Twitter rules for journalists

Julie Posetti has posted a set of guidelines for journalists when using Twitter.

You will find some of these obvious and others contradictory and meaningless (be human, be honest but don’t bitch about your workplace), but kudos for trying to frame Twitter in a context that some journalists can understand — or choose to ignore.

Top 20 Take Away Tips for Tweeting Journos

1) Think before you tweet — you can’t delete an indiscreet tweet! (Well, you can, but it will survive in Twitter search for three months and it’s likely live on as cached copy somewhere.)
2) Think carefully about what you’re re-tweeting and acknowledge if it’s unsubstantiated.
3) Be an active twit: tweet daily if you want your followers to stick.
4) Determine your Twitter identity.
5) Be human; be honest; be open; be active.
6) Don’t lock your account if you want to use Twitter for reporting purposes — this fosters distrust.
7) Twitter is a community, not just a one-way conversation or broadcast channel — actively engage.
8) Check if your employer has a social media policy.
9) Be cautious when tweeting about your employer/workplace/colleagues.
10) Be a judicious follower — don’t be stingy but avoid following everyone as your list grows to avoid tweet bombardment.
11) If you quote a tweet, attribute it.
12) Expect your competitors to steal your leads if you tweet about them.
13) Don’t tweet while angry or drunk.
14) Avoid racist, sexist, bigoted and otherwise offensive tweets and never abuse a follower.
15) Scrutinize crowdsourced stories closely.
16) Find people to follow. Foster followers by pilfering the lists of other twits.
17) Twitter is a ‘time vampire’ (via @anne_brand) — you don’t need to keep track of all tweets, so dip in and out through the day.
18) Prevent information overload by using an application such as Tweetdeck.
19) Add applications to your Internet-enabled mobile device to allow live-tweeting on the road.
20) Add value to your tweets with links, Twitpic and other applications for audio and video.


How to create a social media strategy

David Griner has outlined a simple strategy to kick off a social media initiative in this presentation.

R.O.I of social media

Some interesting thoughts from a social media panel at New England Xpo for Business at Boston by Beth Perdue, the editor of the New England Business Bulletin:

1. TRANSPARENCY: The marketing mentality is shifting to one that emphasizes authenticity and transparency, creates two-way conversations, and looks to build assets in relationships including those with influential bloggers and Twitter followers.

“I used to talk about manipulation,” said Bob Cargill, creative director for Nowspeed Marketing. “Now I preach the truth and nothing but the truth. That’s a big shift.”

2. CONTENT MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER: Part of that shift is because, with a Web-based presence, content becomes more important than ever. Hubspot vice president of inbound marketing Mike Volpe, said companies should be thinking more like publishers than salesmen.

Each part of a business’ Internet presence becomes one piece of its content, he said, rattling off a list that includes blogs, video and sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

“Promoting this content in social media helps attract more people to it, which in turn makes it more likely you will get links. Links are what power SEO, so more links will attract more people to your content, which can contribute more followers and friends in social media,” he said in a blog posting that followed the panel discussion.

3. CUSTOMERS ARE IN CONTROL OF YOUR BRAND: One idea raised by the panel that companies may need to adjust to is that with social media, a company’s well-crafted message gets picked up by customers who reshape and comment on it. In other words, companies no longer control their own message.

“Your consumer is taking that message … they are co-creating with that message and the content that you developed,” said Marc Fireman, vice president for Fleishman-Hillard’s Digital Group.

Where marketing used to be done by getting your message out to millions of people and expecting a small percentage to connect back, today the message gets sent and resent, bouncing around to friends, bloggers, and others, potentially growing from an initial 500 top influencers to 5,000 then to 5 million, Fireman said.

“You need people to be the voice of your brand,” he said.

4. R.O.I. IS LONGTERM: When considering what content to provide, Fireman said it should provide relevance and benefit to consumers. Content, he said, can’t just be about getting your message out.

“You have to think outside the ‘I have to make a sale today,’ (box),” he said.

The hard truth, the group said, is that creating content is an investment in time and the ROI you receive may be long term.

But it exists, panelists said. In fact, Volpe said that for Internet marketing software start-up Hubspot, “social media is one of our top five sources of leads.”

Volpe stressed that building followers today is comparable to how companies have traditionally invested in physical assets – like building a new manufacturing plant.

“These are assets — these aren’t things that go away,” he said.

5. DIVE IN NOW: For those still on the fence, Fireman suggests just starting.

John Kranz, author of “Writing Copy for Dummies,” agreed. Just watch and read, he suggested.

“Don’t feel like you have to immediately say something,” he said.

