SVTweetUP: Social Selling or Selling Social?

 

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of mentoring an ambitious and innovative marketer named LaSandra Brill.  It wasn’t long before she blossomed into a leading edge authority on social media. LaSandra is the change agent visionary behind one of the top five product launches in Cisco’s history. At Cisco, she leads a team responsible for implementing a mix of innovative digital, mobile and social media techniques.

Photo credit

You can find LaSandra rocking social media on:

Following are a few LaSandra and Cisco social snipets:

Cisco Unveils Social Media Listening Center – Oct 23 2012

Silicon Valley Tweet Up

One of LaSanadra’s Facebook updates caught my eye.  I’d always wanted to attend an in person TweetUp (a meet up (virtual and/or in person) of people that ‘tweet’ about a specific topic using Twitter) but never got around to doing it.

HOW TO: Organize a Successful Tweetup by Stuart Foater

The one featured in LaSandra’s Facebook update was especially appealing because of its location, the topic (Social Selling or Selling Social?) and the panelists: Ted Sapounitz, Jennifer Leggio, Michael Brito, and LaSandra Brill – la crème de la crème of some of Silicon Valley’s best and brightest social media minds.

Silicon Valley Tweetup combines networking with philanthropy by raising money for family-oriented charities. Run by @britopian (Michael Brito), @gabrielcarrejo (Gabriel Carrejo) and @mediaphyter (Jennifer Leggio).

Michael Brito is a senior vice president of Social Business Planning at Edelman Digital.  He is also an Adjunct Professor at San Jose State University teaching social business to undergraduate students.

Jennifer Leggio describes herself as a raconteur, comedienne, hockey lover (no wonder I like her!) and “Security Twits herder emeritus”. She is VP of Corporate Communications for Sourcefire. Forbes.com tech contributor.

As of last week, Ted Sapountzis is head of Marketing and Product Management at NextPrinciples– he was formerly VP Social Marketing at SAP.

Sponsored by onemedical, the event was held was held at the Palo Alto Women’s Club. The format for the event was one part networking, two parts highly entertaining expert panel and one part free going twitter chat.

Needless to say, I felt far more comfortable at this event.

Inperson introvert and online extrovert? | You’re not alone!

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Gabriel Carrejo moderated the evening with engaging questions that uncovered the following themes:

  • Content is the currency of the social web

  • Make your content social friendly

  • It’s okay to experiment: fail fast, learn and move on

    • LaSandra Brill touches on Cisco’s SecondLife and Jennifer Leggio makes us laugh with her spelling mistake video anecdote.
  • Jennifer Leggio’s Keys to Social Media Success: repetition and consistency (For effect, she said it several times throughout the evening!)
(from left to right) Ted Sapounitz, Jennifer Leggio, Michael Brito, and LaSandra Brill | panelists for SVTweetUp “Social Selling or Selling Social?” – October 2012

Photo credit | More SVTweetUp photos

Everything you wanted to know about Twitter Chats via @markwschaefer

What makes for a great Tweet Up?

  • Topic
  • Format
  • Moderator
  • Panelists
  • Participants

What are some of your favorite Tweet Ups and why?

Related post:  High-Tech Wizardry and Entrepreneurial Witchcraft: What Makes Silicon Valley The World Capital of Innovation?

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Potpourri Food for Thought: Don’t Hide Under a Rock

2 Social Media Fix It Tips

Did you Tweet something, then change your mind? Don’t worry! It’s easy to delete one of your Twitter updates. Keep in mind that you can only delete Tweets that you have made, you can’t delete other users’ Tweets from your timeline and you can’t delete someone else’s RT of your post.

1) How to delete one of your Tweets:

Watch a YouTube video demonstration

  1. Log in to twitter.com.

  2. Visit your Profile page.

  3. Locate the Tweet you want to delete.

  4. Hover your mouse over the message and click Delete.

2) Facebook lets you edit your comments by Nancy Blair via USA Today

Apologizing opens up the doors to communication, which allows you to reconnect and move on more easily.  Remember that despite your best efforts, mistakes happen at some point.  Be sure to have a plan to respond to both positive and negative events. Know when and how to apologize.

