Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

A Blog About Blogging: Companies and Org’s Doin’ It Right

As users and lovers of social media, we often get caught up in all of the tools out there–Twitter, Facebook, or as of this week, Google+. But this month’s SMC-DC event was all about the often complex art of blogging. We were honored to be joined by Maggie McGary, Online Community and Social Media Manager at ASHAAmy Ganderson, Associate Director, Digital Marketing at The Nature ConservancySimon Owens, Director of PR at JESS3 and Alejandra Owens, Social Communications/Blog Managing Editor at AARP.
So here I go, attempting to implement some of their great tips…
  1. Create dynamic content. Blogs need to keep people’s attention and serve as a resource for lots of information in not a lot of space. The best way to do this is by including links, pictures, videos, whatever–whenever possible. Along with this, create dynamic content that’s the right fit for each of the outlets you share the blog post through. Or in other (Alejandra’s) words, “auto-feeds are just bad.” Don’t put on your Facebook the same blog teaser you put in a tweet–different audiences connect with different styled language, and when/if those audiences overlap, they’ll think it’s annoying that all your content is cookie-cutter.
  2. Lay some ground rules. Developed a  social media and blogging guidelines for your company. It will not only help later on down the line in terms of logistics, avoiding people saying things they shouldn’t, etc.–but will also help you to figure out what your goal is exactly with the blog and keep you in line with achieving it. If you need inspiration, check out AARP’s social media guidelines.
  3. Keep people coming back by offering them ‘themed’ content. So for example, at Cool Green Science at The Nature Conservancy, they have one post that goes out each morning with the top five must-read articles in environmentalism. They also have a Nature Photo of the Week. These kinds of themes not only make it easier to focus on putting out enough content, they also give people something to look forward to next time if they found that post valuable.
  4. Learn from some of the great’s–but also maintain your own unique voice. Along with the blogs by the panelists themselves, some others mentioned include: Ebay Ink , the OKCupid blog OKTrends, and Treehugger.
  5. Prepare for disappointment by keeping expectations low. Sometimes you can plan and plan, but the end product just isn’t what you were expecting. Expect that it may happen and never expect lots of views to your blog in its infancy. Even if your company possesses enough of a reputation to bring more eyes to your blog doesn’t mean they will stay to hang around and read it if it’s not very good…yet.
Like most things in life, the panelists seemed to always come back to the idea that blogging is about finding a balance. For instance, you’ve got to balance SEO-friendliness with unique, original content. Having blog posts that include the words people would use to find it is important–but you can’t always live on Google Insights, constantly making sure your blog post is SEO-friendly. You have to make sure it’s people-friendly too, and that it’s reflective of the author and interesting enough for the reader. As Simon points out, well-written content is the best SEO you can have, because the better it is, the more it will be shared and the more views it will get, making it rise higher in the search ranking jungle out there. And it is a jungle out there.
What company, nonprofit or agency blogs out there do you think are doin’ it right?
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Social Media for Foodies

On Wednesday, the Social Media Club was honored to have Stacey Kane, Director of Marketing for California Tortilla for a special keynote presentation hosted by WhoRunsGov. She spoke to a huge crowd of burrito-and-beer-loving folks at the Washington Post HQ, a group of social media lovers in store for much more than happy bellies by the end of the night. Special thanks to WhoRunsGov from the Washington Post for hosting – it was a great venue!

The event kicked off with a short presentation by Get Spontaneous, who reminded us all, the real world is awesome. Get Spontaneous is a beta website designed to take advantage of just that, offering a sort of “Pandora for Events.” They get to know you and your interests, and they make recommendations about events you should head to. Sounds simple enough and we dig it. Looking forward to seeing how Get Spontaneous evolves over the next few months.

Because Stacey had so many great insights throughout her talk, it makes sense to boil them down to the top takeaways worth keeping in your back pocket, helpful if you work in social media for a consumer brand, especially a restaurant.

