Should Your CEO Have a Blog?

One of the central questions to ask when developing a social media strategy is whether the CEO of your company should have a blog. In Klaus Kneale’s article “CEOs Say: how to Be An Executive Blogger” on Forbes.com, Kneale takes a look at the art of CEO blogging and what it takes to get blogging right. The sub heading of Kneale’s article, “The Blogosphere can be a Minefield for Unprepared CEOs”, strikes at the heart of whether your CEO should be blogging.

Ushahidi in Forbes Magazine
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Kneale writes about Donato Montaro JR., chief executive officer of TradeKing, an online discount brokerage. Monato was an early adopter of blogging and has taken some steps to make sure he is getting his corporate blogging right. One of the steps he has taken was hiring a director of online content whose job is to ensure that “everything on the TradeKing Web site is clean, accurate and consistent with the company’s values. Including her boss’s online persona.”

Kneale reports:

But you’ve got to do it right or you shouldn’t be doing it at all. How do you do it right? It’s an open secret of corporate communications that many e-mails from CEOs aren’t actually written by CEOs. As social media take off in the corporate world, that’s not true only of e-mails. Blogs, too. Montanaro is ahead of the game in this. He has Jude Stewart draft blog posts for him (not all of them), based on meetings they have. Montanaro edits the drafts to make sure they sound like him and to add details Stewart didn’t have.

He’s careful about what he posts, too. His blog contains bits about spearfishing in the Bahamas, but it also is kept in line with the company’s marketing and customer service strategy and any legal regulations. CEOs always have to keep such things in mind when blogging.

If your CEO decides he is interested in starting a blog, there are other items he also needs to consider. Legal for one. The company needs to decide what role legal counsel will play. Will the CEO run all his posts through legal before publishing? Will the CEO coordinate with marketing and public relations about the message? How many hands will actually be involved? How will the company coordinate the publishing of each blog with its overall social media strategy? Will your CEO have an editorial calendar in place that can keep him on track?

Finally, Kneale writes that once everyone is on the same page –what becomes most crucial to the success of your CEOs blog are the headlines. “The best way to get your blog posts spreading to Facebook, Twitter, Digg and e-mail, and ultimately getting read, is by having good headlines.”

Is your CEO blogging?

How to be a Citizen Journalist Courtesy of YouTube ‘Reporters’ Center’

Do you have a story you would like to report on? Are you ready to join the ranks of the citizen journalists? If so, you might be interested in the YouTube Reporters’ Center.

According to the YouTube Reporters Center:

The YouTube Reporters’ Center is a new resource to help you learn more about how to report the news. It features some of the nation’s top journalists and news organizations sharing instructional videos with tips and advice for better reporting.

Forrester Predicts Social Media Marketing to Hit $3.1 Billion by 2014

Forrester Research has just released “US Interactive Marketing Forecast, 2009 To 2014″ and is forecasting that “Interactive marketing will near $55 billion and represent 21% of all marketing spend in 2014 as marketers shift dollars away from traditional media and toward search marketing, display advertising, email marketing, social media, and mobile marketing. This cannibalization of traditional media will bring about a decline in overall advertising budgets, death to obsolete agencies, a publisher awakening, and a new identity for Yahoo!.”

According to Mashable’s  Adam Ostrow, in the report Forrester estimates that:

Social media marketing to grow at an annual rate of 34 percent – faster than any other form of online marketing and double the average growth rate of 17 percent for all online mediums. Of course, social media is starting from a smaller base. Forrester estimates that $716 million will be spent on the medium this year, growing to $3.1 billion in 2014. At that point, social media will be a bigger marketing channel than both email and mobile, but still just a fraction of the size of search or display advertising ($31.6B and $16.9B, respectively).

What are your company’s  short and long term plans for integrating social media marketing?

mashableiPhone.JPG
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Don’t let this happen to you; United Breaks Guitars

The power of social media. Hopefully United is listening.

Is NPR the Future of News Media

In Josh Catone’s recent article in Mashable “Why NPR is the Future of Mainstrem Media“,  he describes how National Public Radio (NPR)  “is starting to look like they have the future of news all figured out. Or at least, they appear to doing a lot better at it than the rest of the traditional media.”

Catone reports that NPR now has 23.6 million people ” tuning into its broadcasts each week. In fact, NPR’s ratings have increased steadily since 2000, and they’ve managed to hold on to much of their 2008 election coverage listenership bump (with over 26 million people tuning in each week so far in 2009), unlike many of their mainstream media counterparts.”

Why has NPR been so effective at building its audience while the majority of media outlets are losing their audience? According to Catone the reason for its success lies in its three prong approach: a focus on local; a focus on social media; and a focus on obiquitous access.

