Things worth watching: Jugnoo, Tablets, Facebook Timelines and Sysomos-Google Analytics integration

On this week’s Inside PR podcast, Gini Dietrich, Martin Waxman and I talk about new social management tool Jugnoo, tablet computers, Facebook timelines for pages and a new feature in social media measurement tool Sysomos.

Jugnoo – and the importance of courting before marriange

Last week we reported that Jugnoo, a new social media management console service had launched in open beta. Martin and I both were impressed with its feature set. (Disclosure: Gini Dietrich is an adviser to Jugnoo. However, Martin and I weren’t aware of this when we raised it as a topic of discussion for the podcast. Discreet Gini.) I was so impressed that I requested access to the beta so that I could test it. And then I hit a hard stop. As one of the first steps in using the service, Jugnoo asked me to install some code on my website so that Jugnoo could access data from my site. For me, this is a show stopper. Installing code and sharing data is a big step, one that I am willing to take only with services that I trust and that I have some degree of comfort I’ll use for some time. Gini thinks that I’m being overcautious. She believes that most small businesses won’t hesitate to provide access to their data because they will perceive that in return the service will “hold their hands,” providing them with insight into what they should be doing and whether it is working. Do you have the same reaction to being asked for access to the backend of your Website as a first step in testing a service.

Tablets and the content creation challenge

We also talk about the rapid adoption of tablets in the workplace. Two years ago, we considered our notebook computers to be the go-to mobile devices. Today, we each use a tablet computer. Initially, tablets were billed as media consumption devices. However, all three of us now use our tablets to create content – blog posts, documents, etc. Gini and I have found that this has driven us to switch from Microsoft Office to other applications that exist in the cloud – Evernote, DropBox, Google Docs. We use these apps to have access to our data and content across devices. This enables us to move smoothly between our desktop computers, notebooks (yes, we still use them), tablets and cellphones. And we see this trend accelerating with the newest generation of tablets. We wonder how long it will be before we will be able to reduce the number of devices. The limiting factor on this is the evolution of tablets to include both the hardware and software to support all the content creation we want to do.

Timelines – too much commitment for small businesses?

Timelines for pages is being rolled out to all users at the end of the month. Gini is keen on timelines. She’s watched as content that she had long ago posted to the Arment Dietrich page has resurfaced. Old content becomes more accessible. I’m skeptical of the value of timelines for small businesses. Many small businesses have limited resources to devote to social media. And it seems to me that corporate page owners will have to devote considerable energy and resources to keep their content fresh. And this may not be a priority for may businesses.

Sysomos Heartbeat integrates Google Analytics

Finally, we talk about the integration of Google Analytics into Sysomos’ Heartbeat social media monitoring service. A nice addition that makes a good service better.

What do you think?

Listen to the podcast and tell us what you think. Are we on the right track? Missing something? Do you have a different view?

 

Social Media and Government: We're all human

In this week’s Inside PR, Martin Waxman and I shared our takeaways from last week’s appearance of Canada’s Treasury Board President, Tony Clement at Third Tuesday Ottawa and Third Tuesday Toronto.

Social Media in Government: Treat them like we would want to be treated

I came away with a sense of respect for a politician who is making a sincere attempt to introduce social media to government in a manner consistent with his conservative principles. Martin was struck by the vulnerable position a politician like Tony Clement puts himself in by engaging in the social media flow. His takeaway: If we want to encourage our government leaders to engage with us in social media, we must be prepared to allow for the fact that they make mistakes and refrain from “piling on” every time  a politician makes a mistake on social media.

The discussion about social media in government starts at 1 minute 25 seconds into the show.

Playing with Pinterest

Gini Dietrich LOVES Pinterest (You have to listen to this week’s Inside PR to hear her enthusiasm.)

Gini has been testing the reach and impact of Pinterest. She pinned some pictures of items from a friend’s ecommerce store on her pinboard. Then, she and her friend watched her Google Analytics. Pinterest generated lots of traffic to her friend’s ecommerce site- it was the number three traffic source for the four hours after Gini pinned the pictures. That’s pretty impressive, especially given the ease with which content can be posted to Pinterest. But it goes beyond that. The conversion rate for people who arrived at the site via Pinterest was higher than the conversion rate from any other source of referrals. Pinterest drives traffic and the traffic it drives is engaged.

