augmented reality app – was a huge change for the business
  • This worked well for them because they used it to promote their low carb beer which itself was a huge change for the business (as they are known for their dark beers)
  • The app helped their marketing promotion be completely under their control (i.e. not under the control of the physical store retailers)

Joining the social media conversation about your company

WebForward 7

  • Speaker: Kristen Boschma, Head of Online Communications and Social Media, Telstra
  • There are different types of social media programs (i.e. they have different objectives); for example:
    • Listening
    • Customer Care
    • Thought Leadership
    • Marketing & Sales
  • The most important part of a listening program is to actually listen (and not jump in every time you’re mentioned or talked about)
  • A key phrase to remember in social media engagements is “What’s the gift?” (looked at from another angle, that’s the answer to a customer who wants to know “What’s in it for me?”)
  • Social media is an ecosystem: you must treat it with respect (i.e. don’t pollute it)
  • In order to get stuff done, you need to have a burning platform
  • Social media has worked really well for Telstra: 31% of all their online conversations now happen on Twitter
  • All employees at Telstra have to take and pass their online social media course (yes, all 40k existing employees had to do this)
  • Sentiment tracking is good, but make sure you provision for human coding in your budget because algorithms don’t understand sarcasm (of which there’s a lot online)

Developing social marketing strategies to transform your organisation

WebForward 8

  • Speaker: Paul Borrud, Head of Australia & New Zealand, Facebook
  • 3 billion photos are uploaded to Facebook per month (globally)
  • Australians spend an average of 7.5hrs on Facebook per month
  • Facebook in Australia
    • 10 million active users (i.e. use the site once in 30 days)
      • 68% return daily, 86% return weekly
    • 53% of users are female
    • The age spread is about even (approximately 17-25% for each of the five major age brackets)
  • Facebook lets people connect across borders really easily
  • Facebook is about reorganizing the web around people
    • In the 80s, the web was all about browsing
    • In the 90s, it was all about search
    • Now, it’s all about people
  • Even gaming is reorganizing around people
  • 43% of all news sharing now occurs in social media
  • Businesses are reorganizing around people as well; this includes new product development, customer service, and marketing
  • There are three types of marketing:
    • Paid (e.g. newspaper ads)
    • Owned (e.g. websites)
    • Earned (e.g. word of mouth)
  • Earned is the hardest to get, but is also the most powerful
  • Facebook lets you do Earned marketing at scale
  • ‘Fans’ are the new popular metric to quote (like ‘Hits’ was popular in the 80s and 90s)
  • ‘Social’ is not the salt in the fries, it needs to be baked into the product

Panel Discussion: Maximising the opportunities given by social media strategies

  • Speaker: Joe Millward, Innovation Manager - Social Media, Gloria Jeans International; Kristen Boschma, Head of Online Communications and Social Media, Telstra; Paul Borrud, Head of Australia & New Zealand, Facebook
  • Ask yourself: What is it that the social media platform can do for you that other platforms can’t?
  • Telstra has three rules for new social media ventures:
    • You need a six month content plan
    • You need someone to run the conversation (interacting at least twice daily)
    • You have to have a back-end system to deal with questions, complaints, etc.
  • Remember there are two kinds of social media interactions:
    • Individual (e.g. my bill is wrong)
    • Institutional (e.g. your billing system is wrong)
  • These need to be handled differently (e.g. you need to be prepared to have individual interactions after hours as well as during work hours)

Introducing location-based mobile applications into your marketing strategy

WebForward 9

  • Speaker: Gary Daly, National IT Manager, Surf Life Saving Australia
  • Surf Life Saving needed to get the beach safely message across to high risk beachgoers (specifically, males aged 16-35)
  • Their app has two messages:
    • Primary: be safe
    • Secondary: get involved/donate (they are a non-profit that is run by volunteers and relies on donations to function)
  • The app uses the phone’s GPS location to deliver targeted messages
  • They use web services in the back-end to collect all the information that gets presented (e.g. they get weather data from the Bureau of Meteorology and beach data from their internal Surfcom system)
  • Build into your app the ability to collect feedback – this will be vital to future app development
  • A good mobile site is more cost effective than creating an app because the latter needs to be constantly updated