Volpe suggested your company may already be the subject of online conversation and you’re better off knowing that — whether the news is good or bad.

To find out, he said, go to Twitter Search and type in your company name.

“You might as well be there to hear and respond,” he said, adding, “You cannot hide.”

Wall Street Journal’s silly rules on social media

[via Editor & Publisher]

Just to show you how far removed and laughable the supposedly “smartest people in the room on journalism” are, here are the recent rules introduced by WSJ for its staff’s social media activities:

* Don’t recruit friends or family to promote or defend your work.
* Consult your editor before “connecting” to or “friending” any reporting contacts who may need to be treated as confidential sources. Openly “friending” sources is akin to publicly publishing your Rolodex.
* Let our coverage speak for itself, and don’t detail how an article was reported, written or edited.
* Don’t discuss articles that haven’t been published, meetings you’ve attended or plan to attend with staff or sources, or interviews that you’ve conducted.
* Don’t disparage the work of colleagues or competitors or aggressively promote your coverage.
* Don’t engage in any impolite dialogue with those who may challenge your work — no matter how rude or provocative they may seem.
* Avoid giving highly-tailored, specific advice to any individual on Dow Jones sites. Phrases such as “Travel agents are saying the best deals are X and Y…” are acceptable while counseling a reader “You should choose X…” is not. Giving generalized advice is the best approach.
* All postings on Dow Jones sites that may be controversial or that deal with sensitive subjects need to be cleared with your editor before posting.
* Business and pleasure should not be mixed on services like Twitter. Common sense should prevail, but if you are in doubt about the appropriateness of a Tweet or posting, discuss it with your editor before sending.


Can a hospital use social media?

Ed Bennett’s presentation on social media adoption at University of Maryland Medical System:

Tweeting a live orchestral performance

What role has social media in promoting orchestras?

Canadian blogger Rob Cooper (pic above), a “former fat guy”, answers that question when he was recently invited to live-tweet a performance by the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (ESO).

We stumbled upon him after searching for a related case study for our participants at a recent Corporate Social Media training workshop.

Rob was kind enough to respond via Facebook:

Q1. Were you invited randomly or did the ESO have some contact with you before?

Rob: My fiance had been invited to blog the ESO symphony back in spring of 2008. I went as her guest and helped her with the technical issues. Bloggers at that time had to sit in a room where we could see the orchestra, but heard piped in sound.

The same bloggers were invited back to live blog the “symphony in the park”, an outdoors venue in one of our parks here. William Tell’s 1812 overture was featured along with our Canadian military shooting the guns at the finale.

I was not asked to, but chose to tweet the event. When we left, I spoke with the fellow who had invited my fiance and told him that I had tweeted it. He was not aware of twitter at the time. This was the summer of 2008.

Then, yes, we were both asked to come back, to blog and to live tweet this specific ESO performance once again. Now Twitter was more mainstream and the media relations guy for the ESO was making his public move into the twittersphere.

Q2. What did you use to live-tweet – a Blackberry?

Rob: Live tweeted with my Blackberry Bold

Q3. Were the live-tweeters seated together – and was your presence and activity during the performance obtrusive to the others in your seating area?

Rob: We were seated together at the very back of one section with a wall behind us. The level above us had a bit of a balcony, so we were under it. Our screens and keypad clicking did not bother anyone. Bloggers were NOT allowed to blog within the chamber, but tweeters could use their phones. I asked a blogger who was in front of me (taking notes by pen and paper) if my keypad clicks bothered him. He did not hear them at all.

Photographs from within the building are not possible. Cameras are not allowed. However, I turned off the flash on my Blackberry and snapped a shot because the twittersphere was asking for a photo. I uploaded it to Twitpic with the disclaimer that I might not be asked back.

I’m pretty sure the no photo rule is because of disruptions. I did everything I could do so that the photo from my cellphone would not cause a disruption.

Q4. Orchestral halls here have strict policies barring all forms of recording equipment and photography. Do you think in future, like the ESO, they need to change this policy, or be more flexible towards reaching out to bloggers, tweeters and other social media enthusiasts?

Rob: I think there could be a change allowing for a section of tweeters, but no need to allow phones or cameras throughout the orchestral hall. I think that the changes should be gradual.

To mix technology with the arts has to introduced slowly. There are hardliners who want their rules so they can appreciate the music. I think they “think” there will be disruptions when there clearly was not.

So… flexibility. Give some space where the tweeters can tweet. Computers are another issue all together. Big, bulky and the screens throw off a lot of light so no to the computers.

Q5.How else can ESO and other orchestras engage bloggers and tweeters?

