Tag Archive | "PR"

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The Boy Who Cheered Wolf

Everyone has bad days, right?

Well, not everyone. There’s always that person who says every day should be the BEST EVER. They think that you’re a WINNER. They want you to SUCCEED. And all of their friends are AWESOME.

When you shower too much unconditional praise, it ceases to be meaningful. Not every party was the best ever, not every day is terrific, and not everyone you meet is interchangably awesome.

Use praise sparingly. Then, when you give someone a shoutout, they feel more special and your audience is more likely to pay attention to them. When you announce a great event, people are more likely to believe you, and register for it. And when you say that you’re having the BEST day of your life, everyone will help you to celebrate it.

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Twitter is a PR Platform That Screens Your Calls

Nearly every day I get asked a version of the question: “Why do you like Twitter so much”?

The answer is complicated, and I have written about this in a number of different ways. But I’ve been trying to think of a great soundbite to sum up why I love Twitter.

Here it is: Twitter is a PR platform that screens your incoming calls.

What do I mean by that? Twitter is a versatile, powerful way to publicize things of interest to you. But it’s not just a push – it’s bidirectional. Just like a traditional press release will have a contact person and a phone number or email address at the bottom, a person on Twitter has a handle or nickname – and that is how people can get in touch with you and ask you questions.

Here’s the difference. When someone calls you, it’s immediate – you either answer within 10 seconds or you do not; and you probably have no information about the person on the other end. Email’s slightly better because incoming email goes into a holding bin – your inbox – but you still may know very little about the sender.

When someone tweets you, not only does the tweet effectively go into a holding bin, but their entire usage of Twitter is also public. You can quickly see their mini-biography, a link to their homepage, how many times they’ve tweeted, who they follow, and even mine the topic matter or other information about their tweets. You can know a lot about the persons you will deal with, before you actually have to deal with them.

So the very nature of Twitter makes it a de facto ‘call screener’ – you can monitor the conversation about your topic, scope out incoming traffic, and selectively join conversations on your terms. That’s a really powerful approach to public relations, and it has ramifications not just for individuals, but also for businesses and the government.

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Do You Take Twitter Personally?

Ocassionally, I get notes from people I know only from Twitter. They’re along the lines of: Why are you following me now after so long? Why did you stop following me? Why don’t you follow everyone? And so on.

But my question for them is: Why do you take Twitter so personally?

People can do whatever they please with Twitter. Some people like to follow everyone to form a ‘Twitter mutuality’ and use the system as a multiplex instant message platform. Others like to follow only a few people that really influence them, regardless of how many followers they themselves have. Still others conduct experiments with Twitter, following new people in batches, seeing who may be interesting over the course of a week, and then unfollowing the rest.

Some people are also trying to balance their work and personal lives with their Twitter accounts, whether you know it or not. There may be constraints on who they can follow, or how often they can tweet. Who are you to judge? It’s as silly as looking at someone else’s cell phone minutes.

You can’t possibly keep track of what everyone on Twitter is doing! So don’t try. Focus on yourself and what you want to get out of it. Spending too much time thinking about why someone unfollowed you distracts from what should be much more important – saying interesting things.

Moreover, even if someone isn’t following you on Twitter, direct messaging isn’t your only option. People can be found on LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, Plaxo, by email, and at real events. And if you can’t get ahold of them at any of those places, they probably don’t want to be found!

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Facebook as Public Relations Platform

Temporarily, Facebook stole the very unofficial “social media darling” mantle from Twitter on Monday – for better or worse. Chatter erupted in the blogosphere after Facebook altered its Terms of Service (TOS) such that they appeared at first sight to be anywhere from intrusive to megalomaniacal . Immediate responses filed on some authoritative blogs ranged from relatively nonchalant to fairly neutral, to somewhat mistrusting.

Setting aside the fact that most people probably don’t read the Facebook TOS when they join, that all user information is voluntarily uploaded so that other people can see it, and that by using Facebook users allow a private corporation to profit from them, it is nevertheless understandable that people got bent out of shape. But what interests me is that very few people were prepared for this eventuality.

Let’s do a thought experiment. Imagine that you belong to hypothetical social networking site named “GlobalNet” that suddenly switches from benign to draconian. When you joined GlobalNet it allowed lots of privacy control, but a new CEO wants to achieve extreme profit for a huge bonus that’s written into his contract: GlobalNet now plans to exploit user data by reprinting your notes on their blog, plastering your photos on their billboards, and selling visualized social networks of users with more than 1000 friends to corporations looking for influencers. Despite this, most people won’t leave, because GlobalNet is the leading social network with hundreds of millions of global users, instantaneous language translation, and not a serious competitor in sight.

Sounds bad, right?

Maybe. If your goal is to participate in a modest social network of close friends in a private manner, perhaps catch-all corporate sites like Facebook, MySpace, and the fictional GlobalNet aren’t the right fit. But if your goals include forging new relationships, building a personal brand, and fostering an entreprenurial spirit, you can capitalize on the kind of change that a future GlobalNet might spring on you.

Know how some investors make money by betting on bad things to happen? You can hedge your bets too, and consider using your personal Facebook profile in whole or in part as a public relations platform. Not only can this help you market yourself, but it also serves to pre-empt social networks who may or may not use your information in a public manner. (This sentiment was echoed by Peter Shankman a day ago).

People frequently ask me why I allow lots of people to “friend” me on Facebook (which I’ve used since 2005). The simple answer is that as my personal profile has risen over the years, an increasing number of people want to follow what’s going on in my life. I have a choice: deny almost everyone, or let almost everyone in. I’ve chosen the latter, and my Facebook stream tells interested people things about my life that other popular services like Twitter can’t.

Professional online exhibitionism isn’t for everyone. And sometimes it can get you blackballed if you “do it too fast”. But for individuals building personal brands and Internet startups, you might consider sharing more of your personal life with the world.

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