Archive for March, 2009
As you know, I’ve been reviewing and questioning personal branding lately and I have one final question (or in this case, lots of questions) for you all. Quite simply, from a “You 2.0″ perspective, if you work for a company and you build up your Twitter Followers or Facebook friends from the hours of 8am-5pm (or whatever your daily work hours are)…who owns those connections made during those hours? And as you know, you don’t need to use the company network to Twitter or Facebook, so then what?
You might not like what I am about to say here, but I believe that if a company is paying you to connect with people online on their behalf…they own those connections. Even if the accounts are under your name. I mean, they paid you, right? Or is that wrong? Or is it both? What are the ethics?
Role-based Pre-Existing Accounts
Take my Twitter/Facebook accounts, I am Beth Harte on both. If I were to join a company in marketing capacity and continue to increase my connections while they are paying me, I believe those connections are the property of my employer. Or are they?
How do we address this potential issue? Here’s one thought…
Prior to accepting a job, negotiate that all followers/friends (existing or new) will remain your property and that the company has the right to “borrow” your accounts and connections for the period of your employment.
Does that work? Would employers buy into that? Would we need to prove the value of our accounts before they would accept those negotiating terms?
Non-role-based Pre-Existing Accounts
Let’s face it, lots of people have Twitter accounts that may not have to do with their daily jobs and yet they still are on Twitter and Facebook during the day. What happens if your company finds out or if you get a new job where they don’t see any value in your Twitter/Facebook accounts? Do you only participate after working hours as to not potentially violate company guidelines?
What’s the most ethical way to handle this situation? Or is it not an ethical situation, but a basic “follow the employee rules/guidelines” situation.
New Accounts (Role-based or not)
What if you start your Twitter/Facebook accounts under your name while working for your employer without their knowing, building up your followers/friends on the company’s dime? Or, on the flip side what if you start an account for your employer, but under your name (and not something like “Susan_XYZ Company”).
How can you handle these situations? If you’ve done it, how? And has it worked?
Where is it all heading?
Will we get to the point where everyone will have their own accounts and companies will have to negotiate for access to them? Will it take time for companies to accept these types of “personal brands” and in the meantime you’ll have to put yours on hold? Is it just a matter of employers having smart guidelines in place?
Lots of questions here and perhaps ethical situations. What do you think? Are there any other account ownership situations we should be discussing?
Even More Goodness! Related Posts:
I have been thinking about this for a while because I keep bumping into the same situations (well, people) over and over… This won’t be a lengthy post because I am more interested in seeing if you are having the same experiences as me. If so, I am really interested in your thoughts.
What are the four faces of social media? Well, as I have encountered them…I have settled on:
The Social Media Purist: The person who truly embraces social media as the conversation that the tools allow people to engage in from day-to-day. The tools might change, but the ultimate goal is to listen, learn, share, and converse with customers and prospects. For the purists, it’s about the conversation and the strength of the relationships that lead to strong business relationships. And the relationships affect all departments within a company because everyone employee is responsible for a great interaction.
The Marketer/PR Professionals or Ad/PR/Interactive Agencies: For the most part, a lot of these folks (for now, I hope…fingers crossed) see social media tools as just that…tools. They are tools that are used to push one-way messaging. It’s not about the conversation, it’s about the medium and more places and people to share the message when traditional marketing like advertising, PR, direct mail, events, etc. aren’t working or delivering. It’s what most are comfortable with, and I get that. While this mindset might work in the short-term…it won’t work long-term.
The Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Gang: Social media is about the tools that help generate the links. It’s about getting clients on Digg or StumbleUpon. It’s about stuffing keywords into every nook and cranny. It’s rarely about the conversation. Because SEOs are typically paid on results, they aren’t paid for helping clients engage in conversation. Or, it’s because they are making money for themselves by selling off highly ranked sites or by monetizing social sites…it’s purely business, not conversation. And yes, there are some SEO’s that get the mix of social media and SEO…I’m thinking about Lee Odden or Li Evans or Wil Reynolds.
The End User (that would be the customer): In the end, they are the people who are stuck combing through all the blog posts, tweets, and Internet links to find information that’s truly relevant to them and right at their fingertips when & where they need it. They want information or feedback that can help them to make a sound purchasing decision or the information that can help them do their job quicker, easier and better. They are the ones looking for conversation, but are the influencers that are most often forgotten by the marketing/PR/agency/SEO folks.
What’s going to happen here? And by here, I mean the world of marketing. I don’t know about you…but I don’t think social media isn’t going away any time soon. You all know me, I am obviously a purist. I enjoy conversation and I think it has many indirect and direct benefits to business and revenue.
