Week 12: Social Media Policy & the Legal Fun Stuff!

Hey folks!

We’ll have a busy class this Monday!

We’ll lead with outstanding scandal presentations, head into the lecture on Social Media Policy, Copyright, and Trademark Infringement, then I’ll leave you with some final thoughts on best-practices.

This week we are going to talk about something a little less flashy than scandals, but a potentially strong strategic guideline for content development: policy and the legal side of social media.

Let’s start with policy.  When managing social media for organizations at some point we have to discuss “policy”.   Policy is a fancy way of saying we’re going to create a document or set of guidelines that articulate a course of action and behaviour.

Some presentations in class have already demonstrated that without policy, social media can be scandalous.  Recall HMV, Epicurious, Senator Wiener, etc.  If policies were in place governing how social media is used and by whom, these scandals could have been avoided.

When discussing policy, we take a step back from specific technologies and think about the overarching issues of managing what kind of content we produce and share.  Content is generally guided by organizational goals, campaign objectives, brand positioning etc.  But sometimes organizations need some rules around the kind of content that can be posted and shared.  This helps guide employee behaviour, and protects both the employer and staff 🙂

Developing policies

The Canadian Business Network has laid out a guide for small business and entrepreneurs to develop social media policies.  It provides a great overview, especially for entrepreneurs.

This Mashable article provides some ideas about building a social media training program for staff.  It really outlines a comprehensive approach to developing a social media policy/program.  Educating staff and team members is essential for engagement and effective use of social media.  If education and engagement is not secured (especially from top administrators or managers) it will be difficult (if not impossible) to develop policies, let alone enforce them.  Getting people to agree to policy development requires everyone to relinquish control of what happens in conversations online. That can be a challenging concept, but keep in mind – hyperlinks subvert hierarchy!   

Hubspot has posted an article looking at 5 Noteworthy Examples of Corporate Policy that provide great suggestions to managing corporate social accounts.  

What else needs to be in a social media policy?  This article outlines the “10 Must Haves” and gives social marketers some food for thought on what we ought to consider.  A London based web development company created “Policy Tool” a site that generates social media policy.  It asks a series of questions to help determine your best policy.

Policies should also include how the social media plans will be executed. Generally a good approach to drafting policy includes building social capital by actively engaging with your constituents on social media through reciprocal communication, providing something useful (communications with customers, fun contests, etc.) Understanding and following the culture of your chosen social media tool is also important; people behave differently on Facebook than they do on Twitter. It is important to build trust with your followers by showing the organization’s “human” side. Make sure that status updates matter to your followers, and that they “get” something out of your posts.

Demonstrating that you are aware of good policy, are able to craft it and abide by it will make you invaluable to your Manager. 

Policy assessment and evaluation

Generally we focus on evaluating the needs of your audience and balancing their needs with the goal of the organization.  Then we share and create appropriate content simply by observing how our audience responds (recall our analytics lecture)

Policies and evaluation decisions should always be tied to data. You might learn, for example, that your followers/audience don’t care about a blog with links to more information about your organization’s products or services, but a Facebook post gets active engagement.  That might suggest a policy outlining the kind of content you share on your blog and facebook, and the percentage of time a social media coordinator would spend on each platform.

The legal fun stuff 

Copyright and trademark infringement are two legal definitions you need to be aware of in social media marketing.

The Canadian Copyright Act exists to protect against unauthorized copying and certain uses of an “original expression.”  We’ll get into what “original expression” means in our class discussion. One thing you should know though, is that copyright is automatic. In fact, the blog post is copyrighted.  Any academic essay you’ve ever written is copyrighted and protected by the Copyright Act.

I’ll discuss the highlights of the Canadian Copyright Act and the most applicable parts to marketing and communication.  We’ll discuss the four concepts of “expression”, the usefulness (or not) of protecting, borrowing, and limiting expression.  Feel free to flip through the Act or bookmark the page so you can reference it ongoing.

Trademark and trademark infringement are fairly straight forward concepts. Trademark law provides protection for distinctive marks, certification marks, distinguishing guises, and proposed marks against those who appropriate the goodwill of the mark or create confusion between different vendors’ wares (i.e., goods) and services or both.  A “mark” can be a logo, symbol, design, image, or a combination of these elements.

