Tag Archive | "branding"

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Your ‘Brand’ is the One Sentence People Say About You Behind Your Back

This post was originally published on LinkedIn, where it received about 15,000 views and was shared socially roughly 2,000 times.

Not too long ago, Lululemon was a revered brand. Now it’s not, and sales have declined accordingly. Not so long ago, Apple could do no wrong. Now people wonder out loud if it’s innovative anymore. With constant connectedness and infinite information, consumers have never been so fickle about their choices.

According to the American Marketing Association, a brand is the “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s product distinct from those of other sellers.” That sounds like something from orientation day at Sterling Cooper Draper Price. What does the term “brand” actually mean in practice?

A brand is essentially the one sentence people say about you behind your back. This practical “street” definition based on actual human interaction applies equally well to people, products, and companies. For example, someone might describe Lululemon to their friend as “absolutely the best place to buy yoga gear, ever” or they might say “people say Lululemon great, but I’ve bought a few things and they fall apart, totally overrated.” Someone might describe you to their professional acquaintance as “the smartest person in New York on things related to creativity in advertising, you must talk to them” or “too cerebral and academic, I’m not sure they’d be the right fit for your advertising company.”

That one sentence means a lot. It may be the difference between buying a $1300 suit from Ralph Lauren or a $500 one from Suit Supply, the difference between buying brand-name Tylenol or generic CVS pain reliever, and between you being considered to keynote the a major industry conference or not. These single sentences constantly being transmitted between couples basically mean everything.

A side effect of this is that even well-established brands “can never coast on past performance,” as James Surowiecki recently wrote in The New Yorker. This is not only because people are better informed than ever, but also because they can transmit their learnings easier than ever as well, not only in person but on social networks and through older but still powerful tools like email and message boards. This applies to people’s personal brands too; it is very easy to spread negative and even false information about people using all the social and mobile technology at our disposal.

The good news, especially for people, is that brands can be modified through your activities. For companies and products, that means branding and marketing activities. For people, it means your own personal actions in the community. For example, many people currently identify me with the technology industry, because I recently worked at Microsoft for almost four years. That’s somewhat fair, but I’m trained as a scientist. How would I get more people to think of me and “brand me” as a scientist? Simple: By bringing it up in conversations with people, by writing about my skills and interests, by tweeting more things about science, and so on. It’s gradual. You have to coax people to a new position over time – a year or two, perhaps.

If you accept that your brand is the one sentence people say about you behind your back, it’s worth thinking about what things people are saying about you right now. Write down a list of reasonable things people might say about you to their professional contacts when asked. Are you happy with those? What would you change? How might you begin that process? Your brand is not completely in your control, but you can do a lot to positively influence it and update it over time.

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How Kate Upton Would Sell Snow to an Eskimo: An Analysis

This was originally published on Huffington Post Celebrity on May 10, 2012, roughly the time of “Peak Kate Upton.” Her people got in touch with me after this. We met for coffee in New York.

Kate Upton’s rise from unknown young model to Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue rookie to authentic social media rockstar to SI cover girl to advertising and product endorsement mogul didn’t occur by accident, and it did not occur undeservedly; It occurred because she leveraged a unique array of qualities in order for it to happen. Here are six things Kate Upton did, and does, to authentically engage audiences and promote whatever messages she wants to:

1. Have the right personality for the job. Not everyone is cut out for marketing, whether it’s in the written word, on television, or in social media. Kate Upton is. She has a bubbly, friendly personality that shows through in her interviews, candid videos taken of her, and her tweets. She has the right personality to be matched up with promoting a magazine, a new product, or a hobby or cause of hers. And her vibrant personality stands out very far from most or all of her peers — it is in fact difficult to think of the personality of most of her peers (and thus, they effectively have none).

2. Let your personality shine through authenticity. It’s one thing to have the right personality for the job. The next step though, equally necessary, is to let it show by being more transparent about your life, and expressing yourself authentically. Kate Upton has been increasingly transparent in interviews, and using social media to for example tweet behind-the-scenes photos like this one from events and jobs. She doesn’t reveal everything about herself of course — she famously denied Ellen an answer about who/if she is romantically involved with — but nobody cares. People are just curious enough to want more. And for the most part, she is controlling the message through her own channels and appearances.

