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When I see something smart, I just have to share it. And this move by the Phoenx Suns is just that…smart.

The Phoenix Suns will become the first NBA team to hire what they call a Social Sideline Reporter.

Now, I’m sure that there are other variations of this kind of position out there but to quote Beyonce, the Suns are “putting a ring on it” and making it official.

Here’s an excerpt of the position description from their website:

This unique position will play an exciting new role in the team’s home-game broadcasts on @FoxSportsAZ and @ArizonaSports620, as well as the experience at @USAirwaysCenter. The new game-night personality will provide quick social media updates, giving fans a voice within the broadcasts and in-arena presentation, and will also interact with the Suns’ followers throughout the game on Twitter.  

And to make it even cooler, auditions must be posted on your social network of choice, using the hashtag #socialsideline. Again, smart.

I haven’t been this excited since NASA was looking for someone to live tweet the shuttle launch, and the winner found out about it from my tweet promoting it.

You can learn more about the position here.

Kudos to the folks behind this idea. I’m sure the fans will love it. You’ve clearly listened to them and you’re doing something about it.

I’m sure this will be replicated sooner than later.

 

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This is a cross-post from my company blog.

It’s one thing to gripe on Twitter. People expect it. If it’s a customer service issue and you’re lucky – the right person from Company X will see it, work to resolve your issue, and you can move on. It’s a common occurrence these days as some companies are offering better customer service on Twitter than they are over the phone and in person.  But that’s a post for a different day.

Back to the griping.

Because Twitter is so fast-paced chances are, the majority of your followers won’t even see the gripes if they are few and far between. You are in no way classified as a common complainer and can easily go back to your normal way of tweeting. No harm, no foul.

But when you post the same kind of content as an update on LinkedIn, it attaches to your profile page and is visible to anyone who happens to view your profile.  Now remember, this is a professional network. What you want to appear in that space is something that reflects positively on you or your business. (I recently posted  link to a video highlighting some of the work Capstrat’s social media team has done on Facebook.)

What you don’t want is something that casts you in a bad light or leaves a bad impression on someone who may be interested in working with or for you, hiring you, or gleaning a bit of information from your profile to make some other decision about you.

I came across a LinkedIn profile today that had an update filled with Time-Warner bashing. And you know what? I wasn’t phased by the bashing at all even though there’s a great chance that all of his claims are true. I was more concerned about the person who was willing to sacrifice their own image on a professional social network, just to blast Time Warner. In my opinion, that is a major mistake. This person may be the best of the best in their field, but after reading that rant about Time Warner, which shows just below his name and current position, I wanted to get as far away from him as possible.

Now what if I wanted to hire him or contact him about an opportunity? I am now questioning his professionalism and quite honestly have lost interest.

You’ve heard it before, but with social media, you have to be smart. You can’t post everything that crosses your mind. Be selective about what and where you post. And when it comes to LinkedIn, keep it professional.

Save your gripes for Twitter, where they belong.

Have you ever gotten into a discussion with someone about personal vs. professional accounts on social networks?

Some people believe it’s impossible to separate the two. Others create two different profiles on their favorite social networks and drive themselves crazy trying to manage it all.

There are people who freak out each time they get an invitation to connect with someone on LinkedIn. (That’s my old boss, I don’t know…” or “I never really liked her, do I have to say yes?”) I know people who refuse to look at their friend requests on Facebook because they don’t want to have to make a decision on whether or not they should let a person in.  In many cases they keep these people in what I call “Facebook purgatory” so they don’t hurt their feelings.

This is a real struggle for many, but it doesn’t have to be. Quite honestly, I think it’s madness and if you’re one of these types, it’s time to take back your power.

If friend requests, invitations to connect and potential Twitter stalkers are keeping you up at night, that needs to stop. Today. All you have to do is develop your own personal social media policy. Determine your own rules of engagement and apply them. And don’t be scared to let people know how they can connect with you.

If you don’t want to chat it up with your co-workers on Facebook, don’t. And even if you are connected already and don’t want to be, adjust your privacy settings. Create lists within your friends lists and limit what they can see.

