I generally prefer to spend my time discussing the merits of proper use of social media and the benefits of best practices implementation. Recent questions that I’ve received, along with this morning’s news, however, highlighted for me that I may need to address the other side of social media, not just for employers of social media users, but also social media savvy folks who carry the responsibility of adherence to workplace policies that may extend beyond the physical workplace. Today, we were greeted with the cautionary tale of a meteorologist from Shreveport, Louisiana, who was recently fired because of comments that she made on her television station employer’s Facebook page. These comments were made in response to viewer comments, and were supposedly in violation of the station’s so-called “social media policy,” that was evidently communicated at some point in an email. All kinds of wrong in this situation.
First, employers, social media is real; it’s here and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. If you do not have a clearly communicated social media policy in writing and that has been separately and clearly provided to employees, labeled as “Social Media Policy,” you are behind the times and are begging for customer relations issues and employee concerns in the future. Take the time to create your social media policy, making clear when, how and if you want your customers communicated to on behalf of your brand; and even further, how you expect your employees to govern themselves via their own personal social media presence, relating to their employment with you and otherwise.
Second, employees, social media is not personal; it’s public. Anyone can see what you’ve written, not just your “friends” who you assume are the only individuals reading your posts. In the case of Rhonda Lee (fired meteorologist), it was very clear that she was responding via her employer’s Facebook page to comments made by the station’s viewers. But in other situations, it may not be as clear whether or not your activities could be connected to your workplace. The safest path involves making sure that no matter your position or role within a company, that you are familiar with your employer’s social media policy that should be provided to you in writing. Additionally, if you are going to establish or maintain a social media presence, you may want to think of that public platform as an extension of your physical workplace, even if you are posting outside of work hours. There’s no point in being professional on LinkedIn and a complete idiot on Twitter. Both sites, profiles and information are equally visible by the same people, yes, even with privacy settings.
Bottom line, be smart and thorough in your approach to social media as an employee and as an employer. There’s no excuse for not having a social media policy, and no excuse if you’re an employee for not requesting one and making yourself familiar with it. Social media is great when you’re using it successfully and correctly to build your brand and establish your audience for the things that matter to you most; but you don’t want to face avoidable downside consequences in the employment realm. So, take the steps to protect yourself!
*None of the foregoing is intended as or should be construed as legal advice. Please consult counsel of your own choosing for questions, issues and advice pertaining to the specifics of your individual situation.
In my book, “Piece of the Fame,” I discussed Facebook’s algorithm “EdgeRank” and gave my readers suggestions on how to best direct their efforts to make the most of the system. Most of all, I counseled my readers to focus less on accumulating Fans on Facebook (and certainly NOT paying for them), but rather to increase engagement as much as possible through quality content and most importantly, to push their fans to owned media such as their email list and their website.
Now that we’ve reached a new low both figuratively and quite possibly literally in terms of Facebook allowing you to reach your community, what should you do now? How can you still make Facebook work for you? The balance of this blog post is dedicated to giving you four ways to power-up your efforts for your Facebook Fanpage:
First, I counsel people to maximize the personal connections made via their personal Facebook profile. To this day, Facebook is still the most friendly to individuals and least friendly to brands. As long as the people stay, brands will continually be forced to find ways to engage with the platform, unfair fees or not. As long as the people stay, you have to have some kind brand presence on Facebook. That said, nothing prevents you from activating your personal network in support of your brand and thereby taking advantage of the still more plentiful permissions and liberties that are afforded to a personal profile.
Second, every post that you make should be of high value so that you continue to effectively engage the people that you are managing to reach. Just because the visibility numbers on Facebook have plummeted doesn’t mean that you should take a parachute out of your content strategy and efforts. If anything, find better ways of creating a consistent flow of quality, visually-engaging content to share and encourage sharing amongst the network of the Fans that you do manage to reach. If they like your content, they’ll be sharing via their personal pages, without the same restrictions that your brand page has, so this still has the same high-level of benefit that it always has had.
Third, while maintaining a high level of content quality, post more frequently. Increasing your number of posts just plays on the basic math of increased possibilities of reaching more of your community, assuming that Facebook is not continually cutting you off from a pre-designated portion of your Fans.
