On Facebook and the Death of Etiquette

Let’s face it.  Etiquette is a lost art.  Forget “interruption marketing” for a minute and think about how people interact on a regular basis.  New technologies change that behavior as people seek to leverage the convenience they provide.

  • When the phone was invented, an etiquette had to evolve on how to greet a new call, what’s an appropriate time to call, how to converse without interruption.  (Lots of room to improve here still – I can’t understand why politicians don’t have to follow the “do not call” list rules, but that’s another story).
  • Email etiquette arguably doesn’t exist – in a business context, companies have a culture around when people turn to email and when they don’t.  Email between friends and family has a broad range of what’s “socially acceptable,” but over time people at least develop a sense of when people will reply and why.
  • Two years ago, no way I’d tell you that it would be acceptable to converse via text message/SMS with grandparents.  Same with instant messaging.

In each of these small examples, the communication is mostly 1:1.  Email can be broadcast 1:many, but it’s deliberate who the communication goes to – you select email addresses to include.  Enter the world of Facebook, where the communication paradigm is different.  We have 1:many as the default – post once and share with many, who consume the content (status updates, photos, videos, links) at their leisure.  Forget that most people don’t have a common understanding of what they see in the News Feed and why.   The barrier to communication is low – it’s easy to share a picture or post given so many ways to share, from mobile to desktop.

Sometimes people forget that the communication medium isn’t important – the content of the message is, along with the dynamic.  Is it something that should be shared 1:1 or OK to share 1:many?   Making that choice with the context to understand the medium is crucial in relationship building – for businesses or individuals.

I recently asked some folks on Twitter and Facebook about etiquette, and heard many bizarre stories.  From the unexpected sonogram photo to first hearing of a family death, people are choosing Facebook for the wrong type of communication at the wrong time.   Have an example to share?  Do you thing Facebook etiquette is a lost art or a lost cause?

Photo credit: fdmount via flickr

How Often Do Ethical Questions Impact Your Social Media Efforts?

Over the course of the last week, while working on social media initiatives for several clients, the following questions or situations came up:

  • A client missing an opportunity to engage in a conversation (coupled with desire of agency team members to respond)
  • A situation that would require disclosing my (or my agency’s) role in working with a client who wishes to keep the work and our relationship secret
  • Working with customer data within social networks, privacy concerns about using the data for targeting
  • Agency employees interested in engaging in conversation for a client initiative (on Facebook, Twitter or elsewhere) without disclosing relationships
  • A friend, knowing a client relationship, asking if it’s OK to “vent” about that client in social (of course I said yes, and I can hope my client responds and does the “right thing” to help.)

I could share my responses to these issues, but I’d rather hear from you.  So my question is to you: If you work in social media or even work for a company that is leveraging social channels for various purposes, how often do you come across ethical concerns?  What types of issues are your seeing?  Who do you turn to for guidance?

By the way, Todd Defren has a great series called Real World Ethical Dilemmas in Social Media that explore situations in greater detail.  I’m curious how often these come up for you – please describe your role too and thanks in advance.

Photo credit: swiv via flickr

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Friends with Benefits: Starbucks and Foursquare

This week Starbucks announced that mayors of locations on Foursquare between now and June 28 can get one dollar off the custom Frappacino of their choice.   This morning I tried it out and received my discount.  I’ve been a user of Foursquare for several months, but for me personally it was the first time I had experienced a benefit as a consumer.  Starbucks is clearly just experimenting here, but I like the approach – there is little cost or downside to a promotion like this.  Some quick thoughts based on a nice discussion with the employees of the store:

  • Most of the employees didn’t know what Foursquare was, but were really excited about it.
  • They had been eagerly waiting to find out who the mayor was – wondering when the person would show up, what they would say, wondering if the person would be a jerk and pound a fist demanding a discount, claiming “I’m the Mayor!” and wondering if they would know the person already.
  • The employee running the cash register had to check the official “Need to Know” bulletin to know what promotion code to use when ringing me up.  I wasn’t surprised since this is a new idea and approach, and didn’t involve a paper coupon I could turn in.
  • We talked about several other ideas they could explore, like rewarding every 5th checking with something similar to benefit more than just the Mayor.
  • I explained that my role is very social media focused, and since I had been on Foursquare for awhile it may be common at a lot of stores that early adopters (also in the biz) would be most likely to retain mayorships.
  • As I left I heard some other employee ask, “Hey, was that the mayor? He’s here all the time, cool.”

