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Leading from the Social Media front

Love this article, as tweeted by Kevin Sablan:

Unless a once-in-a-lifetime story is breaking in your community, the most urgent challenge facing every news organization today is making a swift and successful transformation to the digital future. Leading that transition is every editor’s most urgent challenge. And, for better or worse, Twitter has become a leading current indicator of a newsroom’s — or an editor’s — willingness to change.
You don’t lead change from your comfort zone. You lead change by showing your staff that you are willing to learn a new skill and suffer the discomfort of learning publicly.

Well worth reading the whole thing, by Mr Steve Buttry.

Twitter account ownership, logic lessons and what the BBC really lost

So, earlier in the week, the world and her husband tweeted and linked this piece, suggesting that the BBC had lost, lost I say, 60,000 followers because Laura Kuenssberg took her Twitter account with her to ITV. The horror. And the predictable warfare between the “social media is a personal medium” and “social media is about marketing messages” camps broke out. (FWIW, I’m firmly in the former camp, for reasons we’ll go into later in this post).

Cue much discussion, wailing and bemoaning and evangelical posturing about who should own what in social media. Ugh. It’s rapidly becoming the new journalists vrs bloggers discussion.

Thankfully, there is some new thinking in here.  I think Martin Belam really nails it when he attacks the other part of the proposition, which no-one else seems to have questioned:

If you take TV as the analogy, when a series on BBC2 that has been pulling in 1.2 million viewers ends, we don’t generally go around saying that “the BBC has lost 1.2m viewers” and assume they are totally lost to the BBC. We expect that they still consume some other BBC programmes, and probably some of them still on BBC2.

Spoilers: based on his sample, the answer is that the BBC lost nowhere near 60,000 followers. Check out his arithmetic and stuff on currybet. So, Martin’s wee bit of anlysis suggests to us that the whole underlying argument of the piece is flawed. The BBC may have lost 60,000 Follows, but Follow does not equate to Follower, because people are capable of following many people. It’s a classic logic error which, admittedly, makes for fantastic linkbait.

So where does that leave us? Well, certainly not with the message that media outlets should own absolutely the Twitter accounts of everyone tweeting for them. John Bethune has some intelligent thoughts on how to address the situation.

Here’s an additional thought: if the BBC had claimed the account, and switched it to @BBCNormanS for Kuenssberg’s replacement, how would the people who found themselves suddenly following a person they did not choose to follow feel? Would they be annoyed that the BBC had forced them into following someone else? Quite probably, in some cases. And there’s a chunk of relationship damage that almost certainly outweighs the costs in terms of Follows inflicted here.

Brands are accumulations of people in the end; people’s work, personalities and output. And any brand that puts all of its eggs in the basket of a single Twitter user or account in putting all its eggs in one basket. That’s foolish. A brand which spreads itself across multiple social media accounts of its staff – of its constituent parts, if you like – benefits not only from reduced risk of loss, but also benefits from the multiple relationship streams developed as a result.

Tom Callow’s piece seems, to me, to be a classic example of the “command and control” approach to brand marketing clashing with the more personalised, distributed nature of social media. And that’s a fight that’s going to be going on for a long time to come, I suspect. But, we can see the outcome already. However much people might like to claim that people do, I don’t have conversations with brands, I have conversations with people. And if they’re good people, I think that much better of the brand.

What the BBC has lost is not 60,000 followers. What they have lost is Laura Kuenssberg’s relationship with 60,000 people. And no amount of Twitter account claiming could allow them to retain that relationship. Guess what? Your staff just got more important.

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Opening Keynote: Suraj Kika on Twitter

Opening keynote is by Suraj Kika of Jadu.

He’s compared the massive growth of Twitter (1600% in 2009) with the wholesale shift of people’s attention away from mass media to personalised media.
It’s been a very example-based presentation so far. He cited #amazonfail as an example of engagement gone wrong – complete silence from the Amazone twitter account throughout. 
The company designed offices based on a blog post by Joel Spolsky, and went on to use his FogBugz software – from follower to customer in less than a year. They interact with many of their suppliers through Twitter. 
They have their own Twitter account – @jaducms
Short version of their approach:
  • Turn your customers into your evangelists on Twitter
  • Put real content out there, don’t just market
  • Engage with people
Oh, and it’s a great way to learn about the rest of the social stuff that’s happening on the internet.
ROI? Already got two strong leads. People are tweeting, so if you don’t get to them, your competitors would. People talk about our products on there. Need to be aware of that. If you add it to your marketing mix, you can benefit.
Corporate Twitter versus personal? He has three – a locked personal one, a professional one @surajkika and the corporate one – @jaducms – to which all the company can post. They manage this through the Jadu CMS which provides a workflow and trail.