News flash, I’m not Renay San Miguel. News flash No. 2: He’s still here.
While no one can truly replace the greatness that is blogger Renay San Miguel, I’ve been charged to tag-team with him and provide infotainment for all of you who are big fans of the Splash Media blog. Allow me to formally introduce myself. Damon Sayles here. I’m one of the new social media managers with Splash.
I have nearly 18 years of professional journalism experience, including 8 ½ with The Dallas Morning News as a sports writer and blogger. It makes sense that I’m a die-hard sports junkie (basketball is my main sport), but I also have an appreciation and a will to learn this cultural phenomenon we know as social media. For example, the new Google+ project is something that fascinates and intrigues me.
For the record, I’m a Twitter junkie. Does it mean I know everything about Twitter? Not necessarily. Does it mean I tweet about 20-30 times a day? Perhaps … and maybe more. In addition to my own site (@DamonSayles), I help out with a couple other accounts. I take pride in building Twitter accounts from zero followers to … well … the sky’s the limit.
Many of you will have Twitter questions, as well as other questions involving social media. I will take over the Tuesday blogging spot for Splash effective immediately, so if you have any questions, feel free to forward them my way. If I can’t help you, I’ve got 30 or so professionals who are skilled in everything from Facebook to YouTube to blogging. Feel free to contact me through Twitter. I’m here for you. Scratch that … WE are here for you.
Our family is in the middle of an extended summer vacation to see family in Texas and Georgia. That means two tired adults, two cranky kids, three pieces of luggage, two child car seats, long security lines and lengthy waits at rental car agencies – all of it basting and marinating in the heat and humidity that is the South in the middle of July.
Any kindnesses that airlines can show my family during trips like this one can be worth their weight in customer service gold. And no one knows that better than Susan Elliott, spokesperson and member of the social media team at Delta Airlines.
When Delta took its first steps into the social media realm in late 2009, it saw that other airlines were focused on using Facebook and Twitter for marketing purposes – fare sales, promotions, etc. “We decided our first entry would be in the customer support area,” Elliott told Splash Media. “When we launched, we started listening to see what was out there and we quickly realized that people were talking about us but not to us. We realized we had an opportunity to change people’s attitudes about the travel experience and help support them throughout the experience.”
So last year, Delta decided to add a third Twitter feed, @DeltaAssist, with the sole function of talking to customers – and listening to them – in real time to help with questions and complaints. And after two weeks into the program, the Delta social media team quickly realized that @DeltaAssist would need to be a more comprehensive offering. “What customers wanted was full service – to have someone reach out to them and serve them,” Elliott said. “We basically empowered our agents to become completely full service, to do everything a reservation agent can do except sell tickets.”
Delta also grew the @DeltaAssist staff from 8 to 12 people and expanded their hours from most of the day to 24/7 status. “We have people on the account looking for mentions (of Delta) around the clock.”
While @Delta is the official Twitter marketing channel for the airline, @DeltaNewsRoom is charged with dealing with key media influencers – traditional and new media-based. That feed, Elliott said, has been critical in getting Delta’s side of the story out fast whenever the airline has faced any public relations challenges. “What we’ve seen with a lot of stories is that they may not offer the full picture, although people will assume it is,” Elliott said. “You have to be sure that you have a robust influencer management program out there. If the information isn’t accurate, you have to post comments on blogs and reach out to bloggers.”
Sometimes when Delta is in the news, and the traditional media is asking for comments, the @DeltaNewsRoom feed will be the first to break the airlines’ response. “Even before we return phone calls, we’ll tweet it out, and we’ll see it go live on CNN. It helps reduce call volume.”
The biggest lesson learned for Elliott regarding Delta’s social media efforts to date? “There has to be an emphasis on listening – to what the customers want, to what the influencers want – and being able to act quickly on it.”
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The last space shuttle rockets into space, and most of the Splash Media staff is huddled around a few of our larger computer monitors, watching the action on their online video news outlet of choice.
This sight triggers the Wayback Machine in my mind; suddenly it’s December 1968, I’m in third grade at Glenmore Elementary in San Angelo, Texas, and we’re watching my father set up our black-and-white TV in my classroom so we can all watch Apollo 8 lift off for its historic rendezvous with the moon.
It’s taken 43 years for video to evolve and become so ubiquitous that we officially take it for granted. Space Shuttle Atlantis soars into the skies for what will be the last U.S. space shuttle mission, and I could have watched the end of that era on a high-resolution, pixel-perfect smartphone screen if I chose to do so.
