Posts Tagged ‘social networks’

linkedinboxI opened up my LinkedIn page today to see 39 unread messages inviting me to like pages or attend events from companies and individuals I’ve never heard from before, let alone heard of.

It reminded me a bit of when I was first getting the Yelp community established here in Calgary. Part of the job was reaching out to local media about the events I was planning and cool local businesses I was finding.

Media and PR was not my background when I first started. During my newbie training, the PR team asked us to write a sample pitch. I thought a great story idea would be what one of Calgary’s local food critics thought about crowd-sourced review websites like Yelp and how they thought it was changing our local scene. Turns out, that’s not exactly what the PR team meant by a media pitch!

Once I learned about short and sweet pitching with specific details about what I was doing, I went to town getting the word out. I emailed EVERYONE I could find that I thought might sort of be interested in what I was doing.

Sometimes this approach worked, most of the time it didn’t. Though it’s a place to start when you aren’t really sure what you’re doing, I wouldn’t recommend it.

What did work was remembering that the people on the other side of my emails were real people. They literally had anywhere from dozens to hundreds of people emailing them the same way I did every single day.

I thought about how my eyes glazed over every time someone I didn’t know sent me something really random without ever having reached out to me before–and began to change my approach. Instead of cold emailing anyone I could find, I took a genuine interest in the stories and content people were putting out to the world. It took some extra work (and learning to love spreadsheets) on my part to help me keep track of everyone, but in the end, I learned that relationships make the world go round in terms of media too–and that genuine pitches to people I had spent the time following and getting to know became a win/win situation for both of us rather than just another email in the pile that would continue to go unread.

Whether you’re trying to get your word out through traditional media, local bloggers, online influencers or any other person in your network, doing your homework and building a connection with specific people will take you so much farther than random email and messages blasts–and it’s not as time-consuming as you might think. You don’t need to be their best friend, in fact, they’re likely to be suspicious if you do. But showing that you’ve read through their interests, seen some of their recent articles, followed a few of their recent tweets, etc. goes a long way in showing that what you’ve got to say could genuinely be of use to them.

So go on now and be a real person… Your networks will thank you for it!

“Last July, Nucleus Research reported that productivity dropped 1.5% at companies that allow full access to social media. This is probably because they also found that 87% of use was not work-related.  The headlines are a little alarmist, however, because they also note that only one in 33 employees accessed Facebook at work.”

From Positively Media

Who wants to report that last fact?  It doesn’t give us any reason to block social networks while at work.   1 in 33 people accessed Facebook at work for companies surveyed that gave employees full access to social networks.  That’s barely over 3%.  It’s like 3.0303030303%.  If a company is blocking access to social networks, it’s because they don’t trust 3% of employees.  3 %.  97% of employees could take on the 3% who abuse the system, couldn’t they?

Think about it.  Social networks work because, generally, they are user regulated.  People in workplaces discover what is accepted amongst their peers and what is not.  Especially with all of the cubicle farms that seems to be the trends for the ‘open and transparent’ office (I wonder how many of these offices have blocked access to social networks and aren’t using social tools online… a bit ironic I think).

Take a quick survey over the next couple of days.  How many of your coworkers spend part of their day in the coffee room chatting about their weekend, or last night’s episode of Survivor?  How many times in a day does somebody stop by your desk to see how your day is going?  How would you feel if nobody stopped to say hello?

if employees have appropriately challenging and defined goals and targets to meet at work, then they will either self-regulate or self-terminate.  The ability to text message or post a Tweet should not be viewed as an indication of deviant behavior.  There are, after all, lots of ways to waste time.

Great at work time wasters: Make coffee a habit, there’s always someone at the coffee pot waiting to chat.  Make water a habit, you’ll get to head to the bathroom every 5 minutes.  Who goes to the candy dish the most? (That’s me).  They waste a lot of time.  How about the people who are always wandering down the hall to chat?  Or have to go to the bathroom more than a couple of times a day?  They’re probably the same ones who drink a lot of water or coffee (that’s me).

Do we all work the same way?  Sitting at our desks like lemmings, tap tap tapping away at our keyboards… If we look productive then we must be productive, right?  Wrong.  I can’t speak for the majority of workers out there.  But I can speak for myself.  My job is to know social media, so my participation in social networks throughout the day is accepted.  But if my job wasn’t to be in social media, I’d have the same behaviours.  I’d visit the candy dish every couple of hours.  I’d head to the coffee pot, the water cooler, the bathroom, a co-worker’s office, etc. to chat several times a day.  Am I wasting time?  Has the internet given me ADD?