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Check out OOPS … Marekting Hall of Shame to learn more about social media blunders and how to recover

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Send suggestions for future Potpourri Food for Thought features.

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Social Media Crisis: An Ounce Of Prevention Is Worth A Pound Of Cure

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Information graphics or infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge and they are extremely popular of late.

To round out my Social Media Blunder series, I am featuring an infographic by Patricia Redsicker of www.wordviewediting.com.   How to Avoid A Social Media Crisis [Infographic] characterizes Jeremiah Owyang’s work on social business hierarchy of needs.

Altimeter Blog:  “Research Report: Be Prepared by Climbing the Social Business Hierarchy of Needs“ by Jeremiah Owyang  | Download  the complete report.  August 31, 2011

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

Now more than ever, it’s important for companies to listen to their customers on social media yet according to an infographic from Get Satisfaction and Column Five, 50 percent of companies say it’s not a core function of their business.  With the rise of power to the consumer via social media, companies will need to invest in listening.

United Breaks Guitars” is a protest song by CanadianmusicianDave Carroll and his band, Sons of Maxwell. It chronicles a real-life experience of how his guitar was broken during a trip on United Airlines in 2008, and the subsequent reaction from the airline.  Over 12 million people have watched the YouTube video.

LA Fitness endures social media nightmare | via The Drum

Listening: Recognition Through Active Monitoring

  • Whether you take this on yourself or entrust it to a reputation management firm, it’s essential for you to know when trouble is brewing.
  • Listen all the time, not only on weekdays.

More on “listening” via @LaSandraBrill, Senior Manager Social Media at Cisco : [SlideShare] Cisco and the Social Web: Listening and Responding to Your Customers and Prospects

The Science of Listening in Social Media and Blogs via Kuno Creative

InformationWeek: Sentiment Analysis: How Companies Now Listen To The Web and 7 Ways Sentiment Is Hard To Decipher Online

More on Infographics

Social media is reinventing how business is done – via USATODAY.com

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Become the Frog Prince of Social Media in 5 Easy Steps

Social Media Blooper + Apology = Unexpected Outcome

According to the Urban Dictionary, slizzard is a slang term for intoxicated or one who has consumed alcohol and is either tipsy or fully intoxicated and showing signs of alcohol abuse and maybe alcohol poisoning.

This story begins with someone at the Red Cross accidentally tweeting about getting slizzard” …

Step 1) Accidental Tweet

Ryan found two or more bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer …. When we drink we do it right #gettingslizzerd

Midas Touch is an herbed / spiced beer from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton, DE.

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Related Posts: 

OOPS : Best of Social Media Blunders and Recovering from a Social Media Gaffe

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Step 2) Tweet Accounted For

Rogue tweet frm @RedCross due to my inability to use Hootsuite… I wasn’t actually #gettingslizzard but just excited! #nowembarassing

Step 3) The Red Cross acknowledges its mistake and removes the tweet.  Notice the tasteful injection of humor.

We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.

Step 4) @dogfishbeer takes notice and urges its followers to donate to the Red Cross

RT @Michael_Hayek: #craftbeer @dogfishbeer fans, donate 2 @redcross 2day. Tweet with #gettingslizzerd. Donate here

Red Cross + Dogfish = Unexpected Social Surprise

Step 5) Surprise Happy Ending:  several people tweet about donating money

All’s Well That Ends Well

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Don’t Just Keep Your Head Above Water, Take Tweeting Lessons

Don’t Just Keep Your Head Above Water, Take Tweeting Lessons

Social media is a powerful way for politicians to distribute information and also engage with constituents in real time. With that comes the risks of magnified and costly missteps.

