Sunday, March 31, 2013

You Are Being Watched

Creepy enough that you know what you signed up for with Facebook.  That Twitter offers up everything to governments, and provides it to the National Archives.  Here's two pieces of news that will send you running for your tinfoil helmets.

A couple of weeks ago, Facebook admitted that it was possible to take Big Data and crunch that into reasonable predictors of future action.

This week, the Borg that Is admits teaming up with some of industries highest level data mining operations, including Axciom, to accentuate what it knows about you.  Read the New York Times' coverage of the way this new alliance works for -- er, excuse me -- ON you.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Please! Just!! STOP!!!!

High probability you won't see this blog post until someone redirects it to you.  Why?

Those !

And the ALL CAPS.

George Takei's Facebook recently revived the trouble with trifles -- extra (or any, in my opinion) exclamation points and excessive use of all caps -- and how that can trigger Facebook and other social spam filtering.  Read more of George from his post.

The knowledge that using too many exclamation points trigger spam filtering is standard.  Many universities make it clear -- you're guaranteeing your mass emails won't be read with caps and !.  The problems associated with the juvenile nature of ! is a long subject here.

If you simply can't let go of your ! as an adult, try this analogy from Urban Dictionary.  After explaining that multiple ! are used by the overexcited and in a particular type of computer language programing, it comes all together in this passage:

This nice little analogy probably isn't too clear to anyone outside my head, but to me, the brain normally behaves like a Prolog program with an abundance of exclamation points. Stray thoughts are "cut" out of existence before they can either clog one's brain, or exit via the mouth and manifest themselves as an act of stupidity.

Marinate in that for a moment.

As an aside today, if you are not following Mr. Sulu, you are not keeping up with the social media trends and a sterling example of it's not age -- he is 75 if you've lost track, it's attitude in the digital world.  George got social from the start and remains a key trendsetter you should follow.  To recap how he got there, check out his TEDxBroadway speech.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Good News in Social, Until it's Bad

A mixed bag today.  On the one hand, the New York Times comments on a study showing that "good news" spreads faster on Facebook and other social media than on traditional.  There is a underlying snarkiness to the story that somehow, because we like to take pride in achievement and think that is news.

Personally, I find that refreshing and affirming.  People do want to be positive with friends, and they have a high level of trust among friends in sharing those kinds of bits of news.

Until it turns dark.  I've spent time before reminding you to Snopes and Google first, forward and comment second when you see these almost too good to be true (or bad) things that meme around on Facebook.

Here, I'll side with the Old Gray Lady.  Without the newsroom vetting that, no the CEO of Starbucks really didn't say that, you get a lot of things spread virally that are infectious, nasty false truths.

Arizona State is living a little of that balancing act this week, rolling out a new mascot costume that they say they had done lots of checking with focus groups and others only to run head long into a tsunami of negativity driven by social.  The Sun Devils say it's a vocal minority.  Maybe.  Perhaps the thing to remember is it is very easy to hit a like button, takes a whole lot more effort to actually donate time or money to a cause.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Genius or Imbecile?

I've read it three times since Chris Syme hipped me to the situation at Indiana.  Gonna be honest, dealing with first round NCAA (oh, excuse me, SECOND round -- "play-in" being banned words) run up and prep, so not a lot of deep research in this.

Jesse Campbell is either the best, most transparent communicator in the history of EmComms . . . or the most damaging.

Anyone who has the nerve to admit it was "a crappy day" at IU and cop to the fact they don't update pages that didn't get updated is refreshing.

I wonder if he will be employed, or allowed to speak to the public, after his brutal honesty on this official blog.

His lead kind of says it all:

While we do not have any satisfying answers, I wanted to at least put out there what we do know as of 3:25pm on 3/19/2013.

Oh, I've wanted to say that out loud at times, but I had to keep that in.  Many of us have also.

I'm tending to lean toward genius in the equation above -- read through the Facebook page for IU's emergency alert and you'll see a pretty good job in managing public with a social media voice/tone.

Perhaps my worry about the frank and edgy wording is misplaced.  Clearly the language had resonance with the target audience.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Motivating the Friendbase

Victory is ours for Northwestern State, overcoming some odds to win the fan vote for the greatest moment in the 50 year history of Southland Conference basketball.  Kudos to our supporters who did the hard work, but we should take some pride also in helping to organize that response.  Achieving results in social media isn't about firing up the base.  It is a series of steps to make sure you involve your supporters toward a worthy goal.

