Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Gleaning the wrong social media lessons from the Boston Marathon bombing

There's a lot of web chatter right now about the bad information which spread in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy at the Boston Marathon. And while it's important to understand how information spreads in an emergency - and how best to properly inform the citizenry, the finger-pointing and blaming of social dialog is ill-placed.

The real social media failure yesterday was that of the involved emergency response agencies.

The simple fact of the matter is that a lot of the initial clutter and bad information that went viral might have been mitigated had there been an immediate, pervasive and official social media response - particularly on Twitter.

Folks were understandably starving for information, and so they took it upon themselves to find and share what they could to fill the vacuum. The problem is, somehow, official reports were not in the mix of what these people found - at least not for a good while.

(Almost a full hour after the first bomb went off)

The wild speculation and third-person misreporting could have been circumvented had the involved emergency response agencies 1) successfully leveraged pre-existing online reach to effectively spread official information and 2) enacted an emergency communications plan to immediately and successfully inform the public. Of course, both these points presuppose that the response agencies involved both made the investment to build their social reach before this disaster and had an emergency communications plan in place which accounted for social media.

Given the wide-spread misinformation, I'm guessing... not so much.

If you were following Twitter, for example, during the immediate aftermath of the bombings, official emergency response social channels were not really present in the conversation. Even if they were active - and I don't think many of them were for some time - their content either wasn't maximized for visibility so that it could go viral and/or these agencies hadn't done their due diligence of building a solid base of community reach before this event in order to give their content enough raw visibility to make it go viral organically.

(First FBI Press Office notice comes across Twitter several hours after the explosions)

And so the ensuing vacuum was filled with bad information.

I suspect some folks will use the ex post facto hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth over the spread of this bad information as a means for minimizing social media's role in an emergency. I would urge you to accept quite the opposite.

This shows why - even during times of "peace" - effective and professional social media use is profoundly important. Official organizations and representatives cannot wait for an emergency to build a social audience. Reach must be established ahead of time, and trust and credibility have to be earned through steady, long-term online communications. Otherwise, when an emergency happens, you'll find yourself speaking to an empty room and hoping everyone can figure it out themselves.

As Boston showed us, this is not a successful strategy.

(Mass. National Guard makes its first  direct Twitter mention [to its 1.3k followers] of its involvement in the response effort - several hours after the attack... oh, and it's an auto-feed from their Facebook page)

And then, even if you have a decent-sized online following, your content must be optimized for visibility (a la the inclusion of relevant hashtags, @replies, etc.). And determining what the relevant hashtags are in an emergency takes both forethought (perhaps by building out a hashtag theme index ahead of time) and on-the-spot research to see what's trending. These are time and resource investments which must be dedicated before tragedy strikes.

(This was tweeted an hour after the event - indicating a significant Guard presence - yet NGB PAO didn't tweet again about the bombing or its involvement in the response for more than three hours after the first blast)

Either way and for whatever reason, the primary social media failure of yesterday's terrorist attacks belongs to the emergency response agencies which failed to get official information into the trending social conversation. As a result, a vacuum was created and consequently filled with disreputable information. To prevent this in the future, emergency response agencies and their communications staff will need to take more seriously both the construction and maintenance of their social channels during times of "peace," and their obligation to adequately include social response in their emergency communications plan.

UPDATE: I should mention that - by way of contrast - the JFK Library actually got this right - and put an early end to the misinformation circulating in their area of operation. Note the dramatically higher number of retweets and the time stamp. Kudos to them.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The politics of Twitter

Earlier this month, we posted an infographic breaking down the political lean of different social channels. Here's one that does basically the same thing for Twitter. As confirmed in the last infographic, Twitter leans to the political Right.

While you're thinking about Twitter, be sure to follow us @PolitiKlout!

Click image to enlarge.
Via mainstreethost.com

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Targeting influencers on Twitter vs. brand advocates

Jay Baer’s Convince and Convert published this infographic which compares influencers with brand advocates on social media. Mediabistro's "AllTwitter" explains:
As the infographic explains, influencers are the high-tech version of celebrity endorsements. They are characterized by large followings and usually require an incentive – such as money or free products – to support your brand on social media. 
Brand advocates, however, are highly satisfied customers who take it upon themselves to promote your brand because they genuinely value it. They are trusted by 92 percent of consumers, while influencers are trusted by only 18 percent.
Though, Lauren Dugan goes on to say that this study shows that "influencer outreach is overrated," we would argue that the term "influencer" is just oftentimes misused or misunderstood. Certainly, as the term applies to national celebrities like Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh, influencer outreach will most likely prove fruitless.

But what about niched influencers (people who are "celebrities" about a specific topic - like Chris Brogan)? Or influencers within a geographic area (like a local newspaper, or a well-respected politico)? While it would prove a monumental effort and achievement to get attention from, or the endorsement of, a national-level celebrity, the same isn't necessarily true of local, relevant influencers.

