Calgary flood 2013

Twitter: is it still optional in communications?

You seem to like Twitter a lot. Should it be part of our communications strategy?

It was a question posed to me during a recent job interview. Many of my friends should be surprised to hear I responded ‘not really.’

The company for which I was interviewing is based in a smaller city, one where social media — at least Twitter — hasn’t really taken off as a business communication tool.

Sure, I said, the competition is using it and that means we should be listening and posting when necessary. Twitter should be a bit player in the overall strategy, I said, but our key communications tools should be traditional media.

It made sense at the time.

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beer cans

Getting the cold shoulder on Twitter

Imagine for a moment that you’re looking for a specific item.

You approach the salesperson in your favourite store or boutique and ask, “Do you have any navy pencil skirts?”

The salesperson responds: “All of our skirts are on the second floor. Just go up those stairs.”

That doesn’t feel very helpful, does it? You were probably hoping she might lead you to the correct spot and even say “Can I help you find something in your size?”

The helpful reaction isn’t just what I might expect while out shopping. It’s a reaction I have gotten, which made me happy to spend hard-earned money in that store.

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hands texting on smartphone

A time to Tweet … a time not to Tweet

I Tweet. A lot. Often. About almost anything.

My friends know this. Many of them love me for it.

After all, I first ‘met’ most of them on Twitter.

I Tweet about my workouts, my dog walks, my shopping, hockey games, whatever pops into my head.

I support live Tweeting events. I promoted live Tweeting TV shows to my former employer when I was its social media strategist.

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Twitter bird at Christmas time

Just one day

In 2009, I started a Christmas tradition for myself.

Some might call it “quirky.”

Others might call it “old-fashioned.”

You might even want to tell me to get with it, because “social media doesn’t take a day off.”

All I ask is that for one day — Christmas Day to be exact — I don’t have to read your advertising bullshit on my Twitter feed. I remember the first account that started it all … a realtor was pimping out his repossession listings.

Ugh, I thought, that’s in bad taste.

And I unfollowed that account. In years since, whenever I see a business Tweeting anything advertising-ish, anything outside of “Merry Christmas to all our followers,” I ditch ’em like a hot potato.

Because, you see, that’s the beauty of Twitter. If I don’t like what you’re Tweeting about, I can unfollow you. The same goes if you don’t like my posts.

I did, however, mention it to one of the accounts I stopped following, knowing that I “engaged” with the account in the past and I knew who was behind the Tweeting. I simply said, “Take a day off, eh?”

Two days later — today — I received a reply. Social media doesn’t take a day off.

No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t take even a second off, unless we’re faced with the mighty Fail Whale (which makes several people I know suffer panic attacks). But it’s up to us to use our accounts wisely and responsibly.

“Sometimes entrepreneurs don’t get a day off, xmas or otherwise. You were there reading the tweets!”

Yes, yes, I was. But on Christmas Day, I wasn’t working. I wasn’t Tweeting links. And I wasn’t trying to convince my followers to hire me for my writing, editing or community management skills. I also wasn’t Tweeting on behalf of any of my clients, giving their followers a day off from the chit-chat (even the Australians who were already done and done with Christmas).

Yet amid the joy of following along with friends and acquaintances as they tweeted their gift openings, I got blasted with: Blog it up for you (sic) business! We will set up your WordPress blog for free!

OK, sure, the grammatical error irked me wildly. The slammers (news room speak for exclamation marks) made me wince. But come on, we can’t take one day off?

We can’t give our followers a break, maybe just wish them merry Christmas and good tidings of the season?

It just seems like a Christmas-y thing to do.

We’re blasted by Christmas from the second the Halloween decorations come down (in some stores, it’s even before that!) and Santa barfs all over everything for at least two months, leading up to Dec. 25.

I’m no religious zealot. I don’t even believe in organized religion, so Christmas isn’t a Christian pursuit for me.

I do believe Christmas is a wonderful time for love and family and joy and sharing … even sharing on social media.

But not for pimping your business.

Just give us one day off.

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Kamloops Fire Rescue needs your Facebook love

They’re so close.

So close.

Kamloops Fire Rescue needs — at the time I hit Publish — just 33 Likes to hit 1,315 Likes on its Facebook page by New Year’s Eve.

