When Should You Turn Off The Tweeting?

As a public relations student, I was constantly reminded of the importance of having a solid online presence. This means updating Twitter regularly and maintaining a current LinkedIn profile and all that jazz.

The one thing I never understood, however, is where the boundary lies with Twitter in the workplace. Sure, employers in our industry want you to be savvy with social media, but do they really want you to be tweeting all day from your personal account when you’re billing clients for their time?

During my internship this past summer, I was careful about using Twitter during work hours. The only time I checked it on my phone was during lunch or when I had finished all my current tasks. Otherwise, I felt unproductive – and figured any co-workers who noticed would think I was slacking off.

But some companies don’t seem to mind if their employees are active on personal online accounts. In fact, I’ve noticed a lot of people on my Twitter lists interact with their co-workers and bosses during the day via tweets. It almost seems like it’s encouraged.

This brings me to the simple question: is it acceptable to tweet on your personal account when you’re in the office, or should you limit your Twitter (or Facebook) usage to your own time?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences!

A Little Extra Effort Goes a Long Way For Brands

I have the same routine every morning:

Wake up. Stumble downstairs. Pour a steaming mug of coffee. Sit down with my laptop. Open my Internet browser. Admire the Google homepage.

The daily Google doodles never disappoint, and today was no different.

To honour what would be Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury’s 65th birthday, Google put together a short video featuring the song “Don’t Stop Me Now”. The cartoon animation has a video game feel to it that makes the clip fun, entertaining and upbeat. I loved it.

After madly texting my friends to check out the homepage, I started to think about Google’s success and dominant market position. There’s a reason why we say “hey, why don’t you Google that?” (other than the fact that Yahoo just doesn’t have the same ring to it…)

Google is arguably the best search engine out there, but posting creative daily doodles gives people another reason to check the homepage every morning. I always marvel at how much time and effort must have gone into designing the graphics. In my mind, it’s this kind of attention to detail that makes the Google brand stand out above the rest. These fun doodles create positive user experiences and give people the opportunity to connect and interact with the brand itself. It’s a basic concept, but it’s genius.

If you haven’t seen it already, check out the Freddie Mercury doodle:

Can you think of any other brands that stand out for going the extra mile?

What’s your favourite Google doodle? Other than the Pacman game from the summer of 2010, this one is definitely on the top of my list. Kudos to Google for a job well done!

Is Twitter Trying To Be More Like Facebook?

As a social media addict, I love both Facebook and Twitter – but for very different reasons. I use Facebook largely for the private message function and for viewing photos. Twitter, on the other hand, allows me to share content, discuss and learn. Each platform has a special place in my heart because it’s unique.

So when I learned that Twitter is reportedly considering Facebook-style pages for brands, I was a bit confused.

Marketing Magazine claims that this initiative is spearheaded by Twitter CEO Dick Costolo and President of Revenue Adam Bain. The goal is to give brands their own “space” on Twitter. Companies would have their own page they could direct consumers to, which would also be used to deliver content.

It makes sense that organizations would crave this type of space, but isn’t that what Facebook is used for?

On Twitter, brands can interact with their audiences using tweets and hashtags. If you click on the company’s Twitter profile, you can view their tweets and recent activity. Strategic organizations will use hashtags so that consumers can follow the conversation and contribute if they wish. For many companies, this has proven to be very effective. Why is it necessary to have Twitter profiles and company pages?

Part of Twitter’s appeal is that corporate advertising is much more subtle and authentic than it is on Facebook. Sure, you’ll occasionally see sponsored tweets, but brands tend to focus on engaging their audience by posting relevant links and creating genuine conversations.

Twitter shouldn’t try to fix something that isn’t broken. It is clear that the CEO is interested in increasing revenue from advertising, but the question is: are fellow tweeters interested in this change? If you ask me, the answer is no.

What do you think – can Twitter “pages” be successful, or should brands turn to Facebook for this function? All opinions are welcome!

How The Red Cross Ended up Benefiting from a Twitter Blunder

As we all know, it’s frighteningly easy to mess up on Twitter and Facebook.

By posting something inappropriate on social media, users can destroy their personal reputation and their company’s credibility within seconds.

It’s tempting to delete a controversial Facebook post or tweet, but it’s much more honorable to confront the mistake head-on. On February 15, the American Red Cross learned just how easy it is to make a social media faux pas. An employee accidentally tweeted something from the @RedCross account that was intended to be posted on his personal account. Here’s what he said:

Screenshot courtesy of American Red Cross Blog

Yikes, right? Seems like a pretty unexplainable situation, doesn’t it?


How the Red Cross responded to this clear-cut mistake is worthy of both discussion and praise. It’s a great example of how companies can appeal to human emotion to redeem themselves after messing up.  Check it out:

Screenshot courtesy of American Red Cross Blog

Not only did I think this was an appropriate response (seeing as the problematic tweet was so ridiculous), but adding humor to the situation was an excellent strategy. The fact that the company called the questionable post a “rogue tweet” made me laugh out loud.