NPR headquarters
Creative Commons License photo credit: NCinDC

By focusing on what is happening locally,  NPR fulfills a need that has been abandoned by most media.  Catone reports, “Focusing on local information is a very smart approach for two reasons. One, because as Schiller says, it fills a gap in coverage, and two, because many people feel that delivering and aggregating hyperlocal content will be an important part of the future of media. In 2007, Alex Iskold, the CEO of semantic web application company AdaptiveBlue, predicted the rise of hyperlocal information, indicating that extremely targeted local advertising could be the path forward for the ad industry.”

NPR has also built its audience by building a strong social media presence. NPR’s Twitter account has more than 780,00 followers and NPR has more than 400,000 FaceBook fans. In addition, NPR has more than 650 podcasts, nearly 20 blogs, as well as their own social community.

According to Catone:

Perhaps the most important aspect of NPR’s approach to new media, is that they have an organizational level commitment to allowing listeners and readers to access their content on their own terms. Schiller, who prior to joining NPR at the start of this year was the SVP-GM of The New York Times web site, told mediabisto.com that NPR aims to bring people access to content “online, mobile, whatever people want, podcasts — you name it — so that you have that same sense of the NPR experience wherever you are. As far as NPR.org — sure, I want the traffic to increase, but to me the ultimate goal is not just bringing people to this walled garden that is NPR.org.”

NPR’s ability to build its audience is certainly impressive especially at a time when so many media outlets are going under. What lessons can your organization learn from NPR’s success?

Dartmouth Justifies Cost Via YouTube

Dartmouth takes just 2 minutes and 21 seconds to justify the cost of attending. Does it work? What can your brand learn from Dartmouth?

Need to Organize Your Tweeps?

How many followers do you have on Twitter now? How many are you following? Do you know who you are following or who is following you? What causes some of your followers to stop following you?  Josh Catone writes today in “10 Twitter Tools to Organize Your Tweeps” in Mashable that if you are like many of us, “You’ve followed so many people, it’s hard to keep up, and it’s probably time to do a little housekeeping.”

Downing Street
Creative Commons License photo credit: Nils Geylen

Here are Josh’s “10 Twitter Tools” to check out:

1. Twitter Grader – Using a detailed 5 piece algorithm, Twitter Grader assigns every users you run through its system a grade from 1-100. Using this tool you can investigate how engaged the people you’re following are and that can help you decide if you want to keep following them.

2. Twinfluence – Twinfluence is a scientific approach to measuring the influence of Twitter users. It’s another set of metrics you can use to help you figure out who you want to follow.

3. Tweetcloud – One of the most important factors when deciding whether you want to follow a Twitter user is what sort of content they tweet about. If someone tweets mostly about topics you don’t care about, they might not be the best person for you to follow. Tweetcloud creates a tag cloud of a person’s tweets to give you a bird’s eye view of the type of things they tweet about.

4. Twitter Karma – Twitter Karma is a great app that lets you sort through all of your follows and see who’s not following you in return, who you have a mutual follow/follow-back relationship with, and who is following you that you’re not following back.

5. Friend or Follow – Friend or Follow does essentially the same thing as Twitter Karma, helping you figure out who your friends, follows, and fans are on Twitter. The difference is in the presentation, and it might be a little easier to use for those with a large number of follows or followers.

6. Qwitter – Once you’ve done your initial cleaning, Qwitter is a nice app that will update you via email whenever someone stops following you. It will even let you know what you tweeted that caused them to stop following you, which could be useful (if you lose five followers every time you tweet about your cat, for example, that might be a hint to stop talking so much about your cat if you want to retain followers).

7. Nest.Unclutterer – Nest.Unclutterer will automatically block Twitter users who are following more than a certain number of people or who have been inactive for a certain number of days. You can specify those thresholds and white list certain tweeps so that they are exempt from the cleaning. Nest.Unclutterer is actually less about who you’re following, and more about making sure people following you are actually friends you want to be associated with.

8. Twitoria – Twitoria scans through your Twitter account and finds anyone who has been inactive for the past week, two weeks, month, two months, six months, or year.

9. TweetSum – TweetSum digests all your new followers, rates them using what they call the DBI (”Douche Bag Index”), a number that supposedly weeds out Twitter users likely to be annoying, and then lets you easily follow them back or categorize them as tweeps you don’t want to follow. You can see a list of recent tweets for each new follower as well, which is helpful.

10. Tweepler – Tweepler is a new follower management application that lets you make quick, one click decisions about whether to follow people back or drop them into an ignore pile (out of sight, out of mind). In addition to being able to view recent tweets, Tweepler gives helpful stats about new followers, such as average tweets per day.

What are you using to organize your tweeps?

Lance Armstrong Reports on Lance Armstrong; What does it mean for your Brand?


lance and levi after stage 15 — powered by http://www.livestrong.com
Two weeks ago Lance Armstrong stopped talking to the press. Initial reports were that he took this step after being angered over some media reports that he was responsible for a rider protest that occurred in Milan during the Giro D’Italia. But what’s interesting is that he is still talking to his fans, daily. And he is talking to  his fans directly through Twitter and his video blog postings without the traditional media.
In Robert Mackey’s article in today’s New York Times Lance Armstrong Covers Lance Armstrong” Mackey writes:
Given his immense fame, and the power of the new media tools he has obviously mastered, Mr. Armstrong is now free to cut out the middle man and go straight to the people.

