Twitter, You’re Doing It Right (or wrong)

August 6, 2010

My last post outlined why social media isn’t the right tool for all businesses. I’ve thought more about Amy Mengel’s reasons corporations are failing at social media and tried to apply the “rules” to the companies I’m following on twitter. I was able to categorize the businesses into “the good”, those who are using social media well and “the bad”, those who aren’t doing so hot, but might have a chance at redemption. We’ll leave “the ugly” (the guys that don’t stand a chance in the twittersphere) alone, they’ve suffered enough.

Review: Reasons for failure

1. They can’t talk about anything broader than their own products

2. They listen to customers but don’t take any action

3. They aren’t calibrated internally with the technology

4. They’re not framing risk accurately

5. Their internal culture isn’t aligned for social media success

The Good

@wegmans

And not just because I’m a Buffalo girl. If you’re not lucky enough to have this amazing grocery store in your area, check out the Wegmans map and take a roadtrip. Still, we know that having a killer brick and mortar presence doesn’t always translate to the Internet (hello, Tiffany!). Wegmans has #1 covered. Sure, they tweet about store openings, but they also post product recalls, recipe ideas, and community events. They listen to their customers (#2) in the real world and online (#5). If there is one thing Wegmans excels at, it’s customer service. I tweeted about a not so great salad. Within the hour, Wegmans responded and I was sent a gift certificate for twice the value of my meal.

@katespadeny

Being a bit of a fashionista, I was surprised to have only recently discovered kate spade on twitter. I’ve been trolling around for an iPhone4 case and fell in love with the designs from spade. Unfortunately, the cases only fit the older phones, and I tweeted my disappointment. Not five minutes later I got a response saying that iPhone4 cases would be out by the end of August (#2). Sure, the tweet benefits the company and will probably end in a sale, but it also made me feel “special” and “connected”. The kate spade team also hits #3 out of the park. Not only is the kate spade website an interactive dream, but two employees are currently twittering their way through a store opening in Palm Springs!

The Bad

@bicpens

I’m an editor, a writer, a scribbler, I use pens! I even ask for them in my stocking at Christmas, but I only use one kind. I am loyal, to a fault, to the BiC Ultra Round Stic (black or red, no blue).  Keep your fancy Montblac, I’ll stick with Bic, even if it means suffering through stained fingers and ink blob smeared words (no, I’m not a lefty). The BiC performance policy states that the company will gladly replace my faulty writing instrument at no cost if I am not satisfied. Well, I’m not. So I tweeted about it. BiC followed me, and then…nothing. Wake up, guys! You have a cute, flashy website but we all know that for most of the world, putting pen to paper is like rolling down a car window, something we’ve heard of but don’t actually do anymore. But there’s hope! Some of us still live in the dark ages, you can tell because we sit at meetings with a legal pad instead of an iPad. You might want to keep us happy, or at least respond!

@starbucks

*hides* First things first, I am addicted to Starbucks coffee and will suffer through caffeine withdrawal if I can’t find that little green mecca. So please, people of Starbucks, don’t spike my caramel macchiato. You all make wonderful coffee and yummy baked goods, but the social media aspect is lagging a bit. Yes, you have the ideastorm-esque site where customers can share their gripes, praise and suggestions, but it looks like you’ve put all your beans in one basket! The idea site gets a lot of attention and feedback from the people of Starbucks. You’ve created a wonderful community and are engaging in a conversation. Unfortunately, you also built a community over on twitter, but that platform is used as a bulletin board, not a sounding board.

Both BiC and Starbucks need a refresher course on rule #2. Weggies, kate spade: you guys rock. Let’s go shopping for local produce and carry our haul home in an adorable, versatile tote.

Note: Yes, I’m an editor and know names are usually capitalized, kate spade, however, is not.

Note two: Full disclosure, I worked at Wegmans in Willamsville, NY during high school and received a Wegmans scholarship.

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Social Media Doesn’t Fit Every Business Model

July 27, 2010

Social media is a lot like leggings; they naturally look great on some people, others need to work hard to pull off the trend, and yet another group should steer clear at all costs. A quick Google search for social media and business returns 257,000,000 results, most titles declare social media and business to be inseparable, as ubiquitous as having a telephone number. Still, being on the first page of Google doesn’t make something true. A little more searching and you’ll see that social media does not make sense for every business.

What follows is a mini-analysis of the social media decisions of two businesses using Mashable’s social media myths and Amy Mengel’s reasoning of why corporations are failing at social media.

The Small Business

Most marketing blogs will push social media as the perfect partner for small businesses because of the (seemingly) perfect price. However, as Gene Marks of the Philadelphia Business Journal explains, while there may be no cost to register for social networks, “many business owners…have found that it takes a huge time investment to keep their site active, up to date and relevant.” As explained in Mashable’s myth #2, social networking is not a Ron Popeil rotisserie, you can’t just “set it and forget it.”

