Social Media

Social Media and Mobile Devices Again Leading the Way in Crisis Events

Posted on April 21, 2011. Filed under: Social Media | Tags: , , |

When the massive natural disaster occurred in Japanon 11 March the value of mobile devices and social media were once again brought to the forefront for capturing and disseminating the latest news quickly. Users were not only able to get the latest news through social networks but also send and receive updates, prompt help for those in need and share an unprecedented amount of eyewitness video footage.

Social networks sites were not only helpful for retrieving news, but also served as a form of community bulletin board to find loved ones after the earthquake. As telephone lines were jammed or no longer in service, those affected were able to use sites such as Skype, Twitter, Facebook and Mixi to inform others of their whereabouts and status. Within an hour of the earthquake, 1,200 tweets per minute were coming from Tokyo alone. By day’s end over 246,000 messages were published under the topic “Earthquake in Japan”. And in one day, 4.5 million people changed their status to include “earthquake”, “Japan”, or “tsunami”.   

Social networks also supported the efforts of Kameda Medical Center in Chiba. The medical center agreed to treat victims of the earthquake, but soon found itself running out of food and medical supplies, and no truck or ambulance would come close from fear of radiation at the nearby Fukushima reactors. Hospital director Nobuo Hiwatashi issued an appeal through the Mainichi Japan newspaper with little response. Finally, the hospital posted two urgent pleas for help on the Twitter stream of US Ambassador John Roos, instantly contacting Roos through his mobile. An hour or so later, evacuation of the patients were organized byJapan’s Ground Self-Defense Forces.

Local governments and agencies started using social media as a tool, including the local government in Mitaka city in western Tokyo, which put information on Twitter to inform local citizens about electricity blackouts in real-time. The US Government also posted advisories and updates to its citizens residing in Japan through Twitter and Facebook.

Blogger “konnichiwa-japan” explained in a nutshell why Twitter became so popular: “as the days progressed, I found the Tweet feed from people actually on the ground in affected areas to be the best source of news. Links from Twitter showed me NHK News’ English Upstream live feed, real-time reporting of radiation levels, Upstream of Geiger counters, and a variety of other useful sites that I never would have gotten from traditional TV or newspaper media.”

The natural disaster in Japan demonstrated how social networks have significantly impacted the ways in which we communicate and connect with each other. It was a life saver to many that had no ways of reaching other channels for help. As an instrument for change, individuals were able to not only trigger action and connect with friends but have their stories shared with millions across the globe.

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It Pays to Discover: Managing Issues to Regain Lost Trust

Posted on April 14, 2011. Filed under: Social Media | Tags: , , , |

We’ve just released a new ebook: “Analyze & Discover: Measuring the Effect of Digital Opportunities on Reputation & Brand Equity.” The ebook offers insight into the process, metrics, and tools that can help you identify opportunities and manage risk effectively. Here’s an excerpt:

The first step in managing risk is to assess the maturity level of each issue. After all, with a constantly expanding universe of risks in social media, no one organization could (or should) react to every issue that crosses their transom. Rather, executives must categorize issues/risks according to how real of a threat they are to the brand, reputation, and bottom line. Common categories include:

• Latent: Comments by/conversations among non-influencers that are untrue, insignificant, unsubstantiated, and/or unconnected. These issues should be watched passively and are not likely to become critical.
• Emerging: Comments by/conversations among influencers and non-influencers alike that contain potentially damaging themes, but that have not yet reached critical mass. These claims, while not always entirely true, have an element of credibility that is cause for concern, and should therefore be watched actively.
• Critical: Comments by/conversations among influencers that have a consistent theme, present credible evidence, and/or express legitimate concerns. These issues have the highest potential of becoming full-blown crises and should therefore be addressed immediately.

To fully understand the role discovery plays in the new social media process, consider the financial industry’s experiences with online platforms. The effects of widespread malfeasance and a massive economic downturn have obliterated consumers’ trust in financial institutions, forcing many of them to begin rebuilding relationships with their stakeholders in the most unlikely places: social media platforms.

