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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Social Media War - Why They Fight

There’s a world war going on right now, and most people aren’t even aware of it. That’s because no shots are being fired, aircraft bombing cities or politicians making speeches about it.  This war is taking place in the trenches of social media.

Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and a host of other sites are in a battle. Unlike countries that are at war seeking to secure more territory, in this war the prize is you and me. Or perhaps a more accurate description is that we are the commodity that is being fought over. Yes, just like corn, soybeans and pork bellies, we are the commodity that is being sought after to be sold to the highest bidders.
We are sort of like those pigs that are now pork bellies who weeks earlier were thinking about how nice it was for someone to provide them with all the food they could possibility ever want, and all they had to do was eat and sleep. Lucky for us, being slaughtered isn’t in our future. We are much more valuable alive.
Businesses want to know what you are buying, where you are going and even what you are thinking, and are willing to pay big bucks for access to that information.  Fortunately for them, billions of people around the world are more than happy to provide that information free of charge. (Just imagine if we could all charge and actually receive a penny for every post on our social media sites.)
So the next time you log into your favorite social media site, here are a couple of facts you might want to keep in mind:
  • Businesses are the customer for the site, while you are just a commodity.
  • Any changes made to the site are to benefit the site’s customers and not you.
  • All the information you post is available to anyone in the world who is willing to pay for it.
Keeping these three facts in mind might change how you use your social media accounts. But then again, I’m sure if the pigs knew where they were headed, they would have just kept eating anyway.

Friday, February 3, 2012

PR Lesson of the Week: Hashtags and Shares Became the Voice for Women’s Health

Monday started out as a normal weekday for many, but on Tuesday, January 31, a sudden buzz started to take place after the announcement that Susan G. Komen for the Cure decided to cut funding for Planned Parenthood. And boy, did it hit a nerve, setting off a flurry of comments on their Facebook page, website and Twitter account. A response they didn’t expect.

It’s been a while since I have seen such a rallying cry to “right what is wrong.” Through the use of social media, overwhelming pressure was put on the “Cure Foundation” culminating with them reversing their decision to withhold funding for Planned Parenthood. It’s hard to ignore the power of social media,and when used properly, it can create results.

The New York Times reports: “The Komen issue on Twitter generated a steady drumbeat of chatter, with mentions of the issue averaging 3,000 an hour, with a huge spike of more than 15,000 messages posted after news of the reversal broke. More than half the conversation was driven by women, with the loudest share coming from California and New York, which accounted for 25 percent of all chatter, followed by Texas at 9 percent. Twitter users in Washington, D.C., and Florida each contributed 5 percent of the conversation.”

By the end of the week, Planned Parenthood had raised $3 million from supporters they didn’t know they had. This more than covered the funding for breast cancer screening programs that the “Cure Foundation” had planned to cut. It was interesting to watch it unfold and it brought to my attention how quickly people can mobilize when moved by the right cause. This one tipped the scales for Planned Parenthood, but there’s a lesson to be learned for both parties. 

One - Crisis 101: Always anticipate negative reactions and plan accordingly for your response.
Two - There’s Power in Numbers: Never underestimate the power of many voices, no matter how small, with social media. It can be a wave that can turn into a tsunami. 
Three – Say You’re Sorry. Acknowledge where the mistake happened and have an open communication with your audience. At this point, you can start to rebuild your reputation.

Crisis happens with any organizations. What sets others apart is how it is managed. Have you experienced some crisis at your organization? How did you handle it?