Rob: How can they engage us? Don’t really have an answer. Tweeting is quickly becoming mainstream. I think nothing of popping open my phone and sending off a tweet as I think about it. They’re random thoughts or tweets that I simply want to share. It’s the same as sending a text message, so it seems perfectly normal to open up the Blackberry while in the orchestral hall. One has to be respectful of the space we’re in as well.

Other than that, I’m not quite sure I understand or have an answer for this question.

The whole tweeting thing would be confusing to someone not aware of what it is or how it works. That does not mean they should stop it, that’s for sure. One can “know” about Facebook, not be involved, but still appreciate the power it has to connect. Same for text messaging, tweeting and the like.

When it comes right down to it, the orchestral hall is a place to be respectful of the other patrons there to enjoy the arts. I for one respect that. If you’re “at” the symphony, my guess is that you’re educated enough to understand how reverend it is.

Below is a video of the bloggers and tweeters invited by the ESO:

NOTE: Review Rob’s tweets here and check out Rob’s fiance Darlene Hildebrandt’s blog post of event here. (She’s a photographer and has just released a book entitled “Visions of Peru” to raise money for the children of Peru.)

NOTE2: Mack D Male also live-tweeted at the ESO, along with others, earlier. Look at his blogpost here.

NOTE3: The ESO has a blog, Youtube channel, Facebook page and of course is on Twitter too.

ESO Music Director William Eddins has his own blog at Sticks and Drones.

How the Zappos CEO made my day

I was planning to share a case study on online retailer Zappos with the participants in the Corporate Social Media workshop we’re conducting tomorrow.

In my research, found an interview of Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh and Loic Le Meur in a bathroom, in which he says he would be happy to send a free copy of the Zappos Culture Book to anyone upon request.

Wrote to Tony late Wednesday night and received this reply from one Dylan Morris:

“Hello Julian,

“Thank you for contacting Tony with your feedback! He reads every email he receives and asked me to respond on his behalf so you could receive a timely response. Tony receives over 2,000 emails each day, and has handpicked a small team to help him address some of them. He would have responded directly, but he doesn’t have the hands necessary to type up 2,000 responses at the same time. We are currently working on replacing Tony’s body with one from an octopus, so look for more Tony responses in the near future!

“We would be happy to send you a Culture Book! We’ve loaded one up in our Zappos mailing cannon and blasted one off to you.”

Dylan provided other helpful info and even invited me to Las Vegas for a tour of their HQ. Very cool.

Today’s Monday and the UPS guy showed up at my door with a package. Yes, it is the Zappos Culture Book 2008 – flown over 14,000kms in about 96 hours from the time I first sent the email. (It would usually take a two weeks to a month for such a delivery from USA to Malaysia.)

Thanks Tony and Dylan. You made my day. Now, I know why you make US$1b in annual sales.

Related links:
Tony Hsieh at Web 2.0 Summit
Zappos on ABC’s Nightline
What Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh Could Teach Ford CEO About Twitter

Lee Aase and Mayo Clinic

Was quoted in an article by Chen May Yee of on Lee Aase, who does an amazing job at Mayo Clinic with social media.

“Mayo turns to social media to reach out to potential patients”


A few years ago, Lee Aase was just another flack for the Mayo Clinic, issuing press releases on cue and calling news conferences for doctors to present carefully scripted messages.

These days, Aase is a walking, talking, blogging, Twittering, Facebooking, YouTubing force who’s blasting Mayo into the social networking world faster than you can say “Mayo Brothers.”

Corporations across the country, from Starbucks to Dell, are using social media — free online sites where users connect with thousands of others — to reach customers. But hospitals have always been conservative in marketing to patients. And Mayo, more than 100 years old, may be the most conservative of all.

Yet out of Mayo has come Aase. Officially Mayo’s manager for syndication and social media, he has emerged a rock star in that space where social media and health care marketing overlap.

A grandfather from Austin, Minn., Aase now travels the country to speak at conferences and runs his own virtual Social Media University, Global (SMUG), a website with courses such as Blogging101. Allina Hospitals and Clinics in the Twin Cities invited him in to show them how it’s done. He was interviewed by Shel Israel, a Silicon Valley media guru, for the upcoming book “Twitterville.”


By the way, site really suffers for failing to link out to the websites it mentions and not providing the Read Article In A Single-Page button.

Here is my original response:

I stumbled on Lee Aase’s presentation on Patient/Provider partnerships at while researching on a two-day customized training for media relations and marketing staff of a private hospital in Malacca.

Lee was very helpful and sent me his slides. He is an amazing guy. I think as a social media evangelist he is doing great stuff for Mayo.

