Monthly Archives: May 2012

Corporate hashtags – is big brother watching?

I was reading this article about whether hashtags  are useful and I knew you would find it interesting because we have talked about hashtags before – notably here.

And it put me in mind of a phenomenon I have come across recently –  the Big Brother hashtag. This is a corporate hashtag that allow enormous organisations to keep in touch – not as you might imagine, with what is being said by others about their brand – but with insiders, who work for or with them.

The very large company I am thinking of goes in for social media in a big way. All praise to the way they have embraced it and everything it can do to spread the message worldwide. Checking out their name on either Twitter or Facebook brings up not just one account, but literally dozens for each branch of the organisations work and each country where it operates. As someone who usually works in small business this is BIG.

So far so good. But the thing which worries me, is the suggestion that all arms of this spider, including the smaller partners, should tag their tweets with an array of tags which allows them to be tracked by the powers unseen. In some instances I have seen tweets laden down with hashtags including the company name, the product name and the name of a forum or conference they are attending. The result is something very unattractive, unreadable and un-re-tweetable!

My conclusion, as the rebel in the corner, is that social media has to be useful and when big corporations get involved sometimes clarity and simplicity go out of the window.

I would advocate getting that clarity and simplicity back. So let’s use the corporate hashtag in moderation and where appropriate. Big brother really does not need to see small partner companies shooting the breeze with new clients, although perhaps if they did, they would learn a few things about social media? 

 

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E-mail header – where it all begins

We have been talking about headlines and hashtags on the blog recently and I have been thinking about how that works when we are creating and sending out newsletters/e-shots.

Good strong headlines compel people to read content – but if they don’t ever open the e-shot then it will all have been for nothing.

The e-mail header suddenly becomes even more important than the newsletter itself and the same goes for any kind of pitch, including press releases and blogger outreach. When you are calling on the phone you can charm the gatekeepers into putting you through or give them a compelling reason to do so, but with an e-mail e-shot you have only a handful of words to get the job done.

So it stands to reason that we really need to think about those words. I started by thinking long form – what is it that I wanted to say? Then bashing it down into as few words as possible. It is a great creative exercise!

But this wasn’t going to be enough to get the click. So then I thought about key words, as if I was working out the key triggers for optimising a piece of text. What gets me to open? Well I favour words like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn coupled with words like explained or common mistakes. Top twitter mistakes or new changes explained would probably get me every time!  So now I need to work out the triggers for my e-shot audience.

With the trigger words in mind I now move on to the final killer stage. I am going to list my e-shot content as a string of very short teasers. If I give them three then at least one will hit the spot! I won’t reveal all, but the words sales and secrets and top job may feature.

So how do you get people to open up? It would be great to share in your ideas.

An e-shot across the bows – saying yes to the newsletter.

I am very excited about a new project, which is always a good place to be, but as with so much that is worthwhile it is taking me into areas where I simply don’t have all the answers. So I wondered whether you do? Or at least some of them?

I’m putting together a ‘communication’ for a friend which we are far too au courant to call a newsletter – let’s call it an e-shot shall we?

We are hoping to use it to encourage a group of people he knows professionally, to stay in touch in case they might need him in the future.

The totally scary thing is persuading them that they want to receive this communication. They have to be given the opportunity to opt out and therefore it is really important that we get it right with the very first mailing. No time to bed down and develop – they either like it, or they don’t.

For that reason we are going to be focussing very much on them and their needs. We can’t afford to turn them off by babbling on about the company’s virtues. The content, the style and the images also have to appeal straight away.

The recipients will all be career minded professionals and we want to offer them interesting and useful content that will help them to get to the next level in their careers. I plan to offer a mix of material that is both original – commissioned from scratch by us – and curated articles from around the web. Like all digests you can find it out there for yourself but it is useful when someone has done it for you.

So please do let me know about your experiences of persuading people to say yes to your content – the more experiences we can gather, the less scary it will be when we press send.

Why hashtags are the new headlines.

A couple of posts back I argued what we read online has become so compressed that what were once just the headlines are now the whole story.

For example, when you scan the front page of the BBC news website or your favourite Sunday newspaper on i-pad, the chance are you’ll consume the headline but won’t actually click through to the rest of the text. But while headlines have become the story it occurred to me that hashtags have actually taken their place – hashtags are now the new headlines.

Think about how the tabloids have always reduced stories to the fewest possible, strongest words. Now think about the hashtags that came out of the last budget, ie #grannytax or #pastytax. Political tweeters took arcane fiscal measures and turned them into punchy two worders that had meaning for a wide number of people and all before the Chancellor had had a chance to sit down.

Hashtags have an enormous power because they are so sharable and spread like wildfire. Political prs are going to have to be careful in future that measures don’t boil down so succinctly!

How to get people to follow you on Facebook.

How to get people to follow you on Facebook