Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

Transparency and Social Media Puts CEOs on the Defensive

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Over the past few years we’ve seen some pretty amazing examples of the power of communication, specifically, the ability to share events in real-time on a global level. Protests like the ones in Tahrir Square in Egypt and now in Gezi Park in Turkey clearly demonstrate that the Web’s ability to share information in real-time truly empowers people in David vs. Goliath situations. Closer to home even President Obama’s call for government transparency has helped show people that transparency promotes accountability.

Don-Thompson-of-McDonaldsBut when companies implement social media strategies, are they truly ready for what might come their way? Did McDonald’s CEO really think that a question from a 9-year old during its annual shareholder’s meeting would cause such a headache?

1369333180000-hannah-with-chart-1305231917_4_3_rx404_c534x401“I don’t think it’s fair when big companies try to trick kids into eating food. It isn’t fair that so many kids my agare getting sick,” she said — blaming McDonald’s for unfairly targeting kids with advertisements for food that isn’t good for them.

Nine-year old Hannah Robertson to McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson

Or what about Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Michael Jeffries, whose insensitive comments about the company’s target market back in 2006 in Salon Magazine recently resurfaced?

104738_story__9ba“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” Jeffries said in the article. “We go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong (in our clothes), and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

Sure, most people have figured out the power of social media and the ability for any piece of news to go viral. As noted in a blog post on Forbes about A&F, “But unfortunately, with the internet, embarrassing articles do not die – they just go into hibernation until they are resuscitated.”

Of course, corporate leaders and politicians still seem to stick their collective feet in their mouth—check out Oklahoma state representative Dennis Johnson’s recent comments—by not being prepared when information is posted online or goes viral via YouTube.

Most executives we have work with understand that systems must be put in place to not only field inquiries via social media channels, but that damage control and crisis communication plans must be in place as well. The transparency of the Web has empowered people to share information on a global level. Sometimes the information is positive, sometimes it’s negative. But I’m sure that the VP of Marketing at McDonald’s or A&F have realized that following the Boy Scout’s motto, be prepared, has to be taken seriously.

So when your company dove into the social media world, did you map out a lines of communication diagram to up-level feedback to senior executives in real-time? Thinking this through ahead of time can not only save your company, but it might save your job as well.

Question-“When did Noah build the ark?”

Answer-“Before the flood.”





Channel Surfing

Friday, May 17th, 2013

I don’t know about you, but I find it overwhelming to channel surf on my cable system. As I tell my son, “hundreds of channels, nothing to watch.” But when we’re talking about marketing and we say “channel”, it’s a whole different ballgame. Traditionally the channel refers the various outlets you use to share your product or message with potential customers such as the retail channel, reseller channel, or mail order channel, just to name a few. But in today’s world, thanks in part to social media, the channel has grown.

It used to be that you could get a story published in a magazine or newspaper about your company or product, but now there’s the world of online media, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. For marketing and PR pros it can be overwhelming.

If you want to learn more about how to manage all of your marketing channels, take a few minutes to read an article that one of our clients, Oliver Jaeger at e-Spirit, recently published. The article recently appeared in Marketing Executives and it’s titled Six Ways to Improve Multichannel Marketing.

Marketing and PR pros often wear many hats and, at times, managing so many channels can feel like you’re drinking from the fire hose. The key is having a strong Web Content Management system in place to not only manage all of your online marketing materials, but to help improve your customer’s experience.

Social Media…The Customer’s Great Equalizer

Monday, April 29th, 2013

As I look through various publications and websites I continually see articles about the importance of companies being customer-centric, or that the customer is the center of the universe, or that your company needs to funnel activities towards customer needs. While I find these articles interesting, I’m still amazed to find that many companies simply don’t get it.  