What’s the big deal?

KFR is in a race to get 1,000 new Likes, meeting a challenge by the Kamloops McDonald’s franchises. In exchange, McDonald’s will hand over $1 for every new Like up to $1,000. It all goes toward KFR’s new inflatable safety house.

The story goes back a few years, says KFR’s fire safety educator, Capt. Shel Guertin. (Sidebar: his email says Sheldon but he called himself Shel in our Facebook message exchange, so that’s what I’m going with.)

KFR had this clunky old trailer they carted around from school to school, teaching the local kids about fire safety. But you know, Kamloops is all hilly and twisty and turny and stuff. The bloody thing became a right old pain in the ass to get places. KFR pulled it off the road in 2003.

“When I became Fire Safety Educator in 2009, I was asked to do something about it,” Shel says. “What could I do? I thought about putting the trailer on a permanent mount but then who would pay for the kids’ bus rides to the trailer? And what school is going to let them be out of class for four hours, including bus rides and the two hours of learning?

“We had to take the education to them.”

What else was there to do? Enter the internet.

Shel did a search and came up with an inflatable fire safety house. I don’t know if this the right one but it sounds an awful lot like the one Shel described:

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Cool, huh?

Shel says he went for the Binford model (insert Tim Allen grunt here) that’s about 7,000 square feet and has a second floor with a slide. Throughout the house are fire safety messages about candle safety, cooking safety and more. The kids get to the top floor and slide out. If they want to go back in and learn more, they have to tell Shel one thing they learned while they were inside.

“It’s fun, it’s safe and it’s interactive,” he says. “It’s a great place for the kids to learn how to stop, drop and roll, or how to crawl under the smoke. It’s one thing to have a truck and talk to kids about fire safety, but who wants to stand around and listen to me the whole time.”

Now he just had to figure out how to come up with the $33,000 to get it — that includes the dolly, a generator, some tables and some other stuff.

It’s Kamloops. People are naturally generous. Interior Savings Centre came up with $10,000. Other organizations dropped off amounts of $5,000 and $2,000. Along with the impending McDonald’s donation, KFR has enough money pledged and they’ve ordered the house. It will be here the first week of January.

The idea for the Facebook challenge came from Aleece Laird of Fresh Ink Marketing. She’s done work with Shel before and she proposed the  idea.

Shel had already recognized the power of social media — we’ll get to that in a minute — but, boy, is he having fun with it now.

Especially as he watches the Facebook Likes climb towards the 1,315 milestone for the full McDonald’s donation.

“You know, I took all these courses about social media and the two big rules I learned was ‘never self-promote’ and ‘never hijack other brand pages,” Shel says. “I break both those rules all the time.”

Whaaaaaat? Breaking rules? Perish the thought, I says!

Negative. Rules are made to be broken. In fact, I’ve long believed there are few — if any — rules to using social media.

Shel agrees.

“I’m all about shameless promotion and I’ve gone on the Blazers page, TRU and others asking for support,” he says. “Our Likes go up every time.”

Oh, the power

Yep, we owe Tim Taylor a prop here.

Shel didn’t just go for the Binford model of the fire safety house. He knows there’s power (if I knew how to type out a Tim-esque grunt here, I would) in online networking.

He uses Facebook and Twitter to talk about fire safety.

“Facebook is a great way to reach people and promote our safety programs,” he says. “We get people thinking about fire safety.”

And more power?

The numbers.

“Oh, I love tracking the stats … male vs. female, age groups … the insight is incredible,” Shel says. “It tells me what posts people like and any negative feedback seems to come from our popularity and showing up on everyone’s walls as a Like or a comment.”

His audience skews heavily female (63%) and young adult (25 to 34). Since his programs typically reach young kids and senior citizens, Facebook is letting him hit one of the ‘holes in the middle,’ he calls the demographic.

The analytics also let him prove the value to a once-reluctant management level. (Don’t worry, Shel. We’ve all been there.)

And then there’s Twitter. The KFR account, @KamFire, 756 followers.