3. Master one thing really well. Having a great personality and a willingness to be authentic are certainly not enough to make loads of people care about you. You have to have a core activity that you do very well. As it happens, Kate Upton is a really great swimsuit model with a unique look that people really, really want to see. The bottom line is that without this particular skill, barely anyone would care about her tweets or product endorsements or want to interview her about anything. When you ask, What does Kate Upton do? there is a simple answer: “swimsuit model.” If you don’t have a similarly simple phrase following someone asking this about you, your outreach is a little lost.

4. Diversify your engagement. Once you’ve established a “core” activity which you’re excellent at (in Kate Upton’s case, swimsuit modeling), people may notice this and encourage your personal or organizational brand engagement in other activities and realms and topics, or want your comments on more strategic ideas or the topic-of-the-day. In Kate Upton’s case, this has largely manifested itself as a series of product endorsements with television advertisements featuring her prominently. Smartly, they are not too different from her core, particularly with regard to the core audience (men, and especially younger men), yet clearly these actvities broaden her appeal and her audience; they include being a face of Guess, a bikini appearance in the Three Stooges mainstream movie, endorsements for Carl’s Jr. burgers, Skullcandy headphones, and a sports videogame by 2KSports, and a comedic guest appearance on the geek-savvy show Tosh.0.

5. Make appearances in person. It’s easy to count pageviews and retweets from the safety of your home office and rest satisfied that your social media marketing is working. In my experience, this trap is especially easy for tech-savvy marketers to fall into, and especially easy for the non-socially-adept to get trapped in. But the reality is that in-person meetings, lunches, events, and so forth have two very important qualities that tweets, videos, and the like lack: intimacy and strength. They are intimate because sitting right next to someone is a very emotional act, and they are strong because the power of in-person word-of-mouth is much greater than that of online, or hearing something in a radio or TV interview. Say what you want about “small talk” — it’s really big talk, actually. Kate Upton recently attended the high-profile White House Correspondents Dinner (guest of Bloomberg News) and the Met’s Costume Institute Gala (guest of Michael Kors). (It goes without saying that Kate Upton is visually appealing and that people like to see her in person, as well.)

6. Repeat. All of the above steps need to be repeated, constantly. They also need to be recombinated. For example, if Kate Upton begins filming a commercial for a new endorsement, she can tweet a slightly revealing behind-the-scenes photo about it. Then she can upload a YouTube video with a commercial teaser. Later, she makes an appearance at an event promoting the brand she’s endorsing, and so forth. The more cross-promotion, cross-platform, and synergistic one can get, the better (within limits).

There are other good examples of people who have shot to fame through multi-platform engagement. One is the rise of Jimmy Fallon from average comedian on SNL to below average talk show host to multimedia talk show host god over the past few years. Another, more intellectual example, is space and exploration evangelist Neil deGrasse Tyson of the Hayden Planetarium.

Lauren Weisberger, famously the author of The Devil Wears Prada, also wrote a book called Everyone Worth Knowing. In it, she describes the evolution of a young woman from being a virtual “nobody” to being a PR professional being mentioned on Page Six and dating a heartthrob. These things don’t happen accidentally, just as Kate Upton didn’t accidentally end up on the SI Swimsuit Issue cover at 19 years old.

There is a formula.

And differently applied, it can help you find and engage an audience for a TV show like Jimmy Fallon (or, as I’ve previously written, as HBO’s Girls could be doing), or promote government funding of space exploration like Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Or promote clean energy reform. Or swine flu awareness. Or raise awareness of a worthy cause.

It’s not who you know. It’s who knows you.

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Public Service Is Multi-Sector

This morning at the ACT/IAC Executive Leadership Conference (ELC)
there was a great panel about generational gaps, government
leadership, and social software moderated by Lena Trudeau of NAPA.

One highlight in my view was a statement about how “public service is
multi-sector’” made by GovLoop.com founder Steve Ressler. This was in
response to a thoughtful question about how he left his job at DHS in
order to work on GovLoop full-time in the private sector. The notion
is that Generation Y thinks about public service differently than
older generations. Rather than it meaning a 30-year career as a
Federal employee, it instead can mean public service in and out of the
government, in the government, non-profit, and for-profit sectors.

Such “social entrepreneurship” as exemplified by Tom’s Shoes (which
donates a pair of shoes to a child who needs them for every pair
purchased) and GovLoop (a social media knowledge network for govies)
can be expected as a future trend, particularly along smart younger
people in a weak economy.

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Proactive Social Media: Filling the Information Space With Great Content

This post was originally published on BrianSolis.com on September 4, 2009.

