ATC Social Media Presentation

Here is my presentation from the ATC Social Media event. My main messages that I hope people took away were:

  • Using social media for marketing is ok, but engagement and community is better
  • Engagement and community is harder than just a Twitter account or Facebook
  • Social Media is not easy, nor is it free
  • True engagement with social media is about people conversing with people, not brands servicing people
  • CFO’s like to talk about dollars

Social media and the elephant in the room

Once again a longtime between drinks, however this post might start to demonstrate why.

For many months I have felt that something is not right in the world of social media. The problem was I have not been able to put my finger on the issue.

I happened to read a post over at Social Media Today that might help to shed some light on the issue. To sum the post up in a few words – we have lost the social in social media.

Ernest Barbaric discusses how the Human Factor in Social Media has disappeared:

Go to almost any brand’s twitter account and you’ll see exactly what most marketers get wrong. There is little more then business updates. No conversation, no relationship building, no questions being asked or answered. Just another “blast post”, a sad remnant of traditional one-way thinking.

Very sad really.

Maybe I am just a cranky old man, but please go read Cluetrain Manifesto and maybe I will start to enjoy what you put out on the Internet again.

Who owns your employer brand?

BPLast week while I was at ATC Sydney there was lots and lots of talk about employer brands and who really controls them in today’s social media world. For example Steve Fogarty, Recruiting Captain, from adidas in North America covered the topic highlighting that recruiters need to think more like marketers to attract top talent, not to mention that everything that happens online create meta-data about your brand. Kevin Wheeler touched on the topic during his closing keynote saying the personal brands are taking over from corporate brands.

So what does this mean?

Like consumer brands your employer brand is not longer “owned” by you the employer, candidates, employees, ex-employees, analysts, everyone can now shape how your brand is viewed by the world. From a consumer perspective just look at the fake BP Public Relations Twitter account, who has many thousands more followers than the real BP PR team, and their comedic look at what is shaping up to the worlds largest environmental disaster. Every tweet has a hashtag #bpcares creating a creative and funny stream of tweets however I doubt the BP PR team is very happy.

About 3 weeks ago Facebook released a new feature, Community Pages (read the official blog post) where they are aggregating Wikipedia content, along with user generated post from across the web to create a “profile” of brands, places, organisation etc. The difference between these pages and corporate sponsored pages is that right now no one controls the content on the Community Page! Now Facebook has said they are looking for passionate people to help curate the pages content. But for now your brand is at the mercy of automated collection of content. To make matters worse Facebook profile pages have been changed and now there are links attached to employers, likes and interests, favorite books, music and movies!

You do not own what Facebook is displaying on these new Community Pages, and you may never own the content.

Still think you own your employer brand?

Unique Video Usage

If you have been following some of the other HR and Recruitment blogs in Australia there has been a bit of talk about using video, even I joined the discussions with a bit of a technology review.

Today I want to highlight a fairly unique use of YouTube Video. (If you are in marketing circles you might have seen this already.)

Ad agency BooneOakley moved their whole web site on to YouTube! Yes you heard it their whole web site onto YouTube.

Leaders are temporary

WOWA couple of years ago the Collab@Work blog wrote a very interesting article on how leadership in MMORPG’s, such as World of Warcraft is temporary. They provided reasons why in these MMORPG’s it makes sense to have temporary leaders:

In those games, leadership is a temporary position. At one point in time, you’re leading, the week after you’re following another leader. Reasons vary: too much pressure, less availability, someone else better suited for the job at hand, …

Unfortunately they highlighted that in traditional business leadership is virtually never temporary. Over the last couple of years the growth in this idea around temporary leadership in the way many small business collaboratively work together, especially when it comes to businesses based around the web. I would say that this is in part due to the fact that people in small business are very engaged in what they do, otherwise they would go out of business. Engagement is a key attribute required for temporary leadership to work.

Temporary leadership has many benefits again to quote Collab@Work:

  • having been a leader makes you a better follower. You understand better what the leader is trying to achieve
  • being a follower makes you a better leader. Your experience as a follower is still recent
  • from an organizational perspective, you can “test” more leaders including the ones that wouldn’t have been considered. That can dramatically increase your leadership bench, and see who are the best leaders rather than the best leader potentials.

The post was based on a HBR article from May 2008 which pointed out that  in today’s business:

A lot of work will be done by global teams—partly composed of people from outside the institution, over whom a leader has no formal authority—that are assembled for a single project and then disbanded. Collaboration within these geographically diverse groups will, by necessity, occur mainly through digital rather than face-to-face interaction.

