Fortune 100 and Social Media

During my internship I was assigned to log onto a clients’ twitter page and follow all of the Fortune 500 companies. Our client worked as a business to business counselor, so any connections we could make for her with big name companies were greatly appreciated. And so I set to work, searching company by company according to the list. Needless to say, the process became a bit tedious, but I was interested to discover the number of these large corporations that enlisted the use of social media.

An article from Ragan’s PR Daily has revealed to me further social media trends of the Fortune 100 companies. The information comes from Burson-Marsteller’s social media study released yesterday. So what do you think? Any surprises?

1. Twitter is the most popular social media platform.

77% of companies have a twitter page.

2. Companies are interacting more on Twitter.

67% use “@” to communicate with consumers.

3. Fortune 100 companies have more Twitter followers.

4. More people are talking about companies on Twitter.

5. Facebook use increased by 13 percent.

The number of ‘likes’ have increased 115%.

6. Companies are giving their stakeholders a voice on Facebook.

75% let customers post on their walls; 72% respond to wall comments.

7. The number of YouTube accounts increased.

57% have a YouTube page.

8. More companies are using “all four” social media platforms.

25% have a Twitter, Facebook, Blog, and YouTube page.

9. Asian companies are helping fuel the increase in social media.

10. Companies are embracing the blog.

The average number of blogs per company increased 63%.

 

Communications Degree– Will it get you noticed?

As I went online this morning, my home page opened up with its random articles/stories of the day. Usually the articles are insubstantial– celebrity gossip, new recipes, sports news– but this one caught my attention. The title was: “College degrees that get you noticed.”

Always curious to know my chances of success out in the “real world,” I gave it a click to see if Communications was on the list. And behold– it was!

I’ve included the excerpt because I found it interesting:

Communications Degree
Average Starting Salary: $38,200
Average Mid-Career Salary: $72,200

In tough economic times like these, marketing/communications majors will find themselves competing against English and other liberal arts majors for many of the same jobs. The fact that they have a more specialized, career-focused education can be a plus, says HR expert Kelleher.

“The people who succeed in business all have strong communications skills,” says Kelleher. Knowing how to get a company’s message or product out the door will always be a valuable skill, in good economic times or bad, he says.

Related Careers and Salaries:
Public Relations Specialists: $59,370
Market Research Analysts: $67,500
Advertising and Promotions Managers: $97,670
Marketing Managers: $120,070

HR Tip: “Recent graduates who are able to show how their skills have helped solve business problems, whether as part of a school project or internship, and contributed to a successful campaign will most impress hiring managers,” Good said, “particularly if the examples are relevant to the company they are interviewing with.”

Okay, so it’s just a silly article off of my Yahoo! Homepage, but any news is good news.

What do you think? Will a Communications degree impress the boss?

To see the rest of this article and the other featured degrees, click here.

Will Tumblr get Tossed?

My first thought was that Tumblr must be some distant cousin of Flickr. Social media sites ignoring the use of the letter ‘e’ (still looking for a scientific explanation behind that).  This was more than a year ago, when the site was still getting off its feet and riding on the road of uncertainty. Even after its success, it took me a while to hop on board. Finally, I took the plunge, using my Communications major as a justification signing up for yet another social networking platform. It’s been about a month now, and I must self-consciously admit– I’m hooked.

The Tumblr site to me seems like a more visual, less organized Twitter. While your posts don’t need to be fewer than 140 characters, I personally tend to ignore the longer passages. The greatest benefit is the visual aspect– no need to click away to another page to view pictures and, more importantly, gifs. While my experiences on Tumblr are still relatively limited, I’ve found the community to be littered with positively every imaginable gif known to man. Than again, I say ‘littered’ like  bad thing. In fact, Tumblr has brought out in me the absolute geek and fan-fanatic. Unlike my twitter and blog, where I try to maintain a certain level of professional posts and demeanor, Tumblr has quickly become my guilty pleasure. Not that the material is inappropriate, but it certainly is without educational benefits. Instead, my favorite posts (is that even the correct lingo?) include gifs from my numerous favorite television shows.

But enough about me and my utter television/film nerdiness. Back to my initial point in writing this post. During my own use of Tumblr, I couldn’t help but wonder how often the platform was used at a professional level. I have one friend who uses Tumblr for the local publication she writes for– that seems like a reasonable and intelligent use of the site. However, unlike Twitter or Facebook pages for companies and brands, I feel like Tumblr isn’t nearly as professional. Once again, this is simply my opinion on the matter, one I’ve gained from only a limited introduction to Tumblr.

I decided to look into the overall use of Tumblr, and found a some interesting facts. For instance, it was only in early 2010 that Tumblr really hit its stride. Within 6 months, Tumblr doubled its page views. People were starting to catch on to this new fad, with nearly 25,000 people a day signing up for profiles.

I discovered that some of the most popular professional users of Tumblr are mainstream media. Tumblr was another medium through which they could publicize their stories. Everyday bloggers (like myself) also caught on, enjoying the ease the platform provided for posting pictures as well as words.

