Mumbai Taught Me That Twitter is Here to Stay

I have had a bit of fun lately with Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson on the “For Immediate Release” podcast, leaving my best “bullshit bingo” comments (“…leveraging our synergies to create a new corporate paradigm..”), but I am afraid that I have to use a term that could fall into that list, describing how Twitter has not jumped into the mainstream:

Convergence.

A series of events over the last several weeks has convinced me that Twitter has gone from a shiny new toy to an overloaded fail whale to an integral part of how we exchange information on a global scale, one that is intertwined with others ways that we send and receive information.

Neville Hobson tweeted about this as well, showing a chart of his tweets and offering comparisons between his and Geoff Livingston’s stats (I’ll leave my own stats out as my New Year’s resolution is simply to get this blog’s Technorati ranking above my shoe size), but I have seen Twitter firmly etch its spot in how we communicate over the last week through convergence.

It’s a horrific example, but the tragedy that took place in Mumbai last week demonstrated how information can be gathered, analyzed, dismissed or accepted and then propagated to an audience craving information.  And by propagated, I mean either through people reading others’ tweets and commenting on them, or through the “old” media picking up tweets and news leads.

I took a look at Blog Pulse, and rather than searching for the word “Mumbai,” I decided to search for the hash tag “#mumbai”. For those of you who have not used this before, hash tags are a way to identify your topic matter in a way that is uniquely identifiable for all.

Here are the stats that I found on Blog Pulse.  Consider that this does not actually measure the tweets themselves, but how those in the blogosphere used the hash tag as a tie-in to Twitter:

I can’t do the math (sorry, Katie Payne, but I am not a math guy), but what we are seeing is the “convergence” (there’s that word again) between the twitterverse and the blogosphere. The spike in the hash tag “#mumbai” demonstrates a cross over from people writing about it in Twitter to people writing about it in blogs to people writing about it in Twitter – and also getting into and from the mainstream media.  As I wrote a few days ago, with such as large population, India as what are likely millions of expats who were desperate for information as the tragedy dragged on.

Finally, what convinced me that Twitter is here to stay is that we are now seeing CNN use it as part of their regular newscasts, including the Mumbai tragedy.  Rick Sanchez annoys the hell out of me, but you cannot argue that a mention on CNN is worth a whole lot of Tweets.  AND – they have more than 60,000 followers.

Two days after Indian authorities restored control in Mumbai, people are still talking and tweeting about it, as we see on the index page of Tweetscan (the larger the word/hashtag, the more mentions).

I’ll leave others to discuss geopolitics and what is likely to happen in India next, but I have not joined the ranks of the true believers that, due to its convergence with other forms of communications, Twitter is here to stay.

Mark

Twitter and Tragedy = #mumbai

Like many people, I spent my Thanksgiving and today watching the horrific events in Mumbai unfold.  I have learned over the years that the less said, the better in times of tragedy, but it breaks my heart to see India experience such carnage, but more so played out over several days. There are a billion people in India, but countless millions living overseas who want to know something — anything — about what is happening.  Feeling that disconnected to your homeland must provide a sense of immeasurable longing and powerlessness.

I have been trying to follow the coverage on BBC America, but with two young children popping in and out of the room, it’s hard to catch anything consistently.  Some of the best updates I have been getting are from Shonali Burke and I have also been following #mumbai.

All I can say is that one of my Tweeps, Shonali, and one of my students, have both been affected by this tragedy — which makes it more personal for me — but not nearly as personal as for them.

Like I said, the less said is the better — I’ll just state that that the Indian people and my friends and colleagues are firmly in my thoughts and deepest hopes for this thing to end.

And the best and most up-to-date news I have seen has come from #mumbai.

Mark

Can You Sell PR Measurement to Your Dumb-Ass Boss?

I love it when I get to read really smart analysis (thanks, Twitter) and love it even more when it comes from two smart people, Katie Payne and Todd Defren.

