Friday Wrap #12: civil behavior, Reddit strategies, SEO for Bing, risks of outspokenness, and more2012-08-03
(c) Can Stock PhotoThe Friday Wrap is a collection of items from the last week I found interesting. Not interesting enough to turn into a whole blog post, but interesting enough to include in The Friday Wrap.
Can we be #PositivelySocial for at least one day?
Frank Eliason, who rose to folk-hero status for introducing the Comcast Cares Twitter account—one of the first large-scale uses of social media for customer service—is dismayed by the hostility and bullying that characterizes so much of the give-and-take in the social media space. In an effort to get everyone to pause and take a deep breath, he’s proposing that August 14—exactly halfway between Valentine’s Day 2012 and 2013—become #PositivelySocial Day. Eliason writes on his blog, “It is time we as a society start bringing that back and it starts with us. I think we can easily do that by starting with a day to recognize the positive things in our life, even things companies are doing well and others around us.” If you agree, help Frank spread the word. “Driving change by recognizing the positive can help send a message and have as strong an influence as the negative,” he says. “I think it is time for us to lead this!”
Eliason is not the only one seeking to create a more civil social space. I interviewed Andrea Weckerle for the FIR podcast back in January 2010 about her non-profit CiviliNation, which is dedicated to forstering “an online culture where every person can freely participate in a democratic, open, rational and truth-based exchange of ideas an information, without fear or threat of being the target of unwarranted abuse, harassment, or lies.”
You may believe (as I do) that we’ll never get there. But with people like Frank and Andrea raising awareness and inspiring engagement, it’s likely we’ll see at least a shift in behaviors to more civil conduct and less intimidation and name-calling.
Is Reddit top-of-mind in your social media strategy?
Yeah, I didn’t think so. But Chris Abraham thinks it should be. Writing for JD Lasica’s SocialMedia.biz, Chris argues that Reddit is “the 800 pound gorilla in the room and has been for years.”
Reddit—a site where an army of people share online content and vote it up or down—is increasingly the source of memes; videos and stories that go viral often get the initial surge from Reddit. Being influential there can give you a leg up on spreading that influence more broadly.
“If you’re transparent enough, you’re welcome to vote up (or down, but be careful) stuff that flatters your interests, you’re welcome to engage on the often-heated threads, sub-threads and all levels of nested conversations, and you’re even welcome to submit news, but just realize that once your behavior triggers the defensive measure that reddit employs (in the form of the ‘you have submitted too many links, please come back in an hour;’ the natural immune-defenses of reddit activist community members, and in the form of the equity you have formed (or depleted) from both your explicit and implicit interactions with the reddit platform).” Chris writs. “If you can follow that advice, then hard work will take you the rest of the way.” Chris will have a follow-up to his piece next week.
Optimize for Bing
Yeah, you heard me. Bing. That other search engine responsible for much of the scoffing heard around the Net. According to Comscore, Bing accounts for 28.8% of all search traffic. As online entrepreneur Caimin Jones put it, “If you’re ignoring Bing, you’re ignoring not far off a third of web searched every day.” That grand total includes the 13.4% of searches occurring on Yahoo!, which is powered by Bing.
The demographics of Bing are worth factoring into SEO efforts. The 55-64 group is particularly well represented, with 35 and above representing a large part of the Bing audience. Bing is also used more by people in the U.S.—40%, according to Jones notes, compared to 34% of Google searches. Jones offers the following considerations for optimizing content for Bing: “They love clean URLs (most search engines do), they think meta descriptions should be used to encourage people to click links they see in search results and aren’t bothered either way about H1 tags.”
Another article from Higher Visibility looks at side-by-side differences between SEO on Bing and Google. The piece by Amanda DiSilvestro covers a few similarities and five key differences: forums (Google doesn’t midn them, Bing doesn’t like them), domain age and page authority (Google doesn’t care but it’s a big factor for Bing), ambiguous searches (Bing goes for local results while Google goes focuses on brand), Flash content (Google doesn’t like it while they rank better on Bing) and matching keywords (Google gets synonyms while on Bing you should “use the keywords you want to rank well.”
Freedom of speech aside, there’s a risk to corporate outspokenness
Supporters of Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy argue that this is America and Cathy has every right to speak his mind about issues important to him. I would argue that people on the other side of the issue have an equal right to express their disagreement, but none of this is relevant to the world of business. What is relevant is the business consequences of such outspokenness. Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Michael Hiltzik leaves the pro-con debate on equal rights behind and looks at those consequences. It’s important, Hitzlik writes, ” to make sure that the private views of corporate bosses don’t interfere with their public obligations under the law. Should a public official pay more attention to Cathy’s ruminations or to a gender discrimination case recently filed in federal court in Georgia by a female ex-store manager? (The company hasn’t responded to the complaint in court.) Obviously, the latter. The law provides no recourse against any corporate viewpoints, no matter how obnoxious, but it’s chock-full of protections against discrimination and other obnoxious behavior.”
