Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’


Blogs Give Athletes Their Own Voice

Blogs Give Athletes Their Own Voice

You often hear about the marketing machines that professional athletes have become. Tiger Woods, Michael Phelps, Lebron James and countless others make up a multi-billion dollar a year endorsement industry. These athletes are corporations unto themselves and quite frankly they sound like it when they give interviews. You simply do not hear the biggest names (and as such the ones with both the largest platform and largest endorsement deals) ever say anything controversial or really take issue with what is being said about them.

We do find these same athletes online, but again their websites seem more like corporate brochures than a place that really offers any insight into their real world.  Other athletes will guest blog on ESPN or at their local sports site, but again that is so cleansed that I often wonder if it really isn’t just a PR guy who gets the player to sign off on the post – if even that. Though I do say that last piece with the caveat that all of the aforementioned athletes (along with countless others) have foundations or charities which they promote online which of course is terrific. Nonetheless I find it extremely refreshing to read and follow athletes that have turned to the Internet in much the same fashion as you or I and let their real personality and feelings come through.

I thought I would give you just a few examples of some athletes worth following online along with a brief notation of just why I find them to be “real”.

Jamal Crawford – New York Knicks – The Crawford Files - This is the story that served as the impetus for writing this post.

On Oct. 16, New York Post writer Marc Berman posted a blog titled “Crawford Doesn’t Want Marbury Around,” referring to embattled New York guard Stephon Marbury. According to Crawford, the story wasn’t true.

Crawford said he confronted Berman and told him, “Well, now I’m going to have to write about you on my blog.”

He wrote: “In typical Berman fashion after he writes something like this, he doesn’t come (to practice) the next day”…LOL. And Berman is actually a good guy, but I guess he needed something to write.”

Crawford’s blog entry drew dozens of online comments from readers, many commented on the role reversal of athletes blogging about writers. “I would’ve had that built-up frustration,” said Crawford of how blogging helps him to vent. “It was fun to get it off my chest. “I thought it was a great idea instead of just doing an interview. (Berman) writes so I can write as well. Some of my teammates thought it was cool.”

Chris Bosh (Twitter- Toronto Raptors – CB4 - If you have not seen the YouTube sensation that is Chris Bosh, there are so many videos you just must see. Chris and Baron Davis are even having a contest to see who can put up the funniest clip online.

In the video below Chris makes his bid for your votes to the 2008 NBA All-Star Game. Bosh is an NBA superstar there is no doubt of that and he has the marketing deals to go with it, but his personality shines online.

Dontrelle Willis – Florida Marlins – Dontrelle Willis writes at Yardbarker which is a corporately funded sports blog site run along the same lines as Digg. He seems to write semi-regularly and his posts have a nice fun quick hitting style.

Alex Merricks – New York Mets Prospect - This is one of my favorite blogs. Do not be scared off by the fact that it looks like (and is) the home of his management company, there are some really good stories here and there are a few other players that blog at the same site.

Serena Williams – Tennis Star - Serena’s site looks a little corporate but she lends her voice from time to time and she’s outside the basketball scope.


Followers Are Not The Same As Having “Reach”

Followers Are Not The Same As Having “Reach”

As more and more people enter the Twittesvere (I love making up words) we will see increasing numbers of “followers” on everyone’s list. I have a hundred and twenty something followers today but really what does that mean. I ask the question because I don’t really consider myself to have good “reach” with Twitter yet. Now let me explain what I mean.

Having a ton of followers is very nice, but if they never pay attention to what you tweet, what is the point of having them follow you? I guess they are bound to pay attention to the odd post here or there but that’s not at all the same as being able to have real influence or reach using Twitter. Those people who have that kind of power are the people who have what I would term a “loyal following.” The people following them are loyal in that they will generally at least glance at and skim what that person tweets. It’s not to say their followers go to every url they are sent but I will guarantee you that if @chrisbrogan gets up one morning and tells his list of followers to follow say me @michaelgcohen the next fifteen minutes my inbox will be filled with twitter followers. That’s because someone like Chris Brogan has established himself as a well educated and quick thinking (that is lots of good tweets and blog posts, not for the sake of making them) and his followers now have learned that he doesn’t speak just to be heard.

To have reach is to be able to ask a question and know you are going to get more than one answer. It does not mean that you can never use Twitter for personal gain and the promotion of yourself or your brand, in actuality the more you post outside of those and for the betterment of all, the louder your voice will be heard when you do want to promote something out of self-interest.

This is a repost of something I wrote here – Lots of good comments started there, let’s continue them here.


