Social media policy helps protect employees, companies

From The Joy of Tech

The Joy of Tech

Social media is a hot topic for marketing departments recently, as marketers focus on developing a strategy to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other networks to build brand loyalty, engage with consumers and boost customer service. But what about a social media strategy for inside the company?

Every company should establish a social media policy that provides clear guidelines for what is acceptable for employees who use social media either personally or for the company. Establishing a clear policy will help protect a company’s brand from being inadvertently damaged by something an employee posts online.

During the presidential debate, a Kitchen-Aid employee sent a tweet making fun of Obama’s late grandmother. Kitchen-Aid deleted the tweet, apologized and later said, “A member of our Twitter team mistakenly posted an offensive tweet from the KitchenAid handle instead of a personal handle.” The company said the employee would no longer be tweeting for them. This is just one example of how easily an employee’s social media post can cause bad publicity for a company. 

Bad social media posts aren’t always as public as the Kitchen-Aid example. There are many instances of employees who lost their jobs over a social media post that the company felt was a poor representation:

A detailed social media policy helps provide clear guidelines about what is acceptable, sets expectations for employees, allows the company to take action against violations, reduces time dealing with consequences of bad social media use, and reduces the risk and legal exposure for the company.

When writing a social media policy, Poynter offers some tips for creating effective social media guidelines. Examples of social media policies can be viewed on the Social Media Policy Database.

Does your company have a social media policy? What are some of the benefits/drawbacks to the policy? How is it enforced?


The untapped potential of Storify for brands


I was introduced to Storify in the newspaper business, as Storify is a great tool for aggregating information during breaking news situations and crowdsourcing reaction to major news events. But as I am learning more about how brands use emerging media to tell stories, I couldn’t help but think how Storify could benefit a brand’s marketing efforts, if used properly.

A little research told me I wasn’t the first person to realize this. Kevin Allen at PR Daily writes that Pepsi, the San Francisco 49ers and HBO are among the brands already using the content aggregation tool.

Of the three, the 49ers seem to be doing the most on Storify. They used the social story teller to aggregate social media posts during the team’s trip to London, a post that was viewed 37,00 times. The account only has 56 followers, so the 49ers are using other social networks or websites to promote the posts. Another great post was a look back at the top 10 most memorable moments. This was a compilation of Facebook posts recapping the season.

Pepsi used Storify to recap reaction at the SXSW convention in 2012, but that was the last time it used the account. With only 88 followers, Pepsi was able to build a buzz independently for its posts, because they were seen by more than 1,000 people. Still, with more than 31 million Facebook fans, Pepsi has a lot of untapped potential to use Storify and promote it.

HBO is using Storify to promote its new and current shows with behind-the-scenes commentary and photos from cast and crew members. However, based on the number of views, HBO isn’t promoting its Storify account, which makes me wonder. The content is interesting and supplements additional marketing efforts, so HBO needs to find a way to promote its Storify.

Storify has a whole section devoted to brands on Storify (hence the screenshot above). While browsing this page, I found country singer Dierks Bentley’s one and only Storify — an aggregation of fan stories based on a Twitter campaign the singer’s marketing team ran. This is a great example of a way to blend social media campaigns. Fans were asked to use the #IHOLDON hashtag on Twitter to tell their story about losing a loved one, and Storify allowed the team to compile those tweets into an easy-to-read format.

The possibilities are endless for brands to use this social network to market its brand. I think before long, we’ll see Storify become commonplace among brands as just one more tool to build consumer loyalty and market content.


Twitter use soaring among airlines

Brands are continually finding ways to use emerging media to benefit their marketing and communications efforts. The travel industry, which is constantly adapting, is one area where social media is taking off.

The snow and ice this winter have led to the most flight cancellations in 25 years. Flight cancellations lead to frustrated travelers, who must contend with extended stays in airports, keeping track of luggage and rescheduling flights when possible. For airlines, this can be a customer service nightmare, as airline employees try to provide information and resolve problems as quickly as possible.

Many airlines have turned to social media teams to help expedite the customer service problem, as more and more travelers voice their frustrations over Twitter. According to Twitter, tweets about travel rose 54 percent from 2012 to 2013, to 12 million tweets per week and hit an all-time during winter storms that canceled flights. The real-time nature of Twitter — versus more static social media networks like Facebook and Google+ — appeals to both travelers and airlines alike.The major airlines have all established Twitter accounts that are go-to customer service destinations for frustrated travelers.

Tweeting frustrations toward brands is a common practice these days, as social media makes it so easy to do. The social media teams at these airlines are taking customer service to whole new heights by seeking out those frustrated travelers and trying to alleviate the stress any way they can. It helps build positive brand awareness for customers, and it wouldn’t be possible if the brands didn’t grasp and implement emerging media techniques.

Have you ever tweeted to an airline while traveling? What was your experience?

Coca-Cola delivers with multicultural advertisement

In a less-than-exciting Super Bowl game, the highlight (if you can call it that) was the commercials. I felt the ads were lacking this year, but one ad attracted some attention, both positive and negative.

C0ca-Cola’s “It’s Beautiful” commercial appealed to the melting pot culture of the United States with its rendition of “America the Beautiful” sang in eight languages.

“With ‘It’s Beautiful,’ we are simply showing that America is beautiful, and Coke is for everyone,” Coca-Cola president Katie Bayne said in a press release.