After sporting his personal Twitter handle for less than 3 weeks, a Québec politician recently found himself in troubled waters.

François Legault tweeted that:

“girls attach less importance to salary than do boys”.

Loose Tweets Sink Ships

Reaction to the controversial tweet was swift and included qualifiers such as “dinosaur”, “sexist” and “clumsy politician”.

Guy A Lepage, talk show host, actor, comedian, and producer (with Oprah-like influence) jokingly tweeted that

“Monsieur Legault’s Twitter account has been hacked!!!! (in any case, that’s my hope for him)”.

In turn, Monsieur Legault fired back at his critics:

Caption: “What’s sexist about saying that women attach less importance to salary than men when making a career choice?”

Beware of the Siren Song of Self-Justification

The resistance to apologizing does all sorts of bad things professionally.  The longer issues are left unaddressed, the deeper the resentment and the harder it is to move forward.

Monsieur Legault didn’t back down to any of his critics and a review of his timeline shows a multitude of defensive clarifications. No apology or “Politwoops ” retraction for him.

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The original version of Politwoops was developed by the Open State Foundation of The Netherlands to follow the country’s members of parliament and town council representatives. Several international versions of the site exist.

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Une tempête dans un ver d’eau – storm in a tea cup

Prevent Tweet Storms

Simply introducing people to a new platform and then leaving them to their own devices is a recipe for disaster.

With the prospect of a provincial election on the horizon, Monsieur Legault and other Québec politicians, and their respective parties, should hone their social media skills … and possibly opt for some coaching to make the most of their foray in social media waters.

Every organization needs to have some way of monitoring social media either by humans or by automated tools so that they can be alerted to a crisis situation and be ready to respond.   Keep an eye on social media and be prepared to respond if something needs immediate attention.

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OOPS:  More on social media blunders and how to recover from them

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Social Media Incident in Wild Rose Country

The wild rose is the official flower of the province of Alberta.

In a recent too-close-to-call election campaign, Alberta’s Progressive Conservative (PC) party saw how quickly things can go off the social rails.  A PC staffer took to her personal Twitter account in response to a promise from the Wildrose Party to introduce new programs and services aimed at young families.

From her personal Twitter account, Amanda Wilkie directed a tweet at Danielle Smith, leader of the Wildrose party:

“If @ElectDanielle likes young and growing families so much, why doesn’t she have children of her own?”

Immediate Outrage

Danielle Smith had undergone several unsuccessful fertility treatments in an effort to have children.   PC leader Alison Redford ended up apologizing to Smith.  Within hours, Wilkie removed  the tweet and deleted her account. She was promptly fired.

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Drowning?

Beware of virtuous and destructive cycles.  Don’t let social spiral out of control.  Invest in social media coaching for you and your brand.  Don’t just keep your head above water, take tweeting lessons.

Simply Providing Social Tools = Failure

              • A “provide and pray” approach has about a 90% failure rate
              • Radical benefits result from delivering social solutions
              • A social media solution is the right tools targeted at a defined purpose

Source:  “Taking a Strategic Approach to Social Media”, Gartner Research Webinar by Carol Rozwell and Nick Gall

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Additional Insights

United-States:  An Election on Facebook: Old Media Enters New World via NPR [video, audio, transcript]

Do “likes” on Facebook translate to votes? Howard Kurtz and Lauren Ashburn of Daily-Download.com examine that issue with Ray Suarez and also explore why traditional news outlets are partnering with social media sites this election year.

Instant Friends – Just Add Water

Don’t be fooled by false friends … it has been suggested that the Romney campaign is buying followers to catch up to President Obama’s giant social footprint?

