Thursday, July 30, 2009

You Said What? Remember Social Media is Public Marketing Folks

I've written about this before - but it's an ongoing problem as more and more people join us in social media land.

For those of us who use Facebook professionally and personally and don't split our pages - we sometimes have friends that post bad stuff. Not bad in the horrible sense, but bad in the sense that I don't want clients or prospective ones reading posts make me cringe. During the elections it was radical politics. Now it's reverted to sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. Oh that 70s generation.

It's not just the posts but the photos. Look at the one on this page of a drunk, passed out teenager from the book I'm writing. Would I post that on Facebook? Of course not. But I see a lot of bare midriffs and butt shots and drunk passed out teenagers. Stuff that is well not in very good taste. Bad idea.

I don't want my clients reading stuff I wouldn't tell them in conversation. And I don't talk in gibberishy client speak. I'm direct. Sometimes I say stuff I shouldn't say. I can silence a room. But I'm not an idiot.

Many people keep separate Facebook pages for work and personal lives but as a small and growing company, it's not that simple for me. I want people I know professionally to see my human side. I want my business contacts to know I have a life. And it's nice to know that my clients aren't just that, but also have kids and spouses and dogs and interests outside of work.

Yet I have all these people from high school who act on Facebook like well - they are still in high school. And I've got a cousin in Hollywood who is hilarious but the stuff he talks about - well you can just imagine.

At least they are not boring - but they often do go too far.

My cousin hides his posts so my friends can't see them, but I can check up on him privately. That's one solution.

The captain of my high school football team is a different story. He's a professional guy and the stuff he's putting up I'm sure he doesn't want his kids, let alone members of his union team, to see. That mentality should stay in the shop sir. On Facebook you sound like a sexist and under-loved jerk.

Maybe he just hasn't read the zillion articles about college kids looking for jobs and prospective employers checking their social media pages. Who can forget the infamous Bristol Palin "fiancee " Levi whose MySpace page said something like - I want to be with as many girls as possible and I never want to get married. Jon Stewart found it, feasted on it, and it came down very fast.

The bottom line is Facebook and everything else on the Internet is public. IT'S MARKETING. It tells people who you are and how you think. It tells them how smart or not smart you are. It tells them what keeps you up at night.

Do you really want that stuff you're writing that you wouldn't say in a client meeting out there in Internet land? My guess is no.

My rule is simple: If you wouldn't say it to your boss don't post it. It can easily come back to haunt you.

Do I post personal things? Yes. My last Facebook post asked for "Advice to Survive Living with a 14 year-old boy." The answers were funny - from send him to relatives for the whole summer to Cosmopolitans. People responded in droves which is great.

Of course, I forgot that my 14 year-old boy reads that - but it's not news to him that he drives me crazy. And it makes me seem human to clients. But dirty jokes - no. Sexual references - no. High school drunkenness stories - been there, done that, writing a book about it - not going to write about that on Facebook.

So what do I do now with people like that? I used to cut them off right away. Now I send them a message and tell them the truth. If they stop - fine. If they don't stop that's their decision. But they are no longer on my fan page.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Manipulating Public Opinion Through Twitter

That damn Twitter bird again. I can’t get away from him. The healthcare industry and its legislative and media champions have become experts on using Twitter to get people to pay attention to their point of view – right, wrong, false, true, it doesn’t really matter. Who needs Harry and Louise when you have so much information to re-disseminate?

How many companies and people have made a name for themselves by searching the Web, then tweeting the links of what they find to thousands of followers? is a big one – some of its guides do nothing more than pick a topic, throw in an introductory sentence and put up links. Pretty simple stuff.

Twitter is a center of the healthcare debate. Public plan advocates push their agenda. Those who oppose it are pushing their own. Why is the White House with its great and powerful knowledge of the Web – not on Twitter? Because there’s too much junk on it.

We have become information junkies – all of us – on the topics that we care and don’t really care about.

Healthcare raises ire and passion. There are gut wrenching stories about people who lost everything because they couldn’t afford to pay doctors, hospitals, etc. for health insurance. There are gut wrenching stories about people who can’t afford healthcare at all so they die. There are even more gut wrenching stories about people who health insurers decide they won’t cover when they find out they are really sick.

A friend of mine had breast cancer. I say had because we all hope it is past tense. Her doctor ordered a stream of tests because her sister, who is in her mid-forties I think, had it when she was even younger. They found cancer. She had surgery – she is doing fine.

Her insurance company is refusing to pay for the tests because they say there is no family history of breast cancer. A sister evidently is lateral – which means she’s not part of her history. A friend of mine who works as a nurse practitioner said there was no reason to think because her sister had breast cancer she might have it. EXCEPT SHE DID and he saved her life. Her life isn’t worth the tests?

All of the people who say we don't want bureaucrats involved in our healthcare decisions (that's the argument of the Right which has plenty of money to pay for the best of care) are ignoring the fact that low level gate keepers are making decisions about what care the insurance companies pay for. Who gets treated for cancer and who doesn't. Is that better?

OK got off the topic on what some would call a liberal rant.

A lot of healthcare companies are raising their profile and making new connections through Twitter. It’s a great big Tweeting world out there.

But if you’re going to use Twitter – use it well. Learn from what the news organizations are doing. They are Tweeting about their best stories. Their journalists are Tweeting about their work. Original work.

Don’t be lazy. While Tweeting about the conversations of others may help you add followers it won’t help you build your brand.Anyone can post a link. Not everyone can add to the conversation.

So bring something new to the party. Give people information they don’t already have. Be provocative. The hell with what others are saying. Talk about what you know. Link to everyone you can. Build your followers. Build your company as a knowledge base. And keep track of the media in your business and what they’re Tweeting. You’ll be happy you did.