Panel Discussion: Keeping up with latest techniques and trends to gain competitive advantage

  • Speaker: Gary Daly, National IT Manager, Surf Life Saving Australia; Tony Keusgen, Head of Technology, Google AU/NZ; Andy Ridley, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Earth Hour
  • Google’s big bet is mobile (hence Android and Wallet and all their other mobile related services)
  • Three key elements for location based services:
    • Local
    • Social
    • Mobile
  • Evidence based marketing is very important
  • It’s important to go where you users are (e.g. websites, devices, platforms, etc.)
    • This includes following their usage-time patterns; e.g. mobile web usage drops at 9am, spikes during lunch, then drops again till 5pm

Concluding Thoughts

The conference was well organized, well executed, and quite valuable in terms of what I got form it (both information and contacts). I look forward to attending it again next year.

NOTE: All speaker photos were taken from the WebForward website.

Gap Changes its Logo & the Internet Responds

The American retail company Gap recently changed their logo. They went from sophisticatedly classic to amateurishly craptastic:

gap_logo

[Source: Brand New]

To quote the Brand New blog (‘Don’t Mind the Gap, or the Square’):

I’m not one to critique something by saying it looks as if it were done in Microsoft Word but this one is just too unsophisticated to warrant anything more than that.

I couldn’t agree more.

Fortunately, the Internet responded and Brand New have followed up with another post: ‘Follow-up: Gapgate’.

I never expected the Gap logo to be such a lightning bolt of attention. Yes, it’s bad and yes it’s a popular brand, but to have captured the attention of the whole internet, even reaching meme levels wasn’t something I ever expected the grilled chicken of retail brands to achieve.

:)

Speaking of the Gap logo meme, check out:

Also check out Your Logo Makes Me Barf’s reaction – ‘New Gap Logo is a Box of Fail’ – and call to action – ‘Tell Gap to take their Spec and go to Hell’.

The next few days and, indeed, weeks and months should be interesting.

Web Fun at Melbourne Water: iPhone App, Maps & Social Media

I joined Melbourne Water as their Websites Manager just under a year ago and, since then, I’ve done a lot of fun and exciting web-related work there.

We recently hit a few important milestones so I thought I’d take this opportunity to do a quick roundup of what I’ve been up to.

Web & New Media Strategy


Melbourne's Water Supply NetworkAll the exciting work I’m doing has its foundations in the Web & New Media Strategy that was kicked off in early 2009 and involved a few months of research, analysis, and decision-making. The actual “strategy” ended up being a three-phase plan for building and enhancing the organization’s online presence over the next 2-3 years.

The first phase (basically, quick wins) took less than six months to do and involved plugging the holes in our existing online presence. This included numerous web tweaks, getting a better understanding of what worked or didn’t work on our site (via Google Analytics), and, generally, making better use of the website (e.g. more cross promotion on high traffic areas). We also bought a Google Mini search engine to remove one of site’s biggest pain points which was a crappy search engine.

The second phase (6-12 months) is finishing up now. This addressed a whole bunch of other web tweaks (like content rewrites and information architecture adjustments) and launched projects in five major areas:

  • A complete site overhaul (redoing the site’s content, design, and information architecture and getting a new web content management system)

  • More multimedia (specifically illustrations, photos, and videos)

  • More and better online maps (the more useful and usable the better)

  • More information provision via mobile phones (through SMS, mobile applications, and mobile web sites)

  • Getting into social media (for information provision and stakeholder engagement)


The third phase (1-3 years) involves more complex projects that can’t be started till we have everything else in place (like a new organizational GIS and a web content management system). Phase three work includes the automation of customer-facing business activities, which means things like building online forms and applications, providing custom information via SMS, and so on.