So, should we find a way to get everyone to work together? Or will the social media purists eventually be pushed out by the marketers who continue to try to control the market and the SEO folks who are just looking to fill Google full of irrelevant links? Or, does it not even matter? What do you think?
Even More Goodness! Related Posts:
This post is for the attendees (and anyone else who stops by) of the March 20, 2009 IABC meeting on Writing for the Web. My portion of the panel discussion is writing for social media. And instead of having boring handouts, I wanted to share the information via a blog post and hopefully get attendees to engage in conversation…because that’s what social media is all about!
Social media is surely the buzz word these days and perhaps you’re ready to tip your toe into the social waters. Before you do…Ask yourself the following:
- Can I comprehensively write in 140-characters?
- Do I know the best practices for blog writing?
- Am I prepared to change how I write news releases?
- Do I know how to write with the unwritten rules of social media in mind?
Twitter and Facebook
On a basic level, Twitter is a microblogging and social networking that allows you to share your daily events (microblogging) and have conversations with other people (social networking) in 140 characters. Facebook, another social networking tool, also lets you connect with people and share ‘what’s on your mind’ in 160 characters. Marketers and communicators tend to be verbose, so how can you chat in 140-characters without sounding like a 14-year? (u know what I mean, kthxbai.)
Shorten your words and say exactly what you mean. Sounds basic, right? But you’d be surprised how hard it can be at first. Writing in 140 characters has really strengthened my writing skills and I have heard the same from other marketers. Also, it’s okay to shorten common words…for example:
- About – abt
- Great – grt
- Good – gd
- Thanks – thx
- And – &
- People – ppl
- Social Media – SM
- Social Networking – socnet
You get the drift…
Best Practices for Blog Writing
Because everyone blogs for their own reasons, styles and mileage will vary. But since we are talking, for the most part, about corporate blogs here are some quick tips:
- Always write your own posts (i.e. don’t outsource to a ghost blogger)
- Don’t use a blog as a vehicle for collateral or news release delivery (that’s what websites are for)
- Use a blog to expand on your news and have conversations around it
- Find and have an authentic voice
- Write about something interesting to your audience
- Use your search engine optimization (SEO) keywords in your copy (but not overtly)
- Always use outbound links to other blogs and sites (just like I did here)
- Ask questions that generate conversation
- Consider having multiple bloggers (Graco’s corporate blog is a great example of this!)
- Write often (1-2 times a week is a good start)
- And don’t forget to have fun
Want to get more information on blog writing? Check out Debbie Weil’s awesome book, The Corporate Blogging Book and be sure to subscribe to her blog too. Another good source to get you started is Naked Conversations by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel.
Writing a Social News Release
The Social Media News Release (click on the link to see the format) was introduced in 2006 by Todd Defren (the principal of SHIFT Communications). Todd is truly a pioneer because people are just starting to use this format in varying formats. What’s different? The Social Media News Release focuses on less writing and more concise, targeted content. But better yet, it includes information that can be viewed (videos), listened to (podcasts) and shared! Because these days, public relations isn’t just about the media…it’s about putting the ‘public’ back in PR.
If you aren’t quite ready to dive into a Social Media News Release, try an optimized and shareable release that is social without giving up the traditional format. Services like PitchEngine, PRX Builder, PRWeb, Business Wire’s EON, MarketWire, PR Newswire offer the ability to optimize your releases for search and come with the option to make your release shareable (i.e. Digg, del.icio.us, Newsvine, etc.). As well some provide multimedia features that let you add collateral, videos, podcasts, etc.
The Unwritten Rules of Social Media
As a company [or non-profit, agency (government or creative), university, etc.] engaged in social media you’ll find that a community starts to develop. They’ll be the ones to let you know how they want to how they want to be communicated to/with. In other words, there aren’t any hard and fast rules to social media or writing for social media…just guidelines and best practices.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you engage (and write) in social networks:
- Be real
- Be nice
- Be respectful
- Listen then talk
- Give then take
- Try to be consistent
- Apologize when you make a mistake
- Say thank you
- Don’t broadcast (i.e. self promote)
- Don’t stalk
- It’s not a numbers game
- Don’t publicly or privately unfollow/unfriend
Seems like basic etiquette, right? You’d be surprised how often companies [or non-profits, agencies (government or creative), universities, etc.] get off track and then have to deal with fixing their snafus. Try to keep Emily Post in the back of your mind.