Sounds like an MMORPG to me.  For example it makes sense that people who can successfully execute a 6 hour raid with 50 guild members based in 10 countries is developing the right skills needed for business in the future. They are also learning how to effectively leverage all of the social technologies we have available.

So as both articles say do not necessarily dismiss the hours spent by your children or friends on these games, they may in fact be learning the critical skills to be the next world leaders.

Using Video within your HR Processes

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Yesterday afternoon I sat in to listen Bill Boorman‘s Downunder Recruiting show where the discussion was on video, an interesting topic. I am very interested in video within a talent acquisition strategy as this has been a topic for many many years and I am glad to see people are starting to move away from the “Video Resume” as quite frankly that is probably the worse use case for video.

Before we go too much further we need to see video as just another form of content, it just happens to have audio and moving images. This is the key as I see people get stuck with video as just a method for having a talking head, video today can be far more than that.

However for all it’s benefits there is still a low take up of video, especially in Australia. One reason I believe we have not seen a broader take up of video is it is still a fairly hard technology to master both functionally and technically.

Another barrier I see is performance. This is a big issue in Australia, where we are ranked about 42nd on performance for brandband downloads and 72nd for uploads. This can mean it will take hours to upload a large video to your hosting provider and when people are watching your carefully crafted message it keeps stopping due to caching issues.

Technical Mastery

The first challenge is you need to produce good quality audio and images. Many people are uncomfortable with having their voice recorded, let alone appearing on video. Once these hurdles are overcome, a good quality script and plan needs to be prepared.  One aspect often over looked is the location needs to be right, lighting, background images and noise are all aspects to consider.

Then there are the technical aspects, starting with video capture, while webcams are very popular they generally do not produce good quality video, and they are also difficult to move around. But webcams are a great tools for interactive video, such as Skype. Don’t forget you still need to think about composition aspects, what will the other person see in the background of your image?

If you are producing a video for others to watch at a later time your jobs just got a lot harder.

After the captured of the video editing can be a challenge. You need software, which under Windows is a problem (yes Mac OS X users have a much better time here), yes there are open source products but to get that truely polished look you need to purchase software. Then actually rendering of any video beyond 3 – 5 minutes takes a lot of CPU processing power. A high quality video also takes up disk space, think 100MB per minute at standard definition with even more when you go high definition.

Once you have produced your video where do you host it? There are many public services for example is YouTube right you can only host 10 minutes and you have limited controls over security. Vimeo is another service that allows hosting, and for a fee you can control exactly who has access to the video, however the terms of service limit commercial usage. If you want your video to be viewable on mobile phones then things become even more complex as flash, the typical delivery method, has limited penetration on mobile devices.

Internal communications also need an environment to deliver the video, do not underestimate this otherwise your IT team will not be happy with you.  These tools need to be set up before you can begin to use video.

Ok with the negative aspects is video still worth getting involved in? Yes!

Potential Video Usage

Below is a short listing of where you can use video within your HR processes.

  1. Employer branding
  2. Attraction
  3. Training
  4. Employee communications
  5. Job advertisement
  6. Job interviews, with Skype or similar
  7. Candidate videos
  8. Anywhere where audio and images would enhance the message

Video Examples

Job Advertising

A recent job advert video from Australian company Noble Samurai looking for a new Agile Development Lead. During this 4 minute 40 seconds production you get to understand what the roles is about, who you would be working with, the working environment and culture.

The video starts with an interview with the CEO covering some of the things they are looking for. Followed by quick review of the office and some introduction to some of the team. While there are a couple of composition issues but generally the quality is very good.

Branding/Attraction/Employee Communications

Another good example is actually a excellent example on the use of social media in general, ASDA’s The Green Room. The site integrates all sorts of content, but the item I want to highlight is a recent message from the CEO to their employees.

Good practices in using video

Like all of this social media “stuff” quality content is critical. You need to add value to viewers otherwise they will turn off. If you are using video as part of your attraction process, make it real, keep things honest but professional. Keep the video focused, engaging and overall fun. Here are my top 10 production tips:

  1. Spend time planning up front
  2. Tell a story
  3. Have a good microphone
  4. Think about lighting and background composition
  5. Plan your delivery methods
  6. When capturing the video try not to pan too much or too fast
  7. Also limit you use of the zoom
  8. Use a tripod when shooting (whenever practical)
  9. Shoot from different angles, use multiple cameras
  10. Include lots of wide angle shots

Also have a look at Justin Hillier’s views on video.

