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Twitter Etiquette For Agencies/Freelancers


It is today that we must create the world of the future. Eleanor Roosevelt 

Crowd source

Just One Crowd Sourced Question

Social media moves so quickly that no one person holds all the answers, knowledge or even the questions. In this series, Just one Crowd Sourced Question, I reach out to my social networks and ask folks to share just 1 tip on a social media issue. 

The quote from Eleanor Roosevelt seemed like a prefect introduction. Mrs. Roosevelt reminds us that it is not the short-term but the long-term. So, let's learn from each other and build a strong foundation for the future of social media marketing.

This question was inspired by the recent Tweet-storms. Two national brands, Chrysler and AFLAC, were involved in twitter controversies. Third party contractors, an agency in one case, a freelancer in an other, tweeted posts that the clients felt reflected poorly on the brand promise.

In the case of Chrysler, the agency employee forgot to switch off from the brand Twitter page to his personal account. However, in Aflec's situation, the freelance voice tweeted, what the brand considered to be politically incorrect posts, from his personal avatar.

 What is your 1 tip to an agency/freelancer contracted to be the voice of the brand in social networks e.g., Twitter, Facebook, blogs, next new shiny toy?

On a high level responses fell into three buckets: Understand the brand beyond the message, Content direction and Manage.

1. Understand the brand beyond the message

+Understand the heart and mind of the brand

+Understand the history of the brand

+Understand customers’ needs

+Immerse yourself in the brand offline

2. Content Direction 

+Be helpful

+Be interesting

+Consider that you are an employee of the brand

+Think about the perceptions you create through content and voice/tone

+Be transparent

+Treat social media as if you were extending hospitality in your home.

+Know what the brand would say and not say

+Plan ahead what you’ll post

+Voice of client and brand have to be in sync

3. Manage

+The brand must always manage the agency, don’t get lethargic

+Take an interest in the community you are building online

What happens if you do mess up? There were 2 opinons: Ignore and Apology.

 Crowd Sourced Responses 

Behind every 'voice' in a heart and a mind. The key is to deeply understand the 'mind of the brand' (the principles and strategic views) and the 'heart of the brand' (the relationships that a brand has created in the community). If you understand both of these then the appropriate voice will generally always follow. ~ David Alston, CMO, Radian6

The 'voice' of any brand belongs to the customer. Once you understand that, you realize the opportunity is to engage with the customer as if you were having them over for dinner, at your house. Not at a restaurant where everyone's guard is up, but at your house, where, presumably, the relaxed atmosphere will encourage open dialogue.

Many bloggers consider the invitation to comment on their blog an invitation to have coffee with them, and they act accordingly. Rude, offensive and off-topic comments are not allowed, or are deleted.  Do the same - be a good host, offer sustenance, but don't think you need to tolerate anarchy. ~ Yvonne DeVita  Lipsticking @Y2vonne

I have to give you two. Aside from being professional, helpful, engaging and the like - consider yourself as an employee as you are an extension of the brand or actually building it - you have to know the company, products and "speak" inside and out. ~ Susyn Duris Actor, Marketing Consultant Susan Elise Duris

Do your homework to completely understand the history and values of the company you are working for as well as the needs of its customers. Both are extremely important and critical to any desired success in outsourcing social. Anon

If you're going to speak for a brand online, it's really no different than speaking for someone in the real world. Information can easily be misconstrued and misinterpreted if it doesn't come directly from the source. Agencies and freelances can be great resources to companies looking to dip their toes into the social media roller-coaster.

But the most important thing is to educate and not just push out information: along the way, help your client understand the purpose of the tools, how to craft creative messaging, how to evaluate efforts, and understand the power of the web.

The key here at attaining a consistent voice between the messenger (Tweeter, blogger, etc) and the client is communication. They have to be in sync. And although it should go without saying, a person in charge of an official social media account should remain professional whenever talking in the company's voice. ~ Stephanie @saltzberg

Being your company's voice on any social media outlet changes the way you should approach ALL of your social media. In other words, whether personal or corporate, write something, read it, think about how it could be read (or misread), then decide whether it's appropriate to "submit". Steve Chalk ~ @sjchalk

Your example of Corporate PR overreaction is a common one. Sounds like the easiest, fastest and best thing they could have done in that specific situation would have been to simply delete that tweet and no comment or 1 short apology, case closed. With social media, once you've developed your strategy and tactics including specific campaigns you should have already thought of potential blow back. No one is loved by everyone and nothing one does is viewed as ok by everyone. Someone will always object. Expect it to happen.