Guest Post by Dr. Mark Drapeau – read his blog, follow him on Twitter


I recently gave a talk titled Free the People! at the Potomac Forum’s Government 2.0 Leadership, Collaboration, and Public Engagement Symposium in Washington, DC that generated enough interest for me to post my slide deck and write a summary for a wider audience. These thoughts constitute some of my early ideas about “offensive social media” for organizations (this talk was particularly geared towards a government audience, but the fundamentals apply to the private and public sectors more broadly).

Anti-social vs. social government communications: Typically, there are a number of layers between a government employee communicating with a citizen – bosses, committees, lawyers, public affairs, and so forth. This is an anti-social approach to citizen relations. There are good reasons for the current system, but the problem is that new social technologies allow this system to be easily bypassed, even accidentally, by “government socialites.” Admiral Allen, the commandant of the Coast Guard, commented that we want to honor the past, but not operate in it. So how can we slay some sacred cows and modernize government-citizen interactions?

Social media is about being social – Sharing is caring: Social media is about being social both online and in real life. Its mastery is primarily not about technology but about people sharing information through social networks. Technical savvy is needed far less than leadership. If you understand collaboration and communication, you can understand social media. How many government leaders understand how the inside of a phone works? Social media is a very powerful force, because anyone with a phone or a computer can create, comment on, and spread content. And increasingly, this is done in people’s personal lives – and the lines between work and play have blurred considerably.

Remember that citizens are your ‘end user’ – change the public’s expectations of you: Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist, once said that customer service is public service. But how many public servants consider themselves in the customer service business? How many citizens interested in the environment can name someone working for the EPA? How many schoolteachers can name a senior official at the Department of Education? How often does the average government employee meaningfully interact with a citizen who cares about what they do? The government is not “usable” to the average citizen. It can be, and it should be, though. You can play a role in making that happen. Interact with your agency’s biggest fans online and in real life; listen to them and let them help you achieve your mission. The Bloggers Roundtable from the Department of Defense is a good example of this.

Saying “It’s not in my job description” is not in your job description: Often people resist change because they fear the unknown, are afraid of losing control, or have some other interest in the status quo. Unfortunately, social tools are empowering collaboration behind their backs, and they’re going to get stepped on or over, directly or indirectly. Do you know how I met ADM Allen from the Coast Guard? Facebook. The lines between work and play are blurring, particularly when it comes to things like networking and participation. Is checking someone’s GovLoop blog “work”? Who knows. What I do know is that the people doing it are better off than the ones ignorant of it.

Tactics are nothing, Strategy is everything: No talk would be complete without quoting Sun Tzu: “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy are the noise before the defeat.” You need to start off with a strategy for yourself, for your office, or for your agency. What do I want to accomplish? What could we be doing better? Make a list of goals and stick to it. Social media is not a generic toolbox. It’s not a jumble of names of companies. It’s a set of functionality that if used right can provide innovative solutions to specific problems you’re facing.

The best offense is a good offense – Being only defensive is offensive: I think that being only reactive can be a radioactive strategy. Yes, of course you should monitor what people are saying about where you work and the topics you work on. But the really powerful behavior is anticipating what’s coming and seeing it before others do. A broader strategy is playing offense and defense with social media. It’s being proactive and reactive. You either put out information on your own terms, or someone will fill the vacuum for you. I term this “offensive social media” and I think that this is the behavior which truly generates word of mouth about your organization and its activities.

Content is king, but marketing is the queen (and we know who rules the castle): [That’s a Gary Vaynerchuk line from a keynote I heard him give.] The most important thing you can do with social media is share quality information that contributes to the knowledge base, and adds value to people’s lives. Ask yourself, will citizens be better off for having seen this content? But beyond that, don’t forget to market your content. In the future, you won’t find the content, the content will find you. Talk about your content at events, link to it off other people’s websites, use social bookmarking, Facebook Wall posts, Twitter, and other mechanisms to publicize what you content is. Furthermore, be where your audience is. Don’t use Plurk if you know most of your audience is on Twitter, don’t use MySpace if you know your fans are on Facebook, and so forth. And where applicable, use multiple formats to provide the same information.

Sometimes the message is the message – dominate the information spectrum: That said, sometimes the message is itself the message. What I mean by that is merely having a presence, sharing any kind of information, showing citizens that you care about them, can actually be in some sense more powerful than the actual information that you’re sharing. Borrowing from the military, I call this the full-spectrum dominance strategy. You don’t necessarily have to use every tool, but when people are looking for information about defense, or education, or environment, do they find information that you shared? That’s the real question you need to answer.

