‘Ello Ello!


What is Ello?

There’s a new social media platform in town. And it is billing itself as the anti-Facebook. Say hello to Ello.

But, I gotta say, I don’t know anyone who’s going to use Ello because they really think it’s private or won’t sell consumer data to advertisers. Do you? Because really, does anyone actually buy the idea of online privacy anymore? And is there ultimately a new way to stay profitable or keep the lights on online – for the long run – besides advertising? I’m watching the Facebook and Twitter feeds of people who’re on Ello, and I think they’re using it because they’re some combo of curious, tired of Facebook, suffering FOMO, or early adopter/marketers who feel they need to know how the new shiny object works just in case it does take off. What’s your take?

And yes, I’m on Ello and consider myself in the last category: The professional who isn’t wild about yet another platform – (which will do what that the others don’t already?) – but doesn’t want to be clueless about what might be useful.

That said, people who know me well have long since figured out that what I really prefer is conversation, in person, preferably unhurried, and over coffee. Some things don’t change.

The Latest Facebook Tweak – A Marketing Reality Check

Facebook button count is wrong, use RealShare

image via Birger King

So is the party on Facebook over? That is the question.

If you’re not a communications professional and are therefore wondering what the question is about, here’s the short version: All those various businesses and stores and brands you’ve “liked” on Facebook over the years? You’re going to be seeing less of them in your feed. In fact, you already miss a lot. Which you probably haven’t noticed because good heavens is that feed cluttered to begin with already! And that’s the point.

You think you’re getting more information than you really are because who ever looks at their facebook page and thinks, “huh, I haven’t seen anything from XYZ company lately.” You either do see an update and read it, or you don’t and never notice it. And it’s probably just a matter of time before Facebook all but disappears your “liked” pages’ updates if they can’t pay to advertise.

I see both sides of the issue. [Read more…]

Facebook Launches Donate Button For Non-Profits

Facebook just rolled out a new donate feature for non-profits. It’s not a small thing when the social media behemoth finally makes it possible for your donor to have fewer distractions between call-to-action that all important click-to-pay. And there was much rejoicing in the non-profit social media land…sort of.

One of Facebook's Mottos!

Yeah, not with the hard earned trust and dollars of donors though. (image via Mari Smith)

[Read more…]

Timeline: Ready Or Not, Here It Comes

Every time I think “a monkey could do this” I go to a meeting and am astonished by what people don’t know about social media. Okay, maybe it’s more like a reality check in how we’re not all wired, and why that’s perhaps a very good thing as summer approaches. (My neighborhood routinely loses power during summer thunderstorms.) So, despite the fact that there is no dearth of articles out there on the Interwebs, here is my take on why you need to get into timeline now.

Facebook Timeline cover of Lydia Polgreen of the NYT

facebook timeline cover of Lydia Polgreen of the NYT

“Timeline what?” you say?

Long story short, Facebook is once again changing things. Specifically, they’re changing how your page looks – not your newsfeed – regardless of whether it’s your personal account or your company page. The distinction between the page and the newsfeed is extremely important because for marketers and consumers alike, it’s all about how we’re getting our news.

If you the consumer “liked” a page, timeline seems to make no difference in how you get news. It certainly hasn’t to me and I’ve not only published my personal timeline, but done the same for the several pages I manage for clients. Oh, and I’ve “liked” a LOT of pages over the last few years, some of whom have also launched timeline. As someone who gets a lot of information first from Facebook, I haven’t see any difference in my newsfeed.

As if to drive home this point, Julia Quinn who I follow on Facebook recently asked how many of us get our information from her page vs. our newsfeeds. Overwhelmingly, most of us said newsfeed – that would the part of social engagement that hasn’t changed on Facebook. Once people hit the “like” button they rarely go back to your page.

Caffe Amouri's Facebook Page

No reason to look at my local coffee shop's page once I've "liked" it - everything shows up in my feed. Unless I want to check out the new timeline or for some reason see the page with different eyes. Unlikely.

In fact, if you do your job well as a marketer or broadcaster, I shouldn’t have to go back to your original page to find out what you’re up to or what you’re offering. Unless I’m being all nosy and want to see your new timeline cover! Or you annoy me. In which case, I’ll visit specifically to “unlike” you.

dislike one finger salute

Let's not.

So if you’re an individual, you may not need to care*. It’ll be one of those things Facebook rolls out on you whether you’re ready or not. If you’re not entirely annoyed, you’ll complain and then just go along with it. Or deactivate, if this really is the last straw for you. Because *timeline, like any Facebook “improvement” tends to reset, rearrange, and reorganize your personal information and privacy settings. Even if you don’t need to care, have a care. See what your page looks like to others, even if your privacy settings are way high.