When it happens ignore it. In rare circumstances, issue one single apology (think about it first), the stick to that. Worst thing you can do is engage in a downward spiral like Absolut did in the Mexico/US map fiasco. All it amounted to in the end was a lot of wasted PR time. No one will remember it if you just move on.

 In the case of Chevy, I don't have all the details either. But Twitter isn't exactly for kiddies, and even an F-bomb can be deleted in a few minutes, no damage done. All they ended up doing was looking very un-cool to a the majority of customers on Twitter who would have felt my first suggestion would have been the most proper response. Simple advice. If you're doing social media marketing you need to have a back bone! ~Tom H Anderson @TomHCAnderson CEO Anderson Analytics Tom H Anderson

It's about building the relationships for the brand, not for you - act accordingly. ~JR Schmit @cloudspark

Number 1 tip - Be transparent; you work for the brand, but you are not the brand. @PRMKTGCamp

Brands turn to agency support because they need to get things done. But even the most trusted, most effective agency relationships need to be strongly managed by the brand, with effective processes and procedures for acting as the brand "voice." If the brand gets a little too comfortable with the relationship and begins stepping over processes, the agency should raise a red flag. ~ Polly Wade @pollywade

Spend as much time as possible with the brand at the outset. See if you can work from their office for a few weeks. Get to know the people that represent the brand via the marketing group. Social is such an intimate relationship with a customer that if you're not immersed in the brand you're not going to be able to fake it. Jeff Hilimire Jeff Hilimire @jeffhilimire

First: Understand the brand as thoroughly as you can. You are, in essence, the company's brand ambassador. Second: When in doubt on content, check with a higher internal authority. Elaine Fogel Totally Uncorked on Marketing @Elaine_Fogel MarketingProfs Daily Fix

It's a no-brainer to stay appropriate. My tip is to stay interesting. The world has enough bores already. Jacki Schklar FunnyNotSlutty  

Anytime you represent a brand, you need to really understand that brand. In other words, what is the promise that brand makes to it's customers? If for some reason you make a mistake, I believe the public is fairly forgiving. However, the public has a high BS meter so you need to be sincerely apologetic and respond quickly. Covering this up and acting as if it's not a big deal will backfire on you and it will only make things much worse. Anon

My best advice is that social isn't just a marketing strategy - it's more than just a tweet or a post here and there. Investing in social means investing in your community or investing in the community you hope to build. It is tremendously hard work despite the immediacy of extracting information via the medium. But again, any machine can extract information.

The most grueling (and the most rewarding) part of social is the human element. Any agency representing a brand has to cull together a team that the brand will help in gleaning knowledge about the brand. You can't hand off the face of your brand as you would a commercial - these are your clients, your people talking about the brand and they deserve to know that there's a thoughtful framework behind the response. Bianca Buckridee @blatantlybianca

Do your homework constantly so you’re believable with regard to what that brand would and would not say and have a strong narrative so that you're not guessing what to say day by day. @girlwithskirt

While there are situation where it works well to impersonate a brand (i.e. Donald Duck), it's never as authentic as a connection with a real human being.  In today's fast pace world, we discount anything that is non-human. A corporation or product is not human. 

I define "brand" as "the relationship with customers" and see it is always greater than the ideas and communication coming from the brand owner. To engage the power of all the conversations that occur about a brand means letting go of control. I believe that is best done with real human beings presented as their authentic selfs. ~ Warren Whitlock Best Selling Book Marketing @warrenwhitlock

.. and my thoughts: Walk a mile in the brand's shoes. Is your client more pink flip flops of siletto Jimmy Choos? (Oh, come on you knew I had to get that in some how!) What does that mean? Perhaps spending time on the retail floor, on customer service calls, talking to sales reps and interviewing the receptionist who has been there for 27 years, using the product. It means understanding the brand value and promise to the extent that when you are "social media mode" your mind set is not from the agency point of view but  simply put you are the brand. 

Are you thinking .. way too expense for an agency to invest that amount of due dilgence time? Yup. Sorry. But it's too important not to .. especially when you consider .. she who holds the conversation holds the relationship. @Tobydiva

Toss of a pink boa to everyone who kindly shared their knowledge and insights!  Thanks to Caren, Cat Chat for the edit help!Pink boa

Interview with Ed Garsten: Chrysler's Twitter Storm Back-story


Chrysler fiat logo It seems that every five years or so Chyrsler gets caught in a bit of a social media firestorm. Not bad when you think of the volitility of the social web.

For those people who might have been out of the country or unplugged from social media during the past week there were two events that occurred within a day of each other that had the social pundits buzzing and tweeting up a virtual storm. 