Even though the Red Cross initially deleted the tweet, they owned up to it and willingly shared the screen shots on the company blog. They could have covered it up, but chose not to. People appreciate when organizations are honest and transparent about their actions. Personally, I cut them some slack.

In the apology issued on the company’s blog here, the Red Cross said,

“Although we’re a 130 year old humanitarian organization, we’re also made up of human beings. Thanks for not only getting that but for turning our faux pas into something good.”

A lot of good did come from the situation. The beer company mentioned in the tweet, Dogfish Head Beer, immediately started asking people to donate to the Red Cross via Twitter. To keep the humor alive, they used the hashtag #gettngslizzerd. It became a win-win situation for both organizations: Dogfish Head Beer got publicity and helped the Red Cross turn a negative situation into something positive; while increasing donations at the same time. Pure genius.

The Twitterverse appears to have let the Red Cross off the hook for their honest mistake. Any avid tweeter understands how easy it is to make an error when you have multiple accounts running. The best part of the Red Cross’ apology blog post was the ending:

2 words of caution:

1) You’ll want to space out giving a pint of blood and drinking a pint of beer for health reasons.

2) Be careful of Hootsuite!

I thought this was a brilliant way to conclude an apology. I recommend checking out the original blog post and reading some of the compassionate and understanding comments that users left. They’re definitely worth some analysis.

The Red Cross’ response to this social media mishap should be regarded as an example of exactly what you should do when your company makes a mistake on social media.

Rather than steering clear of Twitter and Facebook for fear of screwing up, the Red Cross demonstrates that it’s worthwhile to embrace these new technologies – regardless of the risks. This situation also proves that something negative always has the potential to be made positive.

Kudos to the Red Cross for a job well done.

What do you think – will this serve as a model for other companies to follow in a social media crisis? Do you think the Red Cross should have done anything different? What did you like best about their approach?

I’d love to hear your comments. Thanks!

What’s Your Most Valuable Network?

Establishing a solid network of friends and professionals has always been critical for success in any industry. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been told by parents and teachers alike to network, network, network if I want to get ahead in life.

Today, networks continue to reign supreme. Whether you’re searching for your first job or trying to make a leap from one company to another, calling upon trusted friends and colleagues for support is part of the process. Connections can be made through business dealings, personal friendships or introductions. This will never change.

What has changed, however, is how people network. In the digital age, more and more professionals have turned to online social networking to build their trusted web of contacts.

This leads me to pose the question: is online networking replacing traditional face-to-face interaction?

As a public relations student, I’ve become addicted to Twitter. I also love reading blogs, and write for amazing publications like TalentEgg and wellrounded.me in my spare time. I’ve made some quality connections with people online that I feel are as strong (if not stronger) than some of my face-to-face relationships. We’re friends. We’re contacts. We’re part of the same network.

As I continue to explore social media, I’m becoming more and more conscious of the networks I’m building online. I’ll admit it; I feel a twinge of joy when my posts are re-tweeted by PR pros I admire. It’s flattering to be engaged by your followers on Twitter and it’s always a nice surprise to receive comments on blog posts.

Here lies the burning question: does engaging with these people online and building an online connection have the same pay-offs as face-to-face networking?

On one hand, I would argue that having a recognizable personal brand and interacting with professionals on social media networks is a huge advantage. Although I’ve never met some of my connections on Twitter and LinkedIn, I feel like I know more information about them than some of my real-life acquaintances. By following someone’s blog and seeing their online updates, you often retain more than you would in a 30-second encounter at a networking event.

Yet, I don’t think that the value of face-to-face interaction should be undermined. In my opinion, it’s just as important (if not more) to have potential employers see your face, hear your voice and get a sense of who you really are.

The discouraging news I’m hearing more and more is that most busy executives don’t have the time to remember everyone they meet at networking events. Sure, they’ll take the business cards of many, but the people they will recognize and remember at the end of the day are those that they see re-tweeting their content on Twitter, commenting on their personal blogs and making an overall positive contribution to relevant online discussions.

If you think about it, this makes sense. I operate in the same way. I might forget someone’s name until I see their presence on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Once we connect online, I immediately remember even the most obscure details: such as where they worked for the past four summers or what books they’ve read recently. Visibly seeing this information solidifies a person’s presence in my mind. Rather than just being handed a business card, all the relevant info is at your fingertips.

I’ve also made several connections on LinkedIn and Twitter via mutual friends that I wouldn’t have made in person. For example, LinkedIn has a function called, “People You May Know”. It brings up the profiles of individuals that share some of the same interests and connections as you do. This definitely helps busy people expand their networks. Twitter has a similar feature. On LinkedIn, you can also request an introduction to someone you’re not connected to – the same way that you would at a real-life networking event. From what I’ve heard, it’s a great tool.

In short, I’m torn. Ideally, I’d say you have to make a conscious effort to do both. But sometimes, you just can’t do it all.

What do you think – have you ever had any experiences where face-time has paid off and gotten you the job, or where you’ve been solicited for a position solely via Twitter? Is one method of networking more rewarding than the other? In ten years, what will our personal “networks” consist of – our Twitter followers or our real life contacts?

I’d love to hear your feedback. Thanks!

