Month: February 2010

What Do Your PR Offerings Say About You?

Although I rarely do reviews here, I like getting PR pitches for the same reason I’ve always like mystery gifts and grab bags- like the proverbial box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.

When most of my blogging was about my kids, I got a lot of offers for toys, kids dvds and the like. It made sense, because I fit into their demographic. They saw me as The Mommy.

What does it say about me when the offerings of the day are SPAM recipes and a book on menopause?

I feel like I just got the world’s worst fortune cookie- ‘You are old and have crappy taste in food! SPAM for you!’.

In Which Discovery Goes from Respected Company to Social Media Idiots

Social media as it exists today for businesses is a relatively new concept. As much as it seems everyone and their grandmother has a Twitter account or a Facebook fan page, the truth is the majority of companies out there are just dipping their toes in the water.

As with any new campaign, the results can be mixed, depending on how the company chooses to go about it. Some companies such as Jetblue and AT&T actively use their Twitter accounts to promote services, engage with customers, and help trouble-shoot problems. GM and Comcast are also well-known for their customer engagement strategies.

Then there are the companies that don’t get how social media works. Amazon, among many, MANY others make no effort at all to use their account to engage and build a community, instead using it as a news feed for links to random products. The result? One of the largest retailers in the world only has a following of around 16,000 users. They miss the boat for building consumer loyalty among their followers because they choose to ignore the cardinal rule of social media- engagement is everything. Talk *to* your customers instead of *at* them.

Finally you have those that fall into a third group- the Spammers.

Before today, had someone asked me my opinion of Discovery as a company, I’d have cited the quality of their educational materials such as their toys and magazines, the shows I’ve watched on their channels, and the usefulness of their website as an educational resource. Solid company with a lot to offer.

So how does such a smart company do something so damn stupid as to put an absolute idiot in charge of their social media management??

Social media is one part marketing and one part public relations. The face the company puts forward on sites such as Twitter directly impacts customer perception of the brand.

So what image of their company were they trying to convey when Discovery pulled this little stunt today on their Discovery Student Adventures account?

Discovery, let me explain something to you- this is called spamming, and it’s about the worst thing you can possibly do on Twitter. Attempting to get people’s attention in such a generic way with no personal interaction whatsoever? @-Replying people who don’t follow you? Using what is obviously a targeted, pre-packaged list of demographic-based users? Asking for retweets from people who don’t know you? To say that you have breached Twitter etiquette would be a massive understatement.

As a Twitter user I can tell you this sort of behavior is highly annoying, and makes you as a company look very, very bad. In fact the only difference between you are a bunch of cheap porn sites on Twitter right now is that you at least aren’t flashing your tits at me when I go to check my @ replies.

You are, however, looking like really big boobs.

Google Buzz Notifications Overwhelming You? Here’s a Fix!

Google Buzz launched yesterday, and the internet seems to have very mixed reactions on the fledgling service. The biggest complaint I’ve seen so far is the notification system, which by default sends you updates on every conversation you’ve been a part of, either on your own, or when someone else mentions you. With everyone playing with the shiny new toys, it’s looking to become an inbox avalanche if Google doesn’t tidy this up and add some settings.

In the meantime, here is a quick way to get your inbox back under control-

Go to your settings page, and select the ‘filters’ tab, then at the bottom select ‘create new filter’.

A box at the top will give you different options of how to filter. In this case you want ‘Subject’ since Google consistently labels the notifications. Put the word ‘Buzz’ in the subject box and click ‘next step’.

Tick the box that says ‘Skip the inbox(archive it)’, and then move down to the box that says ‘apply the label’, and tick that as well. From the dropdown choose ‘create new label’, and name is whatever you want. (‘Buzz’ cannot be used, so I call mine ‘Buzznotes’.)

Click ‘create filter’ and you are done.

What you have essentially just done is made the notifications automatically archive upon arriving in your inbox, so they won’t show up with your regular mail and clutter things up. When you want to read them, just click on your label name in the sidebar, and all notifications will show up, allowing you to read them at your leisure, or mass delete them.

Alternately, if you know you will never read them, follow the same steps as above, only when you reach the 2nd page in the process, tick the box that says ‘delete it’ instead of the archiving and labeling boxes. All future Buzz notifications will then be deleted upon arrival.

It’s not the perfect solution, but this should keep things tidy until Google gets around to giving you adjustable notification settings in the Buzz interface.

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