One: An agency employee (Chrysler's Marketing Department contacted with a PR firm to be their voice on Twitter) was fired for an inappropriate tweet that ran on Chrysler’s @ChryslerAutos Twitter account. Two: Chrysler severed relations with that agency the day after the tweet was posted.

Too often, especially on the web, it’s easy to connect the dots in ways that don’t always create a true picture. I admit I have been as guilty too.  As Gloria Steinem said on a Marlo Thomas post, “If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, but you think it's a pig... it's a pig.”

Ed Garsten, head of  electronic media for Chrysler, offered an explanation on his blog. I thought it was pretty good. However, like a Pig With Wings, it seemed to me that the pieces of the story are still flying around the social networks.  I, like so many other people, couldn’t connect the dots. What was real? What was not? Pig with wings

I asked my friend, Ed, yes, we are pals, if he would take the opportunity to tell us the back-story on Diva Marketing. Then to open the discussion to lessons learned so we can all benefit. Diva Marketing's goal is always to understand how to use social media to bring people together in ways that support your brand’s value and promise.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  Mister Garsten, this virtual stage is yours .. please connect the dots for us!

Ed Garsten/Chryster:  Thanks for the opportunity, Toby.  Last Wednesday  we noticed, what you would call an “inappropriate Tweet,” coming from the @ChryslerAutos Twitter handle. That’s the handle for the Chrysler Brand and managed by our former social media agency, New Media Strategies (NMS). 

I won’t repeat the tweet, but I’m sure I don’t have to. It was hard to miss.  The tweet denigrated Detroit area drivers using an obscenity. Once we got to the bottom of what happened, we issued a statement relaying the information, apologizing to the public for anyone who may have been offended, and revealed that NMS terminated their employee, who apparently thought he was tweeting from his personal account.

There was a lot of chatter that Chrysler and NMS were cold hearted, terminating a person for a mistake and that using an obscenity on the web is no big deal. Chrysler did not ask for this action. NMS did it on their own.

Indeed, it wasn’t the obscenity at all that we took issue with. As I wrote on the Chrysler blog, it was the fact that we’ve built a tremendous amount of goodwill promoting Detroit and the U.S. auto industry through our TV commercial that first aired during the Super Bowl. That’s the one featuring Detroit-area native Eminem and the catchphrase “Imported From Detroit.” 

Any slam, intended or otherwise, against the great people who live in southeastern Michigan under a Chrysler brand banner is unacceptable and compromises the progress we made in a few short weeks.

By the next day, the company decided to cut its ties with NMS. Again, not because of one inappropriate Tweet, but for a collection of missteps that I’m not at liberty to discuss.

We issued a release announcing this development at about the same time I posted my blog item on the corporate blog.  We also spent the next couple of days responding to many tweets while posting the link to our blog, and to third-party stories that most fairly portrayed the situation.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Thanks Ed. Let's explore now how Chrysler is currently incorporating social medial.  Not to give away trade secrets, but what is Chrysler’s high level direction when it comes to participating in the social web?

Ed Garsten/Chryster: Having gone through three owners in five years the direction has changed about as often.  Thankfully, Fiat is aggressive in social media and all of the brand heads are turning to social media for everything from product launches (2011 Dodge Durango) to promoting marketing campaigns, and building communities. 

We’re also encouraged, and do, engage with the public on customer service issues, solving some, but not all, but nevertheless, pleasing consumers that they are able to speak directly to Chrysler.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Chrysler is obviously, subcontracting part of its “voice” in social media to agencies. Why did you choose to go this route instead of keeping all of social media participation in-house with the brands's employees?

Ed Garsten/Chryster: It’s a split decision, Toby. Marketing prefers to use an agency; we in corporate communications do everything ourselves.

As you know, it’s not uncommon for a company to outsource its social media activities and splitting the duties does have its challenges. However, we work closely with marketing to make sure messaging is consistent and there is a minimum of redundancy.

Toby/Diva Marketing: I always say, "Those who hold the conversation, hold the relationship." What does a brand gain by allowing an agency to hold the social conversations for it?

Ed Garsten/Chryster:  Basically, bodies. The auto industry has a long history of  using contract employees and agencies as a means of getting work done with a minimum of back-end costs. The trick is the brand must strongly direct the agency and the plan begins to fall apart when the agency decides to “freelance” on messaging.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Hmm .. perhaps it's time to reevalute that dated out sourced model. On the flip side, what does a brand give-up by allowing an agency to “talk” for the brand?

Ed Garsten/Chryster: Immediate control. The agency gets its direction from the company, but once the conversation begins, it can get off track very easily.