It’s all about the message

A lack of clear communication is cited as a common cause of many relationships failures, be they personal or professional.

Many a study has shown that clearly communicating the employment deal up front is a critical first step in having an engaged employee.

This should be obvious, no one likes to buy a product only to find out that the advertising misled us. If you have not been watching The Apprentice Australia, spend a moment and watch the video below, skip to 3:30  and see what one of Australia’s top businessmen thinks of misleading advertising. Even if it is slightly grey.

Which is why if an employee is sold a deal that does not meet the marketing you are battling up hill to reengage them!

Make sure your job ad, career web site and interview process does not sell something that is not.

While employee testimonials are a great way to provide insight into what it is like to work for your organisation, they tend to be staged, not to mislead but to put forward the best image. Another idea, let your employees blog. Employees who blog openly and honestly will allow prospective employees to see what it is really like in your workplace.

Managing the employer brand

Over the last two to three months I have spent a lot of time working with people on either their employer or personal brand. These discussions have lead me to believe that most organisations are not thinking about how social media can impact their employer brand. 

Organisations are spending vasts amounts of time and money ensuring that their employer value proposition (EVP) clearly articulates to the workforce benefits that are both emotive (feeling good about working here) and tangible (remuneration, benefits and career development) for current and prospective employees.

Traditionally an EVP reflects the external image that the organisation portrays to the workforce and is reflected in the actions and behaviours of public officers and by company policies, procedures and practices.  In today’s world through social media, blog posts, tweets, and video are controlled by the public and remain in search engine caches for a very long time, if not forever!

I call this new world one of a “socially generated EVP”. And your socially generated EVP is not one you can control or predict in a traditional manner.

Today I read about a survey conducted by Weber Shandwick and the Economist Intelligence Unit which found that while 67% of executives felt their companies reputation was vulnerable online. However less than 40% analysed their own reputation and 70% were either unaware or did not want to admit employees have badmouthed the companies online. The full replort is available (PDF).

This calls for social media governance within the organisation. With social media being a grass roots activity you might question the need for governance. However without a good governance model, your employees and the organisation as a whole, is left open to abuse and potential legal issues. At a minimum, put down some “rules of engagement”, depending on your corporate culture, they can be simple or complex, preferably simple!  Don’t forget that by engaging with your employees as part of the creation process of the governance model can create self-regulation.

 

Social media in big companies

A couple of months ago Telstra joined Twitter via their ISP Big Pond, I and others wrote harshly about how the implementation had been a failure. Since that time the Telstra team have been taking on board the feedback and have made significant changes to the way they engage with people online.  After initially trying to go alone they have engaged with some of the best minds on social media in Australia to change their approach. The changes have been so dramatic I am surprised and impressed.

The original engagement via Twitter was:

@bushgeek Got a BigPond® query?! Ask about BigPond® via this link http://tinyurl.com/ 5ufhvf & a BigPond consultant will email you back.

Now this is a typical customer engagement via Twitter:

@jackmcintyre It’s a known issue being worked on,we suggest keep calling Tech to get it more attention to get it fixed quicker.

They are also having a bit of fun with people, yesterday was games day:

@BigPondTeam Wow! There are some fast people out there. #1 track currently is ‘Poker Face’ by Lady Gaga for $0.99 and its DRM Free! about 17 hours ago from TweetDeck

@BigPondTeam Who can tell me what is the #1 track on BigPond Music, and how much does it cost to purchase? about 18 hours ago from TweetDeck

@BigPondTeam We are going to try a few different things today, so feel free to play along!! #BPS

They are generating interest in some of the services on offer and yes this is marketing but in a fun way. I played along and to tell you the truth will go back to the Big Pond site to check out what is there.

Telstra also ran a short survey yesterday to get feedback from a number of people on how they were performing on Twitter. Before filling in the survey I thought I would ask my Twitter followers their thoughts as well. Here are a few.

pollyemj @mspecht my only interaction with @BigPondTeam was a bit spooky – just weird to be contacted randomly after i mentioned them in a tweet about 19 hours ago from twhirl in reply to mspecht

joshsharp @mspecht after a terrible start they very quickly took on feedback and turned it around. they’ve actually done a quite good job.. about 19 hours ago from twhirl in reply to mspecht

jurgen @mspecht I think they’re doing a good job. It’s personal and personable. Friendly and forthright. Not just an announcement stream. about 19 hours ago from NatsuLion in reply to mspecht

ourfounder @mspecht I’m obviously across the big pond,but looking over their tweet history I like the voice and regularity of the posts. Good info too. about 19 hours ago from TweetDeck in reply to mspecht

After further clarification from @pollyemj I found this interaction was at the start during the corporate robot response period.  The overall feeling matched mine. Terrible start, great improvement.