What’s Exciting Now?


Melbourne Water's iPhone applicationRight now, though, we’re nearing the end of the second phase and we’ve made great progress in all five of the areas mentioned above:

  • We’ve kicked off a project to get a new web content management system and have started the website redesign and reorganization process.

  • We’ve started to place photos on Flickr (including ‘Photos from the Field’ which are from Melbourne Water employees) and videos on YouTube (almost all of which were produced in-house).

  • We’ve got some really basic maps on our site but have kicked off a project that will move all our old and clunky maps to a better platform over the next year or so. Meanwhile, we’ve developed an interactive map that explains in simple terms how Melbourne’s complicated water supply network works.

  • We’ve launched an iPhone app (link to iTunes store) and will be launching a new mobile version of our website in the next few weeks.

  • We’re quite active on Twitter and will get further into social media when appropriate.


All in all, we’re tracking quite well and the work we’re doing is lots of fun and really quite exciting.

Culture of Innovation & Effective Communication


What I love most of all, though, is how much on-board everyone at Melbourne Water is with these enhancements. This support and appreciation of innovation and effective communication starts right at the top, too. For example, it was our Board who originally suggested that we develop a simplified water supply network map for the website. They wanted a simple way of explaining a complex system and realized that the web would be a great place to do just that.

In my opinion, the foundation for this is laid in Melbourne Water’s Strategic Framework document which explicitly lists the support of “innovation, achievement, and good ideas” and the need to “understand, manage, and meet or exceed customer expectations” as success indicators for the organization. At Melbourne Water these aren’t just phrases on a company brochure but actual, practical goals that all of us aspire to every day. In fact, to give you an example of how this is implemented practically: Every project that’s proposed at Melbourne Water has to explain and justify which of these strategic goals it’s addressing before it’s allowed to start.

So the work that I’m doing there both matches the direction the world is moving in (i.e. information provision and customer engagement is moving online) and is brilliantly supported by the organization itself. That’s yet another reason why I love working there.

ConnectNow 2010 – Thoughts & Notes (Part 2)

connectnow logo I gave a quick overview of the ConnectNow conference in Part 1. Here are my thoughts and notes – along with links and other information – on each of the talks given during the first two days of the event.

Photo of Gavin Heaton Gavin Heaton

  • Topic: Lead Generation, Community Management, and ROI (blog link)
  • Website: http://www.servantofchaos.com
  • Twitter: @servantofchaos
  • Big ideas:
    • 10 years on and the Cluetrain Manifesto is still relevant and is still not accepted business practice
    • There are different types of social networks and these are used by different types of people, of different ages, at different stages of their lives; see Groundswell’s Social Technographics report that talks about 6 types of social media users
    • There are 5 impacts of new/social media (read Gavin’s blog post for details)
    • There is a convergence of markets: there used to be just the consumer market (mass production) and the enterprise market (custom-built) but now there are enterprise-level products and services available at lower prices (e.g. Software as a Service) and the consumer space is being extended into the enterprise (e.g. smart phones like iPhones in the workplace)
    • You need to have a continuous digital strategy (details in blog post)
    • You need to share the message, but own the destination (case in point: I’m sharing Gavin’s message but sending you to his home base, which is his blog, as the source/message destination)
    • Social media is not about influence, it’s about trust (details in blog post); your trust and reputation can have a ‘fat value’ (details in blog post); 75% of your “fans” are already connected
    • From the Q&A session that followed, a good idea: Consider converting your company’s brochure content into a series of YouTube videos that tell a great story and can also be shared