Social media has certainly given consumers amply opportunities to voice their discontent with financial institutions, and these companies are just beginning to engage in online conversations to rebuild the brand equity that had been demolished by a coalescence of factors. That’s not to say adoption is widespread: According to Wetpaint and Altimeter Group’s July 2009 “ENGAGEMENTdb” report, the financial industry is one of the least engaged in social media. Being hindered by government regulations is certainly a factor, but more and more companies are finding ways to engage and play by the rules at the same time. Among the most “social” financial brands:

Wells Fargo: Manages multiple blogs for different target audiences. One in particular, the Wells Wachovia blog, was launched after Wells Fargo beat out Citigroup for control of Wachovia. It became a resource for joint customers, as well as a place where they could voice concerns about the transition.
H&R Block: One of the first financial brands to begin leveraging Twitter as a customer service tool, first by monitoring the platform for issues and then responding directly to the individuals who had expressed concerns/frustrations.
Citi Cards: Leveraged social media during the launch of its Citi Forward product, specifically intended to help young consumers manage their credit; effort included blogger outreach, a Twitter presence and a YouTube channel.

Download the ebook to learn more about managing issues.

Diane Thieke is Marketing Director at Dow Jones.

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Rules of Engagement: Greater China Social Media Landscape

Posted on March 29, 2011. Filed under: Public Relations, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Social Media is on everyone’s minds today and has also greatly evolved the current media landscape. Naturally though, the digital divide among communicators is growing: on one hand, there are those that are just starting to do baby steps to navigate through the online space; on the other hand, you have those creating the rules of social media while ‘riding the wave’.

However, this is first and foremost an internal problem. What’s more crucial, and to a certain extent even scary, is that our brands’ employees, customers, and general stakeholders are getting more and more demanding. So how should we deal with growing expectations in a diverse and ever-evolving (social) media landscape?

At a recent interview with Mercy Su for the Digital Media Across Asia Wiki of the Singapore Management University, I had a take at these questions in general and specifically tackled where Greater China and in particular, Hong Kong and Taiwan, are moving in the social media space.

Did you know that though both territories’ social media users are very outspoken, the majority of online comments is still rather positive?

While it might not be a surprise that the main discussions evolve around politics, daily-life, celebrities or brands, it’s important to see how especially mainland China’s social media platform rather significantly grow their influence in the Hong Kong and Taiwan markets.

Lars Voedisch is a media consultant based in Singapore.
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Perks for tweeting? Yes, please

Posted on March 22, 2011. Filed under: Social Media | Tags: , , , , |

I’ve heard a lot of talk about Klout and whether or not it’s an accurate measurement of “social influence.” Klout is a San Francisco-based company that identifies influencers by topic and ranks them via reach and popularity on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. This hard metric is becoming widely adopted by large companies.  While people are speculating about the worth of the “Klout score,” below you can see three companies that have decided to trust the metric and turn it into a creative marketing campaign.

1. Virgin Airlines

The California-based airline teamed up with Klout to offer top “Twitter influencers” one free, round-trip flight from Los Angeles or San Francisco to Toronto. According to Megan Berry, Marketing Manager at Klout, Virgin selected their influencers based on three  main factors.

  • Klout score
  • Location – Virgin wanted top influencers along their route — San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Toronto.
  • Tags – Berry says, “For this campaign we considered factors like how often you talked about your city, other cities on the route and various keywords that Virgin America chose to target.”

The top influencers were also invited to Virgin America’s Toronto launch event, which kicked off the inclusion of Toronto as one of the airline’s hubs. The best part of this campaign is that it was “no-strings attached,” meaning that the selected Brand Ambassadors were not required to tweet Virgin during their experience. Klout explains: “We have a very strict code of conduct; we do not buy tweets or require any response from influencers who participate in one of our Perks.”

2. The Sacramento Kings

The Sacramento Kings is the first professional sports organization to use Klout for Marketing.

For the Kings campaign, “we sent out invitations to leading influencers in Sacramento and surrounding areas,” said Megan Berry.

Mitch Germann, VP of marketing for the Kings, says it “will help us reach a new audience. The influencers are active in social media and have large networks so we hope they’ll reach a large group of people who are not following us.”

According to ESPN.COM, Attendees of the event started off the night in a lounge at the arena, where food was provided and a social media discussion featuring Fernandez and Kings forward Jason Thompson took place. Members of the Kings’ dance team then facilitated a trivia game with prizes.

3.  The Palms 

I recently read an article on that quoted Palms’ chief marketing officer, Jason Gastwirth. Jason states that he is currently building out “The Klout Klub,” which “will allow high-ranking influencers to experience Palms’ impressive set of amenities in hopes that these influencers will want to communicate their positive experience to their followers.”

Eventually, the Klout data will become a part of the reservation process, and people will be able to get a free upgrade.  And we all thought tweeting was a waste of time!

Interested in discovering your Klout score? It’s easy, just sign up at

Do you know of any others examples? Or could pushing tweeps to talk about your brand have any backlash?  Let’s discuss.

