It has already become the Quote Heard ‘Round The NFL – an audible from New England head coach Bill Belichick about social media.
Shortly after the Patriots signed former Cincinnati Bengal Chad Ochocinco – he of “Dancing With The Stars” fame and a hyperactive Twitter feed – Belichick was asked late last week at training camp if he was aware of his newest wide receiver’s infamous use of social media (Ochocinco was fined $25,000 last season for violating the NFL’s no-tweeting-from-the-sidelines rule).
The response? “That’s not something that I follow,” Belichick said. “I don’t Twitter, I don’t MyFace, I don’t YearBook.” (MyFace? YearBook? What is this, a “30 Rock” episode?) “I don’t do any of those things so I’d be the last one to know.”
I find it hard to believe that Belichick, one of the game’s best strategic thinkers, is that dense regarding social media. Okay, so he may not know the correct names of the social networks involved, but I’m guessing he’s all too aware of the potential for one of his star player’s tweets ending up as locker-room material for opposing teams.
Yet the coach’s comments do highlight the need for an update to the NFL’s social media policies, and the lessons that can be applied to all kinds of businesses. Use of Twitter, Facebook or YouTube haven’t been the focus of media coverage of the new collective bargaining agreement between players and owners, but if the teams and commissioner Roger Goodell’s office are smart, they’ll at least agree on clearer guidelines and better education for the players. The ban on tweets immediately before, during and right after games is pretty much all there is to the NFL’s social media playbook. The rest is up to the individual teams.
Yet the players are the brand, the brand is the franchise, and that franchise is part of the most popular sports league in America right now. If your franchise running back is saying certain things on Twitter (see: Mendenhall, Rashard and Bin Laden, Osama) how does that help relations with the ticket/merchandise-buying fans who are already put off by the recent lengthy lockout, the networks that like to feature such superstars and the brands that have endorsement deals with them? That’s a lot of cash riding on 140 ill-conceived characters.
Len Pasquarelli of The Sports Xchange wrote a fine article in May about a social media monitoring program used by some NCAA Division I schools for their athletes that could fit nicely in the NFL. What’s the over/under on how much that program – and any other social media training instituted by teams or the league itself – will be needed this year when the inappropriate tweets start to fly, the media coverage starts to build and the league fines start to pile up?
For the NFL, it should be back to basic Social Media Marketing 101: think before you tweet. The same instincts that can get Kenneth Cole in trouble on Twitter (tying the February riots in Egypt to its new spring line of fashions) – or any business that uses social media in an unwise fashion – can also hit 20-something millionaires with nary a filter between them and their smartphones. Players may need to drill down on that before the season kicks off in September.
Just don’t get Bill Belichick to do the coaching.
Unlike Coach, we do Twitter but find we’re just too cool for the MyFace community. Follow us!
What makes a city “socially savvy?” As it turns out, that title is determined by the number of socially-connected employees within businesses in that city. That’s part of the methodology used in the Summer ’11 “Social Business Report,” an annual survey conduced by NetProspex, a sales/marketing database company targeting the business-to-business sector.
The release of NetProspex’s report this week generated a lot of buzz when the AOL Huffington Post blog picked it up, mostly focusing on its list of Most Socially Savvy and Least Social Cities. That guaranteed a minimum of 30 seconds of airtime in several TV markets that were mentioned in the report. For the record, the top ten: San Francisco, San Jose, New York, Ventura/Austin (tied for 4th), Stamford, Seattle, Splash Media home Dallas-Fort Worth, Boston, and Denver/Oakland (tied for 10th). The least social city? Anchorage, Alaska. The full report can be downloaded here.
But what those initial media reports missed out on was the overall wealth of findings contained in NetProspex’s report – a motherload of information for social media marketers. NetProspex analyzed data from an astonishing 12 million business contacts across a range of companies and industries.
So it wasn’t just cities being ranked. NetProspex turned up the top job titles using social media (recruiting, corporate strategy, marketing, advertising, software engineering), the most social companies (New York Times, Intuit, Juniper, Adobe, Limited Brands) and the top industries using social media (no shocker here – anything/everything computer, network or web-related). Social media marketing professionals should definitely take note of the fact that the Social Business Report zeroes in on Twitter, thanks to the recent rapid growth of the social network. Top Twitter job? Creative professionals. Top Twitter company? Again, the New York Times. The industry that tweets the most/loudest? Television stations.
The least social media-savvy industry, according to NetProspex, is related to organizations serving cities, towns and municipalities. Apparently they haven’t got the memo yet about social media bringing people closer to those who serve them – whether they are companies or governments.