Photo of Katie Chatfield Katie Chatfield

  • Topic: Do You do your Best Work at Your Desk?
  • Website: http://katiechatfield.wordpress.com
  • Twitter: @katiechatfield
  • Big ideas:
    • Human behaviour is a function of a person in their environment (Lewin’s Equation); you can change behaviour by changing the person (very hard to do) or their environment (easier to do)
    • Before you can get into social media, you need to have a more social business
    • Giving people a tool doesn’t make them craftspeople; i.e. it’s about the people, not the technology
    • Remember that competent people resist change because it makes them less competent
    • Short form stories (3 minutes long) are a great way for employees and teams in an organization to tell each other what they’re working on [“If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough” – Albert Einstein]
    • In those short stories, you should tell people: (a) what it is you’re working on; (b) why you think it’s awesome; and (c) why it’s useful for them to know about it

Photo of Tara Hunt Tara Hunt

  • Topic: Yes, I do Mind the Gap
  • Website: http://www.horsepigcow.com
  • Twitter: @missrogue
  • Big ideas:
    • There tends to be a gap (sometimes a big one) between what businesses and communities value
    • If you talked to people the way advertising talked to people, they'd punch you in the face - hugh macleodFor example, truth, beauty, freedom, and love are not usual business values; though notable companies like Google, Apple, Craigslist, and Zappos (respectively) present exceptions
    • The businesses that share more community values tend to do better
    • Most businesses are online community tourists: they watch, but they don’t participate (they’re not from there; they’re just looking at the ‘natives’)
    • Watch Barry Schwartz’s TED Talk on the loss of practical wisdom
    • Many businesses create strict guidelines to follow, thereby instilling robot values over human values into their staff; why?
    • We need to de-robotize; we need to start the human revolution
    • From the Q&A session: Why not ask your fans what’s important to them? What do they value?

Photo of Hau Man Chow Hau Man Chow

Photo of Brian Solis Brian Solis

  • Topic: The Human Network in an Interconnected World (presentation notes)
  • Website: http://www.briansolis.com
  • Twitter: @briansolis
  • Big ideas:
    • All we know about social media is based on opinion; it could all be wrong
    • Executives don’t usually get into social media because of an ‘a-ha’ moment; they often get into social media because of an ‘uh-oh’ moment (read ‘Championing Change from Within’)
    • We – the people in this room – need to be the conductors of our organization’s social media
    • Who in an organization owns social media? Everyone.
    • Your organization needs a style/brand guide for social media
    • Talking back and forth with people if fine, you need to show that your organization has empathy
    • Become the people you want to reach and inspire
    • Conversation is bigger than any social network; check out the Conversation Prism
    • Social media is more about sociology and psychology than it is about technology; we’re becoming digital anthropologists
    • Check out the Brand Dashboard

Photo of Laurel Papworth Laurel Papworth

Photo of Jim Stewart Jim Stewart

  • Topic:  Video for SEO and Inbound Marketing
  • Website: http://stewartmedia.biz
  • Twitter: @jimboot
  • Big ideas:
    • Watch the video, ‘How Kevin Bacon Cured Cancer
    • Old media missed lots of opportunities with online news; such as reporting on local trends, creating time-sensitive local ads on the web, and real community-building
    • Video creation isn’t very complicated or expensive: light it up from above ($20), mic it up ($100), frame it up, use good software (free to $300 for screen capture software like Camtasia Studio)
    • When making a video: (a) tell a story, don’t ready a script; (b) try to have a point
    • Distribute content far and wide via services like TubeMogul (which is good, but still buggy)
    • Make sure your video includes a call back to your home base
    • Make sure you transcribe your video

Photo of Darren Rowse Darren Rowse

  • Topic: Blogging for Dollars – Do You Have What it Takes? (presentation notes)
  • Website: http://www.problogger.net
  • Twitter: @problogger
  • Big ideas:
    • Blogs often make money indirectly (i.e. not through straight ads or affiliate marketing)
    • There are ‘4 Foundations of a Successful blog’ (details in blog post; also see presentation notes)
    • But, if you want a long shortlist: you have to (1) listen; (2) identify goals; (3) build a home base; (4) build trust; (5) be useful; (6) build community; (7) be personal; (8) tell stories; (9) be unique; (10) build a network before you need it; (11) leverage what you have; (12) craft your content well; (13) be playful; (14) be transparent; (15) be accessible; (16) be passionate; (17) promote yourself, but not too much; (18) be prolific; and (19) persist
    • Remember: sometimes the money comes later; don’t just make money from your blog, but because of it