Shel uses it to post quick, newsy messages. He likes that the media can follow him, so he’s not constantly answering phone calls when there’s a fire. The reporters can just check his feed — he even posts pictures and videos — and give him a shout when it’s out.

And, since he’s right on the scene, we’re guaranteed to get the most accurate news.

“It allows me to correct a lot of misinformation that gets out there,” he says. “Some people Tweet from the (police) scanner, so they don’t really know what’s going on. That happened a lot for the Glenview fire.

“But I’m on the scene. You can get a picture of what’s really happening from me.”

More, please

The more Shel uses social media, the more he wants to use it.

It would be hard for me to disagree with him. Facebook and Twitter are addictive tools and, when you’re doing it for professional reasons, you get so driven by the numbers and the engagement, always wanting more.

“The more I use it, the more I wonder what I can do with it,” he says. “It’s great that if I’m at home at night watching Duck Dynasty, my phone will buzz and I know that someone is asking a question that needs answering … like your Facebook message for this interview.

“It’s just a fun way to do my job.”

Now, since Shel only needs 33 more Likes to get to the goal, I’m wondering what you’re still doing here. Go click a button, eh? Let’s get them there. Today.

And … if you’re in the Kamloops and B.C. Interior area and want to promote your social media campaign, hit me up with an email.

The great divide between professional, personal Twitter accounts

Full disclosure.

I’ve learned my lesson the hard way.

I’ve managed (and manage) a handful of Twitter accounts, whether for clients or for charitable events.

I have — whew, this is tough to admit — accidentally posted personal opinion or information on the wrong account.

Now I say a lot of stupid stuff on Twitter. I fully admit I’m part jackass and it runs deeply in my family. But I don’t think I ever say anything inflammatory or insulting to anyone specifically.

And I immediately delete the offending tweets.

Where I fall on the lucky side is my misplaced tweets have never gone viral.

Not like this one:

Or the other one off the same account: Obama is a baby-eating monster whose yellowed teeth drip with ichor.

Ichor, by the way, is the ‘ethereal golden fluid that is the blood of the gods and/or immortals.’ I had to look it up.

In typical fashion, Twitter went apeshit and Mashable got the story up post haste.

The tweets were deleted and an apology — retweeted 517 times and favourited 97 times at this very moment — went up:

And now the following statement has just been tweeted:

 

 

 

 

Ms. Soledad is doing the right thing. She’s taking responsibility, apologizing and ensuring the situation is aright.

And it sure as heck isn’t the first time someone mis-tweeted on a major brand’s account. A Red Cross employee tweeted about her beer drinking and Chrysler’s (now former) PR agency had an employee bitch about bad drivers in Detroit, of all places.

It’s time we all learn a valuable lesson from these moments.

Don’t worry. It’s a little more simple than trying to be two different people all the time, creating the great divide between being a human being and a professional social media manager.

It’s so simple you’ll shake your ahead at the obviousness of it all.

Take your professional or client accounts and move them off the same Twitter client as your personal account.

That’s it. Open up a second Hootsuite account or create a new Tweetdeck window.

Whatever the heck API you use, use two.

Do it now.

Tweeting from your smartphone? Come on, haven’t we all lost count of how many different Twitter apps are out there?

And even then double check and triple check which account you’re using before you hit Submit.

Especially if you’re an asshole.

Friends off

Dear Naughty Monkey,

I’m afraid this is the end of the road for us.

It’s been quite a ride, really. I first learned of you several years ago when my friend Jill extolled your virtues on the internet discussion board where we met. I bought a pair of Live Wires off ebay. I was especially drawn to them because Live Wire is also the name of my all-time favourite Motley Crue song.

Every time a pair of shoes or boots was delivered to my door, I let out a little squeal and shared my joy by posting pictures of my new prizes to Facebook and Twitter. Several friends were turned over to your brand as a result.

Your style was fun, colourful and yet wearable for the everyday professional.

Over the last few years, I have amassed quite the collection of Naughty Monkey footwear, even drifting over to your sister brand Not Rated for a couple of times.

Engaging with your social media accounts was enjoyable. I even won a pair of red Emerald City pumps during a Valentine’s Day promotion in 2011.

That ended this week.

Sadly.