What would you add to this information? If there are any questions, don’t be shy and be sure to ask…we’re all here to help!
Even More Goodness! Related Posts:
I had an interesting conversation with Peter Kim while out at SXSWi last week about my recent personal branding post and the comments he left a comment asking me to expand my thoughts from a corporate perspective and to explore the parallels between corporate and personal approaches. During our conversation Peter said that he thinks that most people will have a personal brand over time, so I asked him what he thought that would mean from a corporate viewpoint. He asked me to write a post on what I thought it meant and, well, you know me, I have lots of opinions and thoughts…so here goes.
I agree that most corporate people will begin to create online ‘personal brands’ by setting up LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, insert next new cool online tool here, accounts. But is that enough from the corporate perspective?
Having these accounts doesn’t automatically grant people with personal brand equity. And I think that’s the disconnect that I have with personal branding. Having a bunch of online accounts doesn’t just automatically equate to equity. But what you do with those accounts including the conversations you have and the people you are connected to does have the ability to establish online personas and reputations that might equate to equity and that’s what corporations are interested in. It’s like the new sales person showing up with an already established network. The sales person is implying that they have established relationships that will help to generate revenue (and their bonuses!). Sales people sell against a revenue number and that’s the potential equity they bring to the table. But what if you aren’t in sales? As a marketer, what does your personal brand bring to the table in the form of equity?
Let’s take a step back and wrap our heads around traditional corporate branding (there’s a method to the madness and boring definition review).
Brand: A name/mark intended to identify and differentiate a product/service of a seller
Brand Mark: The part of the brand that appears in the form of a symbol, design, distinct color/font
Brand Name: The part of the brand that can be vocalized (words, letters, numbers)
Brand Loyalty: A buyer’s commitment to repurchase the brand
Brand Equity: The value the brand adds to the product/service
For generations marketers have been branding with these terms in mind (think Coca-Cola, Nike, Amazon.com, etc.). But let’s look at it from a personal perspective in relation to working for a company, government agency, non-profit, university, etc. (the “corporate” perspective).
Personal Brand: A name/mark intended to identify and differentiate a product/service of a seller
Personal Brand Mark: part of the brand that appears in the form of a symbol, design, distinct color/font
Personal Brand Name: The part of the brand that can be vocalized (words, letters, numbers)
Personal Brand Loyalty: A buyer’s commitment to repurchase the brand
Personal Brand Equity: The value the brand adds to the product/service
So how do the definitions change when “personal” is added? And what should corporations look for or expect? You didn’t think they should hire you just because of your cool online presence, did you?
- What are you selling? How does your unique skill set, experience, reputation, etc. achieve corporate goals and objectives?
- What’s your brand mark? Perhaps you have a personal logo or an avatar (photo). Are you distinct?
- What’s your name? That’s obvious. But is it a well known name that a corporation would embrace? Is it a name recognized and established in the industry?
- How much loyalty do you have banked? Can you bring ready-to-buy customers/prospects to the table upon hiring? Does the brand loyalty you’ve established help shorten the sales cycle? Do you have marketing/PR relationships that help save money or generate revenue?
- What is your personal brand worth in revenue? What value does it add to the existing corporate brand? (Or does it conflict?) Does your personal brand help propel the corporate brand forward or create buzz?
The last one, personal brand equity is of a lot of interest to me. Years ago there was a push to make marketing professionals accountable (brand valuation) for the financial well-being of corporation brands. Wikipedia explains it this way: “[to] measure the brand as a financial asset. In short, a calculation is made regarding how much the brand is worth as an intangible asset. For example, if you were to take the value of the firm, as derived by its market capitalization–and then subtract tangible assets and “measurable” intangible assets–the residual would be the brand equity.”
From the brand equity perspective, what I am wondering is that if you feel strongly about personal branding, would you stake your income on it? Would you be willing to derive a portion of your income based on how much you positively or negatively influence brand valuation from an accountant’s viewpoint? (i.e. if it’s positive, more income; if it’s negative, less income perhaps even termination).
From the corporate perspective, should corporations pick people with established online personal brands over those that do not? What if their skill sets are the same? Should someone with an established online personal brand be paid more?
From a personal approach, what if you are the personal brand that owns the company? Do you view your personal brand equity stake to be even higher and therefore riskier?
Would a company full of personal brands that were compensated on personal brand equity provide a better customer experience?
What are your thoughts? What am I missing? What would you add?