The law of trademarks is designed to prevent competitors from confusing customers into thinking that they are buying products and services from a trusted, known source when in reality, this is not the case. It’s also meant to protect the integrity of the “brand”or “mark”.

Trademark is part of Intellectual Property Law – we won’t get into that, but if you want to check out some details about it, you can do that online.  We’ll discuss forms of trademark infringement, how to avoid it, and when you can “get away with it”, so to speak.


Week 9: Writing for the web and social media

Hey Folks,

It was great to hear from each of your groups on the great work you are doing. I’m enjoying the variety of projects taken on!

As discussed in class, you really ought to be posting content on your platforms and moving forward with checking and documenting analytics (I recommend you do this weekly). I know sometimes the hardest part of a campaign is just hitting “post”.

Now that you are actually posting content (you really should be at this point), I want to address a topic often overlooked but of significant importance to social media – copywriting & writing for the web/digital platforms.

This Mashable article highlights some of the overall things to consider with web writing.

In class we’re going to spend some time going over the concept of copywriting, and how to apply basic copywriting principles to your content to make it more effective.

Copywriting is the term we use to refer to writing (or copy) that is intended to persuade people to buy something. This short article on “what is copywriting” by my colleague gives a good intro.

Copywriting is the kind of writing you see in advertising and marketing. If you watch Mad Men, we’re talking about Peggy Olsen.

You need to read this Copywriting 101 by Copyblogger for class. CopyBlogger is arguably one of the best resources for writing on the web. When you have more time read their “5 P Approach to Copy that Crushes it”. If you find yourself really into writing, join their community for ongoing free resources – they are great professional development tools.

We’ve already talked about how to think strategically about the different types and format of content. Good copy is essential for effective content. If you’re not a strong writer, don’t sweat it. Writing is a skill that can easily be cultivated with practice.

As folks working in social media, we have to be comfortable with and skilled at writing copy that captures attention, imagination, and clicks 😉

In terms of writing for social media, I liken social posts to headlines.

Headline writing is a fairly specialized skill that takes loads of practice. I seriously respect headline and copywriters, but also recognize that this form of writing can be formulaic. I’ll go over some basic structures and key principles of headline and copywriting in class, but wanted to connect you to a few sources I use for inspiration:

Authority Blogger’s 102 Proven headline formula: Download the PDF.

Pro Copy Tips: 117 Headlines that have made money

You’ll notice that both copywriting and headlines share a common root: persuasion. If you’re in MIT, you know how evil persuasion is 😉 Just kidding. It’s awesome. In fact, you all need to read Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion before you graduate and enter the workforce. Applying the author’s 6 principles of persuasion will make your job a lot easier 😉

Ok, back to persuasive writing and social media. We know that social media serves to support an organization’s vision, mission, goal, and objectives. Often that means influencing behaviour, opinions, and purchasing patterns. Remember Coca Cola’s Goal in their Liquid and Linked Strategy: “To own a disproportionate share are pop culture” (i.e. influence attitudes & behaviour) AND “Double their business by 20/20” (influence purchasing power). Every piece of content they produce supports these two goals and persuades to you engage, share, and like their content.

Persuasive writing is another skill that takes practice. The good news is, you’re already doing it. Most academic writing is rooted in persuasion, or at least argumentation. A good term paper will clearly state a thesis and guides the reader through a series of arguments that support it, ultimately convincing the reader to agree. So, the trick is to edit that 5000 work article down to140 characters 😉

In class we’ll go over some basic principles of copywriting, headlines, and persuasive writing. You’ll be able to apply what we discuss to your social media strategy so you can achieve your goals.

Week 7: Tagging, Folksonomies & SEO

Hey Team,

This week we dove into content marketing.  Next week we are going to follow that up with a discussion around some backend tactics that support our content marketing through social media: Tagging, folksonomies, and SEO.

We are starting the discussion with tagging and its origins in “folksonomies”.  When done properly and strategically, tagging can be a powerful tool for your social media strategy.  As you work to create, launch, and measure your social media strategies, you’ll want to integrate these tactics.  Most of you will be familiar with the idea of tagging. In fact, we spent some time talking about #hashtags in class already.

This week we’ll review it from a historical perspective, position it within social campaigns, and set us up for a discussion on SEO.