Hitzlik recalls Whole Foods CEO John Mackey’s Wall Street Journal op-ed opposing the Affordable Care Act (i.e., Obamacare) and the subsequent boycott—the same instance of a CEO making public statements about personal views that had an impact on his company’s profitability. This kind of executive sharing of controversial opinions is “most damaging when actions or expressed views either run counter to a company’s marketing image or tell customers something about a firm that they had been happy to overlook before.”
For those who are able to separate the social-political issue from the business and communication dimensions of the Chick-fil-A story, Hitzlik’s analysis is worth a read.
If you like 360-degree performance reviews, you’ll love this
Want your boss to know what you think he’s doing wrong? Don’t want him to know who’s sahring that information? Head on over to Tell your Boss Anything, which opened for business on July 30, according to BusinessWeek. And don’t worry about it devolving into hystreonics; the site filters out violent phrases and dirty words. “This is not a forum to vend anger,” according to BW associate editor Vanessa Wong, “but one for constructive criticism.” Managers are able to respond to their critics, with both boss and subordinate able to rate feedback and note that the issue has been resolved. “It’s an easy way (for employees) to feel secure that they won’t get retribution if their manager doesn’t like what they say,” notes Tom Williams, the site’s founder.
The site generated hundreds of messages the day it launched, and not all the feedback was angry (one of the options when crafting a message to share the sentiment of the message—others include happy, frustrated or confused). There is a revenue model for the site. A manager can see one sender’s message for free; then it costs $20 a month. Writes Wong, “If you have a lot on your mind—and your boss is a cheapskate—you might want to act before a coworker beets you to it.”
Social media: the new focus group
Companies used to gather focus groups in a room to find out which new logo they liked best, what they wanted in a new car or what flavor most appealed to them. Frito-Lay is using Facebook. (Disclosure: Frito-Lay is a PepsiCo company, and PepsiCo is one of my clients.) A New York Times article by Stephanie Clifford notes that “Visitors to the new Lay’s facebook app are asked to suggest new flavors and click on an ‘I’d eat That’ button to register their preferences. So far, the results show that a beer-battered onion-ring flavor is popular in California and Ohio, while a churros flavor is a hit in New York. ‘It’s a new way of getting consumer research,’ said Ann Mukherjee, chief marketing officer of Frito-Lay north America. ‘We’re going to get a ton of new ideas.’”
Clifford also points to wal-Mart and Samuel Adams, which are turning their social media presence into market research tools. Wal-Mart went so far as to acquire a social media company—Kosmix—investing $300 million in the company’s ability to identify trends rising out of social conversations.
We’ve been talking about social-media-as-focus-group for some time. Now that smart companies are figuring out processes for extending their market reserach efforts into social media, it’s worth looking at how they’re going about it.
You screwed up. Now what?
We communicators in the social media space love to tell companies what they did wrong. But people are human and they’re going to make mistakes. Yes, it’s important to learn from those mistakes in order to avoid repeating them. But the mistake has been made—and spread to millions via Twitter and other channels—so the question is, what do you do next? Forbes contributor Cheryl Conner offers four guidelines: be prepared, have a minimal PR crisis plan in your back pocket, act quickly and with integrity (don’t lie), and find the silver lining. More details—and several case studies—are woven through the article.
More signs that we’re moving to a mobile ecosystem
Mobile. Mobile, mobile, mobile. Oh, and did I mention: mobile? We’re rushing headlong into a mobile-first world; I spoke with someone recently who told me that if he were designing a new website from scratch today, he would design for mobile first and consider the desktop/laptop look of the site second. If you’re unsure that this is the approach to take, consider that Facebook’s latest 10-Q filing shows that almost 20% of its monthly mobile users didn’t use any other method to access the site during June. That’s 102 million people who only used the app or mobile website, forsaking a desktop or laptop altogether, according to C|Net reporter Dana Kerr.
Kerr also notes that mobile-only users have increased 23% from March to June, lending more evidence to the notion that people are swiftly changing their engagement and consumption habits.
If that’s not enough, consider that Adobe’s Digital Index report for the second quarter reveals that tablet conversion rates now exceed rates from desktops by as much as 20%, according to Mobile Marketing.
Dawn Yankeelov offers a good read on what to do about all this on PRSA’s ComPRehension blog. “The multi-channel, multi-device approach to communications is accelerating for all of us, and data actually supports predictions that by 202, the next young adult generation will be wired differently,” she says.
AdAge Introduces YouTube Original Channel Tracker
Remember when Nielsen and Arbitron were the be-all and end-all of ratings services? No more. For some time now, AdAge has been tracking check-ins to TV shows via the content check-in app GetGlue. Now, AdAge is introducing its own “experiment: a tool to provide our readers with a snapshot of what’s working (and not working) now” on YouTube’s exclusive, original channels launched six months ago. “The default view ranks channels popularity of all new videos posted that week (as well as the top video). The second view ranks the channels on all-time views, a measure of what’s working long-term,” writes Michael Learmonth. Take a look at adage.com/youtube.