Even More Goodness! Related Posts:
I really didn’t want to be part of this whole “personal branding” conversation because I just don’t believe in personal brands. But after a Twitter conversation last week, I feel compelled to say something. I am not going to dive into why I don’t believe in personal branding here today, but just know that after doing corporate branding for almost 15 years, I struggle with transferring those same concepts, trademarks, theories and applications to…people (other than JLo, Madonna, etc.)
Don’t get me wrong, I truly believe that marketing, PR and communications folks need to have an online presence/reputation especially when it comes to networking. I’ve known so many professionals that let their networks go because they are so busy with work, family, etc. and then when they want a new job or get laid off they struggle to establish or re-establish a network…and it’s usually too late because it can take years to establish and maintain a network of people who know and trust you. Valuable networks require time and nurturing…after all, we are talking about people here. And in this tough economy, it usually takes an established network to help you land a job or to open a door or two for you.
Should marketing, PR and communications professionals develop an online presence and manage their online reputations? Yes and yes. No argument there.
Should marketing, PR and communications professionals develop personal brands? I am not convinced. Let’s look at a couple of examples.
Example One: MarketingProfs
As a marketer, I talk to a lot of offline marketers (offline = they don’t have Twitter & Facebook accounts). I often ask them “Do you know Ann Handley or Allen Weiss?” I get a blank stare. Then I ask “Do you know MarketingProfs?” The response I typically get is “I LOVE MarketingProfs, such great information…love their newsletter, etc.” I love MarketingProfs too and have been a member since 2000. And now that I know and have chatted with Ann and Allen both in person (I had the pleasure of meeting Ann at the Digital Marketing Mixer) and on Twitter, my commitment to being a Premium Member is cemented and they can be guaranteed of my ongoing renewal. Even though Ann has her own well-known blog, I get the impression, as a customer, that along with the folks that aren’t in the public eye, both Ann and Allen mainly focus on being MaketingProfs employees and brand stewards. (But I hope they’ll stop by and clarify that for us).
Point: The MarketingProfs brand is solidified by their employees’ passionate and authentic brand management work.
Example Two: Dan Schawbel
Let me just say even though I don’t believe in personal branding, I have a huge amount of respect for Dan Schawbel and his work in personal branding. He’s really done a great job with branding himself and becoming known as a top leader in the personal branding space. His work, I am sure, has helped lots of Generation Y folks get their online reputations in order. But I’ll ask this one question…do you know where Dan works? He works for EMC Corporation, a high-tech IT equipment manufacturer. Honestly, I know more about Dan’s work on personal branding than I know about Dan’s work for EMC. I’ve never met Dan or chatted with him on Twitter, but for the longest time I thought he was a personal branding consultant. So, how does EMC, his employer, benefit from his online “personal brand?” Is Dan utilizing his personal brand to talk with IT data center professionals about how an EMC Clariion solution might work for their data center and to promote the EMC brand?
(Dan, sorry to use you as an example but you are the king of all things personal branding! I hope you’ll stop by and let us know how things are working with your and EMC’s brands.)
Point: Whose brand is more important? The company’s or the employee’s?
Example Three: A personal experience
I was at a job interview over the summer for a job that I wasn’t really interested in, but wanted to see what the company had to offer. The hiring manager came into the interview with my resume in hand and started asking me the typical interview questions. All was going okay until he asked this one question: “Tell me what don’t you like about marketing?”
Even though arrogant, I couldn’t help it…I chuckled and said “Have you read my blog? Have you Googled me?” He said “no.” I answered with “Well, I can tell you there is nothing about marketing that I don’t like…” He said “that’s impossible.” I wanted to answer: “Well, I like everything about marketing except for people with marketing titles that ask silly questions like that of another marketer and especially of one with a blog called “The Harte of Marketing.” But, I didn’t say that aloud because that would have been totally rude and uncalled for. I let it go and didn’t debate it because there are lots of marketers who don’t like everything about marketing and he was just doing his due diligence. But what it showed me was that this particular company didn’t care about a potential candidate’s online savvy or the passion that was behind the blog. It just didn’t matter…at all. And it never would.
Point: Even when you have a so-called online “personal brand” (or reputation) some companies just don’t care.
Let’s face it…when you start talking about brands egos are involved. Are you willing to give up your personal brand for the brand of the company that pays your salary (whether it’s an employer or a client)? Or on the flip side, should a company be willing to give up their brand when an employee’s brand is stronger and holds more recognition and influence? Is this a situation ripe for a brand conflict? Or can there be a balance between personal and corporate brand (I am thinking Richard Branson/Virgin might be a good example here).
Where do you fall in this branding debate? What additional examples can you share?