The only way to “push” for social media adoption is to do extensive training, training and training and his idea to set up S.M.U.G was a stroke of genius.

By promoting the myriad free resources on the net that hospitals can leverage on to connect and engage with patients; with interns planning stints in Rochester; with doctors having to learn “webside manners” online – he is fishing where the fish are.

Branding and marketing has moved online in a big way. And it cuts across all industries.

In 2009, here are the facts: If you want to connect with people – your prospects, your future customers/patients, your future medical personnel, the media (that’s us) – you need to go where the people are and start conversations and engage with them on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, ie. via social networks, blogs, podcasts, photo- and video-sharing sites and patient-led support groups and forums. You need to be found by the Great Reputation Management Machine: Google search. and and the whole medical tourism phenomenon are examples of Healthcare 2.0 that could not have happened without the net.

We really are in the middle of a revolution and Aase “gets it”. Unfortunately, some people in our profession — journalism — saw it coming but just ignored it. Tech journalism got commoditized very quickly. I was there. I saw it happen. The websites I wrote for blinked off the radar.

Medical care, to use Friedman’s overused word, is being flattened. Private hospitals know it. They can run from it or embrace it. On our end of the world, I found Bumrungrad in Thailand was another great example of medical tourism that is competing on a global scale. Look at all the coverage they are getting

That’s the future? It’s already here — right on our backdoor!

Hope this is helpful.


Corporations reluctant embrace of social media

Two articles point to how corporations are dealing with the viral nature of social media and either getting it or completely fumbling.

Corporate America’s messy embrace of new media – LATimes
FaceBook puts fizz in Coke – FT

1. Corporations need to understand there is a latent, under-served fan base that wants to connect and engage with their brands online. Tap into it!

2. If you are late coming to the party in your honour, make friends with the defacto host fast. (Consider the “Susan Boyle effect“, where Britain’s Got Talent franchise owner has allowed the video to run riot online, winning millions more fans, whereas the American Idol franchise counterpart has issued takedown notices for 8 years and continues to do so.)

3. In a crisis, if it’s good news — get it out fast, if it’s bad news — get it out faster.

Mashed-up version of the two articles follows below:

When two Coca-Cola enthusiasts created a Facebook fan page in honour of their favourite soft drink last year, they could not have known it would become one of the social network site’s most popular – second only to Barack Obama’s.

The Coca-Cola fan page was created by Dusty Sorg, a Los Angeles-based actor, who maintained it with his friend Michael Jedrzejewski, a writer.

“I was already on Facebook a lot and I didn’t see any Coke pages that seemed very official,” says Mr Sorg. So he started the page in August, invited his friends, and watched it grow. And grow and grow and grow.

By December, when Facebook called Coca-Cola to alert it that the page violated the social network’s terms of service because it wasn’t operated by the trademark owner, it already had a million fans. “Take over the site,” Facebook apparently told Coke, “or we’ll take it down.”

Instead, the beverage maker flew the pair to its Atlanta headquarters in January, took them to a hockey game, gave them a VIP tour of the Coke museum and let them play Eric Clapton’s guitar, then proposed that they officially run the page for the company. The two agreed. It now has more than 3.3 million users.

What spurred the enormous growth remains something of a mystery. There were already more than 200 Coke-related fan pages on Facebook. Michael Donnelly, Coca-Cola’s group director of worldwide interactive marketing, who had been monitoring the page since October, believes it may have been as simple as a good visual cue. “They chose a great image,” he says. “It was a high-resolution picture of a can of cold Coke, and it was just perfect.”

“It’s an excellent example of a partnership between the brand and the consumer,” says Kristen Smith, executive director of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association.
“Coke could have shut it down or could have said ‘We want to manage it’, but have now created a great collaboration.”

Yet engaging with consumers can be dangerous, too. Skittles learned that last month when it invited users to post Twitter-like comments on a page that prominently displayed its logo. Along with positive comments appeared a colorful variety of profane ones.

“There’s a mob mentality to social tools where people quickly try to put fuel on the fire, really encouraging brand damage and damage to individuals,” said Jeremiah Owyang, a senior analyst at Forrester Research.

To stay safe in a social-media minefield, he said, brands need to make sure to secure their own domain names in social-media environments, before any squatters do,- and then start to build a community there. When a crisis happens, online or off, brands can then use that community to their advantage.

That’s the opposite of how Hasbro Inc. reacted last year when it sued the India-based creators of Scrabulous, the popular Scrabble-like game on Facebook,- and forced them to take it down. Fans of the game formed “Save Scrabulous” pages on Facebook and posted angry messages about Hasbro. When a company-sanctioned version of the game appeared sometime later, fewer returned to play.

