Twitter
Twitter

I am a huge fan of Twitter. Since it was founded in March 2006, this social network has transformed how people communicate and how news is shared. It has connected and empowered people and has created communities around a multitude of subjects around the world. Twitter has become a primary source of news, as well a centre point for reaction to news. But in the last fortnight, Twitter has failed at what it encourages others to do. Twitter has failed to listen. And as a result Twitter has developed a reputation problem.

Twitter is no longer a start-up, though it appears to retain that culture. It is a a channel from where people get their everyday news, from worlds affairs, and consumer and sports, to gossip from friends, family and business colleagues. Twitter forms part of people’s everyday communications channels. And it isn’t just used by the media and creative ‘intelligentsia’, but by people who want to connect and want to be heard. It has become a fantastic tool for campaigners.

Today, Twitter has a reported 200 million active monthly users, over 70% of whom are based in international markets and jurisdictions outside the US. As a result, Twitter needs to show that it cares about the rest of the world, about the different cultures and legal issues.

A few weeks back here in the UK Caroline Criado-Perez, a campaigner who fought to have British novelist Jane Austen on the back of the new £10, was subjected to a barrage of rape threats from people who hid their identity. The attacks against Criado-Perez started after she appeared in the media discussing her campaign to have Jane Austen recognised on the back of this banknote. What followed was, as she describes, a barrage of “about 50 abusive tweets an hour for about 12 hours” threatening rape and violence.

The campaigner decided to contact the social network’s manager of journalism and news Mark Luckie. He though ignored her Tweets and locked his accounts to stop her contacting him. With the threats in the public domain, Caroline reported the matter to the London’s Metropolitan Police who opened an investigation.

Of course because of her campaigning Caroline had the support from well known politicians and journalists, including Stella Creasy MP and Caitlin Moran. And it was these high-profile individuals who helped amplify her call for Twitter to do something about the threats that she was receiving. Twitter stayed quiet and initially refused to engage with the campaigner or journalists who sought clarification on what the network was doing to manage reports of threats. I have to ask the question, what if you are not followed by high-profile people who can help you gain headlines and public discussion? What then, is Twitter working to help the average Joe or Jane?

Twitter’s unwillingness to engage really did them no good with the media. Politicians here in the UK threatened to call Twitter’s senior management to a Select Committee.

It appeared that they were behaving like a junior start-up with little understanding of public relations or reputation management. They certainly did not show any understanding of how the world works outside of Silicon Valley.

A few days later Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge Mary Beard was the subject of similar threats following a programme she led on the BBC. She decide to stand up to the trolls and eventually got an apology, but again not before the media and the police intervened.

Twitter wrote a blog post entailed, ‘We Hear You’. The post tried to resolve the issue, but from a PR perspective did more damage than their strategy of keeping quiet. If this was a press release, and we can treat it as one given that they were responding to criticism, rather than starting the post by accepting the issue, they start by promoting the great services that they are developing.

Here is their opening paragraph:

At Twitter, we work every day to create products that can reach every person on the planet. To do that, we must take a wide range of use cases into consideration when designing interfaces or developing user tools. We want Twitter to work whether you are trying to follow your favourite musician, talk to others about shared interests, or raise the visibility of a human rights issue.’

Fact is, when trying to fight fire you never bring out your marketing speak. A big Twitter #Fail.

Twitter were forced to put somebody forward to talk to the media. That person was Twitter’s own Senior Director of Trust & Safety Del Harvey. On the BBC, Channel 4 and Sky News, the interviews were pure car-crash. There was little sign of media training, little understanding of how the media works in markets outside the US and little insight on solutions to deal with a growing problem for a company that is in the process of going through an IPO. And reputation management experts is what you need at such a critical time.

In separate statements they also kept pushing the line that they need to look to see if people have broken their terms and conditions. So let’s look at these Twitter Rules:

  1. You are responsible for your use of the Services, for any Content you post to the Services, and for any consequences thereof
  2. All Content, whether publicly posted or privately transmitted, is the sole responsibility of the person who originated such Content … Any use or reliance on any Content or materials posted via the Services or obtained by you through the Services is at your own risk
  3. You understand that by using the Services, you may be exposed to Content that might be offensive, harmful, inaccurate or otherwise inappropriate, or in some cases, postings that have been mislabeled or are otherwise deceptive
  4. Under no circumstances will Twitter be liable in any way for any Content, including, but not limited to, any errors or omissions in any Content, or any loss or damage of any kind incurred as a result of the use of any Content posted, emailed, transmitted or otherwise made available via the Services or broadcast elsewhere
  5. Violence and Threats: You may not publish or post direct, specific threats of violence against others
  6. Unlawful Use: You may not use our service for any unlawful purposes or in furtherance of illegal activities. International users agree to comply with all local laws regarding online conduct and acceptable content
  7. Twitter strives to protect its users from abuse and spam. User abuse and technical abuse are not tolerated on Twitter.com, and may result in permanent suspension
  8. These Terms and any action related thereto will be governed by the laws of the State of California without regard to or application of its conflict of law provisions or your state or country of residence. All claims, legal proceedings or litigation arising in connection with the Services will be brought solely in the federal or state courts located in San Francisco County, California, United States, and you consent to the jurisdiction of and venue in such courts and waive any objection as to inconvenient forum