Splash Media had one question for NetProspex regarding the report: any insight into how small/mid-size businesses in these cities are using social media? Certainly larger companies and brands will have the resources to spare on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. But what about the smaller firms that also do their part to power the U.S. economic engine?
“It’s a great question,” replied Katie Martell, NetProspex’s marketing strategist. She told me that the survey did include SMBs, and she promised to try to get that specific information soon for Splash Media. “The larger brands did come out on top, but that’s not to say smaller companies aren’t also taking advantage of social media. They’re more agile and can react in real time, respond more quickly, than the bigger brands.”
It’s no surprise to Martell that social media is rapidly weaving its way into the DNA of management teams at companies of all sizes. “They’re using it for thought leadership, to follow thought leaders, to network, share content such as white papers,” she said.
Stay tuned to the Splash Media blog for more from the NetProspect Summer ’11 Social Business Report. In the meantime, here are some other headlines/marketing tips from the week:
This Tweet Brought To You By…
The aforementioned Twitter is gingerly testing the paid advertising waters with new promoted tweets to followers, as reported by MSNBC.com’s Athima Chansanchai.
Is Content King or Just One Royally-Useful Social Media Tactic?
Personal Life CEO Susan Bratton tells Smart Blog On Social Media’s Jesse Stanchak about her methods for measuring social media return-on-investment.
How To Ride The Curl When Hate-Surfing
Small businesses that go looking for negative mentions of their brands in social media communities should keep “Influential Marketing” author Rohit Bhargava’s advice in mind. (From American Express Open Forum).
That’s all for this week. The heat’s still on in most of the country, so keep a cool point of view and we’ll see you back here on Monday!
There is no SplashCast this week! Instead, we are very proud to bring you a guest post from SMMs Holly Rountree and Stephanie Williams featuring an interview with author CC Chapman. Enjoy!
“Content : Google :: Brains : Zombies.” – Todd Defren
There is power in publishing. Even with the recent decline in traditional media outlets, if your business is not going “Google” over content, then your business will miss out on an awesome opportunity to tell its story – and if your business has taken the plunge into all that is social, then it’s time to embrace the fact that you are indeed a publisher.
That’s the gist of author and social media consultant CC Chapman’s current take on content marketing. Splash Media, a social media marketing agency in the Dallas area, recently had an opportunity to meet Chapman, the author of Content Rules, at a recent SMC Dallas event.
Here is our chat about content and brand journalism:
Splash Media: What are the current trends in brand journalism and are companies willing to add a publishing layer to their brand architecture?
Chapman: Yes, the trend is happening, but not taking off as I thought. As more businesses are trying to figure out how to tell their stories, combined with the fact that there are a lot of journalists out there who are looking for work, some companies are waking up the fact there is more to having fun with content rather than just making a video or putting up a photo. There needs to be more true story telling, but you have to think like a journalist or a storyteller.
Splash Media: How about hiring a former journalist in-house for your business – and does this affect the mainstream news/media outlets?
Chapman: Late in 2010, we started to see journalists reaching out to more companies, mostly for freelancing. But it’s still hard to convince companies that they need their own journalist in-house. Larger or bigger companies will probably benefit from having a writer on board because bigger companies have more stories to tell – and more money to spend.
Splash Media: What about Google+? Even though not open to businesses yet, what opportunities do you think exist and what content strategies would you recommend?
Chapman: If your business is planning on using Google+, get your employees and staff on it ASAP. Let them play with the features and learn – otherwise you won’t get it down the road. In reality, it’s not drastically different from other social media channels, but I really like the Circles, especially for larger organizations with distinct audiences. You can get yourself inside each of your distinct Circles based on interest, and hopefully it plays out that way once they offer it to businesses.
If you would like to learn more about CC Chapman or his book Content Rules, please visit his website here.
Media blogger/academic Jeff Jarvis found one way to mash-up social media, politics and the messy business of democracy over the weekend; create a particularly profane Twitter hashtag venting anger over debt ceiling negotiations in Washington, and try to make it a Trending Topic. (Coverage of the resulting blogosphere discussion can be found here).
Splash Media, a leading social media agency in the Dallas area, has learned that a committee of the Texas Legislature is hoping to bring a little more G-rated productivity to its use of social media; it is researching a variety of platforms – including YouTube videos and the social publishing application Scribd – to increase constituent participation in the state lawmaking process.
Steven Polunsky, director of the Texas Senate Committee on Business and Commerce and the spokesman for its chairman, State Sen. John Carona, (R)-Dallas, told Splash Media that he hopes to use social media to help with its efforts regarding the controversial issue of payday loans.
“It’s one of the most difficult issues that we worked with last session,” Polunsky said. “It’s very emotional and it brings a lot of different people to the table. The challenge is to address the major concerns, help people to understand the issues and let them weigh in on those issues. It’s very difficult to do when you’re having meetings in a conference room that holds 12 people in Austin, Texas.”
