Is Social Media Making Us Socially Awkward?
So you want to learn how businesses can use social media to engage their customers, increase sales and create loyal followers? Come to Thirsty for Business – Midday Marketing lunch co-sponsored by Charter Business and the Burleson Area Chamber of Commerce. The luncheon is at 11:30am on June 8th, 2012 at Lost Oak Winery, 2116 FM 731, Burleson TX 76028. Call 817 426-6625 for more info. See you there…
Gary Vaynerchuk explains why small-business owners need to stop debating social media and start using it - http://t.co/cYWHdX6Y
In 2010, Google made a major announcement not by press release but by a blog post. Five years earlier, a company of Google’s stature would have issued a statement on a newswire. Now, a Google executive was crafting a more thoughtful narrative that the company published on its official blog. This shift in venue and message represents a new era in corporate communications. News now needs to be conveyed in an empathetic tone and delivered in a user-friendly format.
And Google isn’t the only company using this strategy. Dell breaks news on its blog all the time. When Netflix has something to say, it complements a traditional release with a post. Southwest Airlines is another great example.
What’s so encouraging about this trend is that it isn’t exclusive to corporate behemoths. To the contrary, smaller companies can leverage blog-centric communications with great success. Here are four examples of those that do it well.
Zillow, the real estate company, has a great blog where it bypasses the typical corporate press release. Instead, it opts for more conventional posts like: “Whether you’re driving around a neighborhood checking home values on your smartphone, using an iPad to draw a search around that dream neighborhood while waiting at the airport, or doing some serious house hunting on your computer at home, there are multiple ways to home search and shop with Zillow.”
Similarly, new hires are introduced by their respective manager in a first-person post.
The takeaway: Keep it human. Your stakeholders, and your customers, prefer it that way.
Those searching Patagonia’s website for a press release will look in vain. Instead, media folks are invited to join the Patagonia PR Facebook group. This group is dedicated to keeping journalists, writers, editors, and other media informed about Patagonia and its outdoor clothing products. While a social network isn’t technically a blog, it works. In fact, Patagonia also operates a robust blog.
The Takeaway: Passion, even edginess, does not get in the way of your message. Passion actually shows personality, and that there’s a real person behind your press shop.
When the British smoothie-maker Innocent announced new juice blends earlier this year, it did so via press release and blog post. The difference between the two versions speaks volumes.
Here’s the press release:
- “We’ve been so pleased with how popular the juice has been that we got back in to the kitchen and have made some delicious juice blends, which we think everyone will enjoy just as much.”
Here’s the blog post: “You can choose from our delicious apple and raspberry recipe or totally tasty tropical (sorry), depending on whether you need to be transported to a dappled orchard or a desert island.”
The formatting differences between the two are even more glaring. The press release lacks any social sharing buttons. Its claim to fame: it’s downloadable as a PDF. The blog post features the colorful new bottles and video created for the occasion. There’s also a promise to reward the most interesting comments with a free case of the new blends.
The Takeaway: Entertaining consumers is as important as informing them.
When ServInt, a web host, announced a new line of servers from their Flex brand, the press release followed the tried-and-trite formula. “ServInt, a pioneering provider of managed cloud hosting for enterprises worldwide, today introduced its new line of fully managed, dedicated servers under the Flex brand.”
Then things got interesting on their blog, ServInt Source, which ran three posts about Flex. First, ServInt’s sales director touted the servers’ “power and options.” A week later, its VP of marketing connected the new machines to the company’s new brand identity. Finally, the COO placed these changes in the context of industry-wide developments.
What’s significant about this approach is how it turns a single announcement into multiple opportunities. With press releases this continuity is difficult. A blog, however, is perfect for ongoing updates.
The Takeaway: Make it personal. Comments from soldiers in the trenches are more memorable than a few quotes from a chief executive.
Slipstre.am is a plug-in for Chrome that allows you to hide certain status updates on Twitter.
For example, if like me you think Foursquare-based tweets are irrelevant, then simply add ‘Foursquare’ and / or ‘4sq.com’ as a term. You can also mute specific users. The tool works directly with Twitter.com and provides a much-needed filter for unwanted noise.
If you’re just looking for a simple tool that mutes a Twitter user then here it is.
A brilliant scheduling tool for Twitter. Rather than sharing lots of content in a short space of time, you can click the Buffer bookmarklet to add it to your tweeting schedule. Tweets will then be staggered. You can plug in your Bit.ly account to use a custom domain and monitor analytics. I’m a big fan of Buffer.
A tool that helps you to discover interesting tweets that might otherwise have been buried. PostPost identifies standout content from the people you follow, and aggregates it on one page (embedding watchable videos and full size images, as opposed to links). Useful for those days when you’re too busy to properly tune into Twitter.
A neat tool for creating a ‘tweetwall’. Choose hashtags, keywords or users and Tweetwally will display them on a dedicated web page. Your tweetwall can be embedded onto your own website.
There are a number of other tools on the verge of being released but which are currently in closed beta, so I’ll wait until they’re available to the masses before writing about them. I’ll publish another post in due course.
Do you have any tools you like to suggest? Let us know in the comments section.