Jarter Jargon

Archive for April 2012

IBM is a heavy hitter in the global brand market. With 400,000 employees across 170 countries, it can be hard to pull off “authentic” in the social media world while maintaining the company brand message. However, IBM embraces the #1 social media rule of “be yourself” to the fullest extent: They don’t have a corporate blog or a corporate Twitter ID.

At 116 years old, IBM is not new to the game, so maybe you just assume they have their history to back them up and help maintain a solid brand. They have no need to develop an online presence. Old business sticks to old ways. Well you’re wrong. As a highly collaborative business, IBM uses that same mindset with employee innovation and customer interaction.

“We don’t have a corporate blog or a corporate Twitter ID because we want the ‘IBMers’ in aggregate to be the corporate blog and the corporate Twitter ID,” says Adam Christensen, social media communications at IBM Corporation.

“We represent our brand online the way it always has been, which is employees first. Our brand is largely shaped by the interactions that they have with customers.”

Their social presence includes  17,000 internal blogs, 1 million daily page views of internal wikis, internal information storing websites, 15,000,000 downloads of employee-generated videos/podcasts, more than 400,000 Sametime instant messaging users, resulting in 40-50 million instant messages per day, 400,000+ employees with  access to IBM Connections (internal social networking  platform), and thousands of external bloggers.

IBM does have social media guidelines. The employee-created guidelines basically state that IBMers are individually responsible for what they create and prohibit releasing proprietary information. But the document lacks any mention of brand messages or values. Nor does IBM corporate regulate employee social media activity. Only three people hold social media roles at the corporate level, and oversight isn’t part of their jobs.

Their approach? “We don’t police.”

IBM has created an incredible brand with impressive customer service, informative blogs, and employee innovation without employing their own corporate social media channels. Because existing social channels are self-regulated by employees, it gives them a sense of empowerment and spurs collaboration.

It’s interesting to think that in this day and age when social media is a “must-have” for brands, it’s apparently not always necessary if you have an impressive internal structure. That being said, IBM is a pretty special case. I think that their history and their specific brand lends towards its innovation. However it’s still impressive. Even without corporate social media channels, IBM still follows the rule of “being yourself” by demonstrating to the world their collaborative and innovative spirit. The only problem I see is that with so many Twitter accounts and blogs, who do I follow?

How do you get people’s attention when hundreds of movies come out every year? Better question: how do you get people’s attention with absolutely no marketing budget?

Paramount studios launched an extremely successful campaign in order to market the film Paranormal Activity in a way that would shape movie marketing in the future. Paramount started marketing the film by screening it and recording the crowd’s reaction. The resulting videos went viral and also lead to two more sequels.

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Twitter activity generally dies out during the night, but Paranormal Activity was able to capitalize on late-night Twitter conversations. After seeing the movie, some moviegoers were unable to sleep and would tweet about how scary the movie was, playing into the big hype around the film. Paranormal Activity became a huge trending topic that became the longest trending topic on Twitter for any of Paramount’s films.

But how did this campaign work out so well? By utilizing the basic services provided by Twitter. Create a topic, get people talking about it, then play into the hype created by your audience. The viral videos of crowd reactions coupled with the ingenious mining of late-night Twitter conversations proved to be a worthy campaign.

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As far as Paramount’s social media presence, with almost 175,000 Facebook page likes and almost 200,000 twitter followers, Paramount Pictures is doing a great job of connecting and engaging its followers. They tweet quite frequently with several tweets every day. Most are retweets from their followers or information of upcoming titles as well as their corporate charitable causes (i.e. Viacommunity Day and pet shelter drives). Their account tweets all hours of the day, even on weekends. Their consistent feed of information as well as engagement with their audience is very impressive.

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Paramount’s Youtube channel specific to Paranormal Activity has since been updated with the arrival of Paranormal Activity 2 and 3. It now only features 12 videos for Paranormal Activity 3.  Total, the channel has 5,010 subscribers and over 4.5 million total views.

The most impressive campaign was the premier theater selection for Paranormal Activity 3. The movie originally premiered on October 21st, 2011. However, the movie premiered three days early for the 20 cities that tweeted the most requests for the film. This created a Twitterverse explosion. Everyone wanted to see the movie first, and Paramount’s tactic had movie fans falling right into their lap. In just under a month, the top 20 cities alone had a total of almost 44,000 tweets.

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After reading and researching this extraordinary story of a “wouldn’t even be close to premiering in the US” film to the Twitter extravaganza that ensued, it really is no surprise as to the power that social media holds.  It shows that even without a marketing budget, social media sites are free services that provide priceless marketing leverage.

Coca-Cola is America’s cola. Their bubbly personality as a brand has been cultivated over many years so it’s not surprising that their Online Social Media Principles reflect the company’s values. Their policy gets to the point, and explains the core values the company wants to maintain through their and their employees’ social media channels.

 

Highlights

Coca-Cola’s policy is basically broken down into how their 7 core values apply to their online channels and into 10 principles to help guide how their Certified Online Spokespeople should represent the company as well as general guidelines for non-certified employees who use online social media for their personal lives.

Their policy primarily focuses on how channels should help customers, while their secondary focus is general accountability when it comes to protecting the company’s image.

Coca-Cola does a great job of encouraging all of its associates to explore and engage in social media communities at a level at which they feel comfortable. Their advice is, “Have fun, but be smart.” They suggest to approach online worlds in the same way we do the physical one — by using sound judgment and common sense, by adhering to the Company’s values , and by following the Code of Business Conduct and all other applicable policies.

Coca-Cola also wants spokespeople associates, even vendors to be transparent, letting people know who is affiliated with Coca-Cola.

Lastly, Coca-Cola is really big on taking responsibility for actions. They encourage their staff to participate in online communities but to do so properly, exercising sound judgment and common sense. They also warn of sharing information online with friends and family, as friends and family also have the ability to share it with people it wasn’t originally intended to be shared with.

They also understand their global influence and notes that messages are specifically defined as they may be inaccurate in some parts in the world.

One of the biggest highlights comes towards the very end. Coca-Cola states, “the Company encourages all associates to exercise sound judgment and common sense to prevent online social media sites from becoming a distraction at work.” Honestly, it’s a very fair request. A lot of people think that social media specialists for companies get to sit on Twitter and Facebook all day, but in actuality, it’s much more than that.

 

Weaknesses

The only weakness I can see with this policy is the basic explanation. It’s very easy to read and understand, but the 10 guidelines for Certified Online Spokespeople is essentially the same exact guidelines for non-certified channels. It’s basically be smart,  take responsible for your actions, don’t disclose non-public information, and general business conduct codes (don’t steal trademarks, keep records, collaborate with company experts on specific topics).

Changes/Recommendations

Overall, it’s a very clear and concise policy. However, even though certified spokespeople must complete a certification training, guidelines for certified and non-certified channels basically must follow the same exact protocol. The policy is only 5 pages, but it felt like I kept reading the same thing over again.

 

Opinions

I fully understand the need for a social media policy in this day and age. Companies must safeguard themselves when dealing with new media. At my two previous internships, I never specifically had to read and sign a social media policy, it was just a confidentiality agreement. The only think I was told is to respect my time at work and, much like Coca-Cola’s policy, not let social media sites become a distraction at work. According to Jeff Bullas, a surprisingly low percentage of companies actually have a social media policy, but it’s the front door when it comes to preventing poor PR.


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