Yammer Is Perfect – For Lawyers

Yammer Is Perfect – For Lawyers

Most people who read this will not have had the experience of working within a large corporate law office, so I will tell you as someone with that experience it is much the same as any large corporation though I think there is obviously less emphasis on anything other than traditional marketing and now blogging – though I would argue that blogging previously was just a law firm’s paper newsletter, turned e-newsletter, turned blog.

The thing you need to understand about a law firm and the ability to use Yammer before I tell you why I think there is a real business case for it. First you need to understand that in a law firm there would need to be the ability to set permissions, not necessarily hierarchies, but there are times when two lawyers in the same firm (or two groups for that matter) are working on files for two firms that may not be legally combative but are competitive and so you the groups of lawyers are “firewalled” from talking to one another about either case. So in that scenario you need the ability to set a subject line that immediately stopped the other group of lawyers from seeing your Yammer. Seems pretty simple.

The other thing that you need to realize is that the legal community as a whole is facing perhaps the biggest recruiting and retention challenge of the last 50+ years. Young lawyers are leaving big corporate firms for government or in-house jobs that allow them to have a work-life balance. Law firms make their money as a partnership where the senior most lawyers are partners and share in the profits. In order to make these large profits there needs to be a healthy (3-1) ratio of junior lawyers to partners. As the junior lawyers leave the ratio becomes smaller and smaller, squeezing the profits of the firm further and further.

So my business case for Yammer in mid-large corporate law firms (say 70 lawyers or more).

As A Recruiting & Retention Tool

Just because the senior lawyers at most firms do not have the first clue about most technologies, you can bet your bacon that the students at every law school and the junior lawyers all are on some social networking site. Further many students are starting to Twitter so it is completely natural for them to communicate in a short and to the point manner. They also appreciate the ability to drop a quick line even when the reason has nothing to do with work. For the most part they want to use new technology to communicate and law firms are the essence of the walled garden. Everything is priviledged so a private Yammer network would open the lines of communication between young lawyers at the same firm, sharing everything from the latest decision on their motion to a case they recently researched (more on that below). It can also serve as a mechanism to bridge the gap between older more senior partners and the young lawyers at their firm. Many partners can be tough to approach face to face but if there is an ability to approach them in a less formal setting first, knowledge can be shared and a bridge built. Starting a Yammer network is not going to change the fact that you need to work 80+ hours a week, but it might make young lawyers feel like their firm is at least in tune with how they like to work.

As A Knowledge Sharing Tool

The law is built on precedents. Never do you go into a case without having done a ton of research on every possible decision at every court level to ensure that you know which ones you will argue and as importantly which ones to be prepared for the other side to argue. In a law firm there are often large libraries and often several librarians to help with your research. However it is that invaluable tidbit that comes from a more senior lawyer who has had a similar case or simply knows the law that much better that he/she can be more strategic within it that makes all the difference quite often. So being able to shoot a company wide Yammer about a specific angle of the law or asking about how to interpret a court’s decision would be an invaluable knowledge sharing tool for law firms. Many firms have been and continue to invest heavily in knowledge management databases storing everything from research memos to court decisions (though everyone uses Westlaw or Quicklaw for those), in my opinion Yammer would be a very cheap complimentary tool.


What To Learn From The Motrin Mom’s

What To Learn From The Motrin Mom’s

I start this post assuming that you have a certain level of knowledge with respect to Twitter and the impact it is having on brands – whether they choose to participate in the Twittisphere or not. Brands and branding are now deeply embedded within the Twitter world. Whether you choose to participate in the conversation (see links at end of post) going on with respect to your company or product, it is going on with or without you. So now that the power of social media and specifically Twitter are just now starting to be realized by the C-Suite (see the Business Week Series), everyone is looking for that concrete example of just why your company needs to get involved in the Twittersphere whether you had planned to or not.

Here is that example – a story on how the power of Twittering critics of a Motrin campaign actually caused Johnson & Johnson to pull it. The story is simple enough to understand but as you follow it you will see there are plenty of lessons to take away – I give you a run down of mine at the end of this post.

In a new commercial, Motrin thought a funny and edgy message would be to advertise relief for women who were suffering back pain due to what can only be described as “baby wearing”. The advertisement refers to babies continuously as “these things” asking if mother’s who carry their babies close to thier bodies cry more than mothers who do not. There must have been at least one person who looked at this ad and saw it as an edgy and funny commercial, but after the groundswell of criticism that Motrin experienced that person’s opinion no longer matters.

The campaign went online on September 30, 2008 and was circulating in magazines for a few weeks before that date but it was on Friday, November 14 that a bunch of critics began rallying together on twitter and the blogosphere and the flurry became the exact thing that Chalene Li describes in her book, it was a Groundswell.