While the businesses that use Tumblr come from various fields, there remains a high presence of media outlets and personal bloggers. Especially in comparison to the rise of Twitter use among big name corporations (i.e. Fortune 500 companies), Tumblr remains a more personal and  social platform. That’s not to say that a company wouldn’t have any success with the website. I think one of the more endearing factors about Tumblr is the lax environment and community. For this reason, small- and medium-sized organizations are among the first professional groups to turn to Tumblr.

But what about everyone else? What do they, and you, think the benefits of Tumblr are?

One article I found explained Tumblr’s success as such: “Many attribute it to a thrust for the ‘tweener’ social media site – more content than Twitter, less than a full blog… Many use Tumblr as a simple alternative to WordPress, Blogger, or Typepad with quick blogging, reblogging, and feed integration options that allow for faster, more automated methods of running a blog.”

Right now, I’m hooked on the site, but how long will my interest in my own obscure obsessions last? How many Princess Bride or Sherlock (BBC) gifs can one possible watch before wanting more? Overall, I wonder if Tumblr will survive to become the “next big thing.” This, in many ways, will be dependent upon industrial adoption of the platform. Will companies make profit from this website? Can they use it to their advantage? Will it really make a difference with their consumers?

What do you think? Will it last? Do you use Tumblr? What are the benefits? Negatives?

I would love to hear opinions from more ‘experienced’ users.

Helping A Reporter [and yourself] Out

Every time I see the emails, I assume the gummy candy company HARIBO has decided to reach out to one of their most valuable customers. While I remain disappointed with their lack of communication, I still always rejoice at the viewing of a new email from “Help A Reporter Out.” For those of you not familiar with HARO, this social media service, founded by Peter Shankman, aids in bringing together the reporters and the sources. As the website proclaims, since HARO’s first introduction in 2008, it has brought together “nearly 30,000 reporters and bloggers, over 100,000 news sources and thousands of small businesses together to tell their stories, promote their brands and sell their products and services.” Best of all– HARO is free!

I was first introduced to HARO at my internship when I was told to subscribe via email. On my second day there, I was instructed to subscribe and keep tabs on the emails. Any possible stories relevant to our clients were to be noted and reported. As a small PR firm, the company didn’t have excess funds to spend on subscribing to an expensive source, such as HARO’s primary competitor PR Newswire’s ProfNet service.

Many similar small organizations have also taken advantage of this service. As Shankman says, “People– like real people, you know, mom-and-pop types– email me and say, ‘Thank you so much. I would never have been able to afford this kind of press.'” As HARO’s tagline perfectly states, “Everyone’s an expert at something,” and Shankman’s service brings them all together. We can all benefit from something the email has to offer– whether to promote a company, brand, or person, HARO connects the reporter and the source.

Within its first year, HARO’s subscribers grew from 3,000 to 40,000. With so many requests and so much interest, Shankman is forced to send out anywhere from 1 to 2 emails per day– each with a fun and interesting subject line.

For more information on HARO, check out their website, or read this interesting article comparing the service to ProfNet. Or, even better– sign up to receive their emails!

Public Relations: Perception Predicament

There is no end to the irony of the situation: Public Relations has an image problem.

Negative portrayals in the media (i.e. Entourage, Spin city– no offense to Michael J. Fox, yes offense to Charlie Sheen) and misrepresentation contribute strongly to this problem. Public Relations is primarily associated with public scandals and corporate emergencies, leading to a warped perception of the field in general. According to W. Timothy Coombs and Sherry J. Holladay in their book “Does Society Need Public Relations?”, the 6 major themes of PR criticism are:

  1. The public is ignorant of public relations because they are ignorant of what is really going on in the world
  2. PR can never escape its “wicked roots”– think propaganda and WWII
  3. PR is to blame for the power of large companies and more sinister organizations. This comes from a rise in distrust of big corporations– i.e. tobacco companies, Enron
  4. PR is undemocratic because only rich companies can hire PR– blatantly false! Much PR is done pro bono or for non-profit organizations
  5. Society must teach people how to resist the power of PR– while I won’t argue with the benefits of teaching a basic understanding of the media, there is truly nothing to combat about PR. It promotes open discussion; it does not brainwash publics into a singular belief.
  6. PR is only publicity

I would add to these themes that many people are frightened of PR. Often used in comparison to Advertising, the simple fact that while people can actively recognize an advertisement, they cannot always recognize an act of Public Relations. This fosters an idea that PR has some nefarious master-plan to plant subliminal messages in the minds of the masses.

But perhaps more than a fear, the public simply does not understand what Public Relations is. As mentioned in the themes, most individuals assume that PR is all publicity. The press-agentry model is most often discussed in the media, conjuring up images of P.T. Barnum and his sensationalized circus. But PR is so much more than publicity and press coverage. Most people fail to understand the scope of PR.

Since my very first classes in the subjects, my professors have insisted on one particular definition of the word. Public relations is a “management function that establishes mutually beneficial relationships.” To expand upon this, PR is about promoting positive interests and feelings. It involves managing and counseling. Rather than telling the public what to think, PR encourages the free flow of information. There are no devious or underhanded attempts to exploit the naivety of a group. PR specialists believe that the public should be critical thinkers, not mindless drones. I’ve always been taught to encourage the “human component” of PR– we want to push people to think, not implant our own thoughts and opinions.