This Is The Face Of Mitt Romney’s Fake Twitter Followers by Elizabeth Flock via US News

Social Media Smoke and Mirrors: Buying and Selling Fake Followers (Politicians Do It, Too) via @MarketingProfs includes [infographic]

The Dynamic Duo

@MichelleObama: Saturday, people all across the country will be registering voters and reaching out to their neighbors. Join in: http://t.co/w8Cyz5NS –mo

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TV Talk Show Host Caught in Double Whammy Twitter Gaffe

Margaret Thatcher Is Not Dead …

TV Talk Show Host Caught in Double Whammy Twitter Gaffe

One of the key benefits of social media is that your messages can reach more people faster. But this also means that your mistakes can too.

A social gaffe can lead to an awkward situation and can be quite embarrassing especially if it’s as a result of your own actions.  Make sure you have your story straight – go social without the facts and you’ll have egg on your face.

Mario Dumont is a television personality and former Québec politician.  He was a member of the National Assembly of Québec from 1994 to 2009. He now hosts a daily news and talk show.  In May 2012, Mario Dumont wrongly twitted that Margaret Thatcher was dead, by tweeting the following message:

 R.I.P. Margaret Thatcher, a woman of vision and decisiveness. A rarity,

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Related Posts: 

OOPS : Best of Social Media Blunders and Recovering from a Social Media Gaffe

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The road to hell is often paved with good intentions

The same medium that made your mistake widely visible can help broadcast your apology.  Be up-front about the mistake you made and apologize.

Despite having the best of intentions, Monsieur Dumont faltered on many fronts:

  • He was deceived by a spoof Twitter account attributed to former French first lady Carla Bruni.  The fake-Bruni falsely announced the death of “Margareth Thatcher”, notice the misspelled first name with a “th” at the end of Margaret.

Key take-aways: beware of rumors, famous fakes and misspellings

  • He caused outrage since people took offence to him calling Margaret Thatcher a “rare” woman of vision and decisiveness.  This was interpreted as an unintended slight to women.

Key take-away: carefully word your tweets; it’s amazing how much trouble you can get into with as little as 140 characters

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7 Tips on How to Apologize in the Business World by Tom Searcy

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Apologies Galore

  • Monsieur Dumont retracted himself and issued an apology in which he explains being duped by the fake Bruni Twitter account.
“The news about Mrs. Thatcher — not a reliable source. News came from a fake Carla Bruni account. Sorry.”
  • LesNews, a French speaking Twitter feed that reports breaking news via social media also found itself apologizing for the gaffe.  They had reported based on Monsieur Dumont’s initial Thatcher tweet.

The resistance to apologizing does all sorts of bad things professionally.  The longer issues are left unaddressed, the deeper the resentment and the harder it is to move forward.

Unintended Benefits

  • In a follow up tweet, Monsieur Dumont said he was surprised by news reports about his mistake – and by the number of new Twitter followers he now has.

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You can run, but you can’t hide

Politwoops: deleted tweets from politicians

We all tweet things we don’t mean to share, but now – thanks to Politwoops – politicians have no way to hide them. The service allows you to discover tweets that politicians shared and then promptly deleted.

The original version of Politwoops was developed by the Open State Foundation of The Netherlands to follow the country’s members of parliament and town council representatives. The US version is operated by the Sunlight Foundation.

Several other international versions of the site exist though not operated by Sunlight.

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Don’t be an Autrich

… although sometimes you might want to.

Did you Tweet something, then change your mind? Don’t worry! It’s easy to delete one of your Twitter updates. Keep in mind that you can only delete tweets that you have made, you can’t delete other users’ tweets from your timeline and you can’t delete someone else’s retweet (RT) of your post.

How to delete one of your Tweets:

  1. Log in to twitter.com.
  2. Visit your Profile page.
  3. Locate the Tweet you want to delete.
  4. Hover your mouse over the message and click Delete.

Watch a YouTube video demonstration.

Facebook lets you edit your comments by Nancy Blair via USA Today

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Know when and how to apologize

Remember that despite your best efforts, mistakes happen at some point.  Be sure to have a plan to respond to both positive and negative events.  Apologizing opens up the doors to communication, which allows you to reconnect and move on more easily.  Apologizing doesn’t have to be difficult, and can come from a place of strength. Learn the art of apologizing effectively and you may find a significant reduction in the negative effects of highly charged situations.