On that Friday, Los Angeles blogger Jessica Gottlieb sent a “Tweet” to her 1,018 followers (that number has since jumped to 1,505 as I write this) and alerted them to the Motrin ad and just how offensive she found it. On Saturday, Katja Presnal (a woman who had never met Gottlieb and lived on the other side of the country) saw the Tweet and swung into action. She took a collection of Tweets and comments that had started to prolipherate through the blogosphere and she combined them into a nine minute YouTube video entitled “Motrin Ad Makes Moms Mad” which as I write this has been viewed over 78,000 times (this is a video that has been online for two weeks!). Ms. Presnal quickly Tweeted her new content to her 4,221 Twitter followers. From there the “Groundswell” began. The blogosphere and Twitterverse started blowing up with people voicing their opinions on the advertisement.

No matter what side of the conversation you were on, the fact of the matter was it was taking place and the only people conspicuously absent from the dialogue were Motrin or Johnson & Johnson. The weekend Blackberry emails and phone calls must have started because by Sunday the website promoting the ad campaign had been taken down and VP of Marketing Kathy Wildmer was apologizing to bloggers via email.

When the site was finally restored it contained a very simple message from Ms. Wildmer:

“We have heard you. On behalf of McNeil Consumer Healthcare and all of us who work on the Motrin brand, please accept our sincere apology. We are in the process of removing this ad from all media. It will, unfortunately, take a bit of time to remove it from our magazine advertising, as it is on newsstands and in distribution.”

Obviously a terrific story to prove the power of Twitter and the blogsphere, but what lessons should companies take away from it?

Listen & Learn – Then Speak

By this I mean that companies should be claiming their corporate Twitter accounts now if they have not already and whomever they task with leading the charge on their social media efforts must learn to listen before they will be heard. Twitter is not about promoting your brand in an extroverted fashion, in fact I would suggest that you rarely if ever want to simply Tweet a link to your corporate website. Twitter is about learning and listening to the audience that is discussing your brand, industry or other topic that affects your business.

We must crawl before we walk, and walk before we run (though my nephew seems to defy that) and such is the same in social media. First claim your account and then begin to follow people who have taken an interest in your brand. Follow people who are both positive and negative. Follow people who these people follow. Quickly you will see that you find yourself smack in the middle of the circle of influence with respect to your brand, product or industry.

At the same time as you are discovering who the right people to follow are you should also be paying attention to what they say, what kind of questions they ask and what type of Tweets they tend to retweet to their followers. In doing so you will learn the tenor of the conversation that is currently going on and where appropriate you can join in with suggestive links or answers. By taking the time to learn who to follow you will inevitably ensure that you do not miss the conversations going on that concern you, your product or your brand. Further you will be able to gain credibility and a voice with the people you follow if you first listen to them and learn who they are and what they want before you try to push information you think they want at them.

Be Prepared To Respond

As seen in this case a rapid response is needed in situations such as this, and not just any rapid response. Pulling down your website (or ad) or going silent (assuming you have a voice which in this case Motrin did not) in the Twitterverse are not the responses you want to have to engage in while you try to devise a better strategy.

So what can you do, David Armano has two really good suggestions on how to be prepared to respond in a situation such as this.

First if your site has to be taken down in order to respond to a crisis, re-design it so that it can be updated quickly and easily without having to throw your organization and agencies into a panic. Worry about your response strategy, not the design of your site.

Do not do nothing – Look at how quickly the mommy community organized and produced an authentic video. It’s because they don’t have legal guidelines holding them back. You probably do—but if you can figure a way around them, you can fight authenticity with authenticity, which looks less like a fight and more like a conversation anyway.

User Generated Content

User generated content has been around since the inception of the Internet and it can either be fabulous for you and your brand or it can hurt you immensly. Whether it is teenagers who make fan sites dedicated to music artists or the video generated in this instance the fact is that user generated content does not have to pass the rigourous requirements that corporately generated content does. So what can you do? In my experience you need a two-fold strategy.

First and foremost you need to be dilligent in protecting your brand from slander and content that is misleading or factually incorrect. This will often involve some legal representation and although you do not want to make enemies the simple fact is that you cannot have people creating content that leads to confusion or brand harm. However if you see user generated content that is not intended to be harmful but is actually doing harm, you might first try to engage the content’s author and explain to them what is actually incorrect and suggest some fixes. I guarantee if you lend a hand with links and other media your efforts will be rewarded ten-fold.

Second why not turn the situation around and give those people who want to make content the tools to do so. If you have a specific product image that you want to see proliferated when people discuss your product then make that image easy to find and give instructions how to download it and use it. The more tools you give to people and the easier you make it for people to build their own factually correct content, the more of it you will see. It is just that simple.

Wow, that’s a lot to digest in a single post but I think you get my point, planning and engagement are key to ensuring you do not get caught in a situation like the one Motrin found itself in.