Don’t Fight the Flood of Social Change

Photo cred: teejaybee
Photo cred: teejaybee

Apparently, companies are still blocking the use of social networks by employees.  If this study is true (I’m unsure) I really have to question how these companies grew in the first place.  They clearly don’t understand how to adapt to change.

While specific businesses may have been established at some point in the past, the people working for them are subject to the social environment that they currently live in.

For a while, you might try to keep out the changes that are occurring, but eventually, the flood gates will be opened, whether you like it or not.  If you’re not prepared to handle the flood, you’ll drown in it.

Case in point: Some business and professionals still tried to keep out comments and feedback on their content.  Google opened the flood gates by force.

So what do you do to prepare? As Trey Pennington put it, “Banning, [is] like telling teenagers “don’t,” [which] produces undesirable effects. Better to embrace, train, inform, equip.

Don’t fight the flood, because you’ll lose.  Embrace the fact that it’s going to come, then train, inform, and equip your brand to handle it.

Two Guys, A Girl, and a GIANT Leap

Today, I’d like to take a moment to share with you three people, who have been inspirations to me since day one, and who have recently taken a GIANT leap in their career.  Keep an eye out for these people and the work that they will be doing in the future…

ArikArik Hanson just made his huge announcement that he will be launching his very own consultancy, ACH Communications on Monday, October 12.  If you’re interested in a social media consultant, here are the services he can provide for you.  Just email him at arik.hanson [at] gmail.com Arik is an extremely intelligent and hard working individual that will certainly do huge things in his new venture.

keithKeith Burtis has decided to change things up in his career.  He is finishing up his work with Best Buy and is currently seeking a different opportunity, one where he can “flap [his] always passionate wings”.  I’m really excited to see where Keith goes next and you should be excited too! Why?  Because during this transition Keith is working with some clients on a consultancy basis.  If you’d like to work with a true leader in the social media space, I highly suggest you get in touch with Keith.  Dop him an email at keith [at] keithburtis.com

HeatherHeather Whaling has recently announced that she’s leaving her current position at Costa DeVault to pursue a new adventure.  In December, she will be moving to Ohio and launching Geben Communications, a new agency that will work with emerging brands, established small businesses and nonprofits.  The site is in the works but if you’d like to talk with Heather about future opportunities email her at heather [at] gebencommunication.com

Obviously as I’m writing this post, I highly recommend all three of these individuals, and have all the confidence in the world that they will do great things moving forward.  It takes a lot to make that leap in your career.  Many spend their whole lives wishing they had pursued that risk.

Congratulations to Arik, Keith and Heather, and I wish you the best of luck.

Why “Free” Should Still Go the Extra Mile

Photo cred: David a.k.a. Darkmatter
Photo cred: David a.k.a. Darkmatter

Customer service can the single most powerful weapon a brand has to create loyalty, evangelism and a positive reputation within their community.  Today, every single customer has the power to share their experiences with people that could possibly be future customers.

A customer is increasingly likely to share their experience when it is either really good OR really bad.  If you’re doing just enough to help them, without taking the initiative to really send them away floating, that’s fine, but don’t expect them to go sharing their story.

Now what if you’re a free service.  You take in no revenues, whatsoever.  Should you engage in customer service?

Customer service should ALWAYS be a concern of every business, brand, tool, whatever…whether or not your service is free.

You certainly don’t want users to have a bad customer service experience.  For whatever reason, you’re offering your service free of charge, but I’m going to assume you still want it to be successful.  You’d like to have a lot of users, and create value for those users, no?

The extent of how much you can commit, or invest money into, is obviously going to be limited if you’re a free service.  The last thing you want is for your user’s voices to go unheard, or worst, heard and responded to poorly.

If you do nothing though, you’re not only missing an opportunity to create loyalty and evangelism, but you also risk building a bad reputation within your community, or target audience.  Free or not, if you want to be successful, customer service is absolutely necessary.

I know some people disagree with me… If you have any thoughts, agree or disagree, please share…

EDIT: Thanks to Brazen Careerist for featuring my post.  I thought it would be a good idea to link to it here because there were a lot of really good comments over there. Check it out.