Look at companies like Nordstrom or Amazon that focus a tremendous amount of effort on providing excellent customer service. They treat me well and I become a regular customer. As everyone knows repeat customers cost much less than having to go out and 2find new customers. There are many thoughts behind ways to build customer loyalty or to strengthen customer loyalty, but most of these should really be obvious—use common sense and your customer will usually be happy.

Here’s an example of two companies that just don’t get it.

Last week I had an issue between my bank and my mortgage company regarding an error with my mortgage payment. The long-and-short of it is that I was charged a $35 fee (twice!) for something that wasn’t my fault, yet neither institution would refund me the 3charge. In the grand scheme of things, $70 is nothing for these large financial institutions, but to me it’s a lot of money. More to the point is the principle of the issue—both companies pointed the finger at the other, neither company was willing to step up and admit error, and both companies now have an unhappy customer. It just goes to show you that many companies still don’t understand how to be customer-centric.

From a marketing or PR perspective, I guess these companies don’t care about annoying a single customer. But with the growth of social media, I can get my message out to the masses much easier than ever before. If either of these companies was smart, they’d realize that refunding me the money would go a long way to securing a happy customer.

It reinforces my thinking that customer service, marketing and PR folks need to keep a finger on the pulse of the social media comments about their company, 24×7, so they can gauge sentiment and react quickly as needed. Better yet, be preventative up front by offering amazing customer service at all times.

Do you have examples like this where you’ve taken to social media channels to let the masses know how you were treated?


To Tweet Or Not To Tweet, That Is The Question

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Putting aside personal beliefs and party preferences, the presidential debate on October 16 night was a real yawner for someone like me who actually wanted to hear some substance. While a good “he said/she said” argument is always entertaining, the funniest parts of the evening didn’t come from the campus of Hofstra University, but instead came from the blog-o-sphere. While the first debate brought us discussions about the importance and cost of Big Bird in our society, the second debate put binders at the forefront of Wednesday morning water cooler talk. Personally I was disgusted by the focus on attacking each other and the lack of quality answers to the questions, but that’s fodder for the political blogs to hash out.

Today’s topic is about the extensive reach and the impact of social media. We’ve seen the impact that social media can have on sharing images and issues that can bring about change – see the Arab Spring. But social media can also give us a pulse check on what voters are thinking at any moment as well as put into perspective the sheer volume of participants. Let’s take a look at some numbers circulating around the Web about the debate:

  • By the time the debate was even over, Romney’s description had spawned a Facebook page (which had more than 275,000 “Likes” by mid-morning on Wednesday), a Twitter handle and, perhaps best of all, the website…” KFMB TV
  • Twitter said the conversation peaked at 109,560 tweets per minute when Romney was asked about immigration. In an hour-by-hour count, the site’s “cheermeter” recorded 116,000 tweets favoring Romney to 94,000 for Obama and the Republican leading 111,000 to 101,000 in the second hour.
  • The 90-minute nationally televised exchange between President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney generated 12.24 million comments on Twitter and Facebook according to Blue Fin Labs, an analytics firm that studies social media’s reaction to televised events. Politico

But social media isn’t just about tossing around opinions and mocking opponents. The idea of micro-targeting specific groups is a very powerful idea. Attensity, a social analytics firm stated that “the most revealing insights related to viewer sentiment and voter intentions came from the swing states: Ohio, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Virginia, and Wisconsin.”

So what can we in the corporate communications world learn from all of this? When you design a campaign for a product launch or corporate event, do your homework and determine the best way to not only reach but to actively engage your audience which. When used correctly, social media can help establish a multi-way dialogue with your target audience rather than simply using one-way communication techniques that hinder a company’s ability to engage in a more meaningful way with their audience.

That said, I leave you with one of the funnier Tweets that I read from the debate courtesy of CNN – “I feel like Obama’s staff stabbed him in the chest w/ the adrenaline needle from Pulp Fiction.”

Portland AMA — Some helpful resources

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Thanks to all of the Portland AMA members who attended the luncheon on Tuesday at Bridgeport Brewing Company.

