Archive for the 'web2.0' Category

Ford Motor company’s engagement through Twitter

During the BlogPotomac conference in June, the head of social media for the Ford Motor Company, Scott Monty, shared some social media best practices that I would like to pass along to you…

Scott used Twitter to announce his steps during the process of responding to a crisis, tweeting things like, “I’m checking with legal right now”… etc. so people didn’t think he was just saying “no comment” and getting upset, thinking he wasn’t doing anything.

Tweeting should be your first response during public relations crisis management – It is the “low-hanging fruit” — immediate and widespread. But it only helps once you’ve already built up a community.

Monitor and respond to social media mentions of your organization where appropriate. When you have people complaining against your organization, invite them into the process to better understand then help address their issues, if it’s not terribly detrimental.

Sometimes a key to crisis management is actually calling someone to talk (gasp!). He combined online (twitter/blogs/forums) methods with offline (personal phone calls) to combat a crisis where one of Ford’s big supporters felt mistreated and was letting people on his website know how upset he was at the company.

Companies need to have their own “digital hub” – an anchor where they can post updates/comments/videos/etc. in addition to the typical sites (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.).

There are only so many social media sites you can realistically get to. You need to decide where your customers are and stay actively engaged in those limited digital outposts. You can’t be authentic with customers if you just do “fly-bys” on the sites.

But on the other hand, organizations need to pay more attention to the people around them and less to Twitter. Don’t neglect your internal employees – they are the key audience invested in your organization’s future.

  • Ford has 200,000 employees worldwide, so Scott postulated that if he could get just 1% willing to talk about Ford on line, that would be 2,000 people on these digital outposts (e.g., Facebook/Twitter).

The tools are irrelevant – they will always change. By giving employees broad guidelines on social media, we’re creating a culture of people who can speak on behalf of the company.

Some of these basic guidelines include:

  • Tell the truth
  • Write with accuracy
  • Include all points of view
  • Never delete people’s comments

The goal is to humanize Ford as a brand. There’s nothing personal or inspirational about the “blue oval.” Scott wants to put faces to the brand and connect employees with the public.

Social media is just part of the mix. It’s not a panacea. Ford still communicates with customers through surveys/phone calls/mailers/etc. The company realizes it has millions of customers and they don’t all communicate in the same way.

Not every comment/post requires a response. Many times people write something factually incorrect that is derogatory toward Ford. Scott said he wanted to jump in and respond, but then chose to stand back. What happened? Someone from the community would often correct the record for him, since the company had built up a big fan base.

When you do need to respond, match the tools used against you. If someone is putting you down in a video, respond with a video. In a blog post, respond with a comment. But that’s just the starting point.

Scott asked, “Does your ‘C suite’ vet your phone calls or your emails? If not, why do they insist on vetting your blogs, tweets, etc.?”

He related social media to when the telephone first came out and then later when email came out where there was all kinds of corporate guidance about not saying certain things. The technology doesn’t matter. This is about culture change.

Social media is not going away. It’s going to be more and more integrated into our daily lives.


Cultural Barriers to Social Media

Back in June, I had the pleasure of hearing Shel Holtz as the keynote speaker at the BlogPotomac conference. He described several cultural barriers to implementing social media, and I wanted to share some of the high points with you…

The Legal Department

Legal will often be like, “Don’t say anything so no one can use it against us in court.” Communicators can often say, “Let’s put everything out in the public.” There’s space in between.”

If legal says “no,” that’s only one lawyer’s opinion. Use statistics to convince other lawyers that the risks of social media are outweighed by the risks of not having a social media presence.

Shel quoted a study where in times of crisis, organizations that acknowledged the crisis, and spoke to their problems publicly and openly saw a bigger drop in their stock prices at the outset than organizations that kept silent. But months into the crisis, the tables turned; and only those organizations who engaged their communities (rather than solely issuing sterile press releases) were able to see their stock prices rise back up to above pre-crisis levels. Those who didn’t…never recovered.

Ownership of Social Media (SM)

Many organizations have disputes between IT and public affairs/marketing/PR regarding who “owns” SM. The organization’s leadership needs to coordinate the effort so everyone plays where they can bring the most value.

Don’t get into the trap of simply giving this responsibility to the employees who are most adept at SM. Just because they’re good at Twitter or Facebook doesn’t mean they know how to implement a company’s communications strategy.

Identify the Return on Investment (ROI)

You need to speak the language of CEOs or they won’t pay attention to you. Translate SM to the goals they’re responsible for when they go before their board of directors to report out.


Don’t violate any regulations. Reinforce that the rules that apply everywhere else (e.g., state and federal regulations) also apply in SM.


It’s imperative to baseline how much effort you’re spending to do communications. Then when you implement an SM strategy, you can show people how much time it takes to do communications campaigns to reach people, and how you can now reach more people faster, easier and cheaper with SM tools. This is essential to justify the resources required to engage customers online.

Speaking with One Voice

Leadership wants the organization to “speak with one voice.” However, while it’s important for everyone in an organization to know the organization’s story, everyone has their own voices. And your employees are talking about your organization anyway.

People are afraid to release control of the message since they’re afraid of losing power. But releasing control of the message can actually make you more powerful since you can get better results and say your decision made that happen. “I see my role as making my client/boss look good.”

Other Insightful Thoughts from Shel

“Every organization should have at least one blog. The strategic motivation for this is rapid response – in a more authoritative, archived type of fashion.” When crises hit, the public and journalists should go to your blog as the primary source. Twitter, Facebook, etc. are important but secondary – they should drive traffic to your blog.