Advice for PR and Marketing Grads

m00by
Photo cred: m00by

This is a collaboratively reworked version of Lauren Fernandez‘s post “Let’s Be Frank: Some Advice for PR Graduates” that I thought was SO great, I needed to make it available to my readers with a few additional insights of my own. I also spoke with Lauren after her post to find answers to some additional questions I had which will also be included here. Here we go…

  1. Build experience and set goals. Participate in internships, take offices, join clubs and do community service.  Find jobs that you are interested in and work to become qualified.
  2. Be realistic. Many companies have become big by retaining their employees and job openings are limited, especially in today’s economy.  You shouldn’t always shoot for the big name companies.  You will find that smaller – medium sized companies are the ones looking for bright new entry-level people to join them as they grow.  At these small agencies, you can gain a lot of experience because you really get to see the ins and outs of an agency.
  3. Don’t rush to grad school. Focus on building some experience first.  PR students should always have some experience before going to grad school. Really, a masters in PR is geared toward if you want to go into teaching. However, you can always go for Emerging Media, Public Affairs, Communications, etc. In many situations, only YOU would know what’s the right approach when considering going to grad school. In general, I would recommend having at least 2 years of professional experience first.
  4. You are not too good for ANY offer. As long as an organization has a good reputation, there is no reason to not give it a shot. You might find it’s a great fit, and you will definitely learn from it – good or bad. Also, you might hear of a development coordinator job opening – this is geared toward fund-raising and developing the brand. This is great for a young PR pro because you can really fine-tune your pitching and customer service skills.
  5. Stay open to doing internships after you graduate. Not everyone coming out of school will get a job right off the bat.  If you are set on the big agency, be prepared to take a paid internship for a couple of months before being offered an entry type position. Don’t look at this as a disadvantage!  Since you have a degree, you will be given more responsibility and greater consideration for full-time opportunities. You will take away great experience, contacts and if you do your job well, a recommendation.
  6. Set up interviews around graduation time Sure, your finance and business major friend already landed a job back in December but guess what? This is PR and marketing. The job offers WILL come.  Those hiring, unless stated differently, usually want someone to start within a month of the interview process. This is a field that is constantly on the go and constantly changing.
  7. Network until you graduate! The key is to establish a connection with professionals and stay involved until interview season. Three quick networking tips:
    1. Use social media to it’s fullest! Tools like linkedin, twitter, and professionals networks have made it easier than ever to meet professionals in your field. If you feel comfortable enough, have a lot to say and can say it well, start a blog!  Make sure to be respectful and professional in your online presence. Word gets around in these fields and you don’t want to tarnish your reputation.
    2. Go to networking events! There are always events going on in major cities.  They are a great way to make some real connections with experienced professionals who will only be impressed that you are networking before you graduate.
    3. If you’ve made a contact, communicate with them once a week – either by email, phone or even meeting for coffee. It’s the simple things that keep a relationship alive, and that drive to connect with PR pros is going to get you very far. Face-to-face communication is ALWAYS the best route to create meaningful relationships, especially for those that haven’t jumped into social media yet.
  8. You can focus your job search on social media. As many have argued, social media doesn’t exactly fall under marketing or PR but more of a mixture, and there isn’t an accepted method to approach social media. If you’re set on working in social media, consider an association/non-profit job. Contrary to popular belief, this is where a lot of job opportunities will be coming from. They all need in-house PR, and they also have a great need for the 20-something who is great at social media. In non-profits/association, you truly know the ins and outs of your client, because you ARE the client. In these settings, you also gain a ton of experience because you get to do a lot more, and are trusted a lot more, than in the agency atmosphere.

What did we leave out? What advice would you give to PR and marketing grads?

A Community For Your Community

Sky view of Long Beach, NY - My Community
Sky view of Long Beach, NY - My Community

Does your local community have a web community?  My neighborhood just started one on facebook and I think it’s an awesome idea that really takes advantage of the benefits that social media provides.

The group description says it pretty well. “Our group aims to grow, build and strengthen relationships in our local community of Long Beach in order to bring about progressive change.” Those of us familiar with social media, know that it is all about building relationships.  In a local community, relationships are everything.