Key Takeaways from Social Media Week TO

February 7-11 2011 was Social Media Week in Toronto. As a public relations student, this was pretty exciting stuff for me. It was like Christmas (okay… almost).

In early January, I stumbled across information about Social Media Week Toronto online. Before I knew it; I had sent my resume off to become a volunteer.

When I reported to my first volunteer meeting at the Entrinsic office with Carolyn Van and Karim Kanji, I didn’t know what to expect. But, after attending my first #smwTO event at the Globe and Mail offices on Monday, February 7, I knew that I was in for an amazing week.

I had the privilege of working the doors at the Globe and Mail Social Collaboration: Integrating community content and social media with traditional journalism event. Not only did I feel undeservedly powerful, but I was able to observe the different types of people attending the session.

There were journalists, bloggers and communications specialists. There were students (like myself) and PR practitioners. There were small business owners, techies and broadcasters. There was no shortage of variety in the room; and that was what made #smwTO so successful. Simple discussions about social media attracted people from many different professions. It was pretty neat to witness.

The best part of being a #smwTO volunteer was that I got to listen in on the actual event. It didn’t even feel like work. I learned a ton from the talented panel, which was comprised of CBC’s Senior Producer of Community, Kim Fox; Andrew Lundy, Director, Online for globalnews.ca; Chris Boutet, Senior Producer, nationalpost.com; Maurice Cacho, web journalist for CP24; Mark Siktrom, executive producer, CTV News Syndication and CTV.ca; and Jennifer MacMillan, globeandmail.com’s Community Editor.

A hashtag was created specifically for others to follow along on Twitter and send their questions or comments to the panel (#smwtonews). A laptop was hooked up with Tweetdeck projected onto the big screen for all participants to view real-time tweets and mentions. I loved how engaging this was.

Here’s a summary of some of the most interesting things I learned at this event:

  • It would be unheard of for anyone working in a newsroom not to be following relevant Twitter updates. Twitter is a useful social media tool that helps reporters do their jobs effectively.
  • You can’t put a price on social media engagement. It’s too early to do that.
  • Social media hasn’t changed the definition of news; it’s accelerated the news cycle. Andrew Lundy admitted that Global News “killed” Gordon Lightfoot when they announced his death on Twitter without confirming the validity of the source. How do you prevent situations like this from happening?
  • It’s very important for newspapers and broadcast channels to engage with their readers/viewers/listeners online. Jennifer MacMillan compared a reporter’s lack of conversation with their online audience to “hosting a crappy dinner party”. I couldn’t agree more!
  • Social media has changed the way that news outlets obtain information about breaking news. In the digital age, the media expects to receive photos and videos of events and crisis’ that take place during unconventional hours and in inaccessible places. They can’t staff reporters around the clock; but luckily, citizens pick up the slack for them. User-generated content has become the norm.
  • There is still so much experimenting to do with social media in newsrooms across the country.
  • National newspaper head offices have some serious security measures!

I also attended the #smwTO Social Media and Sports – Connecting Fans & Brands discussion at Real Sports Bar & Grill. This event caught my eye right away when the schedule was released. It’s always been an (unrealistic?) dream of mine to work for MLSE or the Leafs in some capacity, so I was listening to the speakers with rapt attention. Monika from the Leafs and Gail from Real Sports were excellent panelists and provided honest insights about being online spokespeople for prominent organizations that receive a lot of comments and questions. It also didn’t hurt that they were super friendly and made an effort to chat with everyone in the room. Overall, it was a memorable experience.

Some things I learned at this event include:

  • Being an organization’s representative on social media requires constant monitoring. Even when you’re not “working”, you technically feel like you are. It’s a 24/7 commitment to the fans.
  • Do what you love! If you’re obsessed with sports, get involved by tweeting about your favourite teams. This is the best way to break into the industry of your dreams. You never know who’s reading your tweets.
  • In the digital age, customer service is so important. If fans or customers are sending you tweets or asking questions, make sure you response in a timely fashion. Always remember that you’re representing the organization that pays you the big bucks!
  • Having a spokesperson readily available and accessible on social media is not the right solution for every sports team. The Leafs’ model has been praised by many, but ultimately, it’s not going to work in every city.
  • Being authentic on social media is critical. People know when you’re not being sincere and this can have a negative impact on your organization.
  • HAVE FUN with social media – fans will appreciate it!

Did anyone else attend any noteworthy #smwTO events? If you didn’t get the chance to go this year, I’d definitely recommend that you mark your calendars for next year! It’s also worthwhile to volunteer – trust me, you get some pretty sweet shirts.

Social Media Revolution?

This is one of the craziest videos I’ve seen on YouTube in long time. Conceptualizing the rise of social media as more influential than the industrial revolution is mind boggling, but the creator of this informative and intriguing video may actually be on to something.

I can’t help but wonder what technological advances will characterize and fascinate the next generation of young adults. Will our children be tweeting as early as elementary school? Will every child have a laptop and a cell phone before their 12th birthday? Who knows, but there’s one thing for sure – social media has changed the way that we spend our time, interact with others and conduct business.

Check out this video – it’s pretty amazing.