Washington Post uses social media for breaking news

The Washington Post turned to social media to get ahead of the real-time news cycle as details of a Capitol shooting emerged. Here’s how they did it –

1. Update website and social networks. The editors quickly updated the website to demonstrate they were aware of the breaking news – even though they did not have any details to report.
wp-tweet-news

2. Source generation. Perhaps even better, they gave visitors an Continue reading “Washington Post uses social media for breaking news”

Public rush to Twitter for real-time news of Boston Marathon tragedy

Screen shot 2013-04-15 at 3.22.02 PMPublic dissatisfaction with the pace at which mainstream media reports the news is once again being highlighted  by the recent Boston Marathon tragedy. Twitter users turned the service into a media outlet and was perhaps the first to tell the world that a bombing had occurred  near the marathon’s finish line.

Within minutes, the network also thrust Broadcastify into the spotlight – giving users Continue reading “Public rush to Twitter for real-time news of Boston Marathon tragedy”

How to Use Twitter to Promote Events

Over 200 million folks use Twitter to keep up with brands, each other, snark, and a wide range of topics. Twitter is also great for promoting – and organizing events (as evidenced by TweetUps). Planning a conference, concert or a book signing?  Adding Twitter to your marketing plan can help boost your guest list.

If you already have a presence on Twitter, here are three tips for using Twitter to get word out about your event (if you don’t have a Twitter presence, start here) –

1. Location, location, location – target your locals
Tweeting your event to the universe and hoping the right person will see it is not the way to go. Use hashtags to include your tweets in searches for your event’s city or venue. For example, if you are hosting an event at the 9:30 Club in Washington DC, your tweet could look something like this: “Who’s coming to the Thievery Corp show at the #930club? Tix still available. #WashingtonDC.”

2. Partnerships – friends influencing @friends
If your invited guests are using Twitter, partner with them to promote the event – the more popular they are, the better. Guests that have a strong following (speakers, musicians, authors etc.) can be great ambassadors for your event  – get them to share details of the event via Twitter and their other networks. Got performers? Target their followers by mentioning them in your tweets  – and don’t foget to use hastags.

3. Promo basics – what’s in your goodie bag?
It doesn’t matter what type of event you are tasked with promoting or where you’re promoting it; follow the basics! Give your prospects an incentive to attend your event – offer rewards for registering. Teasers are also great for building a buzz about your event. Tweet “behind the scenes” photos and video interviews so prospects can get a taste of what to expect.

Follow the steps above (that are appropriate for your event) and watch your conversion rate climb. Happy promoting!

Facebook Copies Twitter’s Real-Time Stream

Facebook may be the worlds largest social network, but the platform still needs great ideas to stay competitive . So where are they finding those ideas? Just about everywhere, including Twitter – their semi-competitor.

This week Facebook launched “Ticker”, their real-time activity stream that mirrors Twitter’s user experience. Ticker is located on the right-hand side of Facebook users profiles and displays friends activity in Twitter’s ticker style. When users hover over their friends’ activity, they are presented with the opportunity to view the full story or join a friend’s conversation as it happens.

The company launched this feature to give users a more complete picture of what their friends are doing in real-time. The Ticker includes live stories—things like status updates, friendships, photos, videos, links, likes and comments.Facebook Copies Twitter

Hopefully this is not a feature users find annoying because you can’t close Ticker. Users can hide the ticker, make it smaller or control the length of the  feature – but they can’t close it. They can also hide some stories that appear in the ticker which will be visible when viewing their own profiles, business pages or a friend’s profile.

Is this a great Facebook update for businesses?
This is great if you have a page on the network for promoting your business because every time your supporters interact with your page or apps, their friends will know and hopefully follow suit. Facebook Page Likes, App Share, App usage, and Sponsored Stories are  all eligible to appear in Ticker for others to see. For example, if you developed a game app for Facebook to generate interest in your business or ideas, Apps can publish stories to announce that your subscribers are using or playing with your app (Ex: “Joe is playing Farmville”).

There are two valuable takeaways from all of this –
1. You’ve gotta keep innovating to stay relevant and competitive even if you are an industry leader.
2. It’s always okay to copy a good idea — the big guys do it all the time.

Never re-invent a wheel!

Say goodbye to e-blasts and hello to engagement

one way e-communication via eblastIf you are sending “e-blasts” to your customers or supporters – please, stop doing it now. This outdated style of email marketing has the same results as fax broadcasts of press releases; your message is ending up in your recipient’s trash.