Friendbase isn't something that happens overnight.  Build it through embracing the interaction of social, and the best brands know this.  They don't "do" social; they "are" social.  They aren't a fan base that you can stoke.  I'm making a particular point in coining this term of a "friendbase".  Friends can be fans, but for the exponential return that makes social geometrically powerful, consider them friends that can be casual and to reach them, you must do so in a different way.

This achievement by our friendbase at Northwestern State follows some previous wins, supporting Yaser Elqutub to become the captain of the Allstate Good Works team (overcoming another good-guy candidate with a pretty large fan base, you may have heard of RGIII?) and lifting alums to local and regional honors.  By the way, based on requests to help, we do have a formal policy for when our official social media pages and feeds become involved.

Have a worthy cause.  Just because you want your school/player/alum to take a social media vote contest doesn't mean it will happen.  If the Demons of Destiny wasn't already one of the greatest stories in modern NCAA basketball history, it would not have stood a chance.  So to use some marketing terms, if you have a good "product" you have a chance.  For that product to excel, it needs focus and emotion.  Everybody loves an underdog.  Everyone understands the Cinderella upset.  That makes Northwestern State's entry into this contest a natural versus some of the others that were less single moments than eras or streaks.

Reciprocate.  This seems out of order, but it is a vital first step.  You will get help the first time you ask in your friendbase, but when you don't share your group to help others, I assure you the next time, the impact will drop an order of magnitude.  Everyone has causes.  Each institution will have limits on what they can endorse, forward or promote.  But when you can, be helpful to others.

Make the ask.  Friends like to help friends.  If you have worked to build true community, they won't mind when you make an appropriate request.  That means your own friends.  Every successful social media campaign -- Vote Mallett, Yaser for Captain and now Demons of Destiny -- involved asking for help from my own friends.  In fact, a huge driver of the Yaser Elqutub campaign was his girlfriend promoting it to her completely unrelated to FBS football social circle.

Know the ask.  Seems same, but a very important part of The Ask.  Pitching your social media base to buy a new tee-shirt or get tickets is shamless huckstering -- and your friendbase will react adversely to that.  Save your advertising for advertising in Facebook or Google ads.  Keep requests for action in social channels to things that fit in those channels -- online voting, forwarding links, spreading the word.

A social marketing sidebar: spreading the word that tickets are available for an event, or spreading the word that start time for a minor sport or campus event is different in tone and acceptance in the friendbase.  Seems like a difference without distinction, but I've watched very clearly the graphs and tracking  -- interaction and activity plummet when pitches take over a feed.  They rise and sustain when you are asking friends to help.

Set the goal.  Knowing how the contest works allows you to create the right appeal to your supporters.  In the case of the Southland contest, vote once a day, fill out this form.  This drove the need for periodic reminders, both direct and advertised.

Create a plan.  Coordinating the social groups though which alliances can be formed is vital.  In making that schedule of messages, they must vary -- the key element of voting, yes -- to keep the goal top of mind.

Don't overnag.  Nothing gets you dropped faster than pumping the contest every day, multiple times a day.  Save your screaming for the final week or days so the burnout happens right AFTER the contest, not in the middle of it.

Don't be afraid to "promote."  Fully admit, a late convert to the judicious application of Zuckerberg Soap to the process through promoting posts related to the contest at hand.  It wasn't a factor for Yaser, but it was used in Demons of Destiny.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Being the Media

WNYC's On the Media went in depth about the "problem" of the White House becoming it's own media outlet.  From YouTube to official blogs, the Obama administration has taken the old practice of party partisan media to a new height.

I say the old practice because let's not act like the President going direct to the people is something new.  Back in the 1800s, the "media" was dominated by newspapers that were quite literally owned by and organs of the political parties.

So we rediscover the ability of the object being covered to be a content generator -- ye olde Branded Journalism.

This has been happening in college sports for years, dating back almost to the start of the second generation of websites with rich content.  It starts with the "minor" sports that news organizations begin to sacrifice coverage upon when the advertising starts to shrink.  Thus begins the spiral downward as the niche audiences -- the long tail of the media -- discover they can get as good, if not better, coverage directly from the teams.

