Category Archives: Crowd Wisdom

3 Lessons: How to Behave in Social Media During a Disaster

The Boston marathon explosions came as a real shock yesterday evening.  Much like many of my social colleagues, I want to write about my thoughts but still I feel quite private and emotional about the loss of life, the terror and the scare.  So I acknowledge this, and choose to keep these feelings to family, friends and Facebook and so purposefully write on another tangent – that is valuable business take-aways.

In a disaster, brands should “sit down and shut up” in social media

Quite soon after news of the Boston Marathon 2013 explosions emerged, @unmarketing tweeted “if you have scheduled brand tweets today, turn them off”.   That hit home for me – as I’m fortunate enough to be deeply involved in a number of brands’ social strategies and community management thereof.

Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 11.34.32 PM

Admittedly, having produced several very detailed brand playbooks on social management (with sections on guidelines on community management postings & post escalations), I have completely overlooked the idea of including a section on ‘disaster response’.   I actually took the @unmarketing tweet and forwarded it to my staff & clients – recommending strong consideration of a quiet approach.  Stopping any scheduled tweeting is very important as it becomes very evident to the rest of us who is scheduling – which indicates both brand broadcasting and insensitivity to near world events.  His message resonated with many people with 548 retweets and 130 favorites since yesterday.

And so ‘shut up’.. don’t hijack by using an incident as a way to push a marketing message.

Lindsay Bell @belllindsay posted on Facebook another catch by @unmarketing (no flies on him) with Epicurious promoting scones and breakfast recipes around messages of consolidation.  In the amazing commentary that followed from her Facebook friends, one especially caught my eye.   The comment read that brands should ‘sit down and shut up’  then ‘figure out  how you can really help”.

Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 10.18.52 PM

Responding in a meaningful way means delivering something that helps the situation at hand.  Google is terrific example of large scale immediate response as they relaunched their Google person finder tool.

These disasters are not times to push any kind of marketing agenda forward.   If there is no meaningful contribution to help the situation, then acknowledge the situation and then go quiet.  Disasters are sensitive situations and certainly not worth capitalizing on nor moving on too quickly to ‘back to business’ commentary, in my opinion.

At the agency where I work, we posted the following comment, which my friend @HessieJones endorsed:

Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 10.38.37 PM

This was posted early this morning, before the above ‘sit down and shut up’ comments.

There is nothing worthwhile to say when our hearts and minds are elsewhere.  As it turned out, that tweet resonated with the agency’s followers – getting favorited and re-tweeted quite often.  Gaining a response, however, was not the reason for the tweet.   It was a human response to having nothing to contribute.  The account was silent for the rest of the day.

Finally, in a disaster, don’t share the graphic images on Twitter and Facebook.

One of the first tweets I saw of the 2013 Boston Marathon was of an accident scene with a lot of red on the ground.  It took me a few minutes and more reading to figure out that I was looking at a disaster zone.  I doubled back in my tweet stream to make sure that I didn’t re-tweet any images that were graphic.  Fortunately I did not.  What I didn’t like was the sharing of graphic images across Twitter and Facebook.   Indeed some of Facebook friends admitted to unfriending on Facebook for anyone sharing graphic images.

Many brands would not be sharing imagery of a disaster but news publications do.  They put disclaimers of ‘ warning the images that follow are graphic’ – however, I feel quite strongly some images just should not be shared.

I’m still personally mulling over the Boston Marathon disaster and will continue to think of those impacted for days to come.  Still, it helps me to just write about some valuable lessons for brands in how they react in a real world, near world event – if anything, as a distraction.

I welcome your comments and observations (please add your @ handle).  Thanks.

Advertisements

Lessons for live social media coverage; Scotiabank BuskerFest

Buskerfest_PassToronto’s Scotiabank BuskerFest is in full swing today – with three more full days left of the downtown Toronto festival.

As part of our social efforts – we are ‘live blogging’, for a lack of a better term, mostly on Facebook and Twitter with twitpics, tweets, posts, videos and more throughout the festival.   At the risk of sounding like I’m blowing my own horn, Events 2.0 is bloody hard work making simple tweeting feel like a cookie next to a five tiered cake.

The obvious:

  • Live event coverage using social media is requires full 12 – 16 hr dedication as majority of tweets are noon to late evening.
  • Authors need strong freedom to engage and respond on a massive scale
  • Multiple contributors are needed
  • Authors need sleuthing skills to also find the conversations that are not following you.