Aside from the recognition, the discount was practical and got me to try a drink I wouldn’t have otherwise purchased (Iced Americano or Iced Latte are more the usual for me).  I appreciated the conversation starter to build a better relationship with the folks who worked there, although we already somewhat knew each other. My primary suggestion to Starbucks would be to see them expand to have more folks benefit.

I could really see an application here for the retail space if handled and designed properly.  Any company that has a multi-channel footprint could leverage Foursquare (or perhaps one of the other location services, like Gowalla, Brightkite or the coming Facebook changes) to build fun and relationships into their strategy.  On the flip side, because these technologies are so new and not as widely adopted, there is an opportunity for more “buzz” just by being first to market.  Or second, after Starbucks and some others (Gradon Tripp pointed out that Ben & Jerry’s offers 3 scoops for $3 for checking in, a 4th free scoop for the mayor, sparking a conversation with Sarah Wallace and others about the correlation between Foursquare and weight gain) .

Get your discount yet?  What do you think about the approach?  Is it a flash in a pan or a part of a bigger picture?

UPDATE: Tipping Point Labs’ Andrew Davis (a previous Marketing Hot Seat author here) today published a great perspective on Starbucks’ promotion, highly worth the read.

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Facebook Changes Relationship Marketing, Again

The discipline of relationship marketing is already facing waves of changes with social media providing a variety of new approaches and opportunities to communicate with customers.  Optimizing communications with email marketing alone has been an ongoing challenge for companies of all sizes.  Developing an appropriate communication strategy requires understanding the needs, attitudes and behaviors of customers, fine tuning copy and frequency that will resonate with customers a business is trying to reach.

Clearly social media is already having an impact.  Customers opting to follow Twitter streams, join community programs or become “fans” on Facebook are signaling they are opting in to some sort of communication.  I met recently with a financial services company who is leveraging these opt-in communication points to offset email marketing – literally, they are sending less email because customers are choosing to interact with their brands through different vehicles.

Facebook just threw yet another a monkey wrench into the mix. With the ability to “like” any page or content out there with a unique URL, a communication strategist has another dimension to manage.  When a customer “likes” a page, or perhaps even a specific product, the brand then has the capability to communicate directly with those fans.  For example, as a reader if you “like” this blog post (you can choose the verb “recommend” instead, in the settings for the API), I have the ability just like a normal fan page in Facebook to communicate to just the fans of this post.  Facebook creates a ‘ghost’ page only available to the admin, which will allow me to track statistics and see an explicit list of people who “like” or “recommend” the post.

Imagine the applications.  Companies in all industries could consider implications around targeting through Facebook for specific brands, product lines or individual products. A pharma company, for example, could leverage this function to communicate with Facebook users around specific conditions if they happen to “like” a specific treatment.  Retailers could too, except they need to be careful – do they really want to manage communications and fans at a SKU level?  Nike could integrate communications via Facebook likes for fans of Air Jordan, but it’s probably not sustainable for each shoe.  Bookstores could manage communications with folks who “like” historical fiction different those who “like” Manga.

At the big business level I think there is going to be an emerging emphasis on communication management, copywriters and ongoing relationship marketing strategists to digest these technologies and build case studies to drive business results.  Have a favorite example of the application of Facebook’s new “like” API and approach?  I’d love to hear it.

Photo credit: Christopher S. Penn via Flickr – who also provides a template for businesses wanting to create a similar sign

The Ultimate Location Based Service

You Are HereWith all the buzz about geolocation and geo-tagging services, I still can’t find a service that:

…allows me to see where my friends are right now, especially if they are near me
…allows me to forecast where I’ll be and when, if I want to
…allows me to see if my forecast lines up with my friends (maybe even suggest a common place to meet?)
…provides really easy tagging of photos, audio or other posts by location, including favoriting or voting on most relevant/interesting for that location (and reporting spam if necessary)
…recommends places of interest to me based on my history or my friend’s history in locations – I’d love a “Pandora” of locations and related content
…allows me to share location with ‘groups’ of friends (I’d love to me more open about my location at a conference/event for connecting with professionals, but at other times restrict my sharing to people I know or even only share with people in that location)
…really gives the user a tangible benefit for sharing info by location. (Yes, Foursquare has a lot of potential here in working with businesses).