When everyone can see what you’re doing, you need to act with transparency, honesty and credibility.  In doing so, you’ll avoid having eggs thrown at you.

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The Ultimate Glossary: 120 Social Media Marketing Terms Explained via HubSpot

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Coping with Natural and Social Media Disasters

Apologizing doesn’t have to be difficult, and can come from a place of strength. Learn the art of apologizing effectively and you may find a significant reduction in the negative effects of highly charged situations.

On April 27-28 2011 hundreds of tornados spread destruction across the Southern, Midwestern and Northeastern United-States. The state of Alabama was especially hit hard on the day of the outbreak. April 27 2011 would turn out to be one of the worse tornado days in United States history with a record 205 tornadoes touching down that day.

Lina – skiing, North Lake Tahoe

I’m a big fan of Backcountry, I love to browse their site for skiing gear.  Friends often tease me that I should be awarded stock options in return for my enthusiastic endorsement of the company. Not a ski trip goes by when I don’t bring them up in conversation.

Founded in 1996, Backcountry is an online outdoor retailer that specializes in high-end outdoor recreation gear.  Backcountry.com was named the 2009 Backpacker Magazine/SNEWS Online Retailer of the Year and consistently makes the ranks of Internet Retailer Magazine’s Best of the Web Top 50 Retail Sites many times.

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Related posts: OOPS : Best of Social Media Blunders and Recovering from a Social Media Gaffe

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I plan my shopping and purchases based on the site deals.  More often than not, I am made aware of the deals by way of the regular emails I get from the company.  You can imagine my disbelief when the following appear in my inbox on April 27 2011:

“Mother Nature Hates You”: Backcountry email blast on April 28 2011, as hundreds of tornados spread destruction across the United-States.

A Tasteful Apology Arrives the Next Day

Backcountry Email Apology – April 28 2011

The apology by CEO Jay Layfield is timely, sincere and to the point.  The communication leads with the apology and also includes an explanation about the realities of email marketing.  Backcountry is up-front about the mistake. They are able to resolve this unfortunate issue and move forward while being sensitive to those affected by the devastating tornados.

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Apologies take the energy out of conflicts

Apologies separate time into past and future, problem and resolution

Apologies allow for recognition and shared accountability

Source:  7 Tips on How to Apologize in the Business World by Tom Searcy

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Related posts:

Blended Communications for Better Social Media Crisis Management 

Elton is Right:  Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word

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Examples of Timely Updates

Amazon cloud outage takes down Netflix, Instagram, Pinterest, & more

On July 29 2012, an outage of Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud in North Virginia took down Netflix, Pinterest, Instagram, and other services.  Amazon Inc.’s web services division provides web services and data storage facilities.  Netflix, Instagram and Pinterest used Twitter and Facebook to update subscribers after violent storms across the eastern U.S. caused server outages for hours.

Many Instagram’s users were searching for answers. “Instagram” was the top search term on Google on June 30th, according to Google Trends.

Read the full article via Sean Ludwig on Venture Beat

Related Articles:

Amazon Web Services Knocked Offline by Storms by Nick Bilton via New York Times

Amazon Cloud Goes Down Friday Night, Taking Netflix, Instagram And Pinterest With It by Anthony Wing Kosner via Forbes

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The art of communication is the language of leadership.   James Humes 

Apologizing Opens up the Doors to Communication

Apologizing doesn’t have to be difficult, and can come from a place of strength. Learn the art of apologizing effectively and you may find a significant reduction in the negative effects of highly charged situations. Apologizing opens up the doors to communication, which allows you to reconnect and move on more easily.

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Elton is Right: Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word

Social Media Blunders: It’s best to think in terms of “when” instead of “if” situations

Everything you do, and everything you don’t do, communicates about your brand. A mistake speaks volumes about your (in)ability to manage social media effectively.  Remember that despite your best efforts, mistakes happen at some point.