Sending in the legal posse is an old-fashioned response in the new media age, Owyang said. “It creates so much more buzz — people wonder why you would beat up your most passionate customers.”

Other companies may find that unexpected uses of their brands online give rise to immediate PR nightmares.

A little more than a week ago, a video showed up online showing two Domino’s employees laughing as they prepared food in a deliberately unsanitary way.

The video quickly generated hundreds of thousands of views.

The pizza company’s initial instinct was to try to dispose of the situation quietly by responding only to concerned consumers who had seen the video, rather than risk broadening its exposure by making a public statement.

But chatter about the problem spilled over into Twitter, whose expansive micro-messaging network is becoming an online circulatory system for news, pumping information between media organs, consumers and businesses themselves.

Domino’s posted a YouTube response
of its own, and even established a Twitter account to answer direct questions from customers.

“If something happens in this medium, it’s going to automatically jump to the next,” Domino’s spokesman Tim McIntyre said. “So we might as well talk to everybody at the same time.”

When Amazon was faced with its own consumer outcry recently, it decided to forgo the social-media route.

Without warning, many gay- and lesbian-themed books began disappearing from the site’s search results and sales rankings. The Twittersphere instantly saw red, accusing the company of discrimination and censorship and demanding a response.

But >Amazon stayed mostly mum. The company first waited most of a day only to cite an unspecified “glitch,” and when that vagueness only fomented the outrage, it released a second clipped statement blaming a “cataloging error.”

But Twitter abhors a vacuum, and commenters rapidly filled Amazon’s silence with boycott threats, petitions and caustic accusations, an outcome that suggests that the growth of social media may be driving up the cost of inaction.

(Demi and Ashton Kutcher beaming their win on
When lightweight actor Ashton Kutcher challenged CNN in a race to get 1 million followers an odd quirk of the much-hyped race was that CNN hadn’t actually owned the account until a few days earlier.

For two years, the CNNBrk account (for breaking news) had been created, maintained, and run by a 25-year-old British Web developer who just wanted a way to beam short news alerts to his cell phone.

But when the cable network found that James Cox had appropriated its name and content, it took a direction that might seem a bit surprising. Instead of suing Cox or trying to shut down the account, the cable network quietly hired him to run it, then acquired it last week when Cox was visiting the company’s Atlanta headquarters.

“We’ve been managing the feed through him,” said a CNN spokesman, noting the huge increase in the number of Twitter followers since the November election. “As Twitter took off and became more prominent, we decided it was time to take our engagement and make it a marriage.”

The CNNbrk Twitter account was a hit probably because it was useful to hundreds of thousands, and now a million other fans beyond Cox’s wildest dreams.

The Coca-Cola fan page was a hit thanks to a combination of weak competition and good timing and pretty pictures. It had a momentum of its own, and a community loyal to its quirky founders. Had Coke set up the page itself or taken it over, there is no guarantee it would still be thriving.

Indeed, the most effective thing Coca-Cola and CNN did – and perhaps the best lesson for other companies – was not getting in the way.

Making a case for social media in a recession

A Brian Solis article in the Social Computing Journal asks “Is Social Media Recession-Proof?“.


– While dollars evaporate from traditional budgets previously earmarked for advertising, public relations, events, and other ROI elusive programs, the general sentiment seems to recognize Social Media as a cost efficient experiment for maintaining visibility without falling completely off the radar screens of potential customers, stakeholders, and influencers.”

– Forrester’s Jeremiah Owyang recently published a report asking B2B orgs this: “Assuming that the economy is in recession in the next six months, how would you change your investment in social media overall?” A massive 53% intended to increase their investment while 42% said it would stay the same and 5% said they would decrease spending.

– In a report published by Aberdeen Group, 63% of surveyed companies intended on increasing social media budgets in 2009.

– Sergio Balegno of MarketingSherpa from a Social Media Marketing and PR Benchmark Survey (Dec 2008)says about 80 percent of small, medium and large businesses claimed they’re embracing and practicing some form of social media in outbound marketing.

[Click to enlarge]

– Social media scores high on increasing brand reputation, brand awareness, search engine rankings and website traffic but seems to meander towards less effective for generating leads, internal communications, and online sales.

[Click to enlarge]

– Some effective tactics include: Online news release distribution, User reviews or ratings, Blogger or online journalist relations, Forums or discussion groups and Blogging on a company blog.

[Click to enlarge]
Social Computing Journal
Is Social Media Recession-Proof

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