Guess Who Blogs? The Government

December 6, 2010 Leave a comment

The following blog post is the transcript for the video clip linked here.

It is common to hear PR executives say “everyone is blogging now!” but is this really true. One organization that blogs that may surprise you is the Smithsonian Institution. This Institution began in 1826 when a British Scientist left a large sum of money to the USA to increase scientific discovery and experimentation. Today the Smithsonian Institute is in DC, the nation’s capital with 19 museums, 9 research centers and over 137 million collection pieces.  The Institute has collections come through its doors through out the years providing millions of tourists with interesting and unique opportunities.

This Institution connects with its audience through its museums but also runs an extensive blog webpage supplementing educational mission. On the home page of the Smithsonian website there is a”connect” bar on the right side linking to their Facebook, Twiter, Flickr, Youtube, Podcasts and Blogs.

Upon clicking the blog section, the viewer can see 10 different blogs written by a variety of employees. “Around the Mall” and “The Bigger Picture” are two blogs that show the range of material available on this blog page. The Smithsonian Institution knows the target audience very well; they are tourists. Whether these people are history enthusiasts, travelers or locals the blogs provide more information prior or post visiting DC.

“The Bigger Picture” blog’s press release details all the reasons a company should create a blog. According to Merry A. Foresta, the director of the Smithsonian Photography Initiative, the webpage will be a source of interactivity from employees to viewers. It allows more people than those who can travel to DC to review, contribute and learn about photography. This is a great example of a company taking its components and transferring them to allow a wider audience to learn.

Today I will be looking at Alex Rockman‘s “A Fable for Tomorrow”. I learned about the exhibit completely online through the Institution’s press release section. I am a perfect example of your normal DC visitor, if you want to get me into your store, building or restaurant you must come to me. Where am I? Online.

Insurance: The New Entertainer

November 8, 2010 Leave a comment

When a serious fan is considering attending a concert a the ticket price, location and date are considered. Once these things are determined to be possible for the fan tickets are bought and the waiting game begins. Depending on the venue anywhere from 500 to 5,000 people can attend. This is the fact that most companies are focusing on when they decide to align themselves to a band for a tour. Many promotional ideas and possibilities are available to an audience that may not have been thinking of the product.

State Farm Insurance capitalized on this concept when they joined Blink 182 for their summer tour. State Farm promoted the tour through tons of give aways, one in particular was the ’66 Cadillac Coupe Deville convertible of Travis Barker, the drummer.

Fans could enter to win after taking an insurance survey at the concerts dates in the venue. The fans benefited from this sponsorship because State Farm helped keep ticket prices low with lawn tickets for on $20. To increase awareness State Farm had locations set up on site with information, a tractor trailer that was co-branded to handle the give away car, key chains that were co-branded and a chance to upgrade their tickets. I personally took the survey and have the State Farm keychain light with the Blink 182 logo on my car keys.

Ray Waddell, a Billboard writer, explains State Farm’s motivation in this endeavor in his article “Blink 182: 2009 CM&P Award Finalist”. State Farm Insurance was able to reach an audience that typical may not attend to insurance commercials or statistics. These attendees drive cars and have insurance though. Over 25,000 people have entered to win the car with 15% asking for more information about State Farm. This is only a small but effective part of what State Farm is doing to expand its audience.

State Farm Insurance keeps up to date with its social media webpages as well. Kelly Thul, the director of the company’s social sites, specifically reviews the youtube account with Michael Stelzner in their interview. Thul explains that the presence on each webpage differs. Twitter, run by the Public Relations department, focuses on listening and responding to customers comments and problems while their Facebook distributes information. This information can contain twitter and youtube posts but can also more importantly offer more detailed answers to viewers.

Stelzner reiterates an important point that all companies should know in his article “How State Farm Insurance Uses Social Media”. The integrity and constancy of the material should reflect the company. Social Media requires all departments within a company to participate information to make the websites transparent.

Whether the answer is promoting concerts or having online communities for discussion, State Farm understands that the future holds new and limitless possibilities.

Moving the Web to the Road

November 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Ford is giving away cars?! Technically yes, Ford had an event going on called the Fiesta Movement where 100 people were given cars for 6 months. They were given the cars and asked to document their time spent with the car through a number of missions. Youtube channels and flickr accounts were created to show followers of the event what the 100 people were doing with their Fords. 130,000 people registered on the website to find out more about the car. This approach to marketing contrasts with the old way of buying commercial space on the television or in newspapers or magazines.

