Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Social Media: A Murky Line in the Sand for Journalists

The Washington Post and National Public Radio (NPR), so well known for investigative journalism, have at long last issued guidelines for their journalists on using social media. Implicit in the guidelines is that for a journalist, particularly one for these hallowed institutions, participation in a social network can be hazardous to your livelihood.

NPR makes a point of encouraging its journalists to utilize the “highest level of privacy tools available to control access to your personal activity when appropriate…. It’s just not that hard for someone to hack those tools and make public what you thought was private.”

The Washington Post goes a little further, noting, “All Washington Post journalists relinquish some of the personal privileges of private citizens….What you do on social networks should be presumed to be publicly available to anyone, even if you have created a private account.”

(Certainly, these are lessons that some of our politicians might keep in mind as well! Virtually no one has a private life anymore.)

My colleague, David Rosen, perhaps put it best when he commented that “since social is the main way people associate with political groups (for many, and for the majority very soon), journalists have to give up their personal lives for their jobs. It’s like a new priesthood.”

Technorati Tags: The Washington Post , National Public Radio , social networks, journalist, Social Media, David Rosen, public relations, Makovsky

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Bringing Law and Order to the Wild Wild Blogosphere

The FTC is proposing changes to its Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising that are intended to increase transparency in word-of-mouth marketing.

Lesley Windle of Ragan.com writes that, if the changes are approved, bloggers will be required to disclose their relationships with sponsors and any compensation, including free samples, which they receive for their posts. They — and the companies that pay them — will also be held liable for making false or unsubstantiated claims about products.

I found this very interesting. Most reputable bloggers do already seem to disclose when they have accepted free samples for review or if they are being paid to write about a product. Those who don’t do so face a barrage of negative publicity — and the companies who sponsor them experience an erosion of trust. For example, Lifestyle Lift, a company that specializes in cosmetic surgery, was recently fined $300,000 by New York State for its use of fake consumer reviews, according to a recent article in The New York Times.

Technorati Tags: FTC, Lifestyle Lift, New York State, The New York Times, transparency, Advertising, Blogosphere

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Great Global Conversation: Some Still Tongue-Tied

eMarketer recently ran a fascinating article about a study released in 2009 that confirms the findings of the Makovsky 2006 State of Corporate Blogging Survey … with one important difference: the growth in the number of people who view the social media as an important factor in lead generation. It’s actually a little surprising, given the rapidity with which even B2B marketers are picking up on social media techniques.

Here are a few highlights from MarketingSherpa’s Social Media Marketing and PR Benchmark Guide 2009:

• A significant majority of social media marketing professionals believe that social media marketing is either “very” or “somewhat” effective at influencing brand reputation, increasing awareness and improving search rankings and site traffic.

• Marketers believe that the best specific tactics are user reviews, relationships with bloggers and discussion groups — but they also find those tactics difficult to measure. Only 1 in 10 report that they are “very accurately measured.”

• While only 13% of smaller businesses have a written policy to manage brand communications, a third of larger businesses do.

• About a quarter of businesses of all sizes report not monitoring social media commentary at all and only tiny minorities of businesses post public rebuttals to negative comments.

Clearly, marketers are still struggling to come to terms with the fact that social media marketing requires ongoing attention and can backfire if you just parachute in, parachute out. If businesses continue to think social media is just one more place to grab eye-balls during discrete campaigns, they will be sorely disappointed by the ROI and, more importantly, may have to answer for the advantages gained by competitors who are viewed as more transparent and, therefore, more trustworthy.

What’s more, it seems clear that social media marketers still have not fully figured out how to use this approach to communication and conversation to pull people through the marketing funnel. If we should become experts in one thing over 2009, it is the marketing funnel. Once one understands the sociology behind the rise of social media and the science of the marketing funnel, the sky’s the limit in engaging people in ways that raise awareness AND consideration AND action.

Technorati Tags: eMarketer, social media, social media marketing, B2B marketers, bloggers, business, Makovsky