If you were there , you know that Megan McKenzie provided a number of example of about how companies are using social media – both good and bad.  The key take away for me is the importance of building trust before embarking on any social media campaigns.  It all comes down to have a clear purpose and knowing your Why.

One of the questions that came up had to do with additional resources. For those of you who are working with your executive teams to increase social media activities, sadly there is no magic bullet.  Social media is one of those things where you gain experience by launching a program and building insight and expertise about what works for YOU over time.  It truly does not come with an instruction manual, and the landscape is changing quickly. While there are no easy answers, it does pay to stay abreast of trends and study up on what others are doing and see what applies to you.

Remember that in all cases, social media must be approached with a clear understanding of your Why along with a heaping does of quality, truth and integrity.

Here are a few resources we have found helpful:


Portland AMA talk slide deck

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Here’s the slide deck from the talk Megan Mckenzie delivered at the Portland AMA’s monthly lunch meeting today. We had a great time meeting many of the smart marketing folks from around the Portland area and look forward to hooking up with you again at future events.

Stop social media madness from McKenzie Worldwide


Michael Edson’s Talk Wows Crowd

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Michael Edson of The Smithsonian Institution gave a fascinating talk this morning at The Willard Hotel only a few blocks away from The White House on  Pennsylvania Avenue. It was fun to watch as his witty, intellectual rapid-fire talk had the entire room buzzing with interest as he talked about the unique social media challenges and opportunities faced by government agencies and non-profit organizations. The audience was so engaged during the Q&A session that we were actually kicked out of our meeting room by the hotel staff to make way for the next event!

You can check out his presentation here:

Michael Edson

Michael Edson Purpose-Driven Talk from McKenzie Worldwide on Vimeo.

Take me out to the ballgame – online

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Sometimes in life we are blessed with the coming together of two things that we love. Milk and cookies, chips and salsa, and…baseball and technology? Yes, that’s right. The intersection of sports and technology is actually quite huge. Whether it’s fantasy league owners needing the most updated statistics or the college football junkie who needs to know the point spread on the big game, people everywhere are jumping on the bandwagon.

Major League Baseball’s opening day has arrived and a quick look online shows that a number of teams have fully jumped into the merging world of high tech and sports. Check these out:

  • The Cleveland Indians, not exactly burdened with a long history of success, have added a social media section to the stadium.
  • Applications about everything in baseball are available for the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android and Blackberry.
  • The Oakland A’s, who have been in a political battle for over five years to get a new stadium on the edge of Silicon Valley in Fremont, have agreed to partner with networking giant Cisco. “Cisco’s networking equipment that will let fans use the latest available technology, so that they can do everything from upgrading tickets on cell phones to watching instant replays on handhelds.”
  • The entire March Madness – all 67 games of this year’s men’s NCAA basketball tournament – was broadcast live over the Internet in HD. Talk about ways to waste time at work. Thankfully, the boss button worked great.
  • And the best story, at least in my opinion, involves a creative idea. As reported on CNBC, a beer vendor who works at the Seattle Mariners games started a Twitter account so that he can take orders from fans in the stands. Simply send a message to @Msbeervendor with your seat number and your order and he’ll swing by. As 36 year old an entrepreneur/beer vendor and teacher (his day job) Kevin Zelko said, “Since the beginning of beer vendors, we’ve been walking up and down the aisles seeing who wants a beer, I’m going to try to change that.”

Follow @Msbeervendor to get your brews delivered at Mariners homegames

While there are many more examples of how professional sports teams and leagues have adopted technology, it’s important to ask yourself—why? Who cares if a baseball fanatic who can’t stop reading the box scores can get their hands on even more mundane statistics?