Toby/Diva Marketing: The world knows now that ChryslerAutos was authored by a PR agency. However, the bio on the Twitter page simply states: The official Twitter handle of Chrysler vehicle In keeping with the concept of social media transparency, why did Chrysler not indicate that in the bio?

Ed Garsten/Chryster: Good question. I honestly don’t know. As I mentioned, NMS worked for the marketing department and unfortunately, I wasn’t in on those decisions.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What I find interesting is the difference in approach to social media between Marketing and Corporate. Will Chrysler continue to engage third parties to author social media platforms? If so, how will you ensure Chrysler's brand’s values and promise are not compromised?

Ed Garsten/Chryster: We’re re-examining our strategy, although there is a strong possibility of going with a new agency, but perhaps more participation internally in creating content and engagement.

Toby/Diva Marketing: I'd fight for keeping it internal Ed! What are the critical lessons learned that we should all keep in mind from this experience?

Ed Garsten/Chryster:  Keep a tight rein on your agencies. Strictly forbid those who have access to your social media accounts from doing so on devices that are also used to access personal accounts.

React as quickly as possible. Even if you don’t know all the facts, let the public know you’re aware of the situation and will update them as you learn more.

Closely monitor the conversation and use social media to join that conversation to clear up any misconceptions or inaccurate reporting.

Toby/Diva Marketing: This week an Aflac tweeter joined the club of people who are misrepresenting the brand they work for. I strongly believe that part of the "fix" should be ensuring that Everyone who is involved in a brand's social media initiative understand the brand's value and promise. That means more than just messaging but getting it from the gut and heart. 

In Chrylser's case, I can't help but wonder if the agency dude had understood what Chrysler's Made in Detroit initiative was trying to accomplish (beyond just selling a few cars) if we might not be chatting righ now. 

The tweets aside, Chrysler is doing some interesting work in social. What’s cool on the horizon that you can share with us?

Ed Garsten/Chryster: We’re looking more at growing our mobile presence to better reach folks through their smartphones and iPads. We’re also using social media to launch vehicles rather than the typical auto show press days.

Why only tell reporters—tell everyone! It’s important to remember, our company isn’t quite two years old.  We basically started over again on June 9, 2009 when Fiat came in to manage the company, so we’re running fast to make up ground.

Toby/Diva Marketing: As a blogger, brands and agencies often share campaigns with me. Recently, I’ve been presented with several new auto campaigns. While the concepts are exciting, none address the women’s market.  Btw .. I must admit it’s a little frustrating. Does Chrysler have plans to engage with “my people" .. especially with women over 40?

Ed Garsten/Chryster:  I’m not aware of anything specifically, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something in the works.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Hope so! Let’s wrap this with a similar question to the one I asked you in our 2005 interview:

Ed Garsten On Social Media

It’s the lawless society that presents innumerable opportunities to connect with people and communities and has given virtually anyone who can log on a voice.  From a company’s point of view, we’re able to directly connect with our customers, prospects, stakeholders, employees, investors without the middleman of the mainstream media.

Thanks my friend .. a toss of a pink boa! Pink boa

Comments As Content


Content _reuse Tis a fact well known, that if you want to develop a presence in the social web you must join in on the conversations. Drop a comment on a blog post or Facebook stat, respond to a tweet or perhaps add your opinion to a LinkedIn discussion. 

The conversations that take place below the fold can be as interesting and informative as the original content. In fact, sometimes comments can even be pulled into a blog post. Call it repurposed content.  Here are two examples. 

LInkedIn Discussion

Judy Mod, Social Gastromony, asked a question on a LinkedIn group that haunts many a marketer. - "Why are we treating social so differently than the market disruptions that we’ve lived through before?'"

My Comment

So many people (read: social media 'experts') are focused on mystifying social media. It's really quite simple for most successful business people. Keep doing what you're doing but bring it into the digital world. 

I was talking with a B2B client just last week who was overwhelmed with just one more thing on his over flowing plate. I asked him these question: "How do you conduct business now?" "How do you nurture business relationships now?" 

He made it a point to know more than just how his product could help customers/prospects. He made it a point to know The People, their interests, their passions. When he came across articles he mails links. When he meets clients/prospects in person or speaks to them on the phone he beings conversations asking about them, not about him or his brand,but about how they are. In Atlanta we offer people a "Coke" *(which could be coffee or Pepsi lol!) before we even start any conversation. 

His ah ha light bulb moment came when he realized he could take similar information and build it into a blog post, a tweet, a Facebook update. He was already "social" now all he had to do was synergize online and offline. He agreed .. it would be an easy and exciting adventure.