What do you think? Did they? It’s clear that they have, but for some reason Twitter is just not wanting to face the issue. And let me say this, free speech as defined by the US Constitution’s First Amendment does not apply in legal jurisdictions outside the US. Free speech in England and Wales is protected by laws in this jurisdiction.

Fact is, from a reputational perspective Twitter finds itself in a mess, especially given that Twitter is hard at work for the up-coming IPO.

They failed to engage in a professional manner when they are the conduit of abusive communications, something that is against the law in many international markets.

They say that they do not want to censure what people say on Twitter, something that I argue is fair enough so long as they enable others to tackle the trolls. They haven’t.

It really is time for Twitter to grow-up and start acting as the great information network that it is. It needs to:

  • Understand the world outside of not just Silicon Valley but the U.S.
  • Have experience PR and repetitional management professionals that can deliver counsel at guidance in the different global markets in which Twitter has a presence
  • Understand that not taking responsibility is just not an option.

CIPRThe UK’s Chartered Institute of Public Relations ((CIPR) @CIPR_UK) this week released it’s best practice guidelines for social media monitoring and listening. The document, which is free to download and was prepared by the institute’s own Social Media Advisory Board (#CIPRSM), gives details on what is social media monitoring, the paid-for and free tools that are available and the how to create monitoring workflows.

Of course you would expect public, private or not-for-profit (NGO) organisations to be good at listening, but in fact it is a skill that is having to be re-learnt.

Until the rise of online and social networking, most public relations professionals relied on traditional broadcast media – print, radio or TV, to engage and accordingly shape perception amongst the client’s target audiences. That meant engaging primarily with journalists.

For many PRs the only weapon that they had in the armoury – primarily because PR was exclusively seen as media relations, was the press release. Weather it was in-house or agency-side the press release was the only tool that others in our organisations saw us use. And success was defined by the coverage secured, always measured by that awful Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) standard that the CIPR has recently disowned.

The rise of the internet changed all that. Very much like mobile is changing everything again.

Today people flock to forums and social networks to share positive or negative thoughts and experiences, to connect with one another, to create communities about anything and everything. As a result the web has changed the news and publishing industries as much as it has changed public relations profession. A issue can become a crisis in the amount of time that it takes an influencer to share a story with his or her followers.

All the data that is being shared has created an opportunity for organisations to improve how they listen and how they use that information to meet the expectations from their respective audience groups. But listening is not just an art-form, but a science that can give competitive advantage to companies that know what to listen for and how to use that data.

As a result the CIPR decided to produce a document that would give best practice advice to members and non-members alike. It is not designed just for PRs or social media consultants. It is a document that aims to highlight to management and c-suite staff the value of knowledge and how to gain that from conversations taking place online. As Sir Francis Bacon said, “Knowledge is Power.”

If you do have any questions then do reach out to me (@twofourseven) or members of the #CIPRSM panel. We are here to help.

A copy of the document can be viewed and downloaded below.

The UK’s Chartered Institute of Public Relations hosted last week it’s annual Social Media conference. Focusing on how social, digital and mobile channels are changing communications and business, the #CIPRSM team brought together some leaders from the worlds of mobile, analytics, finance and international diplomacy to discuss the future of our profession.

I attended and chaired the panel on #SocialMedia across international border with Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s Executive Director for Corporate Communication’s Allan Schoenberg (@allanschoenberg) and Noriyuki Shikata (@norishikata) who is the Political Minister to the Japanese Embassy to the UK.

I put together a review of the conference on Storify (#CIPRSM Share This Conference: A Review). If you are on this network then do follow me.

 


 

#CIPRSM Share This Conference: A Review

The UK’s Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) this week hosted a social media and public relations conference in London. Speakers shared insight on how technology is reshaping pr, reputation management and management consulting.

 
  1. Technology is reshaping the public relations and communications professions. Social networks have connected people, they have empowered them and given them a platform through which they can share their thoughts and opinions. And because of the rapid adoptions of smartphones and tablets consumers and stakeholders are sharing their views from wherever they are.