Discover your internal ambassadors and set them free within your microniche: Charlene Li has said that for large organizations, social engagement with stakeholders cannot remain only in the hands of a few social media experts – it must be embraced culturally by entire organizations and used tactically by many people in many places at many times. Everyone to some degree is a communicator, as the Air Force has said. Give up the idea of message control. People inside your organization are already using these tools at work and at home. And they’re already talking about their work while they’re golfing with their friends or cooking dinner with their spouse. So instead of cracking down on these government socialites, reward them – they’re the most likely all-star public ambassadors you already have. Unlock their hidden potential. Education and training is required, though. Train against stupidity and embarrassment, don’t micromanage, and trust your employees. You already trust them to fly fighter jets and manage hundreds of millions of public dollars, but you don’t trust them to tweet from a Blackberry? That notion is quickly becoming antiquated.

Choose the right tools for the job. Ignore the hype. Experiment. Fail safely: Once you have your strategy, have mapped out some goals, and have identified some leaders who can help you achieve this, choose the right tools for the job. Some tools are better than others for achieving different missions. In some cases, writing will be better, in others photos, and in others video. Maybe you want to offer interactive video chat. I can’t answer these questions about your organization. But I can say that you should largely ignore the hype. MySpace isn’t dead, Twitter isn’t the answer to every question, and WordPress might be more complicated than what you need. Read about the technology, attend events that prolific users actually go to (hint: not government conferences), and conduct small experiments. Fail safely. Or fail small. Don’t use new tools in ways that if they don’t work they’ll be very embarrassing for people or groups. Look at others’ best practices, start small, and learn a little bit as you go along. Don’t take big risks.

Metrics are answers looking for problems. Ask: Is what I’m doing adding value to the community? People get very obsessed with measuring things. Critics especially will ask, what’s the return on investment from a blog, or what’s the ROI on tweeting 10 times a day. I say, what’s the ROI on a meeting that runs too long, or the ROI on a lunch break? I’d also like to know the ROI on actually collecting, analyzing, and discussing the metrics in the first place. How does 10 people sitting in a room for two hours discussing the relative benefits of 450 vs. 750 Twitter followers help people? I like to say, “I count thank you’s, not click through’s.” I count the number of times someone says “I know you from Twitter” or “I read your Federal Computer Week article.” So ask yourself, is what I’m doing helping my community of interest?

Don’t just feel the pulse. Be the pulse: This was said by someone from one of the most successful crowdsourcing companies out there….Jeffrey Kalmikoff of Threadless. [show of hands: no one in the room had heard of it] When people think of the environment, or national security, or education, do they think of your blog, your Twitter feed, your YouTube video channel? Probably not yet – but they could. And that has huge indirect positive effects for you, your boss, and your organization. This goes back to using social media in proactive vs. reactive ways. When you’re proactive and incredibly giving of time, energy, and information, you’re what Shel Israel calls “lethally generous.” http://redcouch.typepad.com/weblog/2008/10/using-lethal-ge.html You become a very trusted member of a community. And therefore information starts flowing back to you, and you can anticipate rather than merely react. Don’t just talk about your office and your agency – Intelligently curate information about your sector, your industry.

Influence = Brand x Experience x Trust. So, what’s your brand? Who are your experts? Does anyone trust you? [This slide title borrowed from @micah’s talk from Gnomedex] – Distrust of the government and its messages have never been higher. http://people-press.org/report/95/ So how can government social media help combat this attitude in the country? One, think about your brand. Yes, the government has brands even though we’re not selling breakfast cereal like on Mad Men. But we are in some sense selling ideas and information and giving products like Social Security to people. And we do have brands – think about photos of the Capitol, or a Marine in full dress uniform, or a dollar bill. Second, who are the ambassadors that are presenting your brand to the public? What are they saying? How can they help your office or agency better achieve its missions? Third, does anyone trust your content? Provide great content, make it accessible, pervasively interact with the community, and build trust over time.

Indecision is not a decision. Plans are nothing without action. I want to conclude by saying that you can think about this and plan all you want, but none of it means anything without taking some sort of action. There’s no ROI in planning your social media strategy for a year – by the time you have one, it’ll be outdated. Make connections, read about emerging technology, start learning and experimenting, and begin moving forward on your offensive social media strategy that provides incredible value to citizens and fills the information space with great content from your organization.