While email marketing is still an effective way to communicate with an audience, the one-way communication style of the “e-blast” is over. Messaging your subscribers today means doing more than sending emails with commands like “buy, buy”, “click, click”, or, “register now!” If you want to communicate with your subscribers effectively, think “engagement”.

Engaging your subscribers means looping them into a two- or multi-way communication versus subjecting them to one-way communication. The fact is, social media have raised the overall expectations of e-communications to this level. The prevalence of social networks and their popularity in comparison to Websites suggests that subscribers are more drawn to engagement and the communication arena where they are able to give feedback and participate.

E-blasts - do they work?
Example of an E-blast

Here are examples of steps you can take to make these three popular email marketing asks more appealing:

1. Donate. You’ve stated your worthy cause and have asked for a generous donation. Make it engaging by inviting your subscriber to join a community of volunteers, attend a Meetup in their area or present an opportunity for your would-be donors to get up close and personal with a beneficiary or your organization’s leadership. Even if most of your subscribers don’t take up the invitation to engage, the fact that you present this opportunity will help to legitimize your fund-raising effort.

2. Register. You’ve stated the what, where, when and have asked your recipient to “REGISTER NOW!” Make it engaging by inviting your subscribers to also meet other registrants in your organization’s social network on Facebook or elsewhere. Email solicitation for event registration typically have the recipient asking “is this worth my time and money?”, “will I know anyone there?” or “who’s going?”. Creating a social network around your event is a great way to create buzz and a community that will engage your subscribers – and hopefully motive them to register.

3. Buy. You’ve included a nice big picture of your product with an attractive sale price – and a big “Buy Now!” button. Make it engaging by including the opportunity to share or “Like” the product on Facebook and other networks and allow subscribers to share their thoughts, enthusiasm or questions about your product in their network of friends and family. This simple step could help promote your product further than you imagined.

A popular concern for marketers considering a more engaging e-communication strategy is negative feedback. But the best approach to managing negative sentiment is to create the space for it and be a part of the conversation. So say goodbye one-way communication via e-blasts, and hello to engagement and higher conversion rates!

Spirit Airlines Jumps on Hard to Resist ‘Weiner’ Keyword – Should You?

Spirit jumps on weiner
High performance keyword?

They say, ‘any publicity is good publicity’, but embattled U.S. Congressman Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) may not be in agreement with that statement these days. The Congressman’s ‘x-rated’ sexting has made him both a laughing stock and a trending topic. But while his colleagues were busy rebuking him, Spirit Airlines’ marketing team were busy launching their “Want To See Our Weiner?” e-mail marketing campaign – all puns intended.

Thousands of Spirit Airlines customers got an email today with the subject line “Want To See Our Weiner?”, announcing their “BIG Weiner Sale” with “Fares Too HARD to Resist” (yes, emphasis on ‘big’ and ‘hard’ included). No word yet on open rate, unsubscribe or click rates but this bold move is bound to have businesses wondering if it is ever a good idea to capitalize on trending topics from negative press.

If you are not sure jumping on a negative trending keyword is for you, here are three steps you can take to get in the limelight.

  1. Start your own trending keywords – promote your events, sales and overall business with keywords that are powerful enough to anchor your campaign. Seasonal keywords are great examples – “summer”, “Memorial Day”, “pool party” are just a few.
  2. Associate your brand with positive trending keywords. “International Women’s Day”, “Yoga”, or “love” could do the trick.
  3. Find your customers funny bone – How? Ask them. You can get a sense of whether your customers might find something funny or irritating by asking them about their favorite TV shows, songs and pastime. You might be surprised by what you learn.

One thing’s for sure – if Spirit Airlines’ “Want To See Our Weiner?” e-mail campaign is a success, we’ll be seeing a lot more bad puns in future interactive marketing taglines.

How Realtime Tech Can Highlight and Fix Biz Failures; Bikeshare review

Capital Bikeshare Realtime Challenges
Capital Bikeshare in Realtime

One company that’s falling down on the job of using negative sentiments to improve its service is Capital Bikeshare in Washington DC. Subscribers to Capital Bikeshare’s service have access to 1,100 bicycles at 110 stations throughout the city. They pay an annual fee and can check out a bike for 30 minutes at a time – usually for short trips and errands around the city. If they keep the bike for longer, they pay a nominal fee.