You said something, disclosed confidential information or shared images that are not supportive of your business.  How do you recover from such a slip up?

Irrespective of its origins, you must respond quickly to a social media crisis. Successful crisis management depends largely on developing a planned and integrated communications approach.

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Social Media Preparedness References:

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You’ve Blundered

Whether you accidentally tweet an insensitive message or a customer posts a disparaging video about your product, don’t panic. The starting point is to apologize via the same medium where the highly visible mistake originated. Offer an apology in public comments. Explain how you will take steps to ensure that the situation doesn’t happen again.

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Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.  George Bernard Shaw

Action and Apology: It’s a two-step process

  1. You must first publicly acknowledge that there is an issue whether you are at fault or not.
  2. Apologize: this is an opportunity for you to separate out the past and future through problem and resolution.

Elton is Right:  Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word

For both romantic and professional relationships, apologizing has got to be one of the most difficult things to do. To put yourself in the right frame of mind, consider the lyrics to“Sorry seems to be the hardest word”written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin; recorded by Elton John and released in 1976.

    • What I got to do to make you love me?
    • What I got to do to make you care?
    • What do I do when lightning strikes me?
    • And I wake to find that you’re not there?
    •  
    • What I got to do to make you want me?
    • What I got to do to be heard?
    • What do I say when it’s all over?
    • Sorry seems to be the hardest word
    •  
    • It’s sad, so sad
    • It’s a sad, sad situation
    • And it’s getting more and more absurd
    • It’s so sad so sad
    • Why can’t we talk it over?
    • Oh it seems to me
    • Sorry seems to be the hardest word
    •  
    • What I do to make you want me?
    • What I got to do to be heard?
    • What do I say when it’s all over?
    • Sorry seems to be the hardest word
    •  
    • It’s sad, so sad
    • It’s a sad sad situation
    • And it’s gotten more and more absurd
    • It’s sad, so sad
    • Why can’t we talk it over?
    • Oh it seems to me
    • Sorry seems to be the hardest word
    •  
    • Yeh…..sorry
    • Nah…….
    • Sorry
    •  
    • What do I do to make you love me?
    • What I got to do to be heard?
    • What do I do when lightning strikes me?
    • Yeah…..What do I got to do?
    • What do I got to do?
    • When sorry seems to be the hardest word

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Related Posts

OOPS : Best of Social Media Blunders

 Recovering from a Social Media Gaffe

 Blended Communications for Better Social Media Crisis Management

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Making an apology can be complex but it has to sound simple and sincere

It is very simple to apologize but constructing the right words to say will take some time. Whenever possible, personalize your response to a specific person or through the face / voice of your corporation.  Be sure to strike the right tone.

Consider the following references and excerpts on the subject of apologies.

Three Little Words Every Leader Needs to Learn” by Ernest L. Arbuckle Professor of Business Administration Rosabeth Moss Kanter – Harvard Business School.

  • There are three little words that extraordinary leaders know how to say, and I’m not thinking of “I love you” (but those are pretty good). The magic words areI was wrong.”  Husbands and wives know that saying those words to each other can be even more endearing than endearments. When leaders say them to their teams in a timely fashion, they build confidence and can move on to a better path.
  • The simple sentence “I was wrong” is the hardest for leaders to utter and the most necessary for them to learn.
  • If a leader cannot admit being wrong in a timely fashion, he or she can never correct mistakes, change direction, and restore success. The consequences get worse the longer the denial prevails.
  • Of course, we don’t want leaders who are forced to say “I was wrong” too often.
  • Perhaps apology training will become a growth business. Actually, I hope not. But I do hope that smart leaders will be more alert to problems, and if mistakes are made, they can utter the three magic words and take corrective action.