Michael Stelzner, of Social Media Examiner, interviewed Scott Monty, the social media guru at Ford, about their decision to move their marketing online. They discussed many techniques Ford has begun to implement to include social media into their marketing campaigns. In today’s society of blogs and news online more people are trusting the common man’s review. The process of buying a car has evolved to hearing what friends or colleagues think about the car to help their decision in a type or make. This tactic supports Ford’s decision to put their marketing in the hands of 100 people with their Fiesta Movement. The event has helped Ford understand where the audience is and how to get to them.

It is no surprise that the big companies in industries across the board have begun using social media to connect to their target markets. An important message that Scott Monty mentioned, that is noted in Stelzner’s article “How Ford Gets More Sales With Social Media” is that the traditional media has not been forgotten. It has become a process to include the web tools available in current traditional means of communications.

You can connect with Ford everywhere, Facebook , Youtube, Twitter but Ford has created some unique communities that are worth mentioning. The Ford Story is Ford’s home to everything interactive. They have a formal webpage with the information on their cars, prices and locations but what is different about The Ford Story is the content. There are featured stories written by the customer! 33 pages with more than 10 articles per page allow the reader to find stories written by people like themselves, Ford owners. There is a section to submit ideas, request a speaker, follow Ford, a news stream, flickr page and youtube page. Any outlet that a media junky would be interested in can be found along the right side of Ford’s page. By having this available Ford owners can count on that site to be the source for any information they need.

Ford realizes that selling cars is more than having a good quality car and company locations across the US, the relationship must be there and that starts growing on the web.

Cisco Sells and Saves Online

November 7, 2010 Leave a comment

Some companies are inherently connected to today’s online society though their product. Cisco launched a new router, Aggregated Services Router, recently with the help of social media. Everything about Cisco’s product and mission involves online communication and interactivity. Even their website promotes connection over the internet; their slogan is “the human network”. Videos illustrating the benefits of the product show the viewer in short effective clips how Cisco products can improve your everyday communication and business. Companies know that this is where technology is moving. World wide communication is evolving to video and audio live streaming: Cisco is here to offer that.

As a company that provides the technology for other companies to move forward, Cisco understood that social media would be an important tool in marketing their newest product. In “How Social Media Helped Cisco Shave $100,000+ Off a Product Launch” written by Casey Hibbard, Cisco’s decision to announce and market their product solely through social media is analyzed. The company saved 6 figures from their launch budget by making this decision. Let’s see if it was an effective switch.

The old releases would require executives from businesses around the world to be flown in for a conference, attend conferences about the new product and see some demonstrations. Instead of doing all of this Cisco created a Second Life event. This is a program that many companies are beginning to use to have virtual conferences or to have ways to get their employees to interact. Besides their Second Life program Cisco also used Facebook, video conferencing, a mobile format, blogs and an online forum. All of these formats are online and convenient for users. Business employees do not need to visit other cities all the information they were going to receive is available online in a user friendly format.

Cisco’s use of the new social media works with its audience and product. The audience is interested in these avenues and Cisco has given them a way to access it through their product. This is a great example of a company using their product seamlessly with web 2.0. Cisco offers their videos in other places than on their website. The Youtube channel features videos of commercials, their chairman and CEO John Chambers, their products and events or news. This medium appropriately connects the target audience to their product. With such a perfect coupling, it makes sense that social media was effective for them.

The Best Bloggers

October 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Everyone is talking about blogging. Companies in all industries have begun blogging about company service, products or issues. Although many companies are blogging, not many CEOs of these companies are blogging. Michael Sebastian of Ragan Communications has written an article about a new study on bloggers. In the article “Study: 64 percent of the world’s top CEOs are NOT using social media” Sebastian analyzes the new data from the Weber Shandwick study (downloadable pdf here: Socializing Your CEO).

Not many CEOs see the importances or need to blog when all the social media tools and analysis prove that anyone can do it. “Socializing Your CEO” lists great information that a corporate communicator could use in helping convince their CEO that blogging could be easily done. Fortune Most Admired Company Status quotes 41% “most admired” CEOs to be ones who are most visible online. The more active a CEO is online the high respect they receive in the market and industry.