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Do Brands Belong on Twitter?

This post was originally published on Mashable on December 12, 2008. I remember it being somewhat controversial at the time. I still believe that most people in most cases would rather interact with an actual person representing a brand than an anonymous brand social media account — given the choice (which they often aren’t).

Behind every Twitter account is a person. But some of these people ‘hide’ behind organizational brands, obscuring their persona and therefore reducing authenticity and transparency.

While some brands do a decent job of engaging people on Twitter, many don’t, and one could further argue that brand names and logos, as opposed to full names and user images, are not in the spirit of the Twitterverse.

People Talk to People

Twitter is about people sharing information with other people. So how do one-dimensional organizational brands fit into this mix? When you really think about it, they don’t. As an analogy, when you call customer service, a human answers the phone (eventually) and tells you their name – and you’re not talking to “Sprint” or “Dell” but rather “Steve” or “Danny.”


So, does anyone really want to talk to @DunkinDonuts? Or would they rather talk to Bill Rosenberg, the founder of Dunkin Donuts of Canton, MA, or perhaps the local franchise owner on Capitol Hill, or a disgruntled but funny summer employee punching in at 4am? People connect with people, and so I think the latter.

Twitter is still deciding how to monetize, and one possible approach would be to charge organizations a fee for using the service as a marketing tool. Most brands are not yet tweeting, but selling a premium service might increase Twitter’s profile and suddenly seem like an attractive strategy. I think this would be a mistake from the viewpoint of people who use Twitter.

Twitter may become little more than an enormous number of feeds, mainly full of nothing of interest to you. And while the system is built to be opt-in, the prospect of wading through 100 or 1000 times more junk when you do searches, companies hiring SEO consultants to put key words in front of your face, and seeing @AnimalCrackers at the top of the TwitterGrader list in my local area are unattractive byproducts of this business model. (Alternatively, brands just might not buy in at all.)

No Brands on Twitter

Thinking about what might be best for people, in my opinion Twitter should not only not charge brands for membership, but also ban them altogether. Not unlike Facebook and other sites, every account would represent a person using a real name, location, and picture.

People could still tout their businesses, hobbies, and anything else in their handle, bio, or feed, but in an environment of authenticity and therefore increased trust. Some people will game the system, to be sure; but they will often get found out through the wisdom of crowds, so what’s the point?

New users would find having only real, authentic people on Twitter more attractive. Let’s face it, not many people use Twitter yet, and a company with a trusted brand like IBM could develop a platform with a better GUI and a few more features that my parents would be far more likely to try out, perhaps initially bankrolled as a public service. Twitter is far from invulnerable.

Personalities Might Help Brands

this-space-for-rentI think that authentic and transparent personal Twitter accounts – being yourself in an uncontrived way – may indirectly and intimately influence (I3) organizational brands, because of the level of trust involved in sharing information with someone over the course of time. Many people have increased awareness of the government through talking to me and reading my Twitter feed. But I am not a public affairs professional, nor the official brand of the Department of Defense – just an informed, empowered, and hopefully interesting individual.

Having just one personal account would also streamline Twitter’s user base, structuring it in a slight but possibly meaningful way. Why try to gain ambient awareness via TwitterFeed, when each person associated with an organization is a word-of-mouth advertising device?

Dr. Mark Drapeau is a biological scientist, government consultant, and regular contributor to Mashable.com and other venues. These views are his own and do not represent the official views of any organization.

Imagery courtesy of iStockphoto, upsidedowndog

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Government 2.0: What’s Your Brand?

This post was originally published on Mashable on September 3, 2008.

I’m a member of Generation X, and it seems to me that when I was young the character of Uncle Sam was still used on television, radio, and in common conversation. What’s our brand now? Sam’s getting a little old, invented in the early 1800’s as he was – What’s Sam 2.0?

The larger issue as it relates to social media and the government is, what’s your brand? Some parts of the government have very good branding – the Marines have handsome men in dress uniform with gleaming swords, the USDA has the food pyramid, the Federal Reserve Bank has paper currency. Even the CIA has branding – Jennifer Garner from the fictional show Alias was used as a recruiting tool. But what is the brand of perhaps more obscure parts of the federal government: the Library of Congress, or the Department of Education, or the President’s Council on Environmental Quality?