Photo of Gary Vaynerchuck Gary Vaynerchuck

  • Topic: Crush It! Cash in on Your Passion and How to Use Social Media to Grow Your Business (presentation notes part 1, part 2)
  • Website: http://garyvaynerchuk.com
  • Twitter: @garyvee
  • Big ideas:
    • The cost of entry to build a brand has collapsed; e.g. to build WineLibrary.com, it cost $4m in advertising over a number of years while, to build WineLibraryTV.com, it cost almost nothing
    • The value of content has never been higher; “When your content is shit, you’re fucked”; that said, monetizing content is tougher than ever
    • Spend time in communities; you have to love your community before they’ll love you; this is the thank-you economy
    • Customer service via social media is key; the price of your product can get neutralized by caring
    • The cost of entry is: (a) caring, (b) social media customer relationship management
    • The only three things that “move the needle” are: (a) price, (b) convenience, (c) customer service
    • Social media spokespeople for your company need to know your brand story cold
    • Two ways to solve the personal vs. corporate brand issue for company spokespeople and customer service people: either (a) don’t let your people develop a personal brand and become heroes or (b) become a platform to make heroes (under your logo) and attract increasingly better people when/if current heroes leave the organization
    • How do you convince people (e.g. in an organization) to do something (e.g. participate in social media)? Don’t spend any time on selling to people who don’t want to do it. Spend all your time and effort on people who want to do it and then promote them. The rest will come around.
    • Focus on social trends and culture shifts; the big trends these days are virtual goods and currency (e.g. via Facebook); smaller and more mobile is better (because we’re lazy); geo-location
    • The money these days is in restrictions (e.g. Apple and Facebook)

Photo of Deborah Schultz Deborah Schultz

  • Topic:  It’s the People, Stupid (earlier presentation version; presentation notes)
  • Website: http://www.deborahschultz.com
  • Twitter: @debs
  • Big ideas:
    • There is a blurring of our work and personal lives; social media is becoming our ‘third place
    • The social web is not about information provision or telling and selling, it’s about relationships, people, and making connections
    • We’re weaving the social web together; it’s an explosion of the personal in an online environment
    • We live in a culture of sharing, and sharing is easier than ever before
    • We live in a relationship economy in which transactions are by-products of healthy relationships
    • Through the social web, we’re seeing the death of the grand gesture; e.g. companies will ignore you all year till they launch their seasonal/annual advertising campaigns, after which they’ll ignore you again
    • There’s a new framework for the new social web: (a) organic over static; (b) emotion over data; (c) relationships over transactions; (d) continuums over grand gestures; (e) intentions over attention
    • We’re all becoming, looking for, and aspiring to be Tummlers (also see TummelVision podcast)

Photo of Stephen Johnson Stephen Johnson

  • Topic: Social Media Monitoring and Building Brand Advocates
  • Website: http://arcanelogik.com
  • Twitter: @huxley
  • Big ideas:
    • The first and most important thing to do when you get into social media: listen
    • Do you know what motivates your customer?

Panel discussion at ConnectNow 2010 Panel Discussion

Big ideas:

ConnectNow 2010 – Thoughts & Notes (Part 1)

connectnow logoLast week, on 6 & 7 April, I attended the ConnectNow conference in Sydney.

ConnectNow is a spin-off from the MarketingNow conference and it focuses on social media as a business, marketing, and communications tool.

I was fortunate to be sponsored by Melbourne Water to attend the event. Though, even if I hadn’t been, I would have gone there on my own anyway.

Photo from ConnectNow 2010 How Was It?

The conference was excellent and definitely worth the attendance.