The commercial sparked intense debate, though. Some cheered Coca-Cola for embracing the different native languages of Americans:

Others decried “America the Beautiful” being sung in any language other than English. The ad, clearly meant to show how united America is, instead caused a divide on the basis of race and ethnicity

From an IMC standpoint, however, the commercial was an excellent marketing move. Minorities are a growing segment of consumers, outpacing whites in terms of population growth. It is important for companies to find ways to reach minority consumers, and this commercial by Coca Cola does just that.

Brands should take a lesson from this and find ways to use new media to appeal to values that are important to minorities. For most minorities, language is one part of their native culture that they hold on to while acclimating to life (and language) in the United States.

In this commercial, Coca-Cola (a brand often considered to be quintessential America) tells minority consumers they are part of what makes America beautiful, and delivers that message by using native languages. Coca-Cola says you don’t have to give up your culture in order to be part of America’s patriotism. The multilingual rendition of “America the Beautiful” was a big risk for Coca-Cola, but one that I think will ultimately pay off.

Punt, pass, Pin? Sports teams taking to Pinterest, Instagram

Almost every brand out there is finding ways to use emerging media to promote their brand and engage with consumers. Sports teams are no exception.

While it’s not surprising that sports teams are utilizing Facebook and Twitter to reach an audience, it is interesting the ways that teams are incorporating Pinterest and Instagram into their marketing campaigns.

Pinterest, a social network with a predominantly female user demographic, is an especially ingenious marketing strategy. As New York Giants director of digital media Nilay Shah says, “What intrigued us initially [about Pinterest] was that the platform seemed to be dominated by women. We certainly thought it was a great way to engage with that demographic and offer a different type of content than can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Google+.” However, although the Giants recognize Pinterest’s potential at reaching women, the team doesn’t actively use its Pinterest page.

The Denver Broncos' Pinterest homepage.

The Denver Broncos’ Pinterest homepage.

But both professional and collegiate sports teams are maximizing the site’s potential by posting photos of team-themed treats, fan fashion and merchandise, action photos and more. The Boston Celtics used Pinterest to promote a cyber sale; the Seattle Seahawks are gearing up for the Super Bowl; the Washington Redskins even use their account to share cool team Infographics. The University of Washington uses Pinterest to engage with fans by sharing fan-submitted artwork.

Pinterest isn’t the only emerging media gaining use among sports’ teams. Instagram, too, is a great resource for sports brands to engage with fans on a different level. Amid preparations for the Super Bowl, the NFL is sharing behind-the-scenes shots on its Instagram page. The LA Lakers also offer a behind-the-scenes look at the players, while the Cleveland Cavaliers showcase their promotions and community events.

And in perhaps the best use of Instagram by an athletic institution, the University of Tulsa mascot Goldie has an Instagram. If using Instagram to share photos of a dog donned in your brand’s logos isn’t a brilliant use of emerging media, then I don’t know what is. (Seriously, check it out. Cute puppy pictures.)


Google+ still searching for relevance

The five emerging social media trends for 2014 indicate this could be a key year for Google+ to garner mainstream attention. As someone who works in social media marketing on a daily basis, I’m skeptical. But first, the facts:

In March, a study by eMarketer found that Google+ has the second-highest number of account holders, behind Facebook.


But simply having an account doesn’t mean users are actively using the social networking site. In October, Google reported a 58 percent jump in users, with 300 million monthly active users, up from 190 million in May.

Frederic Gonzalo, a fellow skeptic, writes: “An active user is considered someone who accessed its account during the past month. Knowing how Google has integrated its Youtube, Gmail and other accounts under a single password and platform that includes Google+, allow me to be doubtful about the true level of ‘activity’ users are having.” I agree – Google+ is likely padding its popularity thanks to its connections with actually popular sites.

In its 2013 State of Social Media Report, Pew Research doesn’t include Google+ among the social network use it examines. Instead, Pew focuses on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

I promote our news content on social networks, including Facebook, Twitter and Google+. I see the most success on Facebook, where we get the majority of our referral traffic. We have more than 29,000 fans. On Twitter, we see moderate success, with our more than 4,000 followers. But on Google+, we see almost no engagement and no referrals, partially because we only have 248 “likes.”

Maybe this will be the year for 2014, which means I need to figure out how to make sure my company stays relevant on the network. But how do you go about building a following on a network it doesn’t seem like many people use? Does anybody have suggestions on how to build a Google+ following?

A ‘Snap’ look at the future of marketing

acura-sent-100-followers-a-snapchatSocial Media Today’s top 5 trends to watch in 2014 include the introduction of Snapchat marketing.

Snapchat is a mobile app that allows users to send photos and videos to other users, which are only visible for up to 10 seconds before self-destructing. Pew Research examined Snapchat for the first time in October 2013, and found that 9 percent of cellphone owners use the app. Pew Research found the app is primarily used by a younger crowd — 26 percent of cellphone owners ages 18-29 use the app, while less than 5 percent of older cellphone owners use the app.

Snapchat use

Source: Pew Research

Late in 2013, brands began picking up on Snapchat’s marketing potential. Taco Bell was one of the first adopters, using Snapchat to introduce its beefy crunch burrito.

The app’s new Stories feature, which lets photos and videos linger for 24 hours, provides more opportunity for brands to market themselves. Todd Wasserman at Mashable wrote, “Eventually, Snapchat could charge brands for the ability to create Stories or — more likely — to promote those Stories beyond a brand’s fan base.”

With any emerging media, there are innovative ways for brands to capitalize on the potential. When it comes to Snapchat, however, the only brands that will have success are those that have young target audiences.

What ways can you think of to use Snapchat for marketing?