Realtime #fail share
Bikeshare is a great idea – in fact, I’m a subscriber. But the service is plagued with negative sentiments from dissatisfied subscribers broadcasting their frustrations via twitter and other mobile applications. A survey of a few real-time search engines yielded the following negative sentiments:

  • Short supply of bikes at popular docking stations
  • Subscribers lucky enough to get a bike for their morning commutes can’t find a docking station when they arrive at their destinations in the busy business district
  • Subscribers unable to find a dock must pay to wait for one to open up (and bear the inconvenience of being late for appointments etc.)

Realtime #fail saves
It appears Capital Bikeshare has a social media strategy focused on promotion; the company uses Facebook and twitter to tout the service daily, and in April they joined LivingSocial to offer a generous discount on subscription which netted over 8,000 subscribers for their 1,100 bikeshare service. But a social media strategy that ignores real-time negative sentiments could ruin their brand.

Here are three ways Capital Bikeshare (CB) can use real-time technology to improve their business.

1. Real-time technology for customer service. Acknowledge and reply to customer complaints via twitter. Many tweets at the company complaining about empty docks and other issues go unanswered. Tweeting solutions and info about alternative docking stations is something the company should commit to especially in the mornings when subscribers use the service to get to work.

2. Real-time technology to anticipate service lapse. There are mobile applications that give users real-time information about bike and dock availability. Even so, load balancing is still a problem the company has not been able to solve. Investing in GPS tracking via mobile phones, bikes or fobs could help the company with load balancing – i.e. ensuring that enough bikes and empty docks are available where users need them.

3. Real-time info billboards – a partnership in the making? It’s difficult for riders to stop to check their mobile phones for information on available docs while riding. Will some innovative entrepreneur partner with CB to provide info billboards (or bike widgets) that re-directs bikers to empty docs before they spend 20 minutes biking around chasing empty docks?

Thanks to technology, businesses and organizations function in a real-time information environment. Feedback on your brand’s reach, influence and performance is broadcast across the globe 24-hours a day in an endless news cycle fueled by social media. Remaining competitive means using real-time technology to do more than promote your wares, cause or services. Negative sentiments should be a guide to service improvement for Capital Bikeshare and others.

How to Tweet from a Phone

How to Tweet from a Mobile PhoneIt’s easy to send tweets online via your computer and just as  easy to send tweets from your mobile phone. There are two main ways to send tweets from your phone – 1) via text messaging, and 2) by using a Twitter application designed for your phone. Here’s how to do both –

Texting Your Tweets

  1. Log into your Twitter account on the Web at twitter.com
  2. Find your name in the upper right corner of the page and select settings from its drop-down menu (alternatively, go to http://twitter.com/settings/account)
  3. Click on ‘Mobile’
  4. Enter your mobile or cell phone number
  5. Follow the instructions by texting the word displayed to the number or code provided – this will activate your phone to text your tweets.
  6. Save the number provided – to send tweets via text messaging, just send a message to the number you have saved.

Popular FAQ – Will people see my mobile phone number when I text my tweets? No, they will see your tweets as if you sent them from a computer.

Tweeting by Mobile Phone Application

  1. If you are on the Web go to twitter.com/download (if you are using your phone to surf the Web, go to m.twitter.com/download) and click on the icon that matches your phone
  2. Enter your email address and wait for an email that will allow you to download, install and configure the application. You will need your Twitter username and password to complete the process.
  3. Once the application is loaded to your phone, click the icon and begin tweeting!

Popular FAQ – Are there other ways to find Twitter applications that will work with my phone? Yes. You can visit an app store to find a wide selection of Twitter apps. Blackberry App World and the iTunes app store are two popular spots.

How Starbucks Use Twitter

Social media is clearly a great tool for promoting a business or organization. But all business leaders have one concern about social media: What to do about the stream of unflattering feedback in such public forums.

Staying away from Twitter, FourSquare or any of the other social networks is not a good way to manage negative sentiments. A better approach is to take control of the conversation by establishing a presence in the networks so that you can monitor and follow up on negative feedback.

Let’s look at Starbucks as an example, this retail giant is celebrating 40 years of business – and lots of negative feedback! In an interview with USA Today, CEO Howard Schultz described one way the company uses Twitter:

We have a Twitter feed visible in our corporate office that is unfiltered. So we are watching what people are saying about Starbucks. From time to time I go over and look at it, and it’s not always positive. I like that. I can’t answer why people are so emotionally linked to what we do or why they like or don’t like us so much. I do like the fact that they’re talking about us.”
-USA Today

The fact is, you can’t stop people from using social media to say good or bad things about your business or organization, but if you are a part of the conversation you can clarify misconceptions, learn from accurate criticisms, and show off the positive buzz.