Ultimately whether it’s Foursquare, Gowalla, Dopplr, Google’s Latitude, Loopt, Brightkite or some other player, there’s room for improvement/consolidation here.  Any one of these does a lot but not all of the functions.  Ultimately the one that wins is the one that everyone actually uses.  (cough cough Facebook cough cough).  And don’t forget the security risks associated with sharing, which Jim Storer discussed almost a year ago.  What do you think?  Do you use one or more of these services?  What do you like or hate about them?

Photo credit: cibomahto via Flickr

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The Social Media Landing Page Phenomenon

northernlightsAs social media channels become outposts for companies, their websites need to keep up.  The big challenge: the two concepts are diametrically opposed.  Build a compelling, optimized website to bring customers (and potential customers) to you, versus establish social media outposts to go where your customers are.  Enter the new art and technique of the Social Media Landing Page (SMLP for short).  The SMLP is a bridge between the two, both to add legitimacy to social channels like a Twitter account but also risking pulling customers away from your website.  Companies who establish these pages are trying to give the subtle hint of “Nah, doesn’t bother me if you leave our domain” with “We want to hear from you.”  Here are three examples of big companies who have integrated their social media presence into their websites.  How do you think they do?

AT&T

Tagline: “Continue the Conversation”

AT&T is in the midst of more press than you can quantify lately for many reasons. Many might not understand the breadth of which AT&T is reaching out to connect with customers via social channels.  Enter the AT&T SMLP.  AT&T is using Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Flickr, Blogs and even Posterous to build a footprint.  Intregrated into the “About AT&T” page on their domain, it’s easy to find as “Social Media” in the 2nd level navigation.

AT&T Social Media Landing Page

Best Buy

Tagline: “Everyone’s talking”

Best Buy took a slightly different approach.  Their recently launched (still says “new!”) SMLP is called “Community” and can be found at the bottom of their home page.  They showcase how they are leveraging forums, ratings & reviews, Twitter (also via their Twelpforce), blogs and other social media channels throughout.  I like that BestBuy is showcasing their IdeaX community where customers can collaborate on ideas for the company.

bestbuy

Microsoft

Tagline: “What people are saying about Windows 7″

For the recent Windows 7 launch, Microsoft built in conversations directly into the Windows home page on their domain.  Their clicking through to “See what everyone’s saying” brings you to an innovative SMLP that not only shows links to follow the brand’s presence elsewhere but actually aggregates the conversations on Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, and other social networks.  A customer has to leave the site to participate, just like the others, but right on the page loading in relative real time are actual comments.  This is a great technique but requires a lot of confidence in the product, to say the least.  I’m curious if Microsoft has any automated filtering on the feeds it brings in.  They aren’t filtering for negative comments – one in the screenshot I took was a comment on how “Windows 7 killed my laptop.”

Windows 7 Social Media Landing Page

Of the three here, I like Microsoft’s approach the best – it’s more innovative and interactive to bring conversations and topics directly into the site.  It’s also very easy to find and has a simple URL.  What other SMLPs have you come across?  Are these signs that social media is here to stay?  So many other questions open up for me, including how companies will optimize the pages – to drive followers? To engage in more conversations?  At least they are embracing social media channels head on in their web strategy.

Photo credit: studiolit via Flickr

Gargi also expressed, reluctantly, a lack of

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How Twitter and Social Networks Can Make History

ideaEvery once in awhile a video comes along that inspires thought and challenges assumptions.  This video of internet guru Clay Shirky speaking as part of the TED series is no exception.  From the advent of the printing press to modern community platforms, Shirky uses stories from China, Iran, the Obama campaign, and other political uprisings to demonstrate the power of Facebook, text messaging and Twitter to make a real impact.  This is worth the watch.

(Thanks to David Armano for sharing this on Twitter.  Feed subscribers please click through to see the video).

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