The Journal’s article follows Heidi, a small jewelry store owner, who does not use social media to promote her business, and her business is doing just fine. Clearly, Heidi has dispelled Mashable’s first social media myth that “small businesses must be on social media”. She understands that social networking might be “a great place to nurture current and prospective customers…to build a community…a way to not only educate people about what you do but also community with people interested in your business,” but Heidi also understands that to achieve those results, your target market must be interested in social networking.

The real answer to myth #1? “Find out where your customers are and the best way to reach them.” Heidi did that by attending local jewelry fairs, advertising in her local paper, and keeping in touch with bigger customers via phone and e-mail.

The International Juggernaut

Small businesses may lack the customer base to support a social networking campaign, but number of customers is not the only parameter for deciding on a marketing strategy.  A business interested in utilizing Twitter should first consider whether the medium will assist in reaching the target market.

The Demographic Discrepancy

Tiffany & Co., the world renowned jeweler whose blue boxes send hearts fluttering, has a Twitter and Facebook account.

A Twitter demographic survey conducted in fall 2009 by the Pew Internet & American Life Project showed that Twitter and similar services are more popular among younger users, 33% are aged 18-29 and 22% are 30-49. 22% of users have a household income under $30,000.

The Tiffany consumer is affluent, a college graduate, and likely to live in the northeast United States.  68% of customers are married. Men usually make the purchases; however products are aimed at women, 25-48.

Let’s talk about…me!

Tiffany decided to ignore the possibly incompatible demographics of the world of social media, and their gamble could have paid off, if they didn’t fall into the trap of using social media to broadcast messages (myth #4). Tiffany is lucky in that, even though it may not have anything other than its own products to discuss (Mengel’s first cause of social media failure), they have an active, engaged following.

Updates to the Facebook and Twitter pages are rare and when they do appear the content is purely promotional. Posts include photos of celebrities and athletes wearing borrowed diamonds and announcements of new lines or additions to collections.

Is anyone home?

Mengel’s second, and what I believe to be an inexcusable reason for failure, is a company listening without acting. Customer feedback and conversations are reasons businesses start social networking campaigns! Sadly, Tiffany’s Facebook wall is full of comments, questions and even complaints about Tiffany products, all without a response from the company. “If a company creates an online presence that’s open and allows customer feedback, it creates the expectation that the company is going to do something with that feedback.” Instead, Tiffany gives off the “don’t call us, we’ll call you” vibe with its lack of interaction.

This post was created for my e-marketingclass. If you’re interested in other discussions on e-marketing, social media, or Antkeg remi, visit the class blog.
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Editorial Pet Peeves

redundant-acronymia

July 26, 2010

In honor of the Bureau Chiefs (those witty folks behind @FakeAPstylebook) putting some new swag up on Zazzle, I’m sharing some writing mistakes that make my red ink boil.

As a primer, an acronym, according to the journalist’s bible, is “a word formed from the first letter or letters of a series of words.” A fairly simple concept, right? Unfortunately, no.

Redundant ATM Sign

Having worked at a bank for a little over two years I saw a lot of  butchering of one acronym in particular from bankers and customers alike. This sign was proudly displayed at a local restaurant (killer fish fry, not so stellar signage). It illustrates a most egregious and wide-spread phenomenon, redundant-acronymia, a highly contagious yet curable disease. Again, we’ll refer to the bible:

ATM Acceptable in all references for automated teller machine. Do not use the redundant ATM machine.

Citi Visa CardRedundant-acronymia afflicts all organizations, not just those who can’t afford an editing staff.  I submit exhibit 2, the back of my Citi purchasing card.  What’s your excuse, Citi?

Other equally obnoxious occurrences of redundant-acronymia include PIN number and VIN number.

If I still worked at the bank, I’d wear this pin daily and maybe poke people with it, too.

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The Best Birthday Present an Editor Could Ask For

July 19, 2010

The 2010 journalist’s bible came out a few months ago and I’ve been waiting patiently to get my hands on it. For those not in the know, this latest edition includes some earth shattering changes that sent the editors attending the 2010 ACES conference into a twitter tizzy.  Needless to say, I’ll be spending the rest of the day poring over the new social media guidelines!

And for the record, I’m against changing Web site to website.

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A Proud Doggie Mommy

July 15, 2010

In addition to working full-time and “studenting” part-time, I’m also on the Board of Directors of The Barkyard, Buffalo’s only official off-leash area. As such, I must boast about our latest award bestowed upon us by Buffalo Spree Magazine. The Barkyard was named the “Best Place to Hang Out with Your Dog” as part of the magazine’s Best of WNY 2010 series. Additional information, plus a photo of our major award, is on The Barkyard’s website. The cute pup in the background? That’s Thor, our adorable Toy Fox Terrier.

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A Little Birdie Told Me…

July 15, 2010

I am, perhaps in part by virtue of being a journalist, not exactly on the bleeding edge of communications technology.  I’m not quite as lame as to have an @aol.com email address but I’m fairly resistant to marcom technology as a whole. Of all the tools and widgets available, I must confess to have resisted Twitter (known in my household as “The Tweeters”) for quite some time.