For a number reasons–the economy, interest in social networking and media– Public Relations is gaining popularity. Even in comparison to advertising, many companies and individuals have embraced the effectiveness and cost efficiency of PR. Because of this increased usage, I feel it is even more important than ever for individuals to understand what PR truly is about. I hope this article clears things up a bit, or at least makes you pause in reflection.

So what do you think? Will PR always get a bad rap?

Oh, Thank Blog!

The other day, my post on Meme’s gained some attention after being “Freshly Pressed” by WordPress. My measly 10 random views a day skyrocketed to over a thousand. Comments came pouring in, as did ‘likes’ and even subscriptions to my blog. In fact, the primary reason most of you are reading this now is probably due to my one minor success. I’m not writing this as a boast, but rather to convey my disbelief that quickly led to some over-analyzing of the splendid situation.

I started this blog for a couple of reasons:

  1. To vent to an online community of nameless readers.
  2. To keep myself updated on PR & Media related events.
  3. To get myself (and my resume) out there, even if only as a resume builder.
  4. To deliver news as well as my own opinions.

Going into this experience, reasoning number four was not necessarily leading the pack. I realized that as “just another silly blogger” my chances of actually delivering my messages to a mass audience were pretty slim. I’ve been on twitter for some while, and despite any wit or wisdom (or at least what I would consider to be the two), my followers still mostly include real-life friends and the random spammers who want me to buy prescription drugs off the black market (and I of course don’t block these individuals because, let’s face it, I like to see my number of followers as high as possible–even if they are scumbags or robots). Due to my limited success on twitter, I came into the blogosphere with similar expectations. I planned for it to be more of a personal social networking tool, rather than one with mass appeal. But after the other day’s “Freshly Pressed” occurrence, I found my blog open to whole new opportunities.

The idea of people actually reading these posts is slightly intimidating (sorry for all the grammar and spelling mistakes…), but even more frightening– it’s slightly empowering. While I know my readership isn’t exactly of epic proportions, it’s more than I would ever expect. These readers, and the supporting and informative comments they’ve made lead me to the ultimate point of this latest post: The internet and its social networking sites have truly revolutionized the power of the people in getting their voice heard.

Perhaps I was first struck by this idea when I heard that Tweets would start to be recorded for the Library of Congress (so, years from now, some extremely bored relative of mine can look up my nonsensical 140 character ramblings). This latest blog experience has added to my disbelief. The internet is such a powerful resource in getting our voices heard. PR and Marketing companies caught on to this trend from the very beginning, capitalizing on the free publicity and tools. The best examples of the public using this power comes from Presidential elections, especially this past election when the youth voters made up a great majority of Obama’s support. Our ideas and opinions can be posted for the world to see. There is not filter or gate-keeper to keep our voices from being heard. Of course, garnering enough attention to make your message worthwhile is another campaign, but there remains that ability to freely voice your opinion to the possibility of a mass audience.

I know people will be reading my posts now. This fad may only last another week, or another month, but I at least know that my voice is being heard. People value my opinion and what I have to say. Whether they agree with me or not, whether they learn something from my posts or find them to be aimless ramblings– I know that people are at least taking the time to look at these words that I’ve put effort into creating. This is a wonderful feeling.

While I wanted to (quick) post to reflect upon the powers of the internet, I also want to take the chance to thank everyone for their support. The internet is filled with faceless and nameless viewers that I may never meet, but the positive and encouraging reactions they have to my writings are humbling. Thank you so much for your support and viewership. I wish you success in your blogs, and look forward to reading what everyone else has to say. We live during a very interesting time, and it’s wonderful that we can get the full effect of events through the opinions of others.

NY Welcomes a Week of Social Media

As if we needed another reason to get hooked in by all of our social networking sites. This upcoming week, February 7-11, is Social Media Week. A globally recognized event first launched in  2009 by Toby Daniels, SMW is “a global platform that connects people, content, and conversation around emerging trends in social and mobile media.” While the center of this conference will be in NYC this year, the events are worldwide–from London to Paris to Hong Kong.

The official website describes the event:

Delivered primarily through a network of internationally hosted biannual conferences and online through social and mobile media, Social Media Week brings hundreds of thousands of people together every year through learning experiences that aim to advance our understanding of social media’s role in society.

There will be over 150 events throughout the city, utilizing New York’s various hot spots, including the UN and the Guggenheim. The highlight of the event will undoubtedly be keynote speaker Dennis Crowley, the CEO of Foursquare. Other activities include a panel on social media and music as well as an event from the UN dealing with global social media. Sponsors include Nokia, Pepsico, NY Public Library, and a variety of marketing and PR-based companies.

With the growing importance of social media in both our professional and personal lives, what better way to educate and celebrate the trend. I’m sure several companies will have wisely taken advantage of this conference. Wish I could be there!