  1. Don’t let a negative experience aired on Twitter linger with no response. Respond within 24 hours, take offline, and make it into a positive, even if it means offering free food. Caltort’s number one rule is never lose a customer, and that is something they adhere to. Restaurants and stores should adopt this policy if they have not already.
  2. Don’t treat social media as the solution, treat it as what it is, a conduit for word of mouth marketing.
  3. It isn’t about likes on Facebook or followers on Twitter. As Stacey remarked, it’s about “butts in seats.” Don’t get hung up on metrics that don’t matter–focus on the tactics that get people in stores (coupons/deals, Wifi offering), and actively track those efforts. Caltort has had 13 months of positive sales growth, completely paid-advertising free.
  4. Make your brand easy to talk about. Implement tools and incentives that will make your new products easy and desirable for people to share with their friends.
  5. Make your customers feel smart and and like they are “on the inside.” In my mind, this rule harkens a bit to the book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, which advocates that it isn’t about YOU, it is about the other person. If you make your brand about your customers, they are going to be more responsive and interested. When Caltort was introducing a new vegetarian burrito, they tweeted out to their followers that the restaurant was debating calling the product, “the Vegito.” It got a ton of feedback, mostly negative–and turned into a sort of crowd-sourcing project. Finally, the “No Meato Burrito” was born and it’s creator was publicly recognized for it.

But the best part of the night was an example of Stacey implementing that very last rule of making us feel like we were “on the inside.” Call it a selective intelligence leak or call it a free (intense) focus group for Caltort…the last few minutes were focused on the potential new branding that California Tortilla is considering.

There were certainly a lot of interesting opinons on this new branding concept…so, what do you think of it?

Here’s to Your Health – Health and Healthcare in the Social Media World

A recap of the April SMCDC Event held on April 27, 2011 at the Spectrum Science Offices in Washington DC.

The panelists get ready to start


The room was filled with lots of eager participants, ready to hear our Moderator Alexandra Hughes (@AlexHughes01) lead our panel; Ted Eytan (@tedeytan), Alex Bornkessel (@SocialBttrfly) and Danielle Leach (@TeamInspire), as they discussed Health and Social Media.

The theme of the evening was centered around using social media in new ways to engage patients while they are well, rather than waiting until they are sick.

  • @smcdc: Use social media as a platform for behavior change, not just communication @SocialBttrfly #smcdc
  • @SpectrumScience: @tedeytan: We need to focus on prevention so we have more space for the people that have diseases that are NOT preventable. #smcdc
  • @kellyalysia: @tedeytan: physicians & communicators need to get on same page. Social media can help us change perspective on purpose of healthcare #smcdc

The panel started by talking about how healthcare providers can start implementing social media in their interaction with patients.  A lot of organizations get caught up in what tool they will use, rather than focusing in on a goal and then making the goal work for their purposes.  Not every tool will be appropriate for every audience. It is important to have a clear end goal and then build your social strategy around that.

  • @smcdc: When deciding to enter the social media sphere first ask yourself what success looks like @SocialBttrfly #smcdc
  • @smcdc: You have to be prepared to engage and listen @tedeytan #smcdc

  • @laurenlaughs: Don’t strategic plan your social media engagement to death – let some of it grow organically @teaminspire #smcdc

Some organizations only go into social media when they want to avert or address a crisis.  At that point there is not much impact that they can have unless the organization has previously been online.  Ted introduced the concept of building up a ‘bank of good will’ by having an established presence in the social space and a relationship with patients.

  • @ekivemark: #smcdc bank of goodwill. Don’t go to SocMed to protect yourself. You should already be there building goodwill.

From a pure communications standpoint, social media provides healthcare providers with an opportunity to get a lot of information out in a short period of time.  Rather than being afraid of talking to people, they have the opportunity to join in conversations that are already taking place.