Bringing your neighborhood together creates a general compassion for eachother’s issues.  When you feel like you know someone personally, you feel more inclined to want to help them.  By creating a common place for discussion and relationship building amongst local community members, you give people a chance to tell their story, and to care about those around them.

The Long Beach “Community of Hope” facebook group aims to educate community members on issues discussed in meetings and events in order to bring about change.  Let’s be real, not everyone in your community is always involved in community issues.  By creating a place for these people to quickly and easily stay up to date on what’s going around them and express their opinion from their home computer, you allow them to contribute to the voice of the community, while staying connected with other members.

Social media, because of its ability to reach anyone in the world, is commonly applied to large, widespread campaigns. There are so many more opportunities through social media that can be applied to local, real world communities as well. What are some that you’ve seen or come up with?

3 T’s of TwiTTer

Whether you’re new to Twitter or just need a reminder on why you’re on Twitter, here’s a simple way to remember why we Tweet.

twitter-bird-21. Tell

  • Tell people what you’re thinking
  • Tell people what you’re reading
  • Tell people what you’re writing
  • Tell people what you’re doing

2. Talk

  • Talk to people about what you’re thinking, reading, writing and doing
  • Talk to people about what they’re writing, reading, thinking and doing

3. Take

  • Take away feedback on what you’re thinking and writing
  • Take away new ideas and viewpoints
  • Take away new friends and contacts


Stay productive, remember the 3 T’s of TwiTTer.

Web 2.0 Class: Day One

computer-labThis semester my school, SUNY Geneseo, has FINALLY created a class that discusses web 2.0 and emerging web technologies.  Previously named the “e-commerce” class that taught the traditional systems of online business, Professor Horn is revamping the course to teach students about using different web 2.0 platforms for business purposes.  As a developing field, obviously there are no set guidelines or systems to teach social media.  This class will be highly experimental and will involve web 2.0 values such as collaboration and student feedback to develop the actual class material.

First Day Introduction

After giving a brief introduction of web 2.0, the rest of the class was used to see exactly how familiar the students were with emerging technologies and different web 2.0 terms.  A survey was taken to see how many students are familiar with different tech terms.  Outside of the big terms like facebook and youTube, as expected in a Fine Arts focused school, the level of familiarity with terms like “RSS“, “wiki” and even Twitter, in the class was very low.

Professor Horn provided this chart to show the class how each web technology has developed into web 2.0

picture-21

Course Goals and Objectives:

  • Define and use different Web 2.0 technologies
  • Explain and demonstrate the business benefits of podcasts, wikis, blogs, virtual worlds, simulations, social networking software, etc.
  • Make recommendations regarding Web 2.0 business initiatives
  • Critique articles related to emerging technologies
  • Use online resources and portals to find useful materials

Books:

Professor Horn’s Ideas

  • All students will create an account on google to gain access to google apps. Students will learn how to use adwords, calendar, docs, and other relevent apps.
  • Students will use Secondlife to build on the land that the school has reserved.  Possibility of holding a class online through Secondlife (I love this idea)
  • Students will learn how to build and maintain a wiki.
  • Final project: Students will use everything they learned in class to revamp the Information Systems class (teaches students how to create and maintain databases) to incorporate web 2.0 technologies.
  • All students’ ideas and feedback will be applied to the course.  16% of the student’s grade will be based on team projects that have yet to be determined.

My Ideas

  • Have each student start a blog about something that they’re passionate about on a free platform like wordpress or blogger.  Have them update the blog weekly and provide feedback to other student’s blogs in their groups.
  • Students will sign up for google reader to allow them to read each other’s blogs and any other blogs they find interesting.
  • Have students sign up for twitter and follow each other.  Use twitter to collaborate on projects and share ideas.  Can also be used to complement blogs and drive traffic.

I am very excited about Geneseo embracing social media in such an open minded manner.  With something as new and unfamiliar as social media, the only way that it can be successfully taught is with an open mind and respect for innovation.  Prof. Horn is very open to everyone’s ideas and values collaboration in the classroom.  It will be very interesting to see how the class develops throughout the semester.

Do you know of any social media classes?  What kind of projects did they do?  What kind of projects would you be interested in if you were in the class?

This is the first post in a series of posts that can be found under the category “Web 2.0 Class” that will cover this class throughout the course of the semester.