Twitter as a company was born in 2007. I secured my account on April 2, 2009 but couldn’t quite make the commitment, waiting to post my first tweet until March 1, 2010. Since then I’ve been hooked, and every day I find someone new who has interesting PR, communications or journalistic information to share–I even found an article that sparked a thesis idea!

Give it a try, and while you’re at it, check out these excellent tweeps!

J Lab (@JLab) is the Institute for Interactive Journalism, a center located in the American University’s School of Communication.  They help journalists and everyday folks navigate the world of digital technologies to develop new ways for people to participate in public life.

Mark Glaser (mediatwit) Mark is the Executive editor of PBS MediaShift and Idea Lab. Mark’s tweets and the MediaShift site are invaluable for the new media journalist.

PRNewser (PRNewser) is the public relations based feed from mediabistro.  The Newser covers PR news, trends, and gossip. Wondering how Apple is going to handle the iphone 4 debacle? PRNewser is the tweep to follow and a great site to check out.

AP Stylebook (APStylebook) it should go without saying, but just in case you didn’t know, the “journalist’s bible” (and an editors, too!) is on Twitter.

Fake AP Stylebook (FakeAPStylebook) a hilarious (in a totally nerdy editor way) twitter feed composed by the Bureau Chiefs offering faux style/writing guidelines.  Sample tweet: “As appropriate as it may seem, references to the game “Frogger” have no place in pedestrian death stories.”


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Journalism and the Internet

Did new media kill the beat reporter?

July 12, 2010
Tags:

In truth, the Internet didn’t kill journalism, big business killed journalism, the Internet simply helped speed the flow of the poison.

Nieman Reports, a print and online repository for all things journalism, made the case that news conglomerates actually struck the first blow.  Mega media monsters swallowed up local newspapers and television stations then reduced local reporting to a trickle, making the news “less local and less relevant, and reporters . . . less connected to their communities.”  The further journalists got from home, the less trust the public had in their reporting.

Enter the Internet. If a reporter’s credentials aren’t up to snuff, the public can simply find their news elsewhere.  And that news doesn’t have to stop at the byline.  If a reader wants more information, she can hunt down others with similar interests to round out the story.  News consumers are not longer interested in purchasing pre-packaged sound bytes, they want to be engaged in the story and make their own connections.

Easier said than done?

As Nieman’s Michael Skoler explains, “There is no magic model…we have no business model unless people need our work to enrich their daily lives and value it highly enough to depend on it.”

Step 1: Provide Value

As much as news consumers want to be a part of the conversation and explore stories on their own terms, they still need a starting point. MediaShift, a weblog of new-media innovators, posts daily articles about the digital media revolution. A recent column rethinking the role of journalists in the participatory age encourages journalists to re-examine their traditional role. Tom Rosenstiel suggests that journalists must “shift from being the gatekeeper to the authenticator of information.” Joe six-pack can’t travel to Haiti and explore the ramifications of the devastating earthquake, but Anderson Cooper can.

Step 2: Know Your Source

Even Brian Williams can get caught up in a story.  When RadarOnline.com posted a story about Chief Justice John Roberts considering resigning from the U.S. Supreme Court, the blogosphere was set ablaze.  As the story goes, the rumor was started in a first-year law class at Georgetown University by a professor looking to impart the importance of verifying informants on his students.

The world of social media has opened doors to hundreds of potential sources – although only those sources engaged in social media. As noted in EContentMag.com, a survey conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project showed that Twitter and similar services are more popular among younger users, 37% are aged 18-24 and 31% are 25-34. Knowing the source, or knowing enough to check out a source, may be one of the defining traits of the new media journalist.

Amidst all the blogs and forums and tweets there is still room for the new media journalist.  The new medium gives journalism a chance to grow and serve its consumers.  However, a new medium is no reason to throw away the old “rule book” entirely.  When Bob Woodward, Washington Post reporter of Watergate fame, was asked how the Internet changed journalism his reply was:

“The Internet is a mixed blessing. It creates pressure to do things fast, often too fast, and a news organization operates on the continuous deadline, leading to impatience. The incentives for speed are too great. The best journalism involves patience, often a lot of it. Reporters need to spend time against the problem. The Internet has leveled the playing field somewhat, but the facts and backup and documents still matter. I’m still optimistic that newspapers and the more traditional media can provide essential information to people—in context, in depth. But we have a great deal of work to do to prove that on a regular basis.”

This post was created for my e-marketingclass. If you’re interested in other discussions on how the Internet has effected industries, visit the class blog.

Step 1: Provide Value

Joe six-pack can’t travel to Haiti and explore the ramifications of the devastating earthquake, but Anderson Cooper can.

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Pimp My Blog

or "How My Blog Got So Pretty in Only 24 Hours"

July 12, 2010

HTML, CSS and mad blog design skills courtesy of PumiceT.com.

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Antkeg Remi!

July 8, 2010

Hello, world! The true purpose of this blog is for my Canisius College MBA e-marketingclass. But frankly, it’s about time I’ve carved out my own home on this wide open prairie.  Welcome, enjoy, and Antkeg Remi. Learn more about Antkeg Remi.

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