Monthly Archives: November 2009

Is marketing the last to get social media (correctly, that is)? Or do they play nice in the sandbox with Corp Comm?

This morning during my daily perusal of blogs and tweets, I came across an interesting post from Amy Mengel, “Five reasons corporations are failing at social media.” Within the comments of her post was another blog entry from Gary Hayes, “Corporations in social virtual worlds – psychopaths or welcoming friends?” Both posts make an awful lot of sense, and both make points that I’ve seen in my own experience.

One year ago, I moved into an eCommunications Manager position with my organisation. It was, as one member of staff claimed, “the best job in the company” — and she was absolutely right. I got to work super-closely with some fab guys in the IT department and thus was able to pair my mar/comm skills with my affinity for technology. The role included ghostwriting a blog, and developing a virtual presence through Twitter, directories, and other channels, to drive traffic to the postings, get some traction on the blog, (which had, up until then, been rather neglected due to a lack of resources), and build out a true community of engagement.

In moving to this position, I left the Marketing team to join the Corp Comm team. The blog was viewed as a positioning effort, and truth be told, because of its very nature, was rather tangential to the core business. I loved it…Everything I was doing — tweeting, blogging, scoping the virtual world for mentions, building friendships with other healthcare folks — was just up my alley. The fact that I could hone my skills on the technical side with what I knew about communications and writing? Even better.

The funny thing about this was that, particularly in the early days, the Marketing team seemed hardly impressed and, in fact, quite uninterested with what I was doing online. Months later, social media became mainstream and other organisations — including competitors — started dipping their toes into the virtual stream. It was then that some curiosity was piqued. While the head of the marketing team seemed somewhat interested, the rest of staff (including one specific VP) seemed content with developing Web pages for new programs and initiatives instead. However, as Amy notes in her blog whilst quoting Jason Falls, “corporate Web sites [are] little more than online brochures.” Indeed…and agreed.

The very few who were interested wanted only to use social media to tout new products, reiterating again their “talk at them” rather than “talk with them” mentality. No, no, I tried to reason. It’s to listen and to collaborate, rather than to shout and to promote. My keen Creative Director summed it up well: “These are intelligent people. They know the B.S. already and block it out effortlessly. They’re not going to stand for another commercial about how fabulous we are.”

I preferred to make virtual healthcare friends. After seeing a tweet asking for examples of healthcare in social media, I DMd the author with a list of two dozen examples. I became engaged in the Sunday evening #hcsm chats regularly. I exchanged ideas on quality with folks I valued. This is what it was about — connecting and engaging with forward thinkers in healthcare. Those are the ones I wanted to read the blog…and to be involved in my own network.

An interesting point that Gary brings up in his post is a simple, yet necessary, idea: understand the culture by spending time there. Although a few of the marketing staff wanted to get involved in social media, they didn’t know anything about it. They’d neither skulked nor lurked in any forums, nor on Twitter, nor investigated relevant blogs. Without knowing what audiences already exist, how can one truly understand where one ought to be? As they say, there’s no need to necessarily create the conversation; rather, try to go where one already exists.

The conversations do exist, of course. The quality people are out there. I realize most marketing teams do understand and engage in social media more so than perhaps those I’ve known. I wonder if most of them get the idea of talking about something broader than their own products, as Amy notes, or if they just want to shout “Look at me! Look at me! I’m awesome!”

If Corp Comm departments are typically tasked with positioning an organisation and marketing departments tend to be tasked with branding and promotions, how can they work together to develop a clear-cut, strategic plan with which everyone agrees? While it really shouldn’t be this difficult, my past experiences sometimes makes me wonder why we can’t all just get along..?


My US iPhone moves to the UK…and seems homesick

Last week, the most infamous of hackers, George Hotz (aka geohot), who had successfully hacked the iPhone for unlocking onto any carrier back in 2007, released blacksn0w, “a free unlock for the latest iPhone 3G and 3GS.” The countdown to its release , kept us all on the edge of our seats – and he’d even released it a day earlier than planned, as testing went so smoothly. I was one of his more than 31,000 Twitter followers anxiously awaiting with bated breath, as it would mean freedom from AT&T and the ability to get Twitterific back into my life again whilst here in the UK.

Since moving to London, my iPhone has served just one purpose: as an iPod to listen to podcasts (like Today in Social Media) and music during long tube rides. (O.k., admittedly, two purposes: I still can use some of my offline game apps like air hockey.) However, the pay-as-you-go mobile phone that I’d picked up on my second day has been rather expensive (40 pence per minute on calls – yikes!) and incredibly non-user-friendly (the buttons are ridiculously small and the T9 predictive text doesn’t remember new words, even though I save them myriad times). So I, for one, was really excited for the unlock.

Thus, after unlocking with blacksn0w, I swapped out my SIM card and giggled uncontrollably at the thought that I might again have my beloved iPhone in use. No dice. I brought it to my local tech guy, who suggested that although I may be able to get the phone part to work – and may then save some quid on calls – I’d likely not be able to access the Web. He said he believed that the Web access used in the US would not be compatible with that in the UK. Argh. I was dismayed.

One never ought to give up hope, however.

In writing this post even now, I explored the settings to identify the version and stats for my iPhone to post herein. Incredibly, when checking for wi-fi networks (which I did at a friend’s house just two evenings ago with no luck), it recognized my home network, Starlow. Wait just a tick! How exciting; my iPhone may just be back. Next up: re-swap out the SIM and see if I have any luck.

Seems Web access works with wi-fi, but using the T-Mobile UK SIM I have, I still cannot make calls. It shows a few tiny, tiny bars, akin to when roaming in rural West Virginia with no coverage, rather than the No service it typically shows. After seeing that a Twitter connection, EmilyFralick, was using a US iPhone in the UK, I asked her what service she was using. Her response? “02 pay and go with 3G. Trust me it works!!! I’d pay for the web bolt-on though.” May be worth a shot.

If anyone has ideas, feel free to comment and let me know what route to try next.