Jennifer Hall, Enterprise Marketing at Dow Jones, is based in Princeton, NJ.

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Rules of Engagement – how to get your organization social-media-ready

Posted on March 14, 2011. Filed under: Social Media | Tags: , , , , , |

Facebook is the largest social network globally – so that’s where your company has to be. And quickly add Twitter as well as everybody is talking about it. Come on, rush out and set up a page! Or not?

One of the biggest mistakes companies do when it comes to social media, is to rush in without a clear objective and combined with that not understanding their respective social media universe. So while Facebook might be the right bet for some, for others it could be specialist blogs, topical forums or starting with getting your corporate website up to speed. Your multiple online presences have to be carefully chosen after getting to know where your target audiences really are – which is a given for the traditional media landscape: or would you try to reach customers of high-voltage switch boxes in a teenage fashion magazine?

Hence, a sincere social media audit is the first step of any engagement or outreach programme: Where are relevant conversations happening? This means not only to look out for your brand and competitor mentions, but even more: where are people talking about topics that are relevant to your business? E.g. when you are selling life insurances, you would find many related discussions in online forums of soon-to-be parents who are thinking to safeguard their offspring.

So after starting with monitoring your social media environment, the next step would be to analyse more in-depth the kind of conversations, their tonality, topics, issue etc. before actively engaging.

When you do this, you might be surprised, how many of your own employees are already active in the social media space. Are you actually encouraging them to be brand ambassadors or do you have guidelines that rather want to limit their social media engagement? Unfortunately, too many social media guidelines are written like a penal code and – similar to employee handbooks – are never read beyond the cover page.

It drills down to the overarching question: What is your organization’s objective to achieve in and with social media? And as a consequence of this: who in your organization should be involved in your online strategy: Is it just Marketing or PR? Or should HR take a lead? What’s IT’s role in this?

While you might still be wondering which approach might be the right for your company, rest assured that your stakeholders are already discussing your brand, your products, your industry – maybe without you.

Do you know where to find them?

Lars Voedisch is a Dow Jones media consultant based in the Asia Pacific region. He can be followed on Twitter at @larsv and @dowjonesinsight.

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Employees as Brand Ambassadors: Enthusiasm is Infectious

Posted on March 4, 2011. Filed under: Social Media | Tags: , , , , , |

One of my Twitter followers recently asked me about the pros and cons of allowing employees to act as brand ambassadors in social media channels such as Twitter. Some of her executives were a little uncertain and wanted to know more about how to manage it properly.

A long time ago, I had the same concerns. I headed PR and was not crazy about expanding my limited list of spokespeople to everyone in the company. I think that’s a familiar feeling for PR pros and executives alike.

But, I had a change of heart. So many of our employees were proud of the products they were building and selling. It was hard to see why we should prevent them from sharing their enthusiasm.  Sure they were critical too, but that criticism had a purpose: to make the products better. Ultimately, I decided that their enthusiasm would be infectious.

Today, I don’t think there’s much question about whether there’s a benefit to having employees engaged as brand ambassadors in social media. Rather, the question, as posed by my follower, is more about how to manage it properly.

What if the employee brand ambassador’s personality becomes bigger than the organization?

I don’t have stats on this, so I’m going to go with a gut feel and one anecdote. I don’t think this is a probable scenario for most companies. The only example I can think of is Robert Scoble and Microsoft. While Robert became a brand on his own, I’m pretty comfortable saying that he didn’t really become bigger than Microsoft. He’s widely credited with giving Microsoft a human face during one of its toughest reputation periods. I think that turned out well for Microsoft.

What guidelines should we give employees? Should we restrict them to tweeting about professional stuff only? Should we allow them to share personal stuff too?

Social media is about people first. One reason that people don’t connect with brands is that they are perceived as impersonal. Big faceless corporations are harder to relate to or get emotional about. But all organizations are run by people. Many of them are interesting both in the office and out. I find it much easier to connect with someone who shares my interest in Neil Young’s music and who is passionate about the latest trends in social media. If they have personality, I will follow them. So, yes, let them share both personal and professional stuff.

However, you still want to do as much as you can to ensure that whatever your brand ambassadors share on social media maintains the integrity of your brand. Here are three ways to ensure that they do that:

  1. Have a social media engagement policy and be sure that your code of conduct policy is incorporated.
  2. Keep PR and internal communications tightly aligned. Communicating internally early (before external messages are delivered) and often is critical.
  3. Make it a regular habit to promote your brand internally, building enthusiasm and pride among employees. Reinforce brand attributes, values and personality through employee events, posters, etc.