Fourth, make each post count. As I suggested in “Piece of the Fame” include a directive or opportunity in each post that will allow you to deepen your connections to your Fans so that you won’t be so reliant upon Facebook to reach them in the future. Most important, include links and reasons to sign up for your email list or your site’s RSS feed. In this way, no matter what Facebook decides now or in the future, you can still control your own hard-earned relationships with the people that have joined your digital community.
Likely along with many others, I was both moved by the Kony2012 viral video (if you’re one of the very few who hasn’t seen it, for discussion, it’s at this link), and then entirely offended and saddened to hear about the vulgar public meltdown had by Jason Russell (Kony 2012’s director, founder and spokesman) this past Friday in the streets of San Diego.
The whole thing made me take a pause and consider what the greater implications of this phenomenon mean to our society. Are we now ok with getting partially incorrect information as long as on the upside we’re being made “aware” of an injustice? Are we ok with other less ideal vehicles being pushed to mainstream as long as they are partially, or in some minor way carrying that message in the name of “awareness” (see article re: Charlie Sheen’s ex-girlfried shoots racy viral vid to “promote”
herself Kony 2012)
I read a really interesting article on Forbes.com today that introduces and probes this exact line of questioning, discussing use of half-truths to spread a message and drive attention (either to a cause or the person behind the cause) with a sometime wanton disregard for telling the full truth. You should check it out. See quotes below:
”I’m not going to say that I didn’t take a few shortcuts in my passion to be heard.” – Quote from Mike Daisey (who “exposed” working conditions at Apple factories in China with half-false information)
“The manipulation of the truth to get you to care followed by the assertion that onus is on the audience to delve deeper. I’m sorry, but if something is being presented as true, as non-fiction, as journalism it should actually be true. ”
“Both Daisey and Russell cut corners and convinced themselves that it was justified because the dramatic arc of the story is true.”
Interested to hear your thoughts in the comments section.
I read an article coming from Ad Age that confirmed the need for Piece of the Fame. Even among large-footprint researchers, leading minds in the business of digital media and advertising don’t have all of their facts straight, and this article proved to be a prime example. Half of it is correct and consistent with the metrics that I’ve seen across a number of Facebook Pages with which I’ve been involved, huge and not-so-huge: the truth is that if you include the initial “Like” only 1.5% of the Fans of a Page actually interact with that Page. If you take the initial “Like” action out of the equation, that number drops precipitously to 0.45%.
And then the other half of the article was not correct and was inconsistent with the nature of Facebook. A quote from the researcher that was included in this article, speaking on the engagement numbers:
“I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” said Karen Nelson-Field, senior research associate for Ehrenberg-Bass Institute who describes herself as a “Facebook advocate.” “People need to understand what it can do for a brand and what it can’t do. Facebook doesn’t really differ from mass media. It’s great to get decent reach, but to change the way people interact with a brand overnight is just unrealistic.”
I’m not going to make a comment on their data collection methods or the fact that they didn’t measure inbound traffic from links that may have been posted (they only used the “People Talking About This” feature to measure engagement), but what I will say is the conclusion above does not take into account Facebook’s use of EdgeRank, which is their algorithm that decides out of all the content posted on Facebook that your connected to, what you actually see in your Feed. So, that means for a brand operating a Page on Facebook, essentially, if people don’t engage with your content on Facebook, they will never see your content. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle. If you’re putting a ton of time and resources (in other words, $$$) into your Facebook marketing efforts, and you’re seeing results of under 0.5% engagement, that means that for all those Likes that you purchased at about $1.00 each on average, you’re getting essentially no return on your investment. So, contrary to the above statement, a lack of engagement on Facebook is actually very bad because Facebook does differ from mass media, significantly. An analogy would be, let’s say you watch CNN and every time a car commercial came on, you changed the channel. Well, if CNN operated like Facebook, they would modify the commercials that you saw so that you specifically never saw another car commercial again, or any other commercial that made you change the channel. Mass media is a one-size-fits-all model where all content, whether it be advertising or premium creative, is weighted equally and seen by the entire audience. Facebook doesn’t do that.