I sent the following email to your brand director and marketing director earlier this week:

First, let me introduce myself by saying I have been a loyal customer of Naughty Monkey shoes for several years. I have been a brand advocate, turning several of my friends onto the name and ensuring they engaged with your social media accounts.

I was a bit taken aback this afternoon when your social media representative posted on your Facebook timeline what I thought was a whiny post about the new Facebook timeline. She found it ‘soooooo confusing.’ I posted a couple of links to help her out.

I have been involved with social media for several years. I was the social media strategist for a national telecommunications company in Canada. I kind of know a thing or two about Facebook and the timeline, especially that the timeline for brands has been known since last September. This timeline thing should not be taking anyone by surprise or confusing them.

I posted to my Twitter account that I found it funny Naughty Monkey would be ‘whining’ about the Facebook timeline publicly when it’s likely the reason the person has a job. Harsh? Maybe so. But I like to expect bigger things from people in my own industry of marketing and communications. A conversation with your social media representative ensued. She has since deleted not only the Facebook post but her Twitter replies to me as well.

You can see her replies to me here:

You can see my end of the conversation here:

One of the first rules of social media marketing and engagement is to be yourself. The message I received from Naughty Monkey today is that it is snarky and flippant. And while I — of all people — respect the ability to be snarky and flippant, I sure don’t expect it from the brands I follow. Instead, I expect a level of professionalism and an ability to be ahead of the trends, not to be so confused by them.

You may not agree with my perspective on the matter. That’s OK. That’s what opinions are all about. For now, however, Naughty Monkey has lost one of its biggest champions in Canada. 

I received a reply this afternoon.

Dear Angela,

I thank you for bringing this matter to my attention. Your email to Jay was probably not answered in a timely manner because  a group of us were traveling overseas and our internet access was inconsistent.

Now for the issue at hand, I will bring it up to our social media person. It is not our intention to insult our fans who have helped us get to where we are. The continued support of our fans whether they be big or small matters to us and losing a brand supporters like yourself hurts no less.

Regards,
Ismael “Mike” Cortez
Marketing Director
Naughty Monkey

I think Mike gets it. I thanked him and let him know I thought it should be of great concern that his social media person deletes her comments in an attempt to cover her tracks.

Many of of my friends know this goes against the very grain of the authenticity and transparency that social media represents.

Oddly enough, in a completely unrelated incident, my friend Chelsea — whom I’m assuming knew nothing of my interactions on Tuesday — addressed the Naughty Monkey Twitter account with a language error in one of her Tweets.

Chelsea — smart, beautiful, creative, ambitious and destined to rule the world — received this Tweet in response:

When Chelsea, another professional trained and experienced in corporate use of social media, called the account out for being snide, the Tweet was deleted.

Now some of you may see this as a whole lot of nothing, but it does speak to the importance of ensuring the tone and voice a company wants to express to its followers and fans.

I will always take issue with corporate accounts that designate the content to someone who has a tenuous grasp on the English language.

And I will always take issue with corporate accounts handled by people who see everything as a big haha, no matter how flippant or snarky I can be on my personal feeds.

Companies need to aim higher, no matter how small or large they are.

And they sure as heck need to be better prepared (and trained) to handle negative feedback.

That being said, I’ve looked at the new spring line for Naughty Monkey. I’ve realized I’m no longer your target demographic. That has nothing to do with my age but more with my fashion sense.

If anyone is a Snooki wannabe, however, I do suggest checking out the new styles.

And yeah … meow.

Yours in footwear,

Angela

Feeding frenzy

I’ve been hating to read the #Flames hashtag for the last while.

Too many Suzie Sunshines have been talking about the team turning a corner when they post an occasional win.

Too many Cheery Charlies have been talking about how the team needs to keep Jarome Iginla for his heart and his leadership.

Too many Happy Harrys have been talking about ‘next game we’ll get ’em!’

Balderdash.

A 3-1 loss is in the books after playing the Columbus Blue Jackets. That’s preceded by a pair of losses to the Minnesota Wild.

And a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Leafs.

Big fucking deal.

The Leafs have a 12-17-4 record in the East, only slightly worse than the Flames at 14-18-3.

So, no. It’s no big deal to beat the Leafs.