My follower asked if I could share articles I’d read and liked about employees as brand ambassadors. Here’s a few that I’ve come across over the last year or so. 

Diane Thieke is marketing director for Dow Jones, based in Princeton, NJ.

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Are you listening or engaging?

Posted on December 21, 2010. Filed under: Public Relations, Social Media | Tags: , |

Our media consultants work with clients in many regions and industries to develop measurement strategies. Thus, they get a first-hand view of what organizations are doing in social media. Here, Elena Sokolova and Emi Nakatsugawa discuss how clients’ social media programs can vary based on geography and industry. Elena works with clients in the UK, France and Russia and is based in London. Emi works with clients in the US and Canada with a focus on pharma, and is based in New York.

Diane Thieke is Marketing Director for Dow Jones, based in Princeton, NJ.
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The Social Brand: Do not say what you do, do what you say

Posted on September 16, 2010. Filed under: Public Relations, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Part Two of our interview with Joan Jiménez, a Spanish brand angel and a creative multidisciplinary branding 2.0 consultant.

Social media has been presented as the new paradigm of communication between organizations and their customers or users. But some brands are not getting the results they expected with their presence on the Internet. In your opinion, why is there a discrepancy?
The gap is due to a lack of awareness of the new reality. The energetic, economic, environmental, communication and social scenes have changed, and we cannot apply the old answers anymore. We need to learn to ask new questions. This new reality requires an open mind to the constant changes we are facing in order to first recognize them and then use them properly. We live in an uncertain world in which everything is connected to everything, in real time.

What is the most fundamental change involved in the new culture of conversation?

The most transcendental change is to understand and accept that from now on, our actions are our communication and therefore management of communication can be effective only with a committed and aligned organization. I believe that no great brand can be managed effectively in this new reality if the company’s leadership team does not accept their role as brand leaders.

10 Tips: How to Optimize Your Brand in Facebook and Twitter

There are companies, institutions, and brands that believe social media is a risk to their reputations and refuse to have any involvement with it. Why do you think it is essential for brands not only to have a presence in this social setting but also to participate actively in this particular social scene?

Social media is not  just a symptom of how little companies have adapted to a new competitive landscape. Social media represents not only an extraordinary instrument of communication and conversation, but also a new place to position your brand and do market research in real time.

Companies must understand that there is a physical reality and a digital reality, which together form a new playing field that is very different to the one we were accustomed to. The first thing managers must do every morning, in the same way they read the newspaper, is to connect with the world, so that they have the information they need to make their decisions. Information is power, you simply need to look and listen to what is happening inside and outside the company and then use this information according to your goals.

How are an identity and a good corporate reputation built and maintained in social media?

 ”Simply” by being aware of and being consistent with our internal and external reality, humanizing the company and aligning what we think with what we say and what we do.

When talking about the ROI of Social Media, you say: “The return on investment you’ve made in the social media is merely the positioning you have achieved for your brand in this new social environment.” Should we stop understanding the ROI of social media in terms of economic benefit?

You cannot ask the impossible. We must learn to be realistic and accept the limitations that we face and flow with them. Social media is a place to build relationships, links, and contacts that can lead to doing business. A good metaphor is to understand social media as an exhibition center. The return on social media cannot be measured in economic or quantitative terms but in qualitative results and in terms of social influence. As I always say, what matters in social media is not counting the kisses you receive but feeling the love you receive.

From your own experience in the social sphere, what do you think are the three basic principles a digital media or online marketing professional should always remember?

– First, branding (being, identity) and then the marketing (selling, market).
– Do not say what you do, do what you say.
– Open your mind and your ego.

Amelia Rodríguez is the Team Leader in the Barcelona Dow Jones Media Lab.

Interview translated by Matthew Stephenson.

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Interview with Joan Jiménez, Brand Angel

Posted on September 15, 2010. Filed under: Public Relations, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , |

Joan Jiménez

This week, we feature a two-part interview with Joan Jiménez, a Spanish brand angel and a creative multidisciplinary branding 2.0 consultant. He is author of several e-books, such as “How to cook your Brand”, “21 positions for making love with your customers”, “Brandland, the fable of the new world” and “Don’t buy me: 40 keys to sell your brand in Social Media”. He is also the creator of Spoonch, “the mark of an attitude.”


What is a brand angel?

A brand angel is a consultant who acts as a social guardian angel for a brand, bringing vision, strategies and solutions so that a brand can develop consistently in an interconnected, multidirectional and unpredictable world.