But if you’re running a page for a company though, you absolutely need to care. Because timeline changes how your page’s information is presented, where the emphasis lies, where you can direct people, and how you can emphasize information and for how long. It changes how and where you can offer specials and deals and calls to action. And it’s far more visual – which is a huge element of your branding and first impressions.

Timeline simultaneously offers up much more of you and your product even as it constrains how you can use the medium. Which means it requires you – the marketer – to be a lot savvier and sophisticated about how you communicate your story. And that, my friends, is the operative word. Facebook’s timeline makes us all, forces us all, to be better storytellers. It forces us to point to what’s really important, and keeps us on our toes about keeping our pages fresh. And it forces us to pay more ongoing attention to people who wander over to our pages but haven’t “liked” it yet. No wonder there have not just been a plethora of articles on the subject and webinars that go into the nitty gritty of timeline and what it means for marketing.

Timeline happens to your page – whether you like it or not – on March 30. If you’re an individual with a personal account, pay attention because of privacy issues. If you’re a page administrator, pay attention because otherwise, you’ll be the org that got caught by surprise, or worse!

Here are a few links that cover the details of timeline and what it means for you or your page. But for my money, nothing beats Amy Porterfield’s webinar.


Lessons From Komen Foundation’s Very Bad Week

My lord what a slo-mo train wreck! How else to describe this week’s unfolding Susan G. Komen Foundation saga? The fallout from the organization’s decision and subsequent reversal to cut funding Planned Parenthood continues (especially with the most recent revelations about Komen’s much heftier donation to Penn State, where the words “under investigation” take on a whole new meaning). These two blog posts by Shonali Burke and Kivi Leroux Miller, easily the best I’ve seen in the last couple of days, pretty much say it all. I particularly love Burke’s blog post title – 7 PR Lessons Komen for the Cure Didn’t Know It Was Giving you. Indeed! But if you can possibly stand a couple more thoughts on the subject ….

Komen’s handling – or rather lack thereof at the outset then compounded by very poor handling when their communications finally woke up – drives home three things I always tell clients about a basic communications strategy:

Tell Your Story First Or Someone Else Will, And You May Not Like It: Which is why I’m waiting for the next penny to drop on all the companies out there whose marketing has ever included pink or a pink ribbon. It’s on everything from guns to kitchen equipment to, God help me, a bible. As it turns out, the pink ribbon is NOT property of the Komen fund (although they did try), it’s in the public domain. But the “breast cancer = Race For The Cure = pink ribbon” association is so strong, and people on both sides of the abortion divide so mad, I suspect many a pinked product may languish or be a potential problem. Much to the heartburn of marketing managers at major companies of all stripes. That’s assuming they get off the phone from annoyed customers – “How dare you associate with SGK!” whether they’re pro-choice, or pro-life what with Komen’s reversal – long enough to look at their numbers for a while. Think I’m kidding? Consider the (ironically) imminent release of the documentary Pink Ribbons, Inc., Phil Mickleson wearing pink on the links, or pink at the NFL. Right.

phil mickleson at the masters, round one, april 2008

Phil Mickelson at Augusta National, 2010

Pink Ribbon At The NFL

Social Media Is Not An Afterthought: Unless you’re, oh I don’t know, special forces or running a CIA black ops and forbidden to be social online about the job, you company needs to have a social media presence. And it can’t be your communications department’s forgotten stepchild. In the time it took for Komen to look alive on their Facebook page, advocates and supporters had not only pushed several concurrent viral threads supporting Planned Parenthood, the outcry led to an uptick of donationsnearly 2/3rds of what Planned Parenthood is supposed to get from Komen. For many people this week, the Facebook and Twitter feeds were where the story broke (Tuesday afternoon), where it morphed into a serious problem for Komen (on their own Facebook page – one long “How could you!” screed for hours on Tuesday evening through Wednesday morning), and where people took action in favor of Planned Parenthood if they so chose (several concurrent calls to action and Facebook profile photo changes and badges in support of PP ongoing ever since). Honestly, at this point, if you seek me out for a better marketing strategy but say that you “don’t see the point of a Twitter feed,” “just don’t have the time for a Facebook page,” or aren’t going to integrate social media fully and from the outset into your communications plan, chances are we are probably a poor fit for one another. No matter how much I love your mission or product.