The not so obvious:

  1. Its not just about tweeting upcoming events or the schedule (which is major enough for a static display that changes frequently – errr).   More importantly, the focus has to include making the overall conversation of others heard.  That means sharing the twitpics of the masses, etc.  Admittedly, I am conscious of not wanting a ‘big brother’ feeling to come across but play a fine line of attentiveness.
  2. Identifying communication bottlenecks and pushing the information out.  I believe this to be an advanced skill.  Looking at the operation of a business (in this case, an event) and figuring out how to apply the strengths of marketing vehicles against painful customer experiences.   For BuskerFest – the schedule is large, well managed and central in the festival – but there you have it.. it is not virtual.    I wish Social Wisdom (us) had been hired earlier so to have integrated our twitter addresses onto the physical signage at the event.
  3. Don’t force the hashtag.  We created #bfto thinking it would be shorter, taking fewer characters and make retweeting easy.  But I can’t promote #BFTO enough.  The audience is naturally choosing the brand name of the festival – buskerfest – as its #buskerfest.    I actually tried to inform the first #buskerfest user but then I realized that is the collective – the wisdom of the crowd emerging.  Pretty cool actually.
  4. Keep the thick skin.  We [the festival] got called ‘jackasses’  and given a #fail by @rjstewart as the website isn’t iphone compatible.  [i didn’t do the site, the site has a lot of positives and honestly, as webby as I am – I wouldn’t have thought about making it iphone compatible before April – when I got my own itouch]  [note to self – look up the penetration rates of various devices]  So @rjstewart – your tweet is fair enough and true – albeit a bit harsh.  But I do understand that very geek passion as I too love to pick at slow adoption and I know it is a comment that likely represents the frustration of more people.

I truly believe that the online behaviours and expectations of Canadians (and North Americans)  are on fire right now and firms are finding it very difficult to catch up.   As indication, Social Wisdom has been contacted by several different agencies who are suddenly seeing ‘social media’ as a key skill and experience needed in RFPs – it is a talent hole in many agencies.

As a last comment – the very ironic thing today was me sitting in Starbucks doing live event coverage while also sitting next to Epilepsy Toronto’s PR person.    First off, the PR person is a fantastic person – well connected and, quite clearly, managing a full load of traditional press coverage.   And she was busy writing up a press release for the world record that we facebooked about an hour earlier.   She was very pleasant about it  – asking if I could share some twitpics on the deal.   I then pulled up tweetdeck and was showing the stream of tweets and follower responses.  DW is great to work with – she was really embracing the social media and also thinking about how we could collaborate and integrate together.

At the same time – my team had tweeted about an upcoming interview not yet occurred – to which she questioned if that was appropriate [being very honest about not yet figuring out where the new lines are with social media – what to tweet and not tweet].  I didn’t know either so I deleted the tweets and could see some learning on both ends around the integration of pr/social media/marketing communications.

Well.. I best get some sleep.  I am looking forward to Saturday when I finally attend the festival as a mother and not in a virtual social capacity.

Note:

Sleep gave me a few more thoughts:

* How to better price for social media and also how to price for live event coverage.

* Technology needs on same day for events.

Jive-ing youtube

Had coffee on Monday with Rick Wolfe from Poststone

I love talking to that man – he is delicious for the brain and I always leave our conversations excited,  motivated and with a paper full of books to read, people to meet and ideas to ponder.

I spoke to Rick at length about the use of social medias to allow consumer or customer created innovation – an area that I am deeply interested in.  Rick has great ideas here since he is well versed in finding hidden consumer or employee insights among large fortune 500 organizations.   I just want to get involved in facilitating crowd wisdom using new social community softwares.  I know of igloosoftware.  Rick encouraged me to look at Jive.

A look at Jive finds the coolest ad video that I’ve seen in a long time.

How I know Rick – we did an extensive research project together for the Canadian Marketing Association funded by IBM (where I worked at the time).  Our research looked at how Canadian marketers were defining brand (brand=customer experience) and what the best approaches were for managing and measuring brands based on this new definition.   A wonderful project that had Rick conducting round, kitchen table discussions with leading marketers as well as a jaunt around Toronto interviewing C-level executives.  The report is available for purchase on the CMA website.