Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The "social media' press release

There’s some debate right now in the Web 2.0 world of the value of the reinvention of the news release as a “social media news release”. Click through to this example, from Web 2.0 guru PR firm Edelman, to see how the structure is different from a traditional news release: Business More Trusted Than Media and Government in Every Region of the Globe

The social media release takes all the components of the traditionally structured narrative-style news release and breaks them down to the basic building blocks: relevant facts, quotable quotes, standard boilerplate and contact information. It then adds Web 2.0 goodies like multimedia clips, links, folksonomy tags, and even a commenting feature.

Not everyone sees the need to reinvent the wheel. Microsoft’s highly respected Überblogger and social media evangelist Robert Scoble, calls the idea “lame,” initiating a lively debate on the nature and necessity of news releases, both traditional and Web 2.0, in the comment section after his post.

Conference follow-up

Just a quick post to say hello to any newcomers who might be arriving after our communications conference last week.

I was amazed at how many of the conference speakers touched on various aspects of social media, and very pleased to hear how strong our organization's support is for these early forays into research on the tools of social media.

We talked about how to use this blog as a communication tool, but a few of you expressed concern about how public a forum it is. For those of you who weren't aware, yes, this blog and the comments are indexed by Google and other search engines, and the content is available to anyone who happens to stumble by.

We're talking about other options, like a password protected blog or bringing the blog inside the firewall, but for now, please feel free to comment with your first name only or an alias if you prefer. To join the conversation, click on the "comment" link at the end of each post and add your thoughts in the box that will pop up. The comment box will ask for your e-mail address, but only I will see that, and you can leave that blank if you choose.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Links for 23 January 2007

Some interesting finds from the blogosphere this week:

"You" are not as cool as you think you are Interesting discussion of the value of user-generated content, including the much-hyped Superbowl ads for Doritos, Chevy and the NFL.

Should we have a chat? From the IABC, a post that questions the value of Web chatting as a communication tool.

Via Maggie at Social Media Group, news that Deloitte has launched a blog for and by employees. It encourages employees to share their personal experiences around the issues of career advancement and work/life balance. After being run internally for 18 months with some success, the blog was launched externally last week. Personally, I think as an organization we’d have more success focusing on this type of blog than on a CEO-authored corporate blog.

And on the subject of CEO blogging, in a recent post Ian Ketcheson opined rather succinctly “It is ill-advised for an organization’s first big step into social media to be a CEO blog,” in response to this Economist.com article on the World Economic Forum’s recommendation that CEOs join the blog bandwagon.

And finally, via BuzzCanuck, an article in Marketing Magazine that looks at trends in Canadian marketing and media: more than 50% of marketers are likely or somewhat likely to use some form of social media in the upcoming year and more than 30% have already “tested the waters.”

Friday, January 19, 2007

Managing expectations

It’s tempting to get swept up onto the social media bandwagon, but large public organizations such as ours need to evaluate all the outcomes, including managing expectations.

One of the inherent problems of social media as an interactive tool is dealing with the expectations that are created. For example, the Houston Metro blog was a well-intentioned attempt to engage the public in a conversation, but they quickly found out that what they wanted to discuss and what their key public – transit riders themselves – wanted to discuss were completely different issues.

Similarly, John Edwards has demonstrated that he’s cognizant of social media by engaging the public through blogs and YouTube, and the blogosphere has been generally receptive to his approach. However, this post demonstrates that in doing so, he may have set the standard too high and has set a level of expectation that might be unreasonable, or even unattainable.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Paul Wells on goverment and social media

Paul Wells, famous both for his column in Macleans and his popular Inkless Wells blog, wrote this week about speaking "to some civil servants about new media, social media and other jargon terms for the rising use of blogs, Youtube, social networking sites and the Wiki concept of communal editing and online brainstorming." (Boy, would I ever have loved being a part of THAT conversation! If all goes according to plan, I might get my wish at the next Third Monday gathering, as the early buzz says Paul Wells himself will be the guest speaker.)

He goes on to talk about the potential of social media to facilitate the process of public consultation and citizen engagement: "One of the niftiest ideas I've heard is that a policy proposal could, itself, be wiki'd: Publish a discussion paper and then invite people — either any ordinary Canadian who wants to participate, or perhaps a password-equipped community of experts and stakeholders — to amend the document themselves, just as Wikipedia entries are amended. Post the paper, notify stakeholders, wait a month, then come back to see how it's grown."

And just so I stop short of reproducing his entire blog post verbatim, I'll exhort you to visit his post for a round-up of some government initiatives in this area.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Links for 17 January 2007

Canada's 1% Blogging Army
Canadian Marcom blogger Sean Moffitt has pulled together an excellent compilation of more than 150 influential Canadian bloggers. He has also launched a wiki (a collaborative Web site) under the same title. It’s a who’s who of Canadians blogging about marketing, communications, media and culture.

Internal Communications Channels Study
Contains a link to a new Edelman study called "New Frontiers in Employee Communications", as well as a fairly long list of links to other recent studies on corporate use of new media technologies. (Looks like I’ve got a lot of reading skimming to do!)

Friday, January 12, 2007

Friday round-up of social media links

Did you know the Royal Bank of Canada has a blog? In this case, the blog was launched in the wake of an innovation contest sponsored by the bank. RBC says, “The Innovator Blog is your inside source for advice and guidance on the RBC Next Great Innovator Challenge. Visit frequently for tips on teen trends, innovation principles, and general challenge announcements.”