Many Texas legislators have Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. But at Sen. Carona’s urging, his committee staff has been able to find more innovative uses for social media and technology; it has used QR codes to direct people to committee blogs, live-blogged hearings using the Posterous blogging platform and scanned written testimony in real-time. The results have brought 44,000 site-views to its blogs alone.
“That’s just whetted the Senator’s appetite, so we’re looking for more ways to bring people into the policy-making process,” Polunsky said.
Committee technology consultant Conor Kenny said he’s taking a long look at Scribd, the online document sharing/discovery service. “We would put up the text (of proposed legislation) and allow users to pin comments to that text,” Kenny told Splash Media. “The two ways we’re looking to engage the public more is with both expert and informed participation, and participation by folks who are not necessarily policy experts but who can tell us what their experience has been” with payday loans.
The potential use of YouTube videos would shorten the distance between Austin and those who can’t leave jobs to testify at hearings, “as well as being able to point members of the Senate to their constituents who are having issues and help them,” Polunsky said. “But when we look at interactive video, we need to look at how that can be preserved and become part of permanent record. I don’t have that answer yet. It’s one of the challenges for us.”
While that consideration is underway, the committee is already in the process of opening up storefronts on Yelp and Google Places. Polunsky is looking forward to reading user reviews. “We’re a government office. We’re a place where consumers can walk in and expect service. We’re not any more special than anybody else – why shouldn’t we get graded on it?”
Polunsky believes his committee is about to take some bold steps that would allow social media to fulfill its potential when it comes to public policy. “I think we can blaze some new trails, and we’re very excited,” he said. “We’re doing some things that nobody else seems to be doing.”
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Congratulate me: I am BranchOut User 883,742! And as they say in the late night infomercials, that’s not all: I have earned the Platinum Super Connector Badge, and if only 12 more of my friends join me on BranchOut, I’ll hit 60,000 people and earn a Diamond Super Connector Badge!
I know what you’re thinking (besides “Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges.”) You’re thinking: “Not another social network to worry about. First Google +, now this?”
Actually, BranchOut, the largest social network for professionals targeting your Facebook account, beat Google + to public availability. It was launched one year ago and has become buzzworthy in a hurry: it raised nearly $20 million in venture funding in May, new features have been added and the same email that said I was User No. 883,742 also said BranchOut now has “millions of users,” in the non-specific words of founder/CEO Rick Marini.
LinkedIn, with its 100 million members, may have had a recent ultra-successful IPO. But its white-collar, all-business design makes it seem less colorful than BranchOut, which of course has access to 750 million Facebook users – including any business contacts already connected to you on the network. BranchOut’s design is bristling with job-related information, and the gamification of the service – with badges and incentives to add more people – is a nice touch. LinkedIn certainly sees the threat; the company isn’t allowing its Groups to have access to BranchOut while it no doubt works on its own Facebook hookup.
Because of its Facebook integration, social media marketers owe it to themselves to follow BranchOut and see where this nascent professional network is headed, and what part it might play in client strategies for content placement, advertising, customer conversations and talent recruitment – especially for business-to-business companies. Who knows; maybe figuring out a successful way to extend a company’s brand and unearth new leads on BranchOut could earn you a Super Duper Cherry Red Extreme Awesomeness Connector Badge?
While you’re rubbing your hands together in anticipation of that honor, consider the following stories/best practice summaries you may have missed this week:
Your Obligatory Google + Update
Dave Williams, CEO of Blinq Media, echoes what our own Splash Media social media manager Adam Robinson pointed out in a recent SplashCast on Google +: its potential impact on search engine marketing. Williams makes his case in Advertising Age Digital. Meanwhile, ReelSEO’s Jeremy Scott reports (http://www.reelseo.com/dell-google-hangouts-video-chat-customer-service/) on the possibility that Dell may be using Google +’s video Hangouts for customer service.
Putting More Character Into Twitter’s 140 Characters
Are you struggling to fit a client’s marketing messages into Twitter’s 140-character limit? Does the short messaging service need to change to be more business-friendly? GigaOm’s Matthew Ingram rounds up the latest calls for Twitter to keep up with the competition – and then shoots them all down.
Twist The Cap To Social Media Refreshment With Coca-Cola
Jason Cormier at SearchEngineWatch details how one of the world’s biggest brands keeps consumers bubbling about its product in social media – and what smaller companies could learn from those efforts.
Hopefully, those items are cool enough to help you deal with the hellacious temperatures bearing down on much of the U.S. this week. Stay safe in all that heat over the weekend, and we’ll see you back here Monday!