I have no problem telling people how I connect. I had a friend request from a former co-worker on Facebook just today and declined it. I told her that I would prefer to connect with her on LinkedIn instead. I hope she doesn’t take it personally but I have a certain way I choose to connect that works for me.

I liked her when we worked together, but our relationship doesn’t fit with the way I communicate on Facebook. She doesn’t need to see the pictures of my children I post from time-to-time or read my fun rants with my cousins. Because our work relationship never reached actual friendship, (like many do) she doesn’t belong there.

My policy works something like this:

Twitter: Anyone except the porn people and hard core affiliate marketing types. I’m pretty much professional on twitter. I have a niche there and try to stick to it. If you don’t like live tweets, journalism, or social media, you won’t enjoy following me at all.

  • Direct messages: If you send me a DM, I will respond.
  • @Mentions: If you mention me in a reply, I will respond accordingly. It may not be immediately but you will be acknowledged when warranted. I don’t typically thank people for retweets. I figure it was of value to them so they shared it. I will follow them so I can return the favor some day.

LinkedIn: Any business connection I’ve made. This includes people I meet at conferences, former co-workers and anyone I know professionally. I haven’t met all of these people, but I know of them in some significant way.

Blog: If you post a comment on my blog, I will try my best to respond, especially if you’ve never posted before. Again, it may not be immediate but it will happen. Sometimes  I reach out via email instead. I will never have a heated argument online and do not engage with trolls or disrespect other bloggers.

Facebook: Family and friends. Co-workers or former co-workers who have transcended co-worker and moved into “friend” territory. If you’re my friend on Facebook, you are likely someone I would invite to my house.

This may be a bit formal for you so consider it food for thought. It took me a while to figure out what works best. So don’t be offended if you reach out to me on Facebook and we don’t connect.

It’s not you at all. It’s me, and that’s how I manage it all.

I’d love to hear about your personal policies and boundaries in the comments.

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The journalist in me makes it impossible to stop reading press releases. I just can’t do it.  Once a news assignment editor, always a news assignment editor apparently, and part of that job has always been to forage for news via press releases, police scanners, newspapers, beat calls, while eavesdropping during lunch or through any other means that brings in a good story.

But now, since I am no longer responsible for determining what to divulge to the masses during a 22 minute news hole, I’m reading and digesting them a bit differently.

I can now analyze them a bit, laugh at the long-winded nature of many who write them and look for cool things to share with people in my networks.

There is a trend I’m noticing of late. It’s the press release announcing a new twitter account or Facebook page.  (I’ve written about this before.)

If you’re expecting a rant on this one, I may disappoint because I want to think this through a bit more as I type. It seems insane on the surface, but is it really any different than announcing a new product or service?  If your twitter account is a new service, then perhaps it does require a press release. Today I came across 2Insure4Less.com announcing its new twitter page to “share insurance news and answer consumer questions.” 

And before I say anything bad, I have to give them credit for not assuming that every reader would be well-versed on twitter as indicated in this excerpt:

The posts, commonly known as “tweets,” provide insurance-related guidelines, advice and news about legislation and others’ missteps.

They even take it a step further to announce what types of tweets a follower might expect to see:

Many tweets are for national or international trends or phenomena such as a link to a report from Insurance News Net about the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s reinforcement of its tsunami warning systems within the United States since the Indonesia 2004 disaster. The article also describes the National Weather Service’s TsunamiReady program and shares recommendations from the Insurance Information Institute. Other posts address the interests of residents in specific states.

And if you want to read a few previous tweets, just to be sure following the account is a good idea,  there’s this: Read the rest of this entry »

I hope you’ve enjoyed updating your Facebook status, making connections on LinkedIn, tweeting for the masses and watching YouTube videos from the comfort of your employer’s keyboard, but I think that will change for many in the next year.

I shared my thoughts on this over on SiliconAngle, where I am a contributing writer and decided to cross-post for you. So, have a read and tell me what you think.