Blog Post

Bob Garfield, Ad Age, in his typical snarky, humorous and smart fashion Bob dishes (do guys dish?) about a "hijacked" Cap'n Crunch social media campaign by a young agency that wanted to prove they could make a splash. 

My Comment

"I have to sigh, or maybe I should just laugh, when someone tries to add some reality to the "marketing" social kool-aid and tribe cries not fair. Points well taken Bob:

1. Anyone can hijack a brand - Lucky for Quaker this was a positive spin.

2. Anyone can build followers w/ bribes - But are they fair weather "likes?"

3. Successful content/conversation is selfless not brand water torture (take a breath Steven sometimes this is not about the brand/client but about the customer; maybe weather was what they wanted to chat about)

4."This is relationship building, by its nature a painstaking, piece meal process." - How you do that is by "engaging" .. if you don't like the word come up w/ another but in a nano second it will be another buzz word so you'll begin the rant again.

5. Thinking outside the box gets you noticed by Bob Garfield and a column dedicated to your efforts - What's the GRP of that? Now I'm off to add more social media Kool Aid to my coffee!

Next time you drop a comment think .. How can you repurpose your own content. 

It Takes A Village To Grow A Blog .. Along With Your Girlfriends


 Friends hugging fundraiser blog Subtitled: You Gotta Have Friends!

A few months ago I was chatting with Jeff Hillire, president of the Atlanta hot, interactive, agency Enguage, about, you guessed it .. social media marketing. I mused (do you like that word? I rather do.) that it might have been fun to work with a brand or large agency.

He smiled his too wise smile and said something that went like this, "The innovative work you've done in social might not have been possible within the politics of a large company."  Hmm .. never thought of that.

So with no one to tell me No! on Valentine's Day I launched another innovative social media initiative. All The Single Girlfriends, or as we fondly call it -- atsGf. I am excited to tell you about this adventure and to get your feedback. The back-story.

Unlike Diva Marketing and the eBook Social Media Marketing GPS atsGf is a run for the roses. Our goals are to monetize and capture the niche of single girlfriends 40+. In doing so we hope to provide a platform for women to tell their stories and voice their opinons in ways that reinforce there is no one right way to be single. Oh and by the way, brands and advertisers we have more disposable income than our mommy sisters. You're missing a huge opportunity .. pay attention to us too. 

Okay, you might be thinking, but Toby there are hundreds of women communities on the web what makes All The Single Girlfriends so special?  Think .. The View for real women who just happen to be in the demo (single and 40+ smart, savvy and no way boring .. but fabulous!)

It's girlfriends-talking-to-girlfriends about what Gf dish about .. relationships, love, careers, family, sex, dreams, challenges, loss, new beginnings and just life. What is amazing is the posts are from the heart stories interwoven with smart.  Banner  

There are about 20 GF authors and growing. The Gf authors bring diverse backgrounds, a range of ages, passions and experiences. As important each offers a unique idea of what it means to be single after the big 4-0 birthday.

If you've been around the marketing social media web you'll find some of your friends: Yvonne DiVita, BL Ochman, Jody DeVere, Sunny Cervantes, Connie Reece, Elana Centor, Jacki Schklar, Jane Genova, Tish Grier, Marianne Richmond, Susan Cartier Liebel, Mary Schmidt, Kelley Connors  .. and me! 

However, there are girlfriends with a passion to be part of this new venture who are new to the social world: Debra Pearlman, Dorothea Bozicolona-Volpe, Maggier Buerger, Bonnie Simon, Polli Graham, Rebecca Crichton, Tani Wolff. 

But back to Diva Marketing. The focus at Diva is to help you learn about social media often through my own trials and challenges. Here are my first two lessons learned or perhaps I should say relearned:

1. Let's call this the startup syndrome on a zero budget. It takes a village to grow a blog when there is no brand awareness . Your social media pals can certainly help with a jump start but it takes time and creativity to build new relationships in a new social "village." Going viral over night is usually a lucky fluke.

2. Let's call this Nancy White, Full Circle, was right. Several years ago Nancy told me that when a social site is set free to the world it is no longer yours ago. If you're lucky, your commuity will make it its own.; in doing that your vision or concept maybe changed. Hold on tightly .. it's a ride not for the faint of heart.

Come visit us on All The Single Girlfriends, Like us on Facebook and Tweet along @atsGf. Would love your feedback and ideas. I don't know where this one will go but I promise to keep you posted!

Since this is Diva Marketing .. a toss of pink boa Pink boa

to Marianne RIchmond who has been my cohort and the web GF.

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