The formal definition of tagging is the process of adding free-text descriptors to online objects. Together, the tags that people add to a particular system (such as a website or blog) comprise a folksonomy.

Thomas Vander Wal is credited with creating the term “folksonomy”  (this article is a short look at it’s history).  It is a combination of the words “folk” and “taxonomy.” Clay Shirky’s article “Ontology is overrated: Categories, links, and tags” is a classic, popularly-cited article on the topic. Ideas frequently correlated with tagging can be found in books such as The wisdom of crowds: Why the many are smarter than the few and how collective wisdom shapes business, economies, societies and nations, in which James Suriowiecki argues that the collective intelligence of the masses may be smarter than an elite few. The above link to the Wikipedia synopsis of the book is a must read J

If you have time, take a look at this on article on meta-data.   The article is a bit “academic”, but provides some insight into the logic that informs SEO.

Although tagging has been exponentially popular in the Web 2.0 world, the idea has been around for a long time. Folk-based taxonomies, or folk classifications as they are sometimes called, have been created (and studied academically) for years and years in fields such as anthropology and biology. The theory is that vocabulary terms grow organically out of social settings, local needs, and so on.

A big question – just like all other forms of user-generated content – is why people like to tag so much?!. Early researchers and theorists thought that people tag their own documents primarily for their own later retrieval, and the fact that the whole world can retrieve documents based on their tags was secondary. Arguabley, though, tagging makes it a heck of a lot easier to have a conversation!

Delicious is a “social bookmarking” site. It is a general-use site that allows for tagging of websites you want to bookmark. If you like to bookmark sites, the nice thing about Delicious is that you can sign into your account from any computer and therefore access your bookmarks from anywhere. The tags people allow you to see what sites and tags are currently popular; visit the site and you’ll see what I mean. This video is a few years old, but explains the concept of social bookmarking nicely.

CiteULike is a Delicious-like site for academic papers, and last.fm allows you to tag music. Tag clouds, such as this one from the photo-sharing site Flickr, show popular tags, with the larger words being more popular. You can tag photos on Facebook, but you can only tag them with friends’ names.

Tagging has become increasingly important for organizations as they fight for relevancy and space on the web.  Tagging is directly linked to how a website ranks when it’s searched.

This has lead to “search engine optimization” (SEO) as a key strategy for digital marketing.  This Mashable intro on SEO explains the basic idea.  Traditional SEO was largely driven by key tags or search terms embedded on the organization website. However, social media is challenging the traditional model of SEO.

SEO is complex and exciting :).  I’ve attached this beginner’s guide to SEO.  It’s a thick document.  Do what you can before Monday, but do read the entire document at some point!

This week, please read the articles I’ve linked to here and spend some time playing with tags. Think about how you can integrate tags into your social media plant –   Try tagging your blog, your tweets, searching for tags, and observing how others are using tags in their posts.  Integrate tagging as a tool in your social media strategy.

Week 6: Content – blogging, microblogging, vlogging, etc.

Alright, by this point you’ve figured out who, the exact person, you’re targeting in your social campaign – your ideal customer avatar (ICA).  And you’ve gone through the PEW research to determine which platforms will best reach your audience.  Now it’s time to start thinking about creating content.

As we’ve said before markets are conversations.  The platforms we choose mediate those conversations (oh no! I feel some Marsha Marsha Marshall McLuhan coming on – press play)

Over the next few weeks we are going to work together to construct and execute your social media strategy.  That means putting together a content strategy which outlines the kings of things you will create, share, and post.

Said before – content is what ultimately engages your audience.  Let’s dive into so common types of content and how you can use them from an organization’s perspective.