     
    Delivering the opening keynote to this conference the Economist’s social media editor Tom Standage shared with us the real history of social media, all the way back to Roman times!
  2. Literacy widespread in Roman world & Tom Standage comparing it to social media of the time #ciprsm conference
     
     
  3. Fascinated by @tomstandage keynote at #ciprsm on how social media “has been around since Roman times” pic.twitter.com/HS4nGJn2u7
     
     
  4. What did the Romans ever do for us? Social Media says @tomstandage illustrating his point with a Roman iPad #CIPRSM pic.twitter.com/IDV54Tq11Z
     
     
  5. Tom (@tomstandage) didn’t waste any time in telling us that social media is not a fad. In fact, what social networking channels do is return us to communicating before the recent era of broadcast mass media.
  6. “Coffee houses were the hubs of choice in the past” – nothing changes! @tomstandage #ciprsm
     
     
  7. Fascinating argument from @tomstandage that social media as we know it is a rebirth, cycling back to pre-mass media, pre-19 century #CIPRSM
     
     
  8. “Social media doesn’t cause revolutions but helps them along by synchronising opinion and acting as an accelerant” @tomstandage #ciprsm
     
     
  9. Social media is at least 2000 years old. Mass media in 20th century was an anomaly says @tomstandage #ciprsm
     
     
  10. @tomstandage Brilliant, but a question – should’ve asked, has old ‘broadcast media’ times tought people (orgs) to ignore listening first? 🙂
     
     
  11. @twofourseven Yes, I think it has. When you’re used to one-way/broadcast, it’s hard to adapt to two-way/social
     
     
  12. The conference was then divided into two work streams in the morning, the first of which focused on Mobile Media and the Visual Web. Running concurrently, work stream two looked into Audience and Online Habits.

     
    In session one we had Founder and CEO of Kred Andrew Grill (@AndrewGrill) and #CIPRSM’s own analytics expert Andrew Smith (@andismith). The conversation was all about analytics and understanding influencers and the capital that people gain through social networks.
  13. Panel sessions are under way, with @AdParker @AndrewGrill @andismit on ‘Understanding social capital’ #ciprsm pic.twitter.com/imULmiuAPf
     
     
  14. “CMOs want to see big numbers for impressions, it’s b**l s**t” @andrewgrill #ciprsm
     
     
  15. @AndrewGrill says we need to package #social propositions to the C-suite in their language #CIPRSM
     
     
  16. Need to speak C-suite’s language says @andrewgrill – slide showing how ‘Digirati’ organisations 26% more profitable as an example #ciprsm
     
     
  17. As you all know, I am a big evangelist of mobile in communications and business development. Mobile has positioned itself to be at the heart of how businesses and services are developed and delivered. They are also at the centre of how people today share insight and information. Mobile can crunch the time it takes to build or break reputations.
  18. Mobile has changed everything in comms, pr, #socmed and digital @ilicco tells #ciprsm. Of course he’s right….
     
     
  19. LBI’s @ilicco discussing digital dualism at #ciprsm – we are the same online as we are offline. @Pontifex agrees: precisebrandinsight.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/the…
     
     
  20. The big debate came with regards to how mobile is used – an essential question that is often ignored. Ilicco Elia (@ilicco) highlighted the case of Starbucks that has started to pull people from across departments to work on solutions for their customer base. Of course, for us, the consumer, we don’t see them as solutions. I see seemless interaction as common sense!
  21. How many departments need to be involved with mobile? All of them – @ilicco #CIPRSM pic.twitter.com/jYpg2yxZXk
     
     
  22. #socmed engagement forces organisations to collaborate internally to to deliver a better consumer experience -insight from @ilicco #ciprsm
     
     
  23. The brilliant @illico talking about mobile at the CIPR social media conference #CIPRSM
     
     
  24. Meanwhile 33-Digital’s Peter Sigrist (@psigrist) discussed the rise of wearable technology. Sigrist says that PR agencies need to stop recruiting art graduates or those with a PR 1.0 degrees, a point that I’ve been echoing for 3/4 years.

     
    I’ve been arguing that our profession needs mathematicians, coders, designers, analysts, data scientists. Yes, like 20 years ago it was all about social psychology, today it is about understanding our audiences and designing experiences that resonate with how they have been conditioned.
  25. @psigrist now up at #ciprsm talking about mobile and the future, wearable tech and how information flows fast and free.
     
