No time to grieve – the death of Michael Jackson on Twitter

When the Princess of Wales died I discovered this as I woke to the morning news.  When John F.  Kennedy died many discovered via the morning newspaper. When Michael Jackson died I discovered it via my Twitter feed.

In a Twitter world can family and friends have any time to grieve? In pass years the pressure of 24 TV news has made it increasingly difficult to delay the making of deeply personal announcement of a death by family and friends. Previously news channels would have speculated and had the helicopter flying over the home or hospital but in the age where gossip can travel around the world and back again in seconds the momentum of the speculation is now unstoppable.

At the time of Michael Jacksons death 15% of Tweets on Twitter were relating to the speculation over his death. Such was the demand for information Twitter became overloaded. Facebook status updates were dominated by the news along with bookmarking sites being bombarded by links to news pages about his death. Within minutes of confirmation of his death Michael Jackson’s Wikipedia page was updated.

Now any hospital worker; doctor, nurse or cleaner could break the news via social networks and controlling this is almost impossible. Even close family cannot be protected as those at the bedside dealing with their loss may not have had time to get in contact with those who are close.

Hospitals, Police and other emergency services (if they have not already) will need to tighten polices regarding the sharing of information together with providing support to the bereaved families who have lost the control of how they break the news.

We all  need to question our own behaviour which seems similar to the traffic slowing at the scene of an accident.

In a world where everyone wants to be the first to break the news, could you be dead on Twitter before you actually stop breathing?

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Blogging for business

I recently, through Friends reunited, caught up with a very very old friend. When I knew her she was still a school girl but now is married to a fireman, has three children and also owns her own manufacturing company.

So clearly a hugely busy person, so how does she have time to bring up the children, run her business and be part of a couple? How does anyone who runs a business find time to benefit from really benefit from what the internet can offer?

The Internet offers huge opportunities to both engage and maintain your relationship with current customers and develop new prosperous relationships with a wider audience.

The company website is dead

You may ask why someone who is involved in developing company and organisations websites would say something such as ‘The company website is dead’. I am not sugesting that Johnson & Johnson or Procter & Gamble should close down their websites. What I am saying is that both small and large companies need to look beyond their website to social media to engage with a wider audience.

A company or any organisation who only looks and develops their website is like a shop keeper who forgets to open the shop door in the morning and doesn’t see the customers passing by because they cannot get in – or a call centre that only provides its phone number to a small percentage of the potential people who could call it [and possibly buy something!].

Why is blogging so good

Good blogging can really provide your audience with useful information, help them learn more about you and your organisation and demonstrate a human side to what otherwise may just seem a corporate block.

Search engines love blogs, they often trust the information more than company websites and by having content on other platforms such as this (wordpress) it means that when individuals search for information that you are writing about within the same place they blog they will find you – and what is great is bloggers are more likely to engage in a conversation on-line and thus create more content.

Business blogging do’s….

Write frequently (once a week (pref) or month good – once a year bad)

Write with an audience in mind and provide useful content

Be open to, and not scared of, criticism – you can always demonstrate how good you are by writing a post about how your responded where your organisation failed

Business blogging don’ts…

Promise to do something on your blog and not do it

React bad to criticisms online – do not be defensive

Write purely sales content and marketing messages

So my friend has started blogging, and I trust she will write some insightful information. Her first blog asks Why don’t people want to save money… hopefully some will be saving money with her soon.

Bringing it all together – Iminta

I recently joined www.iminta.com where I was so early in joining I managed to get the username Christopher!

Iminta helps bring together all your content that you contribute to the internet in one place, so if you have a blog – upload your photographs on photobucket – your video’s to YouTube – your updates to twitter, then this service can bring it all together in one place.

Here’s their description of themselves ‘Based in San Francisco, Iminta was founded in 2007 by Aaron Newton and friends. The service currently synchronizes with content sharing and discovery sites YouTube, Flickr, Digg, del.icio.us, reddit, Yelp, Webshots, Google Reader, last.fm, Twitter, and more. Previously, Aaron created Epitonic.com, one of the Web’s first editorial mp3 download sites. Epitonic was funded by CNET Networks and later sold to Palm Pictures. Aaron then helped CNET Networks launch their highly successful Download.com Music property.’

Iminta is not the first to do this, and will definitely not be the last. I have also created a FriendFeed and Squidoo – but as a politician or business why would you do this?

Setting up these services take a relative small amount of time. If you already have a YouTube, Blog and Twitter then you simply enter the web addresses or URLs of these. Without ever returning to this page again your activities on these websites will automatically be updated. This means that anyone who wants to find out more about you can come to one place – making you more accessible with extremely little effort.

If you are not on services such as YouTube, this does not matter. From the first one you set up sites such as Iminta will help signpost to where you are on-line as you add content to new sites.

Making the most of your content: Social Media Optimisation

Many politicians and businesses have barely begun to get a grip with Search Engine Optimisation, but do need to learn about Social Media Optimisation if they wish to stay ahead of the game.

Social Media Optimisation is about utilising the social media environments to promote your messages and content. In some cases this involves taking your content into the environment where your audience is comfortable and already visiting on a frequent basis. This could be by simply copy and pasting your content into these different environments, however if you want to make the most or truly optimise you need to think about where the content is going and adjusting it to be more applicable for the audience and the type of site.

With a majority of the social media environments do not be tempted to simply signpost to your main site. A consumer of your content should be able to choose to stay where they are to get information, feel free to highlight your main site but do not expect them to always go there. Remember what is important is not just the number of visits to your website but to get across those messages.

A good example of the use of Social Media Optimisation is the Barack Obama Facebook page which at the time of writing has over 718,000 supporters. Here visitors can watch video’s, catch up with the news via a feed, view pictures and enter debates via the Facebook Wall. The huge number of fans will not just be evidence of his popularity but because this page is updated on a regular basis Facebook users will want to have a ‘supporter’ link on their page as a quick way back to this page.

The rules are different with micro blogging services such as Twitter, with a limit to the number of characters you message has to be short, sharp and to the point including a link to the full story either on yours or another website. A good example of the use of this is the unofficial Twitter for the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Gordon Brown.

Once set up these additional environments should not take a huge amount of time to maintain. When you create any new content it should, where appropriate, be produced in a variety of formats for the different environments. With video this would mean limiting the length and file size for YouTube, topping and tailing with a promo for your site. For Google video you do not have the same limits on size of the video so you could add a promo to the end.

When entering Social Media environments it is important to be respectful of its users. Spamming will not be tolerated and will be damaging. Don’t expect everything to go your way, where visitors can leave messages they can leave both good and bad ones. That is not a reason not to go there though – if someone wants to attack you or your brand they can set up their own groups to do this. At least by you owning this page you can monitor and respond where appropriate, though often your fans or supporters will do that for you – and the debate could drive interest.

Social Media Optimisation is a useful addition to your campaign. Done properly, as many – if not more, people will view your content. For the small investment in time uploading your content to several different sites you can – and will – reach new audiences, customers and voters.