Earlier this week, Google and Facebook announced video integration into their social network-powered chat features; chat groups for Google +, one-on-one video chats for Facebook. That particular video-centric news sparked another memory from childhood, also from 1968.
In April of that year I begged my parents to take me to see “2001: A Space Odyssey.” In the film, a scientist who has just landed on an Earth-orbiting space station that looks an awful lot like a W Hotel makes a quick videophone call back home. Now, Skype and Apple’s Face Time are already helped consumers get used to seeing who they are talking to during a phone call. Perhaps the new video features in Google + and Facebook – if they are easy to use and reliable – may end up pushing our society even deeper into the Video Era.
While you’re visualizing that possibility, check out these headlines from the past week:
It’s Nice to Like A Page, but Don’t Forget The Handshake
April Sciacchitano of the BuzzBin blog thinks she knows why Facebook and Google are pushing video chats: the need for people to see who they’re talking to. Her blog post talks about how to make sure a digital strategy doesn’t forget the human element and opportunities for real-world interactions.
Navigating The Seas of Social Media With The U.S. Navy
Branches of the U.S. military aren’t letting up in their reconnaissance of social media. Andy Sernovitz with Smart Blog On Social Media takes a look at the Navy’s strategy for using social networks to steer its news coverage.
How To Connect With The Right Content? Do Your Homework And Make It Timely!
There are things businesses can do to make sure that they’re putting the best content on their social media platforms – the kind of content that attracts “likes” and retweets. Arik Hanson of WebProNews lists eight of the most effective tactics.
What about you? Tell us some interesting stories/best practices/case studies you’ve seen in your research from the past week and share them in our Comments section. We’ll see you back here on Monday!
Google’s latest attempt at a social network is getting much better reviews than predecessors Google Wave and Google Buzz. But what can Circles, Hangouts and Sparks do for a company’s online branding efforts?
In this week’s SplashCast, host Renay San Miguel talks to Splash Media social media manager Adam Robinson about what there is to like in Google +, its business uses and how it sets the stage for a battle between the search giant and Facebook over “internet time ownership.”
All under the guise of taking video chat for a test drive, of course.
I don’t know whether the new feature is worthy of “something awesome” status, as hinted last week by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. It’s obvious that his company called the press conference – and built as much pre-game hype as they could for it – as a response to last week’s Google + announcement and its subsequent glowing reviews. Facebook also announced group chats and a redesign of chat lists, along with a way-too-casual acknowledgement from Zuckerberg that yes, his company now has 750 million users (Facebook Nation no longer applies; it’s now Planet Facebook).
But video chat seemed to get the most attention, and with good reason: although other parts of the country had issues, my test drives turned up few technical glitches, and the friends and colleagues I spoke with on Facebook video – calling building-to-building in Dallas, and calling from Dallas to Seattle – also told me they enjoyed problem-free connections for the most part. I realize much depends on network connection speeds and the type of computers being used, but I think it just became that much easier for extended families to wish each other a merry Christmas on Facebook.
There’s no group video chat yet on Facebook as there is with the new Google + Hangout feature, but I don’t believe for a minute that Facebook’s tech geniuses aren’t working on that as I type. Google + Hangout has an obvious place in the enterprise space for work collaborations and conferences, but Facebook’s ubiquity and ease-of-use make it a tempting option for small/mid-size business internal use.
Also, businesses may have another avenue for sending content to customers (interviews reacting to industry developments, new product announcements/demos, etc.). The same businesses can now receive user-generated content for contests and discounts. Influential customers can be rewarded with behind-the-scenes views of a company’s facilities, along with Q-and-A’s with management.
Here’s what some of our Splash Media specialists thought about today’s announcement:
Rory Ellis, social media manager : “Google is working to bring the entire online experience into one holistic platform that includes search, social, chat, and video conferencing. Facebook simply decided to integrate something that has been around for a long time. The word ‘awesome’ used by Zuckerberg was a bit of an overstatement. Probably the best that they can hope for is a shift of current Skype users spending more time on the Facebook platform.”
Pete Kraft, chief technology officer: “Customer service is another good use for Facebook and Google + video. Big brands sometimes have people monitoring customer service-specific social accounts. What if customer service could take video calls via Facebook or Google +?”
Emily Bell, social media manager: “Can you imagine what this will do for military families? Also, Facebook groups will be able to start video chats on topics, or hold conference calls through Facebook instead of Webex or sending call-in numbers. Kind of cool.”
What do you think? What will this mean for social media marketing? Please comment below!