Blogging: A blog positions you as an expert and industry leader.  Or as we like to say, as a  “thought leader” 🙂  Blogs can differentiate your business because they can showcases your personality and your voice.  Blogs allow you to interact with your customers and create community without having to reach out to people one-on-one. Blogs are excellent for search engine optimization (we’ll talk about this in a few weeks) and help bring new prospects to your site. Blogs help you express not just what you sell, but what you stand for.  For a blog to be successful, you need to establish goals.  We’ll get into goal setting in the coming weeks, but some goals include:  attract new leads, convert prospects to customers, strengthen relationships with existing customers (to make more sales or get more referrals), differentiate from competitors, get media, and increase understanding of the products & services you provide.   Consistently posting is a key to blogging success.  We’ll go through how to generate an editorial calendar in class.  Many of you will want to create blogs as part of your social media strategy, so, as a bonus, I’m including a document with links to some of the best free blog themes. Note – they are all WordPress.  I’ve worked with many blog platforms, and in my opinion, WordPress is the best 🙂

Vlogging:  A video blog 🙂 Pure gold if you’re a natural speaker or if your product or service has great visual appeal.  Vlogging holds the same benefits as a general blog with the added impact visual storytelling can bring.  How to be a vlogger in 9 steps is a cute article that outlines the process.  It’s fairly straightforward.  You’re biggest challenge is coming up with interesting and relevant content for your audience. Ideally your ICA worksheet will help you understand what content your audience is looking for.

Microblogging: microblogging  is a short, limited post.  Probably the most familiar version of a microblog, is the ubiquitous Facebook status update.  It is considered a “microblog” because you are blogging – in very short form – what you want to convey to your Facebook friends. As you microblog, if you do it frequently, then you are “lifestreaming” – sharing your life with your social network followers. This “lifestreaming” is invaluable to marketers. We often call it stream of consciousness research where we can get an instant sense of what is happening in the marketplace.

Twitter is a microblogging site. When you post a “tweet,” you are microblogging. On Twitter, you can only post microblogs of 140 characters or less. This article on the Twitter website explains the basics of Twitter, and this page  provides links to explanations of all of Twitter’s features. Twitter is also a social network; you can “follow” people, and they can follow you.  For the latest on Twitter – because it changes daily – visit the Twitter tag on Mashable

This article  in the well-respected journal First Monday provides an interesting case study on understanding what types of tweets (emotion, information, opinion, etc. ) people post.

While Twitter started as a one-way communication tool, with celebrities and new agencies pushing out information, it has evolved into a two-way communication medium where public conversations are being held between brands and their customers.  As many of you have experienced, it’s a great platform to create dynamic conversations and connections.  Take a look at Coca Cola’s twitter feed for instance, and the amount of conversational/two-way content you see happening there.

It should definitely be noted that Twitter is not the only microblogging site available. Lesser-known sites such as FriendFeed and Tumblr provide these services, as do Facebook, LinkedIn, and so on. But, many of these services work with sites such as TweetDeck that provide RSS feeds to other social media sites. For example, you can have tweets post automatically to your Facebook profile; this is a wonderful time-saver for people or organizations who want to reach audiences on multiple platforms.

Twitter is by far the most popular microblogging site and we will spend most of our time discussing this tool.  Twitter, and microblogging in general, has its own nomenclature. For organizations to use the tools effectively they need to understand the nuances of the community and how content is shared within it.

While Twitter’s basic premise is straightforward, many sites exist that allow you to do all kinds of things with Twitter. For example, Twitpic allows you to “share media on Twitter in real-time.” TweetDeck allows you to read combined microblogs from Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and others, and it also allows you to work with your Twitter feed in different ways.  Hootsuite is another tool that social media coordinators use to manage their social feeds.

Podcasting: I’ve recorded a short podcast about podcasting microblogging and content creation. (meta!)  Podcasts are a great platform. I don’t host one myself, but I’ve been a guest on many, and have arranged to have my clients interviewed by popular podcasters.  I recorded this podcast to cover this lecture last term while I was away. You may find some additional insights in it.

Podcast Show Notes:

Co-host: Stuart Clark

Recording / Editing software
Garage band Mac only

Audactiy for Mac and PC   (Free!)
Podcast file is at

How to find podcasts
Ask your friends!

Adding a podcast to itunes
Posting your podcasts.
As simple as posting the mp3 to your website and making a link to it.

Powerpress wordpress plugin steps things up a notch and makes things very easy

Great suggestions here.

What we use in the Unlab Studio:
– Makie Onyx 1220i Firewire Mixer
– [http://www.mackie.com/products/onyx1220i/
– 3 MXLV67 Mics – [http://www.mxlmics.com/microphones/studio/V67g/]
– 1 digital recorder
– Apple imac

You don’t have to be this complicated  if you are doing a podcast on your own, a usb headset with mic and a computer is all you need.