I think that brands still have a long way to go in understanding what their efforts on Facebook mean in terms of real results. Somebody paid that researcher above a lot of money for the conclusion that she reached…
To learn more about EdgeRank and what it means for brands on Facebook, pick up a copy of my book, Piece of the Fame: Rockstar Social Media Marketing Strategy for Everyone to Ignite Your Business, Career and Personal Brand on Amazon. I tried to clear up a lot of this misunderstanding about what is actually going on with Facebook Likes, because it seems as if even the major research shops are still somewhat in the dark. If you already have the book, discussion starts on Page 154.
In all honesty, I had a bit of struggle deciding whether or not to include Google+ in Piece of the Fame. The reality is that despite the blockbuster numbers recently quoted by Larry Page, of 90 Million registered accounts (just shy of Twitter’s numbers), my sense is that this platform is a far ways off from becoming a social media staple for a critical mass of people. I consider myself in a social circle of early adopters of technology, and I have yet to feel any kind of pressure to move to Google+ for fear of “missing something” that has been posted or published. Everything that I need to know or share is found within the realms of either Twitter or Facebook. So, for all of Google’s scale, which I’m sure bolsters those Google+ numbers, the reality is that this is still a new social network that is struggling with the discovery of its identity and role. It’s premature for brands to divert valuable time and resources to trying to figure out their place, as the personal users haven’t really shown up yet. That said, I’ve been keeping my eye on this developing platform, a very very close and active eye on it. I want it to do well. As far as social networks go, I’m at a point where I want a new option and alternative that makes sense.
Further to this idea, I saw an interesting article on TechCrunch by Bindu Reddy that provides some insightful possible solutions to Google+’s adoption problem. If you’re going to check it out, the best part is the comments section: gives a great overview of how the industry is really responding to Google’s new social product.
I saw an interesting article the other day on TheVerge.com and at first, I was wondering, what is “The Verge” and why is it in my RSS reader? Then I remembered that it was a start up media platform focused on tech that I read about late last year and decided to start following. Turns out, that was a good idea. They discussed the “Homecoming Queen” of today’s music industry, subscription music streaming services, with an investigation of whether or not there’s actually real money there for artists and labels. I’ve worked on a few subscription music streaming deals in my day, and my opinion is that there could be money for the industry in this space, but not just for subscription streaming alone. I’m not a fan of the access model. Plain access is not a money-maker. Why? Because YouTube already does it for free, and better than every audio-only subscription service available. They don’t want to say that, but it’s true.
What do I think that customers will pay for? Expertly-curated passive listening. I’m not just talking radio, because radio already does radio, for free. What people are looking for is the right mix of discovery and familiar, plus no-work-required hours of seamless passive musical enjoyment. For this reason, of the options, Spotify, Pandora, Rhapsody, etc., I’ve always been the biggest fan of MOG – just waiting for them to get their user interface right. One thing they have done better than others is worked out their programming, their lean-back listening experience algorithm.
The train has already left the station on access, so what’s next? Spotify is working on their radio experience, but shouldn’t that be a core product? I mean, who really wants access to all the world’s music without knowing what to do with it? I can’t even get my gym playlist right for a 45 minute session on the treadmill. There are a lot of out-of-work radio programmers and music magazine editors. If I was in charge of Spotify, or Mog, or Pandora, I’d be snatching them up like hotcakes to work with my programmers in perfecting my passive listening experience and site editorial.
Funny enough, when I was in Paris last summer, I met with the lovely folks at Deezer, Alex Dauchez and team. Despite their licensing troubles, they have something very interesting. At the time of our conversation, more people were using their platform in France than were using iTunes. That’s major. What was the difference with this music subscription service? EDITORIAL! Deezer has the music catalog, but has put major money and focus behind their editorial, making the site feel more like a music discovery community and resource than anything else. A tastemaker, rather than just a pool of audio files. And their consumers love it. Their model of optimizing for mobile handsets, working with the smaller markets and playing the market aggregation game works. They’re not in the US yet, but other players should be taking notes. This is how you do subscription.
And so this brings me back to the original question. Can labels and artists really make money with music subscription services? Nope. Not unless there’s some kind of push to your content. So you win if you have a big catalog or name recognition. But if you’re a baby artist, or a label with a small catalog of only minimally popular songs, you’re kinda toast. Unless, there was some kind of spectacular programming and editorial that ensured that good, unknown music gets played. So, consumers decide to pay, and baby artists get enough plays that they actually see a fraction of the royalty pool. That’s the win in my book.