The uber-exclusive beta test that is Google + continues, and more analysis is leaking out into the social media marketing blogosphere. But it’s becoming clearer that the social network’s features – Circles for friend organization, Hangouts for online video chat, Huddles for mobile usage and Spark for content recommendations – all have potential for helping companies beef up their online brands.
Companies (a la Facebook Pages) are not a part of this early Google + test, and if you want to know why, Greg Stirling of Search Engine Land has written a very thorough post about that here. However, the business side of Google + “is coming, and Google knows it has to have it,” says Splash Media social media manager Adam Robinson. “But they also know they must have a built-in userbase plus a working platform before they do.”
Once that is established, Google + can be a formidable player because of all the other ways the company has integrated itself into web users’ lives with Gmail, Maps, Docs and other apps. “It’s an obvious battle over owning the internet experience,” Robinson said. “Facebook has tried to skin the internet so you are able to use the internet within its domain – say, buying Pampers within Facebook without ever leaving Pampers’ FB page. It is definitely a head-to-head battle, and for the first time, FB has a real-deal contender for internet time ownership.”
Both Robinson and Splash Media chief technology officer Pete Kraft also point to Google’s core business – search – as the real advantage for Google +, especially as social search (friends’ recommendations incorporated into query results) becomes the norm. “Every webmaster and marketing professional on Earth will clamor for their companies to have active Google + presences in order to juice their Google position and rank,” Kraft said. “Anything that you can do to increase Google search rankings will happen. That is just a fact, as sure as the sun will come up in the morning.”
“Instead of an outsider (Facebook) having to play nice with search giants and building infrastructure to appease search, Google already has the insider knowledge to build an SEO-friendly, ready-for-pay-per-click-ads, social platform that is holistic to the dominance it has on search already,” Robinson said. “Imagine a platform so business-friendly that conversion from it will be easy to track with some handy Google Analytics.”
Robinson and Kraft give an early two thumbs up to Google + when it comes to personal use. Kraft especially likes the way it incorporates the real-time aspects of Twitter, allowing following of influencers, without the 140-character limitation. Circles gives Kraft more segmentation of content, and he thinks the video Hangouts could be “the killer app for Google +,” especially for work collaboration, but only if Google’s infrastructure can handle the data workload.
But overall, “I just plain like Google +,” Kraft said. “It is a better social media network that is better to use, better for the consumer, and better for openness. It only lacks one feature for it to be the dominant player in this space, and that is people.”
Forget about those big robots throwing each other against Chicago skyscrapers in the new-and-improved “Transformers 3.” The real battle of the giants this July is happening in social media marketing land thanks to Google and Facebook.
Following last week’s announcement of Google +, along with the insane demand for beta invites that forced the search company to close the invitations after little more than a day, Facebook started letting people know that it would be having a Wednesday press conference this week to announce “something awesome,” in the words of company CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Clearly Facebook wants the media spotlight back on where it thinks it belongs – on itself, rather than Google’s latest attempt to get knee-deep into the social media waters while hopefully helping everybody to forget about Googles Buzz and Wave. Considering the consensus among social media observers in the blogosphere, Facebook may have good reason to trumpet its Wednesday announcement.
“Even though the Google + team had to temporarily shut down its own invitation machine last week due to heavy demand, most of the initial reaction to the new social media experiment has been positive,” Social Media Marketing Magazine co-publisher Kent Huffman told Splash Media. “So far, the most popular feature is Circles, which lets users group their contacts by type of relationships using an animated drag-and-drop interface.”
Along with Circles, Google +’s video conferencing and mobile features have obvious social media marketing implications. But the fact that the invites had to be shut down so soon highlights its work-in-progress nature, and Google can be forgiven in wanting to make sure it avoids the kind of bad p.r. that accompanied the rollout of Buzz and Wave. “Among the negatives (of Google +) are some issues related to privacy settings and information security that Google has already acknowledged,” Huffman added.
The educated guesses on Facebook’s announcement includes possible new mobile and multi-media features, including an iPad-centric application.
The Splash Media blog is not only digging deeper into Google + this week; we will be watching the Facebook announcement Wednesday and will deliver some instant reaction on whether Zuckerberg’s news does indeed qualify as “awesome” from a social media marketing perspective. In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts on Google + and speculate to your heart’s content about Facebook in our Comments section.
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A viewer of Detroit ABC affiliate WXYZ-TV recently used the station”s Twitter feed to complain about what so many of us gripe about every now and then regarding local TV: the abundance of bad news. The viewer suggested that WXYZ should not only cover more “good news” stories, but should create them as well.