All cynicism aside (and believe me, I’ve heard all of the jokes about the pathetically slow pace of baseball), progressive companies are at the forefront of this seismic shift in how we view America’s pastime. Why do I consider these companies as progressive? It’s not about supporting the habits of statistical geeks, it’s really about improving the customer experience and securing customer loyalty—the Holy Grail of team owners. When a family of four has to shell out over $200 to enjoy a day at the park it’s in the team’s best interests to do everything possible to make the experience an enjoyable one. And if technology and social media can help, bring it on.

I remember growing up and heading to the ballpark with my grandfather and keeping the scorebook of the game. Found memories indeed. Now I get to take my kids to the ballpark and teach them how to keep score in a game on my iPad. Oh, how times have changed.

The Power of the Electronic Pen

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Two guys walk into a coffee shop, get their drinks, sit down and start chatting.

“Social media is the biggest waste of time,” said the first person.

“No it’s not. It’s one of the greatest inventions of our time,” said the second person.




The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. I will admit that I am a fan of Facebook and I use Twitter on occasion. I love Facebook for a variety of reasons: I’ve been able to re-connect with long-lost friends, it allows me to share thoughts and ideas and get discussions going, and it enables me to learn from those around me. But the key, as blogger Om Malik suggests, is “the message — the act of sharing — is the real product.”

The beauty of social media is simply that – the act of sharing a message. Yet in the tech sector, we tend to get a little too excited about new technologies and sometimes I think we’re simply lemmings jumping off of a cliff by blindly following the hottest trends. That message was clear at the recent Demo show where “just about everywhere you look these days, Twitter and Facebook are the most popular kids in the room.”

But I’m not here to debate the merits or praise the rise of social media. I’m here to say that, as a history buff, I find it fascinating that the social media wave has become a crucial part of the recent upheaval in the Middle East. The people who suffer under the repressive regimes in Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt have been controlled and repressed over the years by hard-line governments. Yet the ability of the masses to share the message of freedom with the world did not go unnoticed by those of us outside of those countries. And we have social media, at least in part, to thank. As noted in Mashable:

“The Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University cited Facebook and Twitter as playing key roles in spreading dissent-and up-to-the-minute news-in Tunisia, leading to the removal of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who gained control of the country in a 1987 coup d’etat.”

So what can the tech sector learn from this? It’s very important to work closely with your customers, address their needs and make sure that you follow through on your promises. Because if you don’t, unhappy customers have the power to make your life miserable, just like the revolutionaries in the countries mentioned above have for their leaders.

Many PR folks are concerned about the rise of social media and the fall of traditional methods to engage with members of the press. My advice to those people, the social media channel is much more powerful than you might have imagined. Don’t pretend that it can’t come up an get you. It can.

Keep social media programs on track

Monday, September 27th, 2010

With any sort of brand building effort — be it social media, PR advertising or trade shows — managing all the details from start to finish can be daunting and time consuming. Many times, the slightest error can undermine a good campaign, as seen in this rather embarrassing billboard:

While it seems that such errors are, at times, unavoidable, in the social media world at least a large assortment of tools have emerged to help your campaigns go more smoothly. You can find tools  to help you create, execute and track your brand-building efforts.  When it comes to selecting social media tools it’s a good strategy to embrace tools that span a number of different social media channels so you can roll out integrated, consistent campaigns.

Over at TopRank, an online marketing blog, Lee Odden offers up a list of 22 tools for social media marketing management. Some are completely free while others offer a limited set of services on a trial basis with pay models as you tap more of the tool’s capabilities. I’ve used a few of the services on the list and found them to be beneficial.   HootSuite, for example, integrates social media activity like Twitter and Facebook posts and feeds into a common dashboard with an assortment of charts and graphs.  Many of the tools go much deeper and will you help set up and manage full-blown campaigns.

Tools alone can’t save you from embarrassing or costly mistakes, however.  I’m sure we’ve all had our share. In my case, I’ve learned the hard way (although not as bad as that billboard) to never underestimate the power of typos. Good  editors in particular are worth every dime!

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