“There can be stand-alone SM campaigns. For example, the new Transformers movie has a tool that allows people to create Transformers avatars, Twitter wallpaper, etc.”

“Every employee is a front-line public relations representative. I believe Public Affairs/Public Relations needs to assume responsibility for customer call centers since this is the front line of the organization interacting with the customers. Companies can rise or fall on these folks.”

Has social media changed the amount you communicate face to face?

In a recent International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) pulse survey, the majority of respondents said that, despite the explosion of social media tools, the amount of face-to-face interaction in their organizations has remained the same throughout the past year. The survey was conducted by the IABC Research Foundation earlier this month and received 218 responses from communication professionals.

The survey found that:

  • 63% of respondents said that face-to-face interaction in their organization has remained about the same.
  • 16% said there has been more overall face-to-face interaction in their organization.
  • 12% said there has been less overall face-to-face interaction in their organization.
  • 8% said there has never been significant face-to-face interaction in their organization.

What do you think? Have social media tools changed the amount of face-to-face interaction in your organization? What about in your personal life?

Sharing two good blog posts: Corporate blogging tips and A to Z of new media

Happy Friday! I wanted to share a couple good blog posts with you… had an article I liked that lists 5 Tips for Corporate Blogging. Some highlights are below:

  • Be the expert
    Be the expert on tangible topics that people can understand
  • Establish a social crossroads
    Take advantage of other social tools out there and link them back to your blog
  • Don’t forget your archives
    Find a way to link back to older posts when creating new ones
  • Get into a routine
    Whatever routine you decide to do (e.g., daily, weekly, monthly), stick to it so people condition themselves to return to your site when new content will be there
  • Stand for something
    Don’t remain unbiased; make sure you’re not afraid to take a position

As a bonus this week, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the 3 minutes it takes you to check out Mark Drapeau’s post on “The A to Z of New Media” (adapted from a Marriott handout at a Washington, D.C. event called “New & Social Media: Leading the Way”)

How do you split up your work, personal social networks?

I just saw an interesting article that talked about how people should respond when coworkers find them on Facebook and request to become friends. About a woman the article uses as a case study, the author asks, “Does a virtual stranger really care what [her] favorite movies are?”

The subject of the story eventually created two Facebook pages — one for friends and family and another for work contacts.

I’ve actually done the same, creating my “Chris Ryno Hemrick” Facebook page to keep in touch with people I know through my client work — whether Booz Allen coworkers or the network I’ve built through my client work. This way we can stay in contact and share social media best practices. I linked the page to my Twitter account so my tweets automatically become my status update on the page. I don’t think this group needs to see photos of me with spit-up down my shirt while holding my five-month-old daughter (just to clarify — it’s her spit-up).

The way I see it, there are three types of people: 1) People whose work and social networks are completely separate; 2) people whose work and social networks are partially intertwined; and 3) people whose work and social networks are basically the same. Group 3 tends to be the 20-somethings who go to all the happy hours on weeknights in DC 🙂

Which type are you? How does this affect the overlapping of your work and personal social networking onine?

Are you kidding me?

So there’s a new website out there that unravels the long spaghetti strands of cc’s and attachments between groups of people emailing one another.


According to

Whether you use Gmail, Outlook, or some program in between, email threads can become long and unwieldy, especially when there are multiple people involved and attachments flying back and forth. CcBetty, launching today at DEMO, looks to untangle messy email threads into an easy to follow webpage, that can by created simply by adding to any email you send.

After you’ve cc’d Betty, everyone on the email thread is sent the link to what’s called the mailspace on the CcBetty site. In the mailspace, you’ll see the email thread itself, with tabs that break it down into its different parts. For example, there’s an “images” tab showing any pictures that have been attached, ‘places’ that plots any addresses on a Google Map, and “links” that break out any URLs that have been shared.

Huh? This is a perfect example of improving current processes when instead we should be changing to smarter processes by using Web 2.0 tools

Any groups that use this website need to spend an hour learning about how they can move away from email and use a wiki for collaboration instead!

I’m a social media penguin. Are you?

I’m a social media penguin. Are you?

Are the words “mashup,” “tweetup,” “feeds” and “tagclouds” meaningless to you? When it comes to social media, there’s a growing throng that stays on top of the latest and greatest technology and websites. That’s not me.

In a roomful of social media experts, you’ll hear a lot of “geekspeak” and “technotalk.” If you’re not part of that group, it’s like a foreign language. During the Intellipedia Unconference last May, social media expert Chris Rasmussen even brought a sign with this photo to raise up high when he needed to remind people to stay away from such talk. That way we “regular people” in the room could be a part of the discussion too.

I think of myself as a “social media penguin.” Let me explain…

In Runner’s World magazine, 90% of it is dedicated to being the best you can be, winning races, cutting a minute off your mile pace, etc. Then there’s a monthly article by an author named John “the Penguin” Bingham. He’s proud of the fact that he “waddles” through races. He’s not out to win — he just truly enjoys running and takes advantage of the benefits running brings to enhance his life.

I’m like John when it comes to social media. As I mentioned in my last post, I don’t jump on board with tools until I see how they will benefit me or my clients personally. I take my time and make sure there’s truly going to be value. Otherwise, something new and neat could just end up being a timesuck.

So for those of you “regular people” who feel lost around all the technical geniuses, I’m there with you. Precisely because I don’t have a technical background, I feel that helps me speak in plain English to folks about Web 2.0 tools. When I see something good that can specifically help you do your job, we’ll talk about it. If not, we won’t.

To quote John, “Waddle on, friends.”

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