  • @cristianliu Social media conversations are a way to correct misinformation. #smcdc

  • @ekivemark: #smcdc what if someone says something bad? They already are. You can pre plan how to respond http://2.healthca.mp/lEGKvwUSAF worked it out.
Education is another key goal of healthcare providers on social media.  People are eager to learn about issues that affect them and the different ways they seek this knowledge is continually evolving.
  • @laurenlaughs:  2010 was the tipping point for health literacy – people are using social media to learn @socialbttrfly #smcdc

So how do you implement social media strategies and tools?  One of the main tasks is to get the leadership on board so that they work with you, not against you.  The second major step will be to find a way to engage your audience on whatever platforms that you choose to use.

  • @smcdc: One of the ways to get leadership to embrace social media is to get them to do it themselves @SocialBttrfly #smcdc
  • @smcdc: Build some incentive in your social media plan/tool to encourage people to participate #smcdc

  • @smcdc: The premise of inspire is that people will engage in the things that interest them without being directed @TeamInspire #smcdc

Mobile technology is increasingly favored by physicians, especially those who want instant access to patient records in a light, portable form.  It opens up new opportunities to reach people who have little or no access to computers but are constantly attached to their phones.

  • @SpectrumScience: Kaiser Permanente talking abt eliminating PCs frm their offices, going to ipads. AND @kpmemberservice is on Twitter-Thats a big deal. #smcdc

  • @districtjoe: Interesting point that moving to digital records forces doctors to think about their patients even when they’re not in their office #smcdc

The reality is that there are still large groups of people with little or no access to any technology. Another group is those who have access to technology but have no idea how to use  it. These individuals on the other side of the digital divide present a challenge because they cant just be ignored. In order to be a healthcare system that cares and works for everyone there is a need to look at reaching people on both sides of the digital divide.

  • @SpectrumScience: About 80% of US using internet in 2000….and about 80% using it in 2010…we can’t just say “oh they’ll get there” anymore @tedeytan #smcdc

  • @laurenlaughs: It’s going to take more creativity to reach hard to reach audiences – mobile isn’t going to do it @socialbttrfly #smcdc

Even when people do have access to technology, they still have a need for education.  They need not only to learn how to use their technology, but also what tools work best for different needs.
  • @smcdc: Give people basic education to show people what they are using and how to use it @TeamInspire #smcdc

More people are looking for public health information than they realize. They are talking about their personal experiences with illness, their doctors and the drugs they are using, as well as learning from other people.

While they value what they are learning from each other, there is still a hunger for authoritative medical information.  People say their doctor is still the number one source that they want to get their information from.  The problem is that very few actually reach out to their physicians outside their regular appointments.

  • @smcdc:  There is value both in authoritative medical information and publicly generated information @TeamInspire #smcdc

  • @laurenlaughs: More parishioners can email their priests than patients can email their doctors (3%) @tedeytan #smcdc

  • @smcdc: If the number one place people want information from is their doctor, then more doctors need to be in the social space @tedeytan #smcdc

Organizations that are successful in implementing a social media strategy externally also have to walk the talk internally, doing what they ask others to. A lot of conversation needs to take place around what is needed to bring everyone on board and make the strategy work.  What tools does the organization use to foster social interaction, and are they working? What fears does the organization have about participating in new media? Bring all these issues out on the table so that they can be addressed.

  • @smcdc: Organizations are often afraid of being pioneers in the social space @AlexHughes01 #smcdc
  • @smcdc: Highlight other people who are using social media well as examples of what your company could do @TeamInspire#smcdc
  • @smcdc: Invite your boss to events where they’ll be talking about social media in ways that are relevant to them @SocialBttrfly#smcdc
  • @smcdc: Internal intranets are built around projects while social networks are built around people and are therefore more engaging @tedeytan #smcdc

Healthcare organizations have built in content in the form of their patients experiences.  Find non-threatening ways to invite them to share their stories and perspectives, e.g. using third parties, surveys, or fliers.  Its not a good idea for physician to be directly involved in asking patients to do this since it could potentially be misconstrued as using their authority to force participation.

  • @SpectrumScience: uh oh. HIPPA came up. @tedeytan has the answer…”its a mistake to believe that patients don’t want to talk about their health” #smcdc
At the end of the day, the process of implementing a social media strategy organizationally is hard! It will take a lot of work and persistence to get something going and make it successful.
  • @smcdc: The truth is that the process of implementing social media organizationally is hard! @tedeytan #smcdc

A special thanks to our moderator and panelists:

We would also like to thank Spectrum Science (@SpectrumScience; http://www.spectrumscience.com/blog) for graciously hosting the event at their offices.