When I was a kid, I hovered.  I hovered a lot.  It drove my mom mad.  When I was in a hovering mood, nothing could distract me from hovering.  I followed her around the house, watched her dust, perched on the nearest chair.  I didn’t have anything to say.  I had plenty of other things to do.  But I hovered anyway.  Over time, I’ve learnt to make my hovering more productive… and to annoy people less.  Hovering (apparently), annoys people when there’s no point to it.  But when it’s hovering with the intent to chat, and doesn’t actually appear as hovering, it’s more accepted.  I also hover on Facebook… and Twitter… and YouTube… but it’s more fragmented.  I’ll spend 30 seconds flipping into Facebook, and 30 minutes working, another 30 seconds on Twitter, another 20 minutes working.  And so goes my day.  And my work gets done.  I’ve found ways to manage my hovering.  If I didn’t hover online, I’d be hovering around the offices of my coworkers.  I know I would.  But because I know that, and because I value what I can bring to the table in a company, I mitigate my hovering.  If I didn’t care, you’d know.  But if you told me I couldn’t hover anymore… well… I’d probably leave and go find a place that allowed me the flexibility to work how I work.

The debate for me isn’t whether human beings are “rational decision makers” (as the ‘other blog post‘ to this topic might suggest) or whether they will ultimately self regulate.  There are a kazillion (alright, not QUITE that many yet) of us on earth.  Like a quarter of a kazillion of us in North America.  Please, show me one theory that fits ALL human behaviour.  Show me something that merits the debates on behaviours of people in the work place.  But also, show me a workplace that is flexible enough to accommodate different behaviours and belief systems.  By some magic, I’ve found mine.  I don’t know what lucky star I wished upon when I was a child, but I’ve found a place where my behaviours and my beliefs, along with the needs of the company seem to coincide.

The question is not whether to block social networks or not… (why do we even block them at all when we can see who’s on what site and for how long? )… But what value can our employees gain from their networks?  So many people are hired for the people they are connected to… what if those connections are online?  And what if you are denying them access during work hours to people who can ultimately enhance your situation?  Online social networks are the same as offline social networks.  And really, by denying your employees access to their social networks, are you denying your company access to valuable resources? (It’s not what you know… it’s who you know). How many people take their work home with them? (that’s me).  My gut feel is that most won’t.  So do you want the intelligence their acquaintances have to offer?  Or do you want them to live in a bubble?

Warning – extreme geek moment alert

Dear somebody on the internet who can code sharing things into websites:

Please invent a way for me to send website links via SMS.  Currently we can email and share on social networks, but I have not yet found any service that let’s me send a referral to a website I’m on from my computer to your cell phone.  With iPhones becoming available on Telus and Bell networks in November, and smart phones in general just taking over the world, I think that this would be another fantastic way to share a link with someone.  Especially since the link in smart phones is then clickable and takes you to the website anyway.

I think that would be an uber awesome mixture of two technologies that don’t quite talk to one another yet beyond Twitter interactions.

I appreciate your time, energy and aid in this matter.

Sincerest Regards,

Wendy the Uber Geek

Who is the Spammer?  The Spammer is the overkill, one-way promotion.  The Spammer leaves junk mail in your mailbox, the Spammer does not worry about targeting the promotion.  The Spammer just wants to hit as many people as quickly as possible.  Wherever there is a large congregation of people, the Spammer will be too.

The Consumer is searching for useful information, for real recommendations.  The Consumer may be shopping online, may be reading blog posts, may simply be listening and conversing.

I think the Spammer is having a harder time getting their overkill out to us (or at least getting us to listen to it).  When the Spammer can remain anonymous, its much easier for them to deliver their message.  When the audience has no control over what message they receive, the Spammer thrives.  Today’s social media scene, because it is still so new, is like a playground for the Spammer.  But based on the reactions to unsolicited information or conversation, I don’t think tomorrow’s social media scene will allow for an environment in which the Spammer will thrive.

Over the last couple of years there has been a gradual shift in control from the business to the consumer (it may have been happening earlier than the last couple of years, but that’s when I took note of this) .  It began online, but with people connecting more and more from online tools, it is shifting to the offline world as well.  In October, 2007, I was at the IABC conference in Kelowna, British Columbia.  I was in a book store downtown and picked up a book called Punk Marketing.  The title itself was what drew me in.  The book talks about this same shift.  I think it’s a slow shift, but it is definitely changing the way the way consumers and companies are interacting.  This shift is also the reason I think the Spammer won’t survive.  The Consumer has the control.  The Consumer can pick and choose what information they want to pay attention to.  When the Consumer doesn’t like something coming out of a certain Twitter account, they can turn off the noise by unfollowing the account.  If the Consumer doesn’t like emails from a certain company, they put a block in their spam filter (or create a junk email address).  Should the Consumer want to stay up to date with a company, they become a fan on Facebook.

The Consumer is creating the standards on social networks.  For the first time (in my experience), the Consumer’s voice and opinion is what is driving how these are used.  When the Consumer doesn’t like something, they voice their discontent.  Through the social network, other consumers with similar opinions come together.  If there are enough consumers voicing the same opinion, it will become a generally accepted rule that whatever behaviour the Consumer is against won’t be tolerated.  This is why the Spammer won’t survive (in social media).  The Consumer has always disliked the Spammer.  The Spammer does not share in the ideals of the Consumer in the social media scene.  Unless the Spammer learns to create value and add to the conversations happening around them, their spam will go unnoticed.  Utterly useless information has no place here.  If the Company is starting to understand that, I think the Spammer will get that too.  And if the Spammer decides to play nice… well then I guess it’s not really spam anymore, is it?