We'd also argue that if brand advocates are trusted by 92% of consumers, they are influencers about that brand.

Favorable tweets or retweets from your local paper or a well-respected figure within your county's party could potentially have as much impact in a local race as anything you might receive from a national level celebrity any way, and they're a lot easier to acquire. As we say at PolitiKlout, targeting matters.

Still, it's important to understand the difference between a brand advocate (or ambassador) and an influencer.

Click image to enlarge. H/T All Twitter.

Friday, July 13, 2012

What's the most effective type of digital marketing?

Texting, apparently.

According to this infographic from Mogreet, 84% of Facebook news feed stories aren’t viewed, 71% of tweets get ignored and 88% of emails go unopened. Yet, 98% of text messages get opened. So, in theory, companies that market through SMS/MMS have a far truer reach.

Thank goodness PolitiKlout offers texting solutions in addition to social media outreach alternatives. But as a general rule of thumb, we'd advise that you not assume everyone's using the same platforms - and so a comprehensive digital marketing strategy is necessary.

Click on image to enlarge. H/T Mashable

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The political lean of different social media

As the infographic (found on Mashable) indicates, users of services on the left of this chart are more likely to vote for Obama, while users on the right are more likely to be Romney supporters. Services higher on the chart have more politically engaged voters, while those on the bottom have more politically disengaged users.

Click image to enlarge...

The take-away here, is that the largest social channels (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Google+) are relatively politically centrist, and pretty politically engaged. Meaning, the oft-encountered myth that the internet is dominated by the political Left is just not true. These social channels are the new age battlegrounds for political hearts and minds, and any campaign would be ill-advised to neglect using social media to engage constituents.

Monday, June 18, 2012

PolitiKlout teams up with the Atlanta TEA Party and Peach Pundit to offer Georgia Ethics Text Poll

In May, the Atlanta TEA Party and Peach Pundit teamed up with PolitiKlout to determine views regarding the upcoming T-SPLOST vote.  We had hoped to run the poll 3 times before the election.  However, with multiple polls recently out on T-SPLOST, we have decided to poll the issue of gift caps for lobbyists instead.
To participate, text “ethics” to 28748
Do you support ending Georgia’s practice of unlimited gifts to legislators from lobbyists?
A) Yes
B) No
C) Undecided
The poll will run through Wednesday at 5:00pm.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Atlanta T-SPLOST poll puts power of political texting on display

As an interesting display of PolitiKlout's texting solutions, PeachPundit.com and the Atlanta Tea Party Patriots ran a poll on the upcoming Atlanta Regional T-SPLOST set for the July 31st Primary.

As Peach Pundit recently reported, the results are in!

(Click to Expand)
The strong turnout is no surprise when you consider that nearly 300 million Americans have cell phones (about 94 percent of the total U.S. population) and send about 4.3 billion text messages every day, according to the Washington-based trade group, CTIA-The Wireless Association. About 26% of American adults have used their cell phones for political purposes in 2010.

It appears the interest in political texting has local interest here in Georgia as well. The initial post announcing the T-SPLOST poll on Peach Pundit attracted 52 comments (the second-most discussed thread on that site in the month of May). What's clear is that there is both interest in the subject matter and the method of polling.

Indeed, the Atlanta Tea Party appears quite pleased with the level of engagement they received in the poll:

But issue polling is just one example of what texting brings to the table when it comes to political issues and campaigns --- keeping in mind that text messaging campaigns are bipartition. In fact, it is this opt-in nature of text message outreach that leaves many campaigns uncertain. But it needn't be.

In 2008, President Obama built a list of 3.3-million contacts simply by asking people to opt-in when they attended events and by asking people to opt-in to be the first to know whom his vice presidential nominee would be. Sadly, someone leaked it to the press shorty before it was announced via text message, taking away some of the impact. Still, the engagement was there.

And political use of texting didn't stop in 2008, and it doesn't look to slow down any time soon. 

U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt put “Text JOBS to Blunt” on his campaign RV. Meg Whitman, candidate for California Governor, had a text-message trivia contest where she asked which California college baseball team had won the most College World Series wins. If you entered the contest, you could win a "Whitman for Governor" baseball cap. Senator Scott Brown sent out a text message to his supporters minutes before his opponent was going on the air for a talk radio show, essentially probing his base into action in a very public way.

An early study showed that political text message reminders increased a new voter’s likelihood of voting by 4.2 percentage points. That difference in voter participation can mean the difference between an election victory or a loss

Text messaging is just one of the services PolitiKlout offers to help political campaigns. If you would like more information about our other service offers, please visit www.PolitiKlout.com.