This gets me to wonder, the employees at Big Pond who are working with their customers in a more human and open fashion are they more engaged employees? Do they now enjoy their job more? Do they trust their employer?

Is any social media better than none at all?

Over the last week there has been a bit of a change within the social media landscape here in Australia, out biggest, slowest telecommunication company, Telstra, decided to get into Twitter via their ISP Big Pond http://twitter.com/BigPondTeam. My personal view is thee way they implemented this is a complete failure and not the way any company should attempt a social media strategy.

In summary for the first few days their tweets looked like:-

@bushgeek Got a BigPond® query?! Ask about BigPond® via this link http://tinyurl.com/ 5ufhvf & a BigPond consultant will email you back.

Almost robotic like. Now this whole approach has seen the experts in social media in Australia come out explaining why the approach is wrong. If you want to look at the initial commentary here is a summary:

Following the initial backlash Telstra came out in defence of their approach claiming the Australia SPAM Act as to why they were replying the way they were:

Since the early stages of development, BigPond’s primary concern has been protecting the customer’s privacy. We want to ensure that our communications to customers are not commercial electronic messages.

Sending commercial electronic messages without the customer’s consent would amount to a violation under the Spam Act.

This has lead to even more discussion on:

From Zac’s post on Pigs Don’t Fly there are a couple of interesting quotes, first the SPAM Act:

The Spam Act 2003 prohibits the sending of spam, which is identified as a commercial electronic message sent without the consent of the addressee via email, short message service (SMS), multimedia message service (MMS) or instant messaging. The requirements under the Spam Act apply to all commercial electronic messages, including both bulk and individual messages.

Second is from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA):

Any message that doesn’t meet the following three conditions is defined as spam…

+ Consent – The message must be sent with consent of the consumer.
+ Identify – The message must contain accurate information about the person or organisation that authorised the sending of the message.
+ Unsubscribe – The message must contain a functional ‘unsubscribe’ facility to allow you to opt out of receiving messages from that source.

Now I am not a lawyer but it does raise some interesting questions.

Taking the ACMA 3 points. Consent is provided by the user basically having public profile, and/or not blocking the user. Identity is provided by the Twitter account http://twitter.com/BigPondTeam, and finally the user can block the Big Pond team using the Twitter Block function. So from my perspective it is not spam under the ACMA guidelines.

Now the SPAM Act is a little more difficult, but I would suspect the “without the consent” activity is again covered by the public profile. So not spam.

But like I said I’m not a lawyer so who knows if this is true.

Simon Sherwood pulled together a podcast on the issue in the last 24 hours, go have a listen it is a good overview. Where Brady Jacobsen, BigPond’s Director of Customer Operations actually seems to be wanting to work with the community to grow and learn.

Big Pond failed on several levels while launching this new service. It seems they did not try and employ a social media expert, if they did it looks like they ignored them, well at least to start with. Following their initial mis-step they now seem to be listening and learning.

With any social media you need to have an identity, build a reputation and then trust. If the account had been setup and started to communicate with people maybe announce service outages, features, basically engage on a more person human level to join in the conversation, earn a reputation, continue the conversation, finally develop trust. Then maybe just maybe you can use Twitter for business. This type of engagement would have built a reputation and trust so when they extended a hand of support the response would have been very different.

A final thought.

Social media involves participation, decentralisation, transparency, and user generated content. All of these attributes go against traditional media and businesses approach to media. But the issue does not stop here. A businesses approach to media is driven by the culture of the business itself. Therefore you cannot change you approach to media unless you change your culture. And this my friends is where things get complex!

The change of this culture impacts, oh and that means your people, their knowledge and behaviour, your organisation and its processes, finally technology used will all need to change.

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I originally drafted the post this morning and went out for a few hours, while I was out the community on Twitter started a very interesting experiment. The Twitter Agency. What is it?

Twitter Agency
This is where you learn how to market, PR and otherwise engage on Twitter. Any of the people contributing here are available for hire as Twitter experts. The Pages give you resources on how to use Twitter. The Twitter Agency is available for $30 million dollar pitches. Heh.