– Unlab Equipment Page

– Unlab Studio page

Week 5: Power of the Platform

All right, by now you’ve had the opportunity to think about and do some research on your ideal customer.  I’m looking forward to hearing about your experience with the Ideal Customer Avatar (ICA) worksheets!

With your ICA defined, this week we are going to begin looking at that platforms organizations can use to connect with their community in a “human voice“.  There is a lot of short online articles here.  We’ll go over the main points in class Monday night, but please do come prepared to discuss 🙂

Naturally, an organization’s marketing and communications strategy will support the overall  goals.  Social media is one piece of a marketing and communication strategy.  We don’t have time to go over the entire marketing portfolio in this course, but I want you to understand that social media fits into a broader communications strategy in most organizations. Ultimately, the platforms you choose to connect with your ICA must fit with your organization’s overall strategy.

Ok, time to chat about the platforms that facilitate conversation. There’s no way I can give you a complete overview of every tool.  But what I will do is discuss my experience with some of the most effective platforms, and provide links to further information.  I’ll also give you some “cheat” sheets you can use when defining your strategy.

A bit of history to start 😉 Fred Cavazza has been documenting and analyzing social media’s evolution since 2008.  It’s worth looking at his posts from 20082009201120122013  and 2014 to see how the platforms have changed.  It really reinforces the Cluetrain theses and gives a sense of where the consumer and business-2-business marketplace is going.

In Fred’s most recent post you will see the trends in platform use and the major tools.  The 60 Second Marketer gives a good overview of some strong social media tools for business. You should also look at the Top 20 Tools for Business – we’ll discuss some of these in class. 

What’s most important to note in these articles, is that social media tools form a complex ecosystem. It’s overwhelming how many tools there are! Social media marketers need to understand their audience’s behaviour and needs before really determining the tools.

Organizational goals, campaign goals, and audience should influence the mix of tools a social media marketer will choose.   For instance, in many of my campaigns I will use a mix of platforms including twitter, facebook, flickr, pinterst, tumblr, and YouTube.

The campaigns I create for a business-2-business audience are generally designed for a specific target market in a specific location.  So, my social media tools will vary depending on the goals of the campaign and who I am trying to speak with.

There is no  cheat sheet on exactly where to find your audience. This info graphic  gives some basic demographic insight as does this annual report put out by  Pew Research (Demographic insights 2012).  I particularly like Pew’s Social Project and the research they continually post.  Here is Pew’s latest research.  It should give you insight on which platforms are strong with your ICA.

We are going to look at a some of the most popular platforms in detail Nov. 10th. Right now I want to say a bit more about facebook business pages (mostly because they are wildly popular in all demographics, and they won’t be covered in much detail later).

Business pages on facebook have become standard in advertising. Especially with the business-2-consumer products.  In fact, several TV commercials and print ads direct people to their facebook page instead of their company website!  It’s common to see facebook.com/business name used in an ad rather than the company’s actual url.  Why might that be?  Well, we’ll get into that when we look at analytics, but a large part of a business’ motivation to use a facebook business page is the amount of information it enables a business to capture about their customers and or community.

For five years I hosted and organized an annual conference for game and web developers.  Here is a link to its business page on facebook. When we started using facebook for the conference in 2008 there weren’t many business pages on facebook.  So, we initially created a personal profile for DIG: (disclaimer – I no longer manage these pages, but am using them as an example to illustrate a point.)

With the growing popularity of facebook and increased commercial application, facebook has created many effective features for Business pages such as page analytics, campaign advice and tools to make it easier for communicators to integrate facebook into their existing platforms.

During our final year at DIG have worked on converting our facebook personal profile “friends” into followers of our DIG facebook business page with the plan to shut down the DIG personal profile.  The personal profile offers several benefits like being able to direct message our friends, but the business page is more appropriate and offers exceptional analytics that help us understand who is looking at our site and how they are interacting with the content.  We can identify “influencers” (those who have a lot of friends or reach) and engage them to share our content – thus, broadening our audience reach.

Building business pages is pretty straight forward! Here is facebook’s link on getting started with Business pages.  Read through it and get comfortable with the concept.  For your visual learners, here is a video.  Mashable has made an incredible guide for facebook.  It’s pretty high level, but worth a look. Check it out here.  With the increased popularity of facebook, the business pages now have some impressive features we can use. Check out this summary.