Todd blogged about this yesterday, but he and Katie had an exchange in which Katie commented on one of Todd’s recent posts about isolating public relations vs. marketing efforts. For those of us who have struggled with this, it’s hard – first of all, from a turf perspective. Marketing will want to claim credit for sales or brand awareness, and public relations will want to say that they are the air cover for the ground war — they created “awareness” which helped the marketing and sales people in the end. In Katie’s newsletter, she commented on Todd’s POV:

“Another popular reason that PR/SM ‘can’t be measured’ is that, ‘You can’t isolate PR from everything else the organization is doing!’ But yes, in fact, you can. It might take some coordination with advertising, or some sophisticated ANOVA (Analysis of Variance) but it can be done, and is being done every day. (Measurement is) hard … particularly for the math-phobic PR folks. It requires calculations and analytics and a bunch of things that PR people hate.”

Yout both are tight. Measurement IS hard. I hate math. Hell, I am adjunct faculty at Georgetown and got a “D” in the one undergrad math class that I took.

Damn Those Obstacles!

One of the texts in my class is the Bible of PR Measurement, Katie’s “Measuring Public Relationships.” All of that mathy stuff can, in fact, get done and made into pretty PowerPoint slides that anyone can understand. The fact that it can be done often runs into the immovable force of it will get done.

For what Todd and Katie are discussing, I see two major obstacles: human and fiscal capital.

By “human capital” I mean you have to find someone who not actually gets this stuff, but who is also committed to the idea that you can indeed offer precise measurements of public relations, marketing and other communications efforts — and isolate each one.

By “fiscal capital,” it’s more obvious, but most of the medium and small businesses (and even some of the large ones that I worked with in my 15 years on the agency side) can’t afford or don’t understand why they need to shell out the bucks for an outside firm like Katie’s. Katie – I have no idea what your billing rates are, so please don’t flame me!

There is astronomical value in measuring communications efforts. The hard part is very much related to a post that I wrote last week: “How To Sell Social Media to Your Dumb-Ass Boss.” It’s frustrating when you see the real value of something — and how it has the potential to really impact your business — and you get the “deer in the headlights” look from the people in the corner office.

In retrospect, maybe I’ll start a series of posts called “How to Sell REAL Public Relations Measurement to Your Dumb Ass Boss.”

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Mark

How to Sell Social Media to a Dumb-Ass Boss

With so many new followers today, I’m feeling the pressure to, as Jason Falls said, be “freakin’ brilliant.”  Good thing that I checked out a post by one of my new tweeps, Andrea Goulet.  Her post was “How to Beat Writer’s Block.”  Tried a few of the tactics, but going for a walk when it’s 18 degrees outside in the Nation’s Capitol..not so much.

So..on to the subject.  We have all been there.  You have killer ideas that can save your company money, your competitors are all doing it — and all you need to do is get the ok from your boss (or, as I say in the title, what many of us have muttered under our breaths after a frustrating meeting, (“dumb-ass”) to implement a blog (internal or external), a podcast, Twitter, use You Tube, Facebook, hell, even an .rss feed.

And then you get “The Look.”

We’ve all seen it.  It’s something between hearing that Santa Claus isn’t real and the look on Dan Quayle’s face when Lloyd Bentsen said “”Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”  Too often than not, when those above you (or your clients), exhibit that look, you need to think fast or watch your social media dreams go up in flames.  So here are a few tips that might help you think fast before “The Look” becomes a “no.”