Internet + 24/7 = Get Ahead Of The Story: When the story broke I kept going back to the Komen Facebook page to see if there would be a statement, because their own site took forever and a day to load. The page was one long tirade of “How could you?!” And not a word from whoever runs it until perhaps Wednesday, if memory serves correctly. And in the middle of all that, there would be the odd and random tagged story from some unsuspecting group that hadn’t quite cottoned on and whose own cause looked oddly out of place or flat out inappropriate. Nothing like inadvertently  making your own supporters, or affiliates for that matter – who were caught completely off guard – look utterly clueless! In fact, it was fully two days before Komen’s CEO Nancy Brinker talked to the media. I understand that people have to get their act together, especially in a fast-moving crisis where all hell is breaking lose. But seriously? Two days? What on earth took so long? Why did Komen not think or plan ahead?

Plan ahead: Always have a plan. If nothing else, play “what if” and have a plan of how you will respond to all the scenarios. Why else do you think a presidential campaign has opposition research, not to mention communications staff writing up two speeches on election night? There’s the one speech because you know your candidate’s going to win. And then there’s the one you write in case s/he loses. Because. It. Could. Happen. It’s what grown ups do. And by far, the most striking thing about this entire story has been Komen’s sheer disorganization and fumble footed response to events precipitated by its own deliberate policy and actions. They planned to pull funding from a controversial organization with a strong core of supporters, and a broad association in the public’s mind with that third rail of American politics – abortion. Did they not think of how that was going to play out? Particularly since Komen has more than passing ties with the Republican party and a recent high profile openly pro-life hire? Did they not get that they needed to be proactive considering how controversial Planned Parenthood has been for oh, ever? And when a statement finally emerged why wasn’t it watertight? Did no one think to address why only one prominent grantee was singled out for being under investigation? Did no one think to anticipate answers to why Komen finally took action on an issue that had apparently been a concern for years? And why did they wait? And on and on ….

The Susan G Komen Foundation started the week out as a highly respected, very successful, non-partisan, and apolitical group that has been invaluable in de-stigmatizing breast cancer and the envy of many a marketer. It ended the week much tarnished in no small part because it became the story instead of leading and shaping it. See rule #1.

P.S. Okay, so that was way more than just a couple of thoughts! But I can’t tell you how many clients should learn solid lessons from Komen’s very bad week. 

P.P.S. You notice this post is not about my stance on abortion, or whether Komen should or should not fund Planned Parenthood. That’s not what this is about. I welcome your thoughts on how Komen handled their very bad week. But please keep it polite, and on topic about communications strategy. I reserve the right to delete your comment if you stray into the morality of abortion. That’s not what this post or this blog is about. Thank you! 

Mandatory Facebook Wall Posting: No More Bricks In The Wall

If you have a Facebook page, come August, you may have no choice but to allow people to comment on your wall. That’s right, as it turns out, “1 in 5 luxury brands ban Facebook wall posts.” From experience – as a Jane Q Public as well as a social media strategist – I can add that it’s not just luxury brands but lots of other organizations, local governments, and sundry groups. And I don’t get it.

Why are you on Facebook if you’re unwilling to have or allow conversation? Yes yes, it’s great way to reach tons of people etc….but really, if you’re not going to use the medium as intended, aren’t you sort of missing the point? It’s like people who break up a long message into a 15 part tweet. Please, just use email. Or something.

Yes, I understand that opening up the Facebook page does invite spam, Internet unrulies, and people who want to push the envelope despite being told clearly what the posting policy is. To which I will say to all Facebook business page owners:

1) Have a clear posting policy*: From my point of view – and yes, as someone who creates and executes social media strategy routinely for clients, I do have an ulterior motive – this clarifies what people can and cannot post. Which means people will be less hesitant to share what does belong and can perk up conversation, involvement, and engagement – all the things that’ll make your page a thriving community on the Internet. That is a good thing for just about anyone. And hey, added bonus, if you’re clear about what doesn’t belong up on your space, you’ll be spared queries from people like me who’re looking to promote an event!

delete button2) You’re the admin: You’ll get the occasional spammer. But management always reserves the right to delete random or spammy nonsense. Be ruthless about what doesn’t belong on your page or your web presence. Your Facebook page, in particular, is a democracy of one, as is Facebook, which is why you may not have a choice in the matter of the people vs you wall. Delete delete delete.

3) You have to make the time: Yes, this means you have to actually pay attention to your Facebook page, check in and update it frequently and so forth. But if you weren’t doing this, may I gently suggest you should rethink the existence of the page entirely?


*And then she ran off to come up with a posting policy for her own page…because she realized she didn’t really have one.