I don’t have a list of ten predictions. I don’t even have five. But I do have one and I feel rather strongly about it.

Okay, a great number of people are predicting that social media will be even bigger next year and businesses will continue to latch on and make use of the space. They’ve learned that it is an important strategy and that social media must become a huge part of their overall marketing and PR efforts.

Great.

However, I believe that many employees (state workers, for sure) will find themselves blockedfrom Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and maybe even LinkedIn entirely next year.

I’ve written quite a bit about social media guidelines and even led the charge in developing them for my current company, which supports employee involvement.  We want people to get involved and become brand advocates. But that’s us.  That may not be the case where you work and you could soon find out the hard way.

For many companies there is nothing to gain but a loss of productivity for allowing this access and they’ve known it for a while.  Therefore, I maintain that many will soon pull the plug.

Read the rest of this entry »

I am dedicating an entire blog post to rave about the use of Twitter as an excellent tool for customer relations. The company I’d like to rave about is Orbitz.
You see, I booked a vacation via Orbitz because of a great deal they were offering at a specific hotel. The deal was ‘kids eat free.’ I have two children and it included breakfast, lunch and dinner during the entire stay, which was a pretty attractive offer, so I booked it and sealed the deal.

The problems started when the hotel staff seemed to be unaware of this great offer and pretty much hassled me about the free meals. They gave me this song and dance about Orbitz being a ‘third party’ and how they had not been informed of any such deal.

I happened to print several copies so they did in fact honor the deal since it was there in black and white. But, that did not minimize the hassle and confusion on the faces of the restaurant staff and even the front desk manager since it took all of them to talk to me about this, rather loudly I must say, as if I was trying to pull the wool over their eyes.
As time went on, I got angry.
I decided to look for Orbitz on Twitter when I got home yesterday and saw that they were pretty active. So, I posted the following on Twitter, hoping to receive a response.

Hello @orbitz. Marriott Carolina Beach was totally unaware of your deal and it was not pleasant for me. Will be writing.

Now, in most cases one would expect a DM or @reply from the company if they are indeed serious about reaching thier customers via Twitter.

I received neither. What I did receive was a PHONE CALL.  A nice woman named Sarah left a message for me on my cell indicating that she saw my message on twitter and wanted to talk to me about what happened. She left her number and urged me to return her call.

I was quite impressed and called her back immediately. She listened to me recount the experience and even empathized. She did not go out of her way to blame the hotel even though I know now the fault lies with the hotel alone. She went on to tell me how the process works and then gave me a $50 voucher to use the next time I book travel through Orbitz.

That phone call was unexpected, and they have surpassed my idea of good customer service. I go by “communitygirl” on Twitter, so they clicked through to my profile to get my real name, looked me up in their system, then contacted me on my cell.

Not too shabby.

We hear so much about Comcast, JetBlue, Dell, BestBuy and others that are serious about transparency and customer service on Twitter. I would like to add Orbitz to the mix. They didn’t care about the world seeing a DM and recognizing them based on that. They only cared about me and made a direct connection. I was impressed and I find that to be huge.

So, here’s to Orbitz, and the customer service representative named Sarah.
Sarah, you had me at ‘hello.’
Keep up the good work!

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Amazon book reviews are great and so are complete blog posts devoted solely to your creative prose. I’m looking forward to them both. But with the popularity and power of twitter, Twitviews (that’s what I’m calling reviews posted on twitter only) are worth watching.

I was completely amazed at the number of tweets about my new book, yesterday. And while they don’t qualify as full-fledged book reviews and may not show up in a Google search, I find them very powerful given the reach of our networks.