Organizations can take advantage of these applications to gain insight on their customers and community. The benefit, of course, for these insights is to enhance conversation with our target audiences.  Our lecture on analytics will dive into this in detail.

Take some time to review the facebook pages of your favourite brands: global, multinational, and local shops who you may already “like”.  You can see some quite impressive stuff with multinational brands!  Of course, it’s important to look at smaller local example.   Here’s a recent ranking for the Top 10 Small Business Facebook Pages .  Feel free to learn from the best practices you see and apply their tactics/principles.

For our class Edmodo discussion, consider Cavazza’s documentation of the evolution of social media.  Do you agree with his categorization? How can organizations work within his categories to achieve organizational goals? You may also want to consider your current employer and their use and mix of social tools.

Week 4: Who are you talking to?

This week we are going to lay the foundation for our social media strategy by getting to know our audience.

Last week we discussed the transition in marketing from impersonal broadcast messages to a narrow personal approach.  From our discussion of the Clutetrain Manifesto, I think it’s safe to say that we’re all in agreement that the latter approach is more effective.

Coca Cola’s “Liquid and Linked” strategy is a strong example of how a consumer product can use natural conversation to propel its brand.  By moving towards the “markets are conversations” model, Coca Cola sets some lofty goals (doubling their business and owning a disproportionate share or pop culture).

So, how do you start a conversation?

Start by knowing and understanding who you are talking to.

Seems obvious right?

Successful marketing campaigns start with an understanding of who you are communicating with.  It’s a bad idea to start by asking “what do we want to communicate about our product and organization?”  The better question: “What does my audience desire? What need do they have that my product or service fulfills?”

You must understand your audience’s desires and behaviours before really determining your social media campaign messaging (any campaign for that matter) and the tools/platforms you will use.

So, where do you start researching to understand your audience? The first step is understanding basic market segmentation (watch the nifty video!).  From there we can dig a bit deeper in demographics and psychographics.  Going deeper still we can look a consumer purchasing patterns and basic consumer behaviour. This article by DemoAnalytics provides a great overview of the terms mentioned with a critical/reflective view of these marketing practices. It’s a must read. In particular I love how it reiterates a point I’ll be making in my lecture: don’t get caught up thinking you have to spend loads of money to do this, there are free resource, and actually “instinct” is a remarkably reliable guide!

With an understanding of your market segmentation, demographics, psychographics, and consumer behaviour, you can put together a “customer avatar” or “marketing persona”.  

This week in my lecture I define the concepts noted above and introduce you to the method I’ve used to define and understand audiences.  I’ll share with you my “ideal customer avatar” worksheet and go over a few examples of my ideal customers, and prepare you to get started!

Download  Week 4 ICA Lecture 1 Narrated.

Or download the Week 4 ICA Lecture PDF

You’ll also need to download the ICA worksheet for your assignment. ICA Worksheet Edit

Week 3: Markets are conversations

Thanks for your participation in the “reading”/google doc and in sharing your responses and insight in class. I was also glad to hear that some of you already have experience in marketing and social media – thanks especially for adding your experience and insight!

As discussed, understanding the basic structure of organizations, the internal business environment, the external business environment, and the competitive forces that shape industry dynamics, helps us position the marketing and communications function and better understand where social media provides value.

The upcoming week we are going to take a look at the meaning of “markets” and their relationship to organizations.  Social media has had a significant impact on both markets and organizations.

In fact, social media has fundamentally shifted the way organizations behave in the marketplace.

We’ll discuss this in more detail in class.

Following our discussion around “The Cluetrain Manifesto” (this week’s reading) we’ll look at a specific social media strategy that demonstrates how markets are conversations and how strong brands leverage them.

Here are the links for the readings related to our next discussion.  This week’s reading is by far the longest you’ll get in this course.  It’s going to be a rainy weekend, so cuddle up and dive in!

The “95 Theses” are a must read, and if I were prioritizing between the other two sections of the book, I would read “markets” first 🙂

Here’s something I’d like you to post on Edmodo:  Which Theses resonated with you the strongest?! Why?  If someone has already posted your favourite thesis, please comment on their post rather than starting a new thread.

Thanks and looking forward to discussing in class.