  1. Knowing and reacting. It’s simple and unquantifiable, but the there is likely already conversation going on about your company/clients, their products, issues, executives and value — it’s already happening.  Here’s the simple part:  you can choose to be part of it or choose to ignore it.  So when someone blogs about you, good or bad, have a monitoring system in place and rules in place for if — or even when — to engage. I have written about monitoring reputation management ad nauseum, but the first step in engaging in the conversation is to know what people are saying about you, and who really matters.  It doesn’t have to cost a ton to monitor, and even Twitter search has an .rss output now.  No excuses.And here’s a little tip to help simplify it:  Mr/Mrs. Dumb-Ass:  if you walked out of the building and heard someone trashing our company, wouldn’t you engage that person in conversation to offer your points of view?  Would you just let it go? What we’re talking about is no different.
  2. Projecting your point of view. If you are reading this blog, you probably already have a pretty good idea of the arsenal that is available to project your company’s/client’s/executives’ view into cyberspace, so I won’t spent a lot of time on the tools and tactics.  Most CEO-types are bottom-line oriented, so if you can make can intelligent case about cost-per-contact (CPC) — talked about brilliantly in Katie Payne’s book “Measuring Public Relationships,” you have a winner.For example, let’s say so implement a Twitter feed.  The only cost, really, is your time to set it up and monitor it.  If you make $60,000 a year (plus benes and work 2,000 hours a year), that’s going to be about $45 per hour.  If you spend an hour a day on Twitter and build up a network of contact of 500 followers, your CPC is going to be about $22.50  ($11,250/500).  Compare this to advertising (which you can’t appropriately measure, only guess, earned media or paid media, which again you can’t appropriately measure) and the $22.50 cost per contact is pretty darn good.  And this is only measuring the cost per acquiring each contact and does not add in the value of the conversations that are taking place via Twitter throughout the year.  And especially in a down economy, CPC is more important than ever.And one final note:  I maintain a Twitter account for my day job and can tell you that the vast majority of the major “traditional” news outlets are on it -watching what my employer has to say.
  3. You can’t always have the ROI you want. I am directly lifting this from a must-listen “For Immediate Release” podcast in which Mark Ragan led a group of social media experts through a fascinating panel in which he pretended to be the “Dumb-Ass CEO,” and Shel Holtz discussed blogging.  Mark Ragan challenged: “You better be precise.  I’m busy.  Why is it that I need to launch this blog, which I don’t even know what it is.”  Sound familiar?  Shel had a great answer.  He said that many companies still invest in things like taking key customers to golf club memberships, greens fees, etc. to build relationships, and we don’t measure that, right?  Everyone gets that you are building solid relationships with these people in the golf course, and not one ever challenges that, right? The basis of social media, like blogs, is developing relationships.  You can’t always measure everything — and you have to be at peace with that.
  4. Blogging baby steps. A lot of time, you have to take steps that are not 100 percent of what you want to begin with, so there are a couple of things you can do in the meantime.  First, talk to your boss about starting an internal blog — something that is apart from that God-awful intranet that you have.  Start slowly by talking to your employees – the people who are your brand and company ambassadors, and you might discover that you are ready for prime time — taking it to the “outside world” after all.And a tactic that I have done more often than not, start a test blog.  Mock it up, don’t make it public, but if you have just a few moments to capture the time and attention of a senior executives, pictures and clicks are worth a 1,000 arguments.  While Mr./Mrs. Dumb-Ass CEO is clicking through the blog, you can make your case about the fact that businesses are built on relationships — and having a blogging platform is a fantastic way to have a parallel set of relationships with your internal or external audiences.
  5. Beware of the roadblocks. People hate change.  Especially people who have been doing it one way for a long time.  If you are attempting a “paradigm shift” (100 points for bullshit bingo, which I won on the “Hobson and Holtz Report: #399), talk to the people who might try to stand in your way.  My experience tells me that there are two prospective deal-killers in an organization:  IT and legal.When the Internet was for propeller-heads, IT owned it.  It was theirs, and we “communicators” simply did not get it.  And now we want to OWN IT???  Try a quiet, discreet conversation with someone reasonable (and high up) in IT to get buy-in on a shared project.And legal?  I have climbed this mountain so many times I have no fingernails left.  But here is my two cents, and it is pretty simple.  The right way to go about is is to start the conversation with “How can we do this?”  The wrong way is “Can I do this?”  Make the question about what THEY need to do to collaborate and make this a reality and don’t give legal any manuevering room to kill something.  Sure, there will be disclaimers (be smart and cut and paste the disclaimer statement from a competitor and bring it to your meeting), but frame and conversations in terms of HOW it can be accomplished, not IF it can be accomplished.

I could go on and on (and likely will in future posts), but I use the “Dumb-Ass CEO” is a joking fashion, simply as an attention-getting device and likely direectly quoting many people who have tried the above.

But it’s not all about me;  I would love to hear from others who have tried, succeeded or even failed when you get the “Dan Quayle in Headlights” look.

Mark