Smart Apologies Should Be Strategicby Rosanna M. Fiske via Harvard Business School Blog Network

  • Throwing half-hearted apologies at an issue will just exacerbate a festering problem — and people will view it as an obvious and empty attempt to quiet the masses.

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 Know When and How to Apologize

While you might want publicity to be the end result of your public relations effort, this is not always the case. You don’t always govern the source and means of public attention. Publicity is not always positive and is not always under the control of your organization.  You and your brand are open to general observation.  Be sure to have a plan to respond to both positive and negative events.  Know when and how to apologize.

Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them. Bruce Lee

Additional Insights: 

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Blended Communications for Better Social Media Crisis Management

Successful Crisis Management = Planned and Integrated Communications Approach

In her books “Les Médias Sociaux 101” and “Les Médias Sociaux 201” (Social Media 101 and 102 respectively), en français), social media expert Michelle Blanc includes many cases studies that illustrate the dos’ and don’ts of public relations crisis management in a social media era.

One of them focuses on Maple Leaf Foods, a leading consumer packaged food company; headquartered in Toronto with operations across Canada and in the United States.  In August 2008, deaths were linked to listeriosis from contaminated meat originating from a Maple Leaf Foods plant.  The company reacted quickly and without hesitation.

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Related posts:  OOPS : Best of Social Media Blunders and Recovering from a Social Media Gaffe

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Investigative reporter Abby Martin wrote a blog post that chronicles the steps taken by Maple Leaf Foods in response to the crisis (How They Handled This).  She concludes with the following sobering comment:

However, ultimately, the company’s swift and thorough response will not be considered enough. Because their actions will be of small comfort to those who have been sickened or who have lost loved ones to this nasty bacterial outbreak.

For the most part, Ms. Blanc agrees with Ms. Martin’s assessment of Maple Leaf Foods’ operational execution from a traditional crisis management standpoint (newspapers, press release, web site updates) and that the company reacted swiftly to the situation.

However, Ms. Blanc carries her analysis a bit further and exposes where the company fell short on the digital and social media fronts.  While Twitter and Facebook were not yet widely embraced by corporations in 2008, she argues that a corporate blog and digital media integration would have helped Maple Leaf Foods fair better in its operational response to the crisis.

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Ms. Blanc points out that a regularly nurtured blog helps with search engine referencing and develops strong ties with key constituents.  The company would have greatly benefited from a social media listening strategy (proactive reputation monitoring) and a corporate blog (to complement press release and regular updates).  A response via a corporate blog is easily passed around and has some degree of permanence.  However, you don’t want to create a blog just for the reply.

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InformationWeek: Sentiment Analysis: How Companies Now Listen To The Web

and   7 Ways Sentiment Is Hard To Decipher Online

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Not only did Maple Leaf Foods suffer from poor search engine indexing, it failed to purchase key words such as “maple leaf” and “listeriosis”.  As it turns out, these key words had been purchased by a law firm seeking support in a class action suit against the company. Consequently, at the height of the crisis, a web search on “maple leaf” and listerioisis” weren’t optimized to the company’s response in top search engine results.  This is clearly not the type of social lessons that a company wants to learn in the midst of a crisis.

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Related posts:  OOPS : Best of Social Media Blunders and Recovering from a Social Media Gaffe

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Recovering from a Social Media Gaffe

Social media is legendary for its transparency and speed.  This can turn out to be a double edge sword as mistakes can  be highly and widely visible.

Did you have a slip of the key? Perhaps it was an accidental tweet, an unfortunate typo or a well-meaning but poorly worded Facebook post?  Maybe the brewing crisis originated from outside issues such as a customer complaint or an economic, political or a natural disaster.

Related post: OOPS : Best of Social Media Blunders

Irrespective of its origins, you must respond quickly to a social media crisis. Offer an apology in public comments. Explain how you will take steps to ensure that the situation doesn’t happen again.

