Posts Tagged 'web2.0'

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.

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Blurring the line between home and work (and vice versa)

I just read a blog called “Online social networking: The productivity paradox” which discusses whether or not management should allow access to social networking sites like “Facebook” on work computers.

One commenter wrote that although people may be losing time in the short term by logging on to such tools at work, they often increase the quality in their work from collaborating with teammates.

Personally, I was glad I was able to log into Facebook last week because the instant messaging service my team uses to communicate wasn’t working; so my coworker and I were able to use FB’s chat function to discuss our project.

Yes, there may be issues with some workers who abuse social networking sites while at work. My theory is they would be spending time chatting around the water cooler anyway.

But what’s become more prevalent lately is the opposite side of that coin: where people at home have a hard time pulling themselves away from work.

I’ve read several articles recently about today’s workforce has a highly blurred line between work and home. They may check personal Gmail and and Facebook at work, but then often check their work email account while away from the office.

Ten years ago it seemed that only top executives checked emails through mobile devices (i.e., Blackberries). Now with the popularity of the iPhone and other smart phones, it’s becoming more common for workers at all levels of the organization to constantly be plugged in to each other. This is especially the case where coworkers are also within each other’s social networks in their personal lives.

For myself, I don’t have a smart phone; but I have my laptop on all the time when I’m at home and have a hard time resisting replying to emails in my in-box that only require a quick response. Note the irony that I’m posting this on a Sunday afternoon 😉

What about you? Let’s take a quick, one-question poll on which statement best describes you:

A) I am connected to work nearly all the time (through mobile devices, laptop, PC, etc.)

B) I am sometimes connected to work communications when at home

C) I am only connected to work communications at home when I have an important task I’m working

D) I keep my work life and home life completely separate I’d be curious what your responses are.

Post your comments if you’re willing to share. There are no right or wrong answers.

Quit wasting time!

While it’s difficult to explain the ROI of social media to clients (A good quote from Steve Radick: “How do you measure the value of a conversation?”), we can promote these tools by showing how they specifically save time.

I’ll use this blog to share some of those best practices researched in a new series: “Social Media Timesavers.”

Without further ado…
Tip #1: Use a wiki instead of PowerPoint for team meeting “slides”
Instead of having everyone email edits to one another (and then having the lucky stuckee compile edits), create a wiki page where everyone can make their edits in one spot. Then the latest, up-to-date information is always ready to go (even if someone has to make edits 5 minutes before the meeting begins). This saves time that was previously wasted by retyping edits (which is absolutely no fun to do on ppt slides, let me tell you). It also saves time from “playing referee” when two people’s edits cancel each other and the lead has to contact both parties to see which edits stay. Now the decision defaults to whoever procrastinates the longest makes his or her edits last.

Full disclosure here: The one disadvantage with using wikis is if two people are making edits at the exact same time then edits can sometimes get lost forever. Therefore, a best practice is to remind people to copy and paste their edits before hitting “save.” Then it will be much easier to paste them a second time if this situation arises.

Finally, when it’s time for the meeting, project the wiki page onto the screen.

Plan B – if you really have to have PowerPoint slides – is to use shared document storage (e.g., iShare, Inteldocs, SharePoint) and have each person check out then check in the document. The disadvantages are that only one person can make changes at a time and sometimes people walk away from their desks in the middle of editing, so others can’t access the doc, causing frustration and wasted time.

When speaking to clients about this, there are two popular tools that might help: a famous email vs wiki collaboration graphic and “Wikis in Plain English” video from the outstanding Commoncraft series.

Remember, “You are what you wiki.”


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