Also interesting, this (via Ketcheson.net) newly launched official blog of the Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority. Note the hostile comments from a small but vocal group and demands for information and responses far beyond the intended scope of the blog, very likely similar in nature to what a Canadian government department with a large contingent of vocal opponents might expect.

From Micropersuation, some interesting statistics on the global blogosphere. Based on research by PR firm Edelman, “74% of Japanese read blogs, followed by 43% in South Korea and 39% in China. In the US, it’s about 27% and its even less in Europe. Blog readership is significantly higher among influencers - people who for instance, contact a political, attend a public meeting etc.” Edelman has come out with a white paper called A Corporate Guide to the Global Blogosphere. I haven’t read it yet, but I’ve sacrificed a few trees to print a copy for perusal after I finish the digital dialogues paper.

More interesting links:

The Power 150 - America’s Top Marketing Blogs, as ranked on the basis of Google pagerank, bloglines subscribers, technorati ranking and the blogger’s own opinion.

19% of fastest growing U.S. companies use blogs

And, if you’re in the Ottawa area, on Monday evening there will be a meetup for those with a special interest in social media and public relations. See this post for details.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Trends in government and socia media

There’s been lots of talk about government and social media in the blogosphere this week. For example:

Michael Geist's regular column in the Toronto Star addresses how the government should respond to the user-generated content boom that is driving social media: “Ten years later, the role of government will be to support the enormous economic and cultural potential of user-generated content, while avoiding steps that might impede its growth. It can do so by focusing on the three "C’s" - connectivity, content, and copyright.”

Via Blogging4Business, an article in The Independent criticizing UK Environment Minister David Miliband‘s blog, asserting among other things that it has cost £40,000, or approximately £1 per word.

And speaking of the UK, Ian Ketcheson provides a helpful roundup of government and social media initiatives in the UK, with lots of linky goodness. Especially interesting is this interim report of the government’s Digital Dialogues project, which is exploring the use of interactive communication technologies by the government for citizen engagement. I’m about 1/3 into the paper, and it has a lot of interesting insight. Highly recommended reading!

Monday, January 8, 2007

Politician and civil servant bloggers in Singapore

I stumbled across a blog called Rambling Librarian, a personal weblog of what appears to be a government-employed librarian in Singapore. He too is exploring the intersection of personal blogging and government blogging, including a couple of posts on blogging guidelines for employees.

From the same blog, I found a link to a blog on which Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, George Yeo, has contributed more than 30 guest posts, and I read how in a recent national address, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong committed to using new media: “We still need to get our message across. We will use the new media, multimedia, podcast, broadcast, all these things which you get in the Internet, or somebody sends to you by email, I think our ministries, our agencies have to experiment, have to try it out.”

Also from the Rambling Librarian, I found a link to a blog called WebSG.org, with a post examining trends in Singapore’s political blogosphere. From there, I found this post about the MSM ‘outing’ of a group of public servants who have been blogging in Singapore. Also from the WebSG.org post, I found a link to a government-sanctioned group blog by 12 Singaporean Members of Parliament, all born since 1965.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Links for 02 January 2007

  • Have you RSS'd yourself? A must-learn (easy) trick for 2007
    I am a big fan of Debbie Weil’s The Corporate Blogging Book, and in this post she gives a lovely little tutorial on using some common social media tools to monitor the chatter of the Internet. Has some good links, and great explanations in (almost) layperson’s terms.

  • blogging delivers five-fold increase in stormhoek sales in less than two years?
    In addition to being an A-list blogger and clever cartoonist, Hugh McLeod blogs for a small winery called Stormhoek. In the link referenced above, he posts a fascinating summary of his efforts and rewards in the blogosphere in 2006. In a post from last year, he explains how interacting with the blogosphere in 2005 changed Stormhoek’s marketing philosophy, and doubled their sales in just twelve months:
    We're talking tens of thousands of cases, here. […] I have been saying this for years, and still not everybody believes me: "Blogs are a good way of making things happen indirectly." No, bloggers and their friends didn't start suddenly descending on supermarkets, buying the wine in large numbers. That's not how it works. What happened is that by interfacing with the blogosphere, it fundementally changed how Stormhoek looked at treating their primary customers (the supermarket chains) and the end-users (the supermarkets'customers).

  • Top 10 Viral Video Moments of 2006

John Edwards' social media campaign

In announcing that his candidacy for the President of the United States, John Edwards has shown a remarkable grasp of and appreciation of the power of social media. For one thing, he announced his intention to announce his candidacy on YouTube. He’s obviously comfortable with blogging, MySpace, and Flickr.

But even moreso, as the Washington Post observed, he seems to get that social media has transformed the power structure and the way we communicate: “Smart candidates know the old command-and-control structures of politics don't work anymore. Instead, campaigns are all about building communities and speaking directly to supporters, whether through email or podcasts or what the Edwards team calls "webisodes."”

Time magazine noted: “Once he made it official, Edwards' campaign pitch got even more unorthodox. He started his short speech by saying Americans needed to "take action" in a way that almost seemed to minimize the importance of whoever might be President — now or in 2009. "We want people in this campaign to actually take action now," Edwards said, "not later, not after the election. We don't want to hope that whoever's elected the next leader of the United States of America is going to solve all our problems for us. Because that will not happen." He encouraged people to volunteer, particularly in storm-damaged areas in New Orleans.”

Social media is all about this ‘power to the people’ mentality. And so far, Edwards seems to be one of the few politicians who has gone beyond simply trying to manipulate the new tools using the old mindset. As one blogger noted, if he’s elected in 2008, Edwards is well-poised to be the first Social Media President.