Fast-forward to June 25th, when more than a hundred volunteers – station employees and members of the community – partnered with a local non-profit to clean up areas of Detroit that were in disrepair, including a playground. The station helped organize the event, and then covered it on their newscasts that night.
All of this was put together via a Twitter hashtag, #backchannel, set up by a WXYZ anchor to close the conversation gap between viewers and the station. Most of the time #backchannel is used to let the public help with breaking news stories, but in this case it helped set up something positive for everyone involved. (You can read more about it here on Lost Remote, a blog dedicated to the intersection of television and social media.)
It seems appropriate that on this July Fourth weekend, when we celebrate the building of a nation that was stitched together for the purpose of establishing freedom, that we also point out things like social media that can bring people together for a common cause – not necessarily to make money, but to connect individuals and organizations, and maybe in the process generate some smiles.
If you know of any other instances of social media being used for the greater good, please share them in the Comments section below. And while you”re at it, check out these stories from the past week:
Google A Lot Of People = No More Invitations
Bloomberg reports on Google”s latest attempt at creating a social network, Google , and how so many people tried to crash its party that it had to close the doors. (The Splash Media blog will be taking a closer look next week at the search giant”s efforts to unseat Facebook.)
Some Very Social Ways To Create Customer Evangelists
Tricia Smith of Smart Blog On Social Media highlights the top takeaways from a recent webinar hosted by Altimeter Group”s Jeremiah Owyang on how to keep customers involved with your brand..after they become customers.
How B2B Companies Can Start Down The Social Media Path
GlobalSpec”s Chris Charlton for the Marketing Profs blog on how industrial, engineering and manufacturing companies, which have the lowest social media adoption rates, can ease themselves into this marketing strategy.
Please have a safe and happy July Fourth holiday, and we”ll see you back here Tuesday!
Splash Media is now in the software business – sort of.
Splash has developed SplashCube, a social media management tool that we are using in-house. But as Splash Media chief learning officer Paul Slack tells host Renay San Miguel in this latest SplashCast, small and mid-size businesses may soon get a chance to use the application as a way to keep up with their social media agendas and listen to what’s being said about their companies online.
Cisco Systems has launched The Network, a technology news website. Like Intel’s Free Press – covered in the Splash Media blog here – the company is covering any and all developments in its particular arena of the tech industry, whether or not it has anything to do with Cisco. The focus is on an editorial style that wouldn’t be out of place in a newspaper or on a journalistic tech news site.
As expected, the networking giant is featuring its resident geniuses and highlighting new products and services, while also providing lots of videos on general trends and themes that impact its business (video, data storage, etc.). But when warranted, it’s also isn’t shying away from mentions of competing products and companies in its coverage.
Unlike Intel Free Press, The Network is using contributions from tech journalists who used to write for outlets like the Associated Press, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and the Industry Standard. A recent story by former BusinessWeek columnist Steve Wildstrom that examines trends in data analytics doesn’t mention Cisco at all.
Yes, the mainstream media has abdicated serious technology coverage to a growing host of bloggers and specialty websites, and used all that as an excuse to jettison experienced journalists. But Cisco director of social media John Earnhardt told me that’s not the reason Cisco started The Network.
“It isn’t a reaction to traditional media, but the recognition that there are a lot of technology stories that we can tell that we think can be additive to the conversations we want to start and participate in on the topics we care most about,” Earnhardt said in an email. “Our focus is squarely on data center, core networking (including mobility and security), collaboration and video. We want to use The Network to share stories about the impact of these technologies on business and everyday life.”
Splash Media quizzed Earnhardt for a SplashCast earlier this year – you can view that here – so we’re not surprised that the company’s Facebook, Twitter and Flickr feeds and comment streams are integrated well in the Network offering.
“Social media is critical to the success of The Network,” Earnhardt said. “We track how many times a piece has been viewed, but also how many times it has been shared. Social media is about sharing. We find sharing (or commenting) is the ultimate measure of success. As I said in my introductory blog post, a piece of content that is shared with a friend or friends or followers or the world is the ultimate measurement of its success. That person is validating that the piece of content they are sharing was valuable enough, interesting enough or topical enough to share with one or with many.”
This news just in: companies don’t have to be tech giants like Cisco to position themselves as information resources and thought-leaders in their specific industries. Give them compelling content, be transparent about those times when they do include their own company’s offerings in their coverage, and listen to their audiences, and like any good news outlet, small and mid-size businesses can scoop the competition and earn their customers’ trust.