Nor would it have been a big deal to beat the Wild or the Blue Jackets.

It really isn’t a big deal to lose to them either.

Because, folks, this is not a good team.

No matter how you slice it and dice it, Brent Sutter is handcuffed by a roster of old and slow plugs in a game that’s speeding past with youth and flash and dash.

That defence we keep being told is one of the best in the league … on paper? The top four combined for a minus-6 rating tonight.

Strange decisions are being made. The one with the youth and flash? Mikael Backlund was a healthy scratch tonight, in favour of guys who aren’t lifting feathers let alone pulling their own weight.

In complete honesty, I didn’t watch until the last three minutes. I had better things to do, figuring the Flames would be putting in a tired, heartless effort after losing to the Wild last night.

I followed along on the Twitter stream while I was in the hairdresser’s chair and at the gym.

Fans are pissed.

“So happy the world juniors is starting. Watching the #flames is painfull (sic).”

“#flames some kind of failure tonight…again”

“Wow, the #flames continue to struggle, and yet do NOTHING to help themselves. How #pathetic AND #stupid can a professional #hockey team be?”

“The #Flames are just so bad. It hurts my soul.”

“3 in a row… NOW can we fire Sutter? Waiting for management/ownership to do something is as frustrating as watching this team play. #Flames”

“If DSutter isn’t fired by the time I get back from States, I’m gonna … I’m gonna … I’ll probably just swear and tweet about it. #Flames”

Oh wait … that last one was me.

So yeah, how much longer will this go on without someone, i.e. general manager Darryl Sutter, being held accountable for the dreary season we’re facing?

For the fact the Flames don’t have a complement of players who can score.

For the fact the Flames don’t have the stalwart defence we’ve been led to believe it is.

For the fact this team is pushing the salary cap this year and next and has no future.

Zero. Zip. Zilch.

Now that’s a big deal.

From the Twittersphere

I threw a couple questions out to my @that_angela followers and to the @WldHockeySummit followers. Women’s hockey has been the hot topic today.

Here’s what you think:

Do you care about women’s hockey any time other than the Olympics?

No, I don’t – Two teams dominate. Think of it like the “Dream Team” though in BBall. The world caught up to them and now chall. ~ @hockeycardshow

yes, if there were a pro league and prime time TV coverage. ~ @Primlar

not really, but partly due to lack of coverage any other time ~ @doug_springer

I do care, but I need to follow it more. I’d love to see a WNHL. ~ @mhaberecht

yes there are lots of us that care! ~ @helke22

I do and I don’t. I’m supportive of my g/f playing the sport Outside North America I don’t see it developing enough to grow ~ @NaughtyDog95

Given that the talent level outside the US and Canada is pretty low, no. It’s not even competitive anymore. @azvibesports

I think it’s great to offer girlswomen chance to play & have teams but I don’t think it should be a pro or Olympic thing. @icesjb

Would you support a professional women’s ice hockey league?

With CHL, NHL, AHL flooding the air ways in Canada, no I don’t see myself watching. What about a summer league? ~ @hockeycardshow

Don’t know about everyone else, but I definitely would. ~ @SubtleLikeSeabs

Answer: Yes. If there was a women’s pro team in Ottawa I guarantee @amy_boughner and I would get season tickets. ~ @joeboughner

yes, honestly I would. Something similar to the NHL. International competition is awful for women, so, if its home grown yes 🙂 ~ @dantric

Yes, I’d support one wholeheartedly & I went to my fair share of X-Treme games when they were in #yyc. ~ @ToriePeterson

I would love to see women get into the NHL and have development leagues all the way to highest level. ~ @ladyneat

Conceptually, absolutely! In practice, I don’t know…never went to an Xtreme game. ~ @Rhiannon

support my 13 year old who plays, but not sure I would pay to see a women’s game..then again don’t pay to see NHL either ~ @jriddall

No, sorry. Love the Olympics and the Worlds but wouldn’t follow a league. ~ @mlse

Would love to see them try it. ~ @BackyardHockey

Absolutely, yes. ~ @JuggernautSport

NO. ~ @SJYS

I did when it was in Vancouver (WWHL/NWHL) ~ @canadagraphs