Plan Ahead:  It’s best to think in terms of “when” instead of “if” situations

Depending on whether or not you subscribe to the Scouting motto (be prepared), this will be your first step or you may only devote time to it once you’ve survived a social catastrophe.

Successful crisis management depends largely on developing a planned and integrated communications approach.

Following are two examples of social media preparedness plans:

  • The United-States Air Force has a blog response assessment process.  The flow chart lays out a range of possible responses.  Read more here.
  • Cisco’s Social Media Response Strategy is based on the US Air Force blog triage approach.
Cisco Social Media Response Strategy

Listening: Recognition through active monitoring

  • Whether you take this on yourself or entrust it to a reputation management firm, it’s essential for you to know when trouble is brewing.
  • Listen all the time, not only on weekdays.

More on “listening” via  @LaSandraBrill, Senior Manager Social Media at Cisco :  [SlideShare] Cisco and the Social Web: Listening and Responding to Your Customers and Prospects

The Science of Listening in Social Media and Blogs via Kuno Creative

InformationWeek: Sentiment Analysis: How Companies Now Listen To The Web and 7 Ways Sentiment Is Hard To Decipher Online

Follow Lina Arseneault on Twitter

Action and Apology: It’s a two-step process

It’s time to spring into action, something needs to be done. It’s important to respond quickly.

1) You must first publicly acknowledge that there is an issue whether you are at fault or not.

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Don’t try to come up with a perfect answer at first; a speedy reply that indicates you’ve heard and understood is better than a detailed one that’s a week late.

Source: Social Media Firestorms – A First Responder’s Guide, ComputerWorld

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2) Apologize: this is an opportunity for you to separate out the past and future through problem and resolution.

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After your first acknowledgement, take time (not too much, though) to craft a more detailed response. It doesn’t have to be exponentially longer than your original note, but it should contain three things:

Your understanding and acknowledgement of the problem

Affirmation that you have learned from the situation

The steps you’re taking to correct it now and prevent it from happening in the future.

Source: Social Media Firestorms – A First Responder’s Guide, ComputerWorld

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10 Things to Keep in Mind as you Craft Your Apology

  • Be honest and transparent
  • Embrace criticism: think of it as free market research
  • Don’t be argumentative
  • No matter how justified you feel, don’t be defensive
  • Be humble or you will tumble
  • Think about what you’re trying to accomplish
  • Pick the right tone and keep it simple: save the corporate talk for a press release
  • Select the right communications channels: respond where the complaint or issue originated, and leverage complimentary sources (e.g. your corporate blog)
  • Personalize when possible: in response to a specific person or through the face / voice of your corporation
  • Making an apology can be complex but it has to sound simple and sincere

Follow Lina Arseneault on Twitter

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Believe it or not, there are lots of bad ways to apologize. A few examples of what not to say:

I’m sorry you feel that way.

You have to admit, a big part of this is your fault too.

There’s lots of blame to spread around here.”

Source:  7 Tips on How to Apologize in the Business World by Tom Searcy

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@CiscoSmallBiz Turns a Negative Into a Positive via @LaSandraBrill, Senior Manager Social Media – Cisco

Lessons Learned? Assess your response and its impact, build knowledge into the plan

Everything you do, and everything you don’t do, communicates about your brand. A mistake speaks volumes about your (in)ability to manage social media effectively.  Remember that despite your best efforts, mistakes happen at some point. The key is not to panic, but to implement a social media response plan to quickly restore credence in your brand. Invest in “listening” as it offers the ability to learn from what your customers are saying.

Related post: OOPS : Best of Social Media Blunders

Follow Lina Arseneault on Twitter

“Recover from Social Business Mistakes” was featured on October 7th 2011. This tip is adapted from “The Simple Way to Avoid Social Media Failures” by Jeff Stibel.

The Management Tip of the Day by Harvard Business Review offers quick, practical management tips and ideas on wide ranging business topics including managing people, innovation, leadership, leadership, and more (more information and to subscribe).

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Cafélina uses Royalty free images