A brand angel’s main mission is to connect the internal and external aspects of a brand by contrasting them and providing the customer a new view of reality.

What is social branding?

  • Our brand is what people think of us.
  • What we are, what we do, how we do it, and our goals make up our identity.
  • Identities and brands are made by people.
  • People are the new medium of communication in digital society and people are also trademarks.
  • These personal brands, in the form of users of Facebook, Twitter or other platforms, are also media. They share information, emotions and entertainment with other brands aligned with their identity.
  • An identity link between personal brands is created through conversations, and brands need to enter their message in this new channel to reach their users.
  • Users are becoming less permissive with messages that do not come naturally to their digital social conversation.
  • To enter naturally into the digital social conversation, the brand must generate an organic emotional bond through its identity in a form of conversation with their potential users’ brands.
  • Having a brand does not necessarily mean having a defined emotional identity. In fact, there are many successful commercial brands with no identity and no other mission or values than pure economic benefit.
  • Without emotional identity, it is impossible to generate a lasting bond with our social environment, no matter if we are a commercial or a personal brand, as we are always at risk of being replaced in others’ preferences for other brands with a higher emotional value.
  • Social branding is the discipline that helps personal brands to enhance their standing by managing their identity.
  • Social branding is the discipline that helps commercial brands to manage the engagement with their users through the management of their identity.
  • For users, social branding is the emotional bond with the brand in digital social environments.
  • For managers, social branding is a challenge because it requires that they give more importance to the strategic construction of identity than the tactical pursuit of profitability.

Tomorrow: Part 2 – The Social Brand

Amelia Rodríguez is the Team Leader in the Barcelona Dow Jones Media Lab.

Interview translated by Matthew Stephenson.

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BP’s PR Push to Implement a Pull Strategy

Posted on September 2, 2010. Filed under: disaster response, Social Media | Tags: , , , , |

The embattled oil giant BP, which has in recent history repackaged itself as an environmental visionary by calling itself “Beyond Petroleum,” is now facing a future with an unwelcome legacy: forefather of the worst oil spill in American history. From the onset of the Deepwater Horizon blowout, BP’s communicators fought an uphill battle against an unrelenting backdrop of an ever-present live TV image of the untamed well head — while its infuriatingly vague plans prompted media outlets to pile on.

Worse yet, BP’s public relations team had to ease a riled media landscape early in the crisis after BP CEO Tony Hayward said he “wanted his life back.” And if BP didn’t have enough headaches, the company was brandjacked when a new satirical Twitter handle (@BPGlobalPR) surfaced posing as BP’s official PR machine, both deriding and frustrating its communications efforts. In fact, the fake site attracted tens of thousands of followers, far and away outnumbering followers on BP’s real Twitter stream.

According to crisis communications professionals (,5 May), BP’s traditional PR push strategy, including press releases, morning-show interviews and official statements, produced mixed results; however, the energy company’s social media pull efforts provided copious amounts of information and engaged onlookers who may have been convinced BP was intent on doing right by those victimized by the spill.

All in all, BP won plaudits from communications experts for the way in which it leveraged the Web and social media to quell the crisis. For instance, BP seized Facebook as a news distribution hub, where it updated twice-daily real-time results of the amount of oil collected. BP also posted a video to discuss the health dangers posed to oil cleanup crews and another of congressional hearings on the spill. And on Twitter, BP tweeted a hotline for people to call if they see oiled wildlife.

But at the same time, companies in BP’s position need to be accessible and transparent to other media that support extended narratives and more complex explanations such as traditional print and Web sources. Without a doubt, the vast majority of Twitter accounts will post links to stories published by traditional outlets, but, in crisis PR mode, companies under siege will also need channels like microblogs to respond faster with updates and new developments.

PR Week (19 August 2010; subscription required) indicated that a new survey from Gartner Communications found 84.8% of companies worldwide have a general crises plans in place, but only 20.7% have social media crisis plans set. As social media becomes an even more critical tool in the corporate crisis playbook, crisis communicators and PR pros will need adequate tools to measure and monitor the blogosphere’s response to a calamity like the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in order to deliver a clear, comprehensive and relevant message – with the hope of reframing the story.

And while BP’s share price has seen a mini recovery, it remains under pressure, making its long-term communications strategy even more critical – with an engaged social media dialog likely figuring into a key part of the mix. BP doesn’t deserve a victory lap just yet, but it should be commended for its work in conjunction with its public relations agency for executing an impressive on-the-fly pull strategy.  

Brian Panton is a quality assurance specialist and report writer in Washington, DC.

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