As Chris Anderson points out in The Long Tail, micro-niches are the future for most of us. Perhaps it used to be the case in the era of “blockbusters” that an entire company, or an entire government or agency, needed one overarching brand. No longer. Because the long tail hypothesis states that regardless of how far down the tail one goes, someone (however rare) is always interested in it, anything can be branded.

What does this mean for the federal government? It means that any component, regardless of how small or seemingly insignificant, can have a unique, visible, and useful brand. This might be the Army’s 82nd Airborne, foreign affairs analysts who study Russia, or an office at USDA that is responsible for inspecting imported food. And as such groups in Washington move closer and closer to a vision of Government 2.0, new social tools can and should be used to develop and maintain these brands.

The first thing that government employees need to know about PR 2.0 is that everything put out there – video, blogs, tweets – is open to interpretation, comment, sharing, and re-use. It all affects your brand, and while you can direct and define things to some extent, it is largely out of your control. Get comfortable with it. Jack Holt, the Chief of the Department of Defense’s New Media Office, compares this to the “telephone game” in which people sit in a room and each whispers a message to the next one, gradually distorting the message over time; you can’t control the message itself, but if you stay engaged in the conversation (in the game, interrupting periodically), you could control the ultimate effect and understanding.

Once you’ve acknowledged what Web 2.0 is, you can think about using it to build a brand for your government organization. First, you have to ask yourself, what is my goal? What message do I want to get across? Where is my audience? It may in fact be the case that using social software ineffectively could be worse than not using it at all. Find out using a wide variety of search tools (Google Alerts, Twitter Search) whether people are talking about your entity online. Where are they talking about it? What are they saying? Who are the thought leaders? Regarding adopting social tools that you might not be familiar with, one reasonable approach is to watch what other government entities are trying, and ask them if it is working or not. Another is to try to use social tools internally before using them in a public relations effort.

Second, once you start using social tools, you need to decide how to present your brand to the world. One important decision, as I noted in my last article is, do you present yourself as an Enterprise, a nameless, faceless entity – or as a collective of Empowered Individuals that represent your entity, much like advocates for presidential candidates currently do on television talk shows? Another important decision is whether to simply “push” messages out to people, or whether to engage in conversations with interested persons, whether they view your entity positively or negatively. Again, the answers to these questions will depend on your overall mission and the policies and laws pertaining to your agency.

twitter-grader-logoCurrently, there is a dichotomy in government Twitter usage. Of the roughly 50 Enterprise and 25 Empowered Individual government users I keep track of (data available here ), while on average each has been using Twitter for three months, they have opposite usage patterns. The median number of followers that an Enterprise has is 127, versus 57 for an Empowered Individual. Similarly, the median “grade” given at the new site Twitter Grader was 58 vs. 35 (scale of 0-100).

The true spirit of 2.0, however, is listening and engaging – and here the Enterprises fall short. The median number of people they follow is 8, versus 58 for Empowered Individuals. Similarly, while the median percent of @ replies for Empowered Individuals is 37, the median for Enterprises is zero. So, more than half of the Enterprises have never engaged with a single person on Twitter. As I discussed previously, Enterprises using Twitter but not listening or engaging is more like Government 1.4, so to speak.

[Side note regarding Twitter Grader: From a sample of about 80 Twitter users, the rank order of grades and number of followers was nearly identical, and there was no relationship between grades and measures of engagement; thus: (1) calculation of grades is strongly based on number of followers, (2) grades have no relation to engagement, and (3) Twitter Grader adds little to understanding Twitter usage. Indeed, one government user, @pharmasat, has 42 followers, 0 updates, and a grade of 27. Is that meaningful?]

Finally, down the road, if you are using social tools for branding and decide that they are working well for you, the ideal situation is to have influencers advocate on your behalf, integrate conversations happening in different parts of the Web by cross-references or aggregating, and tracking how memes from your organization flow through 2.0 space over time.

If you work in the government and are interested in social tools, but are not doing all of this – that’s okay! As Forrester analyst Jeremiah Owyang points out specifically with regard to Twitter, many large corporations are struggling with these very same questions. Comcast is probably one of the best examples of PR 2.0 from the corporate world, but they are at present the exception to the rule. And although private companies have less restrictions than the government, they have not figured everything out yet. It’s new to everyone.

Dr. Mark Drapeau is the 2006-2008 AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow at the Center for Technology and National Security policy of the National Defense University in Washington. These views are his own and not the official policy or position of any part of the U.S. Government. He can be reached at mark.d.drapeau@ugov.gov via email.

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