     
  26. The public does the talking in today’s world of media campaigns says @psigrist. Linear 1-way broadcast is ineffective. Damn right #ciprsm
     
     
  27. “PR firms need to better understand data and start employing mathematicians not art graduates” says @psigrist. #CIPRSM
     
     
  28. After lunch we had two further work streams. As an International PR Social Media Consultant and Digital Strategist I brought together two leaders in their respective fields, Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s Executive Director for Corporate Communication’s Allan Schoenberg (@allanschoenberg) and Noriyuki Shikata (@norishikata) who is the Political Minister to the Japanese Embassy to the UK. Up for debate was how to use social media across international borders. An essential point given that social channels today cut straight through borders and jurisdictions.
  29. For Financial Services, China matters on social, says @allanschoenberg. Deliver local language content there. #CIPRSM
     
     
  30. @CMEgroup‘s social media timeline. Innovation is what @@allanschoenberg does in terms of comms. #ciprsm pic.twitter.com/awcTkNx6Hw
     
     
  31. Importance of using the right platforms in different regions vital to success in financial markets says @allanschoenberg #CIPRSM
     
     
  32. Following Allan we had Noriyuki Shikata, a leader in eDiplomacy. Nori shared with us his insight on how social networks were used by the Prime Minister’s Office of Japan following the great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. For the government of Japan it became an essential tool in engaging with the international community.

     
  33. @norishikata talks about Social Media strategy for Japan and fitting this with western concepts and crisis comms #CIPRSM
     
     
  34. Social media is one important element of public diplomacy, global comms and global comms engagement. Totally agree with @norishikata #ciprsm
     
     
  35. Lessons from @norishikata on international crisis comms in aftermath of Japan Tsunami – put data in context, use 3rd party voices #CIPRSM
     
     
  36. “Effective social media use in crisis management from CEO/leaders could be way to demonstrate leadership” @norishikata #ciprsm
     
     
  37. @norishikata talks about combining traditional and social in international comms. Not understanding cultures cannot be an excuse! #CIPRSM
     
     
  38. Really enjoyed hearing @norishikata – has a calm, measured way of presenting & is gently persuasive: powerful combination! #ciprsm
     
     
  39. The session following ours focused on digital and social commerce. Speakers focused on using social and digital channels to support sales and how sales should be owned by everybody in an organisation, especially with the influence of social channels.
  40. To use social as part of sales process you need to understand customer behaviours says @katyhowell #ciprsm
     
     
  41. Rounding off the conference we had Nick Jones (@NJones) from Visa Europe. A former head of COI.
  42. #ciprsm Keynote @njones ‘BAU is the things we do again and again that make money’. Social Media BAU
     
     
  43. Liking the phrase “business as unusual” from @njones #ciprsm
     
     
  44. At #ciprsm @njones cites @brands2life research that says more and more journalists are being measured on social media sharing of content.
     
     
  45. Fact is that reviewing this conference, we can see that the communications landscape has already changed. It has changed because people have adopted technology, they have turned to social networks and mobile devices to share more, to discuss and debate, all through channels that we can listen in.

     
    Organisations though still retain their 20th Century broadcast mentality. They talk and expect you to listen. Yet the more that people talk, the more that people share the more empowered they become. The faster they expect answers and service, let it be from the private or public sectors.
     
    As a result, business has to change, the delivery of public services have to change. Digging your heads in the sand only goes and creates opportunities for others. And those that are risk averse have more to gain.
     
    Public relations today is more than just about reputation building and management. It is about business development. People who work in public relations need to remember that it is our skill in understanding the public that sets us apart. Let’s change how we work.

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#ShareThisLive
Share This Live – How Social Media Is Changing Business and Communications

Last year, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) published a book with short essays from some of the UK’s leading communicators and digital strategists. Entitled Share This the aim of the first book was to establish social and digital as a core skill in 21st Century Public Relations. This year we are publishing it’s follow-up, Share This Too.

The books, the first of which the first of which was published to great acclaim, see contributors outline their vision on how social media, digital media and technology are changing not just how perceptions are built and protected, but how businesses are established and managed.

Share This Too aims to expand on these initial essays, to inspire and lead a way to better engage with audiences for better businesses, services and engagement.

On Thursday 11 July the CIPR hosts at Microsoft in London it’s second social media conference where influencers from PR, journalism and the business world, will share insight on how these channels have helped them improve engagement.

Speakers include Digital Editor for The Economist and Editor-in-Chief of Economist.com Tom Standage, Head of Mobile at LBi, ex-Global Head of Mobile at Thompson Reuters Ilicco Elia and Digital Development Editor at The Guardian Joanna Geary.

I’ll be charing a session on how social media can facilitate business change and using social across international borders. This is the subject of my chapter in Share This Too, which is an area that is often ignored by certain communication ‘professionals’. The assumption is wrongly made that because the majority of social networking channels originated in the US, the language of choice must therefore be English. But language is only a small part of issues that have to be considered. Cultural differences comes into play as well, which when considered can help drive up engagement. We will be debating this and so much more on the day.

Speaking on my panel will be the Political Minister and Embassy of Japan to the UK, Noriyuki Shikata and Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s Executive Director of Corporate Communications Allan Schoenberg. This is a not to be missed session with leaders PR leaders from the financial and diplomatic worlds.

A limited number of tickets for the Share This Too Live Conference are still available here.

I hope to see some of you at the conference!!