The Good Bits

  • Excellent speakers from around the world, all of whom are considered to be thought leaders or, at the very least, major successes in their own particular areas. 
  • Excellent talks and presentations that excited, inspired, and seeded discussion. I particularly liked the talks given by Gavin Heaton, Tara Hunt, Darren Rowse, Gary Vaynerchuck, and Deb Schultz. More on all the talks in Part 2.
  • Great attendees, all with their own social media experience that they could share.
  • Great conference organization.

The Not-So-Good Bits

  • Some talks could have been shorter or structured better. As someone who loves making presentations (and thinks he makes pretty decent ones) it irks me when people don’t make excellent presentations, particularly at events such as this. There were a few times during a 3-4 presentations when I caught myself thinking: “Okay…so you’ve made five great points in succession but you haven’t linked them together (at all) and, even after re-reading the notes I just took, I don’t see how they logically follow each other”. In most of these cases the presentations would have been drastically improved if the speaker had either (a) told a story to string the ideas together or (b) simply grouped and named logical content sections, summarized thoughts at the end of each logical content section, or simply written better slide headings.
  • I wasn’t able to socialize/network as much as I wanted to because I was recovering from a bad cough and would induce a coughing fit if I talked for more than a couple of sentences at a time.

New Berocca bottles advertized at ConnectNow 2010 For More

I’ll be writing my thoughts (based on my notes) on each of the talks in Part 2.

Meanwhile, check out:

Specht on Social Media in Recruitment

Michael Specht just completed a blog post series on ‘Social Media as Part of Background Checking’ during the recruitment process:

I personally think that social media checks – or, at the very least, Google searches – are an essential part of recruitment. And I think that goes both ways:

  • recruiters and companies learn all they can about candidates
  • candidates learn all they can about recruiters and the companies they’re applying to

This is important because:

While the last point is certainly vital for people working in Internet-related industries, it is also becoming increasingly relevant for people working in other industries (as more of their lives move online).

A Quick Intro to Facebook Groups

A colleague at work recently asked for some advice on using Facebook, specifically Facebook Pages vs. Groups. I dug up some resources for him and here’s what I came up with.

Group or Page?

The first thing you have do is figure out what you want to use Facebook for. Depending on your answer, you’ll want to use a Facebook Group or a Facebook Page:

  • If your primary purpose is communicating with a known, closed group of people (e.g. you want to manage communication/interaction with a special interest group) then the better option is a Facebook Group
  • If your primary purpose is marketing and awareness-raising (e.g. you want to interact with Facebook members like a brand or company would) then the better option is a Facebook Page

For more information on the difference between Groups and Pages, read these two articles:

Information About Facebook Groups

Since my colleague’s needs were more Group-related, I also collected these resources for him:

A Quick Intro to Twitter

I recently collected a list of resources for some colleagues at work who wanted an introduction to the Twitter microblogging service. I thought it might be useful to post those here as well.

There’s a lot of Twitter-related information out there, by the way. Most of it is crap or says what everyone else is saying, just in a slightly different way. Fortunately, a few social media heavyweights have made our lives a lot easier by compiling that information for us.

That said, Twitter is an evolving platform so you have to keep up with the way it’s being used in order to stay relevant.

Twitter in Plain English

Let’s start with the very basics. Here’s ‘Twitter in Plain English’ by the good folk at Common Craft:

Also check out their ‘Twitter Search in Plain English’ video.

Twitter Guides

There are a handful of good Twitter guides out there. My favourite are these two:

Twitter Tips

If you want something quicker to read, however, the TwiTip blog has lots of useful tips:

TwiTip is worth subscribing to because they’ll keep updating us on how Twitter is evolving and what we should, could, and can do with it next.

Also nice is the ‘Chris Pirillo’s 140 Twitter Tips’ e-book which you can buy for US$1.40.

Theory vs Practice

Ultimately, though, the best way to learn about Twitter is to use Twitter.

You can read all you like but, until you actually get in there are participate, you won’t know exactly how it works and just how awesome it can be.