This taught athletic departments how to create content machines -- RazorVision, RebelVision, etc. -- and then with the experience of streaming content to arena scoreboards and remote fan desktops, it isn't much of a scale up to become the source for all the teams.

Late last summer, Arkansas debuted its new NIKE uniforms with its own video fashion show.  It caused quite a stir.  This spring the Razorbacks are closing football practice.

And if they are smart, they are doing their own taping of practice to provide video for specials, later productions and approved distribution to the media.  I would.

That's not fair, scream the traditional media.  Perhaps, but how exactly is it different from the pool reporter coverage of the White House?  Or buying packaged "reports" from DC B-roll houses for the local evening news?  Or running whole pitched pieces from PR agencies.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Twitter Tattle-Tales

Can't claim it original, but Leo Laporte hit the nail on the head about people in public.  On a recent episode of This Week in Tech, Laporte coined the line that Twitter is filled with people ready to tattle on you, to point out mistakes and take glee in it.

Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste

I know that's a politically charged line, but in the case of social media and institutions, it is true.  Want a nice organic bump in traffic and followers?  Have a snow closure.  Ramp up the interaction?  Last week, in our case, get a bomb threat at the high school co-located on part of the campus.

Sad, but true.

Embrace this fact.  Along with working the people online with Facebook and Twitter (and monitoring same), I had the chance to hand out additional messages.  If you want the first warning, make sure you are signed up for Purple Alert, and here's the URL.  Alumni or former staff and tired of getting our Purple Alerts?  Here's the email address to leave us.

Above all, students learned that if they need critical information, they can count on our Facebook and Twitter official pages to echo and amplify what is being done via the old-school text-and-call system.

How much?  We saw a brief event -- approximately two and a half hours from first building evacuation to all-clear, and we were fortunate to not need to evacuate our entire campus -- only areas near the LSMSA.  But off that quick three hours we saw a 253% jump in people talking about us, a 124% jump in total reach and almost 100 new like/followers.

This drove one of our best weeks since the start of classes, and we kept the ball rolling with a great Facebook Five post on our special "Purple Priday" start (a whopping 400 likes, not bad for one iPhone photo and a pithy quote).

The week was sufficiently notable that we got feedback from agencies and media partners who were looking out our numbers.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Morris Theorum

Change is caused by lazy, greedy, frightened people looking for easier, more profitable, and safer ways to do things.

So opines historian Ian Morris.  Read more at The Chronicle.  Hard time getting past his primary theory.  It is both frightening and brilliantly insightful.

Why should you care?  Because the CIA does.  Click the link to learn why.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

A Little More than Airbrushing a Swoosh

Truth be told, I've removed sponsor logos from artwork in large displays and permanent signage while at Arkansas.  In part, we kept changing sponsors and the new sponsors, well, they'd just as soon not be reminded of Apex.  Or Reebok.  Or Nike.  Or adidas.  Or, well, back to Nike . . . for now.

And I freely admit, there is a terribly close difference in this story, but Photoshopping out a university logo, well, that's just going too far.  Who you're shoes came from don't matter to a school's history as much as it might to a marketing firm, but essentially removing a past name.

Altered Viewbook Photos Land Georgia Regents U. in Hot Water

I am frightfully reminded of my Orwell.

He who controls the present controls the past.  He who controls the past controls the future.

Monday, March 04, 2013

One is a Thousand

If you haven't taken in House of Cards from Netflix, let me share.  A central character is Zoe Barnes, the socially climbing, social media oriented young reporter.  She berates her bosses for not taking the Washington Herald (read, Post) into the new age and chafes against being held back once she starts exploiting her relationship with Rep. Frank Underwood for scoops and career advancement.

However, a perfect compliment to the old "digital assets are extremely portable" comes from one of her battles with the managing editor.  He explodes at her and calls her an extremely derogatory term for women.  She toys with him, thumbing out a tweet on her phone about what he said in front of him and says, "should I hit send, or not?"

He dares her.  She does.  And she storms out with the classic Lesson from Zoe:

"When you talking to one person, you're talking to a thousand."

Words to live by for those speaking in public places.  New York Times weighs in on that episode.

Nice discussion about Zoe as the "army of one" reporter from the WaPo.