Citizens For Japan Happy Hour: Wednesday, March 23

Citizen Effect’s Japan Earthquake Relief Fund launched last week and already the support has been overwhelming. Backed by a generous pledge from Google CEO and Chairman Eric Schmidt and his wife Wendy to match the first $100,000 in donations to the fund, Citizen Effect exceeded that mark in just 5 days.

What’s most encouraging, however, is that donors and Citizen Philanthropists have decided that the whopping $200,000 ($100,000 donated plus the Schmidts’ matching $100,000) that Citizen Effect has raised for the Japan Earthquake Relief Fun isn’t enough. Citizen Philanthropists — people who commit not just to giving money, but raising money from their families and friends — are signing up every day to raise even more funds. You can do the same by visiting “CitizenEffect.org”http://citizeneffect.org/.

And to provide us with another opportunity to bring our local community together to help the people of Japan, DC-based Citizen Effect is hosting a Citizens For Japan Happy Hour THIS Wednesday, March 23 at Local 16 from 6-9PM. The event is FREE to attend, however donations are suggested
and Local 16 will be donating 10% of the evening’s proceeds to support
Citizen Effect’s Japan Earthquake Relief Fund for the American Red Cross.

RSVP at http://citizensforjapan-efbevent.eventbrite.com

 

Join Social Media Club and Citizen Effect in making a difference for this cause. Representatives from the American Red Cross will be at the event to address questions about the current situation on the ground in Japan and to share more ways in which you can get involved with the relief efforts to support Japan’s recovery.

Event Recap: Get Geeky: Smart Social Networking

Guest post by: Liz Glomb, DC Events Committee Member
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Having to compete with multiple other networking events on the same evening, it was great to see that a large group of people decided to attend the Get Geeky: Smart Social Networking SMCDC event at Porter Novelli DC on February 23, 2011. People were greeted with a warm welcome by Porter Novelli, a fantastic and yummy spread of food, and top notch panelists.

The speakers for the event included Frank Gruber (@FrankGruber, CEO & Co-founder of TechCocktail), Shana Glickfield (@dcconcierge, Partner at Beekeeper Group), and Shonali Burke (@shonali, Principal at Shonali Burke Consulting) and was moderated by Alexander Howard (@digiphile, Govt 2.0 Correspondent for O’Reilly Media).


The topic for the event was centered around how to network in the digital age using various social networking platforms and how to turn an online relationship into a business or job opportunity. Other topics that were discussed included how to manage your offline and online activity as well as the pros and cons of having your personality reflected in your online image. 

The panel brought up many interesting points, and after 2-hours intense discussions and tweets, here were some of the highlights:

  • The Line between offline and online is becoming thinner, so you have two choices: wall up completely or be social.
  • Your relationships that form online can affect you offline (and vice versa)
  • Always be curious (Frank Gruber)
  • You don’t always have to be serious (Frank Gruber)
  • You are still a person, so use your personality
  • Don’t have a personality? Learn to behave (Shonali Burke)
  • Don’t ignore opportunities i other social media channels




And that’s the recap for the Get Geeky: Smart Social Networking SMCDC. MANY thanks to Porter Novelli DC for allowing us to use their space for the event and for the delicious food and refreshments. Another thank you goes out to our awesome moderator and panelists for their great content, interactions, and humor. For more information about the Social Media Club DC and other events, please follow the conversation on Twitter (@smcdc) and “like” us on Facebook.

Event Recap: Entertainment and Technology

Despite the iffy weather and a rescheduled session, a bunch of hardy folks made it out to the Entertainment and Technology SMCDC event at the Consumer Electronics Association in Crystal City on February 1, 2011.  They were greeted by a top notch panel and some delicious cookies. The event moderator Joe Gizzi, (@districtjoe) kicked off the evening by introducing the panelists, Megan Pollock (@tech_tarheel), Lyn Slater (@queenofblogs), and Rick Kowalski (@rkowalski7).