The document lists some guidelines for CEO blogs. The corporate communicator must meet the CEO in their comfort level. Not all CEOs are ready to start writing and detailing the events of their days or the company. Flexibility must be used until the CEO reaches a comfort level. That comfort level can be reached by beginning by using videos or publishing the press releases online. Once the CEO is more comfortable with the medium they may be able to begin writing on the blog. Show them how to write in a story telling style. The informality and ease of writing a story may further the comfort level of a CEO online. Before the CEO becomes fully invested in the online media, the right medium should be chose to produce your message as a company. The correct medium will be most effective to produce the company’s message and will be the easiest to promote within the company. This form of communication can reach a wide audience and fill a gap between the CEO and customer.

With these facts of advice a corporate communicator can apply them to any industry. The CEO can succeed with these tools and a professional corporate blog.

Now all that is left is to convince your boss to blog.

Categories: Corporate Companies Tags: ,

Social Sites and the Corporate Concept

October 25, 2010 2 comments

A company has made the decision to be more active and involved in social media through Web 2.0. Implementing the web 2.0 tools does not happen over night. The company must create their social media in line with their mission statement and bottom line, as advised in Northeastern University & Blackbone Media’s article “2.1 How Does The Set Up of A Blog Contribute to a Blog’s Success?”. Companies may be confused as to who should write or control the new social media. Should the corporate communicator monition the content or should the marketing team? Both the company message and products are being shown on the site which combines the jobs of these two different employees.

Intel has chosen to have their social media strategist, Ekaterina Walker, control their facebook page. Social Media Examiner writer Michael Stelzner interviews her in an article titled “The Inside Scoop on How Intel Manages Its Facebook Page”. Stelzner breaks down the risks and benefits of having a facebook page for your company through the questions he asks Walker. She responds with a detailed account of how Intel formed their company’s page.

Their target audience has been extremely important to them in the growth of their page which is at 115,000 fans currently. Originally they targeted tech geeks who would be interested in creating their own products while using Intel’s products. Their audience grew once they realized that larger companies and mom and pop shop companies alike were buying their products. These audiences are reachable now because of the mainstream ability online. Instead of just having one group of people to talk to thousands of people interested in computer products are available to read and comment online.

Now that facebook has 500 million members, discovered by facebakers.com a company must ask themselves- can we afford to not be online?

A Glimpse into the workings of the Giants

October 24, 2010 Leave a comment

10 years ago a Corporate Communicator could get their message out through distinct channels: television and newspapers. Today’s Corporate Communicator does not have those avenues because their audiences have moved. These new avenues offer more room for interaction. Many companies fear the switch from the traditional media to the internet. The old forms of advertising are one sided push communication. The internet opens up communication to two sided pull communication because the audience can go get the information they want from a company and respond appropriately.

IBM leads the way in two sided communication with their employee blogs and outlets for customers to communicate online. Casey Hibbard’s article “How IBM Uses Social Media to Spur Employee Innovation” discusses the new media tools and how a company can apply them to their industry and communication message. IBM understands that importance of communication with customers. Brands are now discussed online through the fingertips of the customers. To help this communication grow and prosper IBM has 100,000 employee blogs internally and also thousands of external employee bloggers. The company understands that their employees are extremely knowledgable, they tap into that knowledge by having an online location for the internal and external blogs.

The risks of a company blogging are high. Fired employees have a place to complain, the scorned customer can vent their concerns and the loyal competitor customer can comment their feelings on your page. While thinking about all these risks what are the benefits? IBM looks at the internet as a self regulating place where the positive commenters combat the negative ones. The popular phrase “the wisdom of crowds” proves true for IBM in their belief that the communication occurring with their employees and customers will result in positive information in the industry.

A smart company will acknowledge the intelligence of their employees but what is the next step. IBM has created a third party site called “A Smarter Planet Blog”. On this site IBM employees discuss issues in the world and how to fix problems. The bloggers are not focused on pushing products or a company mission. The forum is purely for discussion about transportation and business practices. Having more communication shows customers that IBM is here for more than just the bottom line, they are here for conversations and information growth.

IBM knows how to work efficiently and open the doors for communication without feeling overused or left out of the conversation. Although this company has over 400,000 employees in 170 countries they have found a way to communicate and stay relevant in a constantly changing media.

For more information on IBM’s social media practices…

Hobson, Neville. “IBM Publishes Guidelines For Employee Bloggers.”  May 16 2005. WebProNews. Accessed: Oct 24 2010.

April, Carolyn. “IBM’s Commitment to Employee Leadership a Lesson for All.” Nov 30 2009. Channel Insider Blog. Accessed: Oct 24 2010.