Ever the competitor, Mr. Armstrong even seems to be enjoying tweaking his new rivals in the press corps, secure in the knowledge that he is scooping them hour after hour as he posts regular updates to his chatty Twitter feed, where he banters with other cyclists, comments on his comeback and even answers questions from some of his more than 933,000 followers.Last week he even took a moment to post this comment on a news report saying that some members of the cycling media had stopped quoting his tweets, in an effort to force him to engage with them:

Bitter sports reporters are boycotting @lancearmstrong’s Tweets. Good luck with that, and welcome to 2009.
Whether you applaud Lance for his media blackout or not what lessons can your brand take from his use of social media to stay in touch with his audience?

Big Pharma Beginning to Join Social Media Party

Marissa Miley and Rich Thomaselli reported in Ad Age last week that “Big Pharma is lumbering into the digital realm, using a growing chunk of its $4.7 billion DTC dollars to reach patients and prescribers on blogs, Twitter and YouTube.”

While this might not seem newsworthy to most, according to the article “Big Pharma Finally Taking Big Steps to Reach Patients With Digital Media” is big news to anyone following the adoption of social media in the Pharma space. Miley and Thomaselli found that “Johnson & Johnson keeps a respected and popular blog; Novartis, Boehringer Ingelheim and AstraZeneca all use Twitter to deliver news about their respective companies; and most recently, Sanofi-Aventis and AstraZeneca each launched branded YouTube channels to reach certain patient groups.”

Why has it taken Big Pharma so long to begin to adopt social media? Mark Senak, senior VP at Fleishman Hillard and author of the blog, Eye on FDA is quoted in the article, “They’re late to the game because no one wants to get a warning letter.”

Miley and Thomselli write:

To further illustrate the complexities of a digital world without clear DTC guidelines, it took AstraZeneca more than eight months of meetings with a team of 15 to 20 company experts from the      regulatory, legal, compliance, corporate, and brand management departments before it put up a YouTube channel for its asthma drug Symbicort. “The social-media space is very much a gray area,” said Dana Settembrino, senior brand communications manager for the drug. “In that sense it makes it challenging.”

The good news is that Big Pharma is taking steps to engage their customers that will hopefully in the end benefit their customers around the world that are suffering from health problems. You can read the entire article here.

Pharma and Social Media; Can They Coexist

For nearly five years (2003-2008) I was the Public Relations counsel for a provider of predictive analytics and reporting software solutions that counted many of the world’s top pharmaceutical companies as its customers. My client’s software enabled life science and pharmaceutical researchers and analysts in drug discovery, development and clinical trials to more efficiently and accurately mine their data and utilize predictive analytics for their analysis. The work these researchers and analysts are doing is exciting and newsworthy.

However, there were many obstacles we ran into in getting the news out about the progress and innovation these researchers were achieving. The biggest hurdle was not with the individual researchers and analysts, but instead with the pharmaceutical companies’ corporate public relations and legal departments. So this week I was intrigued to see on Twitter that the April issue of Pharma Marketing News was “all about pharma & social media.”

Creation of Adam
Creative Commons License photo credit: Sebastian Bergmann

John Mack sets the stage for the issue by writing in the article “Social Media Opportunity or Nightmare” :

“Michelangelo’s nightmarish painting Last Judgement includes the image of a poor soul being dragged down to Hell by the devil’s agents. That image often comes to mind when I hear proponents of social media trying to persuade pharma marketers to just “dip their toe” in the social media waters. The other image I see is a shark lurking just below the water’s surface!”

Mack went on to argue:

“Many pharma marketers within drug companies and within agencies that work for drug companies are trying to move the needle forward to develop guidelines that the industry can follow. So far, however, they have left patients, physicians and other stakeholders out of the discussion. They have forgotten that patient empowerment built the very social networks that they wish to engage in. Personally, I believe pharmaceutical companies need to become truly patient-centric companies BEFORE they can even consider engaging in social media.”

Mack’s article reminded me of Jeremy Owyang’s blog “Troubled, Some Pharmaceuticals Turn a Blind Eye to the Blogosphere” from June 14, 2008 . In Owyang’s blog he reports:

“While this may not hold true for every pharmaceutical company, I recently met one who had banned it’s employees from monitoring blogs, social media and the online conversation.
[Why did this pharma company ban their employees to monitor blogs? If a patient complained about a treatment or medicine having ill-effects, then the pharma would would be liable to take action]. Responding to every customer can be very, very costly, considering how many people may be talking about medicines, often anonymously in online forums.”

It’s exciting to see that the pharmaceutical industry is now realizing it needs to be discussing and establishing guidelines for social media. Will pharma and social media be able to coexist? What do you think?