CES recap and trends

First off the panel gave a brief recap of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and shared some of their top tips and trends. Favorite picks included:

@queenofblogs: cars and the ‘green’ factor.

@tech_tarheel: new TV tech and appliances

@rkowalski7: tablets

The reality of CES is that a lot of the technology showcased will not make it to the general market.  Pollock pointed out that CES is more a venue where content providers and tech creators are coming together to make sure that there is content for new tech. Another constituent that was well represented at CES was the movie industry.  More celebrities and creative directors are showing up to the event each year. “Hollywood can’t afford not to be involved in both hardware and social media to keep up with what fans want,” said Slater.

The panel discussed what the implications of the trends we are seeing now could be.  A clearly emerging strategy that many companies are taking is having users create their own content for new technology.  Not all the technology developed however will be for everyone. A prime example of this according to Kowalski is 3D. Interim solutions in the form of set-top boxes and third parties like Netflix are filling the content gap.  Pollock says that consumers will be willing to pay for these services and devices as long as the cost is reasonable. @tracytran tweets “I would pay 4 Hulu as they keep doing newer shows. Netflix stuff is all usually older seasons (on demand).”

The future of Tablets

Gizzi asked the panel where they thought tablets, currently a hot topic with the advent of the iPad, would be going. Kowalski mused that the two key issues that would influence whether people would opt to make the move from smartphones to tablets would be portability vs. pocketability.  Right now Apple and Android seem to have the market on tablets cornered. Pollock said that it would be interesting to see what Blackberry was going to do. “Their playbook will be more business focused.” Pollock added that consumers would also be looking at networks and subscription costs as they made the decision as to what tablet they chose to adopt.  Slater however feels that people have certain preferences and will stick with those regardless of other factors; for example, people who like Apple products will remain on whatever network can support this..

Privacy concerns and their impact on the adoption of new technology

Another big topic of discussion was to what extent consumers need to protect their privacy and how that would affect the adoption of apps that shared their activities and preferences with their friends.  Gizzi theorized that with the mass acceptance of Facebook, users might find it easier to adopt services that predict what they want or would like, based on what their friends are doing.  Slater pointed out that Amazon has been doing this successfully for a while now in the way they suggest products based on a user’s browsing history and what similar users have bought. Referring to the Facebook privacy issues in the past year Kowalski said that as long as services are straightforward about how they are using user data, consumers may not be as disturbed about sharing their information.  The whole panel concurred that where privacy settings are concerned, the simpler they are, the better.

The discussion naturally turned to the use of location based apps.  Both the panel and attendees seemed to agree that users have to weigh the benefits of participating in these, versus the potential threat to their personal safety.  Because of sites that track the whereabouts of users @amyytam tweets “Pleaserobme.com I don’t want in check in on 4 square.” Pollock talked about how privacy, or the lack thereof, now has both personal and financial implications.  For example it is possible that in the very near future you could be denied/ granted benefits by your insurance company based on your level of fitness as determined by what sort of venues and events you check into.  It would be easy to monitor how often you work out.

@DistrictOfAris says that where safeguarding privacy is concerned “Users definitely have a role. As do platform providers. And educators.” Slater believes that ultimately it is the responsibility of the user to educate themselves on how privacy settings work and to learn how to guard themselves on the internet.  Ironically, Gizzi says, privacy on the Internet is schizophrenic; people who will not reveal their names think nothing of posting thousands of pictures of their children.

Social interaction and Apps

While there may not immediately be content that supports new technology, Slater thinks that content providers will most likely take the lead in providing apps that encourage users to interact with one another around certain shows or platforms.  Pollock observed that people seem more interested in having the same content available to them on all their devises.  What people really want, a member of the audience commented, is the ability to share specific clips of shows with friends.  Pollock says that with all the debates around digital rights management, we may not see a way to easily do this soon. Instead, Gizzi says that networks are tapping talent to interact with viewers in real time in an effort to get them engaged in whatever content they have out.