Here are a few:

DerekShowerman: @communitygirl provides 18 rules of community engagement in an eBook form. http://ow.ly/dh0R
tomhumbarger: Build a Thriving Online Community – New book out today by @communitygirl provides 18 rules of community engagement http://ow.ly/dh0R
LainieH: @communitygirl just saw the press release for your new book about online community engagement. Congrats! http://tinyurl.com/koxzt7..
NewspaperGrl: Get to know @communitygirl who just wrote a fabulous book about managing an online community. #gno #gno
NewspaperGrl: I’m a big fan of @communitygirl & her new book – short on theory long on practical advice for running an online community

ksablan: On community: “You need them, ore than they need you” (from new book by @communitygirl, out today http://cli.gs/mJGrAn )

JustinFenwick: If you don’t have the time or patience to engage and do so genuinely…you cannot realistically expect to grow a community” @communitygirl

JustAskNicole: Hot off the press! “18 Rules of Community Engagement” http://idek.net/E9V (new book by @communitygirl).

timwtyler: @communitygirl just read your new 18 Rules of Community Engagement. Great practical advice w a passion for your members. Recommended reading

alisonmichalk: @communitygirl will be sure to read your new book on Community Engagement but too busy to commit to reviewing it 😦 good luck for launch!
Full_Throttle: RT @communitygirl “There are many ways to attract an online audience, but keeping one requires creativity [and work]” – http://bit.ly/IO9mK

The bottom line here is authors should find value in all reviews, not just Amazon. Social media has opened up many doors. It’s up to us to walk through them.

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This is just one of seven awesome new community jobs listed over on Jake McKee’s blog.
If you weren’t so sure about whether or not this community management thing would take off, or whether or not jobs in social media would become more widely available, this is proof.

Even county governments are hiring Twitter and Facebook experts. Need I say more?

Jake’s blog is a great resource and I encourage you to subscribe. Jeremiah Owyang also maintains an excellent list of web strategy jobs that you’ll want to tap into as well.

Have you seen any cool new community or social media jobs lately?

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I work in a form of advertising. I often want to tweet or comment on different ads I’m working on. Even when it’s positive, I have to stop myself.

What violation of a clients privacy or breach of confidentiality could I be making by making a simple tweet? Possibly spoiling their new ad campaign? Not likely, but it’s not a chance worth taking, either.

I think employers will have to consider guidelines sooner than later. For anyone who uses a service like Twitter while at work, the natural inclination is to occasionally mention work related topics — possibly even vent about work related issues. That might seem harmless enough, but it could certainly backfire.

I consider it a positive move for companies to at least inform employees of mistakes they could make in relation to their jobs through social media. If not guidelines, maybe just a list of ‘bad ideas’.

Jeremy Lindh is a website and community developer. He blogs here and goes by @jeremylindh, on twitter.

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This is a question that sparked a great conversation at the inaugural Social Media Breakfast Raleigh that I co-organized with fellow social media enthusiast, Kipp Bodnar.

The conversation centered largely around Twitter, where anyone with an interest can post unlimited 140-character missives at a pace similar to the speed of light.

But can this freedom pose a problem for organizations if their employees are not using common sense or thinking about the fact that they represent a larger entity beyond themselves?

Duke Williams chimed in with this: “If you allow a person to answer the phone, they should be able to have a twitter account.” He doesn’t think guidelines are needed, and allows anyone on his staff to have an account. In fact, he encourages it.

Martin Reed, who was not at the event but answered the question when I posed it on twitter a few days later believes that guidelines are absolutely necessary if an employee is strongly associated with the company. Several people at the social media breakfast shared this sentiment as well.

Robyn Kalda has a different opinion, one that’s very similar to Duke Williams’ and sent me this reply via twitter: “No, they should trust their employees to behave professionally. Do we have guidelines on how to use a telephone?”

So on one hand we have those who view tweeting as they do communicating over the phone, and others who see it as a potential risk to employers who don’t attempt to exert some element of control. Kalda believes that either you trust your people to speak, or you’ve hired the wrong people.

I definitely see how there could be cause for concern and am somewhat on the fence. I think that perhaps it depends on the organization. Should CIA operatives spend time divulging strategies on twitter? Of course not, but is there real harm to random employees occasionally talking shop in the twitterverse? Maybe.

What do you think? Should companies be worried about the messages employees are conveying through twitter or trust them to use their best judgment? And what exactly is at risk if they don’t?

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