Senior Citizens and social media

It was pointed out that for certain shows targeting an older demographic there might not be as much of a need for widespread app offerings that are social in nature since viewers may not be interested in them.  Gizzi however feels that this may not be strictly be true.  “There is a mass later in life adoption of social media by Senior Citizens.”  Regardless of whether Seniors choose to adopt technology and services that are not social in nature,  Slater believes that there will be more apps that are developed specifically to cater to children and the families of Senior Citizens, allowing them to monitor their older relatives’ welfare virtually, e.g. the status of their medication.

 

And that’s your recap of the Entertainment and Technology SMCDC event.  A special thanks to the Consumer Electronics Association for hosting the event, and to our moderator and stellar panelists for the great content.  For more information about Social Media Club DC events, follow the conversation on Twitter (@smcdc), “like” us on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/social.media.club.dc).

Interested in more about consumer tech? Want to be the first in the know? CEA is offering a new Tech Enthusiast membership to help influence the future of the consumer electronics industry. Learn more at www.CEAtechenthusiast.com.

November Event Recap: Politics Gets Social

The midterm elections are behind us – victory celebrations are winding down, wounds are beginning to heal, and Christine O’Donnell jokes are no longer en vogue. As the nation’s capitol prepares for a new political season, SMC-DC took some time to reflect on the election and the role of social media in the political process.

This Wednesday Politics Got Social. The evening started off as any political event should – with networking! SMC-DC members from the left, right, and middle came together to mingle and exchange business cards at our venue, Pillsbury Law, and then to ask questions to our expert panelists, who provided three unique perspectives on politics and social media.

Katie Harbath (@KatieHarbath), Chief Digital Strategist at the National Republican Senatorial Committee shared an insider perspective on social media and the campaign process. Her advice for integrating social media into a political campaign: Start now! Ok, ok, start right after you read this post. She also shared that transparency and authenticity are key and recommended that politicians tweet themselves, rather than leaving it to staffers. Participants also wanted to know – who has been successful in integrating social media into campaigning? Katie offered up Scott Brown as a prime example. He started engaging constituents online early. And even though he initially communicated with a small number of fans, the quality was high, thus increasing loyalty. One way to start growing your online fan base is “after the handshake.” When a politician meets someone in person, they should ask them to become an online follower.

Fundraising also plays an essential role in the political process. Mike Mayernick (@mmayernick) founder of social giving startup, giv.to (@givto), shared his perspective on how social media comes into play. Fundraising is a “call to action” and social media may not be the right forum but with a strategic process it can be a good starting point. His recommendation: start by sharing an article that will stir up support, next create a petition for your supporters to sign. As participants sign up for emails, funds tend to follow. Experience shows this method garners much higher giving rates than generic pitches. Michael also emphasized the importance of an integrated campaign when using social media in politics.

And did you know there is a job that actually requires you to watch The Daily Show and Colbert Report? Well there is, but sorry, it’s taken. Lauren Feldman of American University is one of the nation’s leading researchers in political communications. Participants were eager to hear her insight and findings from a research study she conducted at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. One interesting nugget is that 25% of those surveyed said that “political divisiveness” is the most important problem facing our country, distinguishing rally attendees from the larger population. She later discussed that comedy can be used to awaken the political junkie in those who wouldn’t normally participate.

As the evening wrapped up, panelists discussed how social media is still a new phenomena in politics. Many politicians last campaigned in 2004 when these digital resources didn’t even exist. Additionally, “political rules were not written for a new media world.” Although the rules pose some obstacles for politicians, the public is fortunately becoming more forgiving of online gaffes, so not being able to spell a word, like say “potato”, in a Tweet won’t necessarily make you the nation’s laughing stock.

All in all, it was a fun and enlightening event. I know we will all look forward to see what our experts have to say when the 2012 elections ramp up.

Thanks again to our host – Pillsbury Law, our panelists, and to all those who attended. Stay tuned for pictures and video from the event!