Martin Waxman has been experimenting with Pinterest as well. He’s found that the tags he attaches to Pins are important. Clearly, in his view, people are following tags that reflect their interests and they will look at new content that is tagged into one of those categories. (This raises a whole other question about “tag SPAM” on Pinterest.)

I’m interested in Pinterest’s impact on other existing services. I’ve moved my photo-taking from Instagram to Pinterest because I like the ease with which I can tag, organize and then browse my photos on Pinterest. I’m also drawn to move some of my social bookmarking – at least for the highly visual items – away from the two services I have been uising, Diigo and Delicious.

I find the simplicity of Pinterest makes it a tool with many possibilities – much like Twitter was at its outset. A basic concept that appeals to a common urge – to express ourselves – and because of its simplicity allows people to use it in the way that makes sense to them.

Pinterest may not work for all companies and products. It may be best for highly visual products. But if you sell items that you can showcase visually, you should explore whether Pinterest is for you.

 

Our discussion about Pinterest starts at 7 minutes 15 seconds into this week’s episode of Inside PR.

 

We are: Martin Waxman, Gini Dietrich and Joseph Thornley on Pinterest.

What is PR?

What do you think public relations is? For the past thirty years, the Public Relations Society of America has defined it as follows: “Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other. Hunh?!?

The PRSA recognizes that this definition may not be meaningful to many people. It is surely outdated even for those who subscribe to it.

Gini DietrichMartin Waxman and I talk about the PRSA’s initiative to develop a new definition of public relations on this week’s Inside PR.

I’m not sure that they PRSA’s “fill in the blanks” crowd-sourcing approach will yield the type of definition that truly reflects the enhanced role of PR in the era of social media. Sadly, I think it lends itself to a “we act on people” definition, not the “we are part of something” perspective that is more appropriate to the age of social media.

Hopefully, my fears are misplaced and the PRSA will come up with something much more sophisticated. To do so, they need look no farther than the definition developed by the Canadian Public Relations Society. The CPRS defines public relations as “the strategic management of relationships between an organization and its diverse publics through the use of communication to achieve mutual understanding, realize organizational goals and serve the public interest.” In my opinion that’s a much better definition.

Gini Dietrich suggests that whatever definition is adopted, it will only be useful if it can be readily understood by the general public. And she believes that right now most people believe that PR amounts to little more than media relations.

I agree. Seeing PR as media relations is too restricting. It puts the PR industry in a small box within marketing or communications. A more expansive definition is needed that captures PR’s full role in the era of social media and meaningful online relationships.

Martin argues that the public relations profession should define itself through the lense applied by Jeff Jarvis when he asserts that “In a world of publicness which allows us to connect to each other, to information to actions and to transactions, links, i.e. linking up, help us organize new societies and redefine our publics.”

You can listen to our full discussion on Inside PR

 

I'm going to be working with Martin Waxman!

Big news today. After collaborating for years as podcasters, bloggers and just good friends, Martin Waxman and I are going to be working together. Martin is going to be a Senior Counselor to Thornley Fallis and our clients. And, of course, his focus will be social media.

It turns out we’re both in Orlando today at the PRSA International Conference where we’re recording Inside PR podcast episodes with Gini Dietrich. So, as we were waiting for our next guest to arrive, Martin and I had a chance to talk about what we’re doing. We recorded a video of it to upload to our blogs because that’s the way we’re announcing it. On social media.

Martin also has posted about this move on MartinWaxman.com.

Martin has his first client meeting with us this Friday. Making a good week a great week.

Inside PR: Intranets and the new face of Facebook

In this week’s Inside PR, Martin Waxman, Gini Dietrich and I talk about Intranets and the recent changes to Facebook.

At Thornley Fallis, our Intranet is built around a Wiki to host content, Present.ly to support publishing and linking to content and Windows Live Messenger to enable one to one video calls. We encourage people to use these three tools to divert content from emails (we all suffer from inbox glut) and to channel communications from broad publishing through to one to one communications via video. For us, video is the best communications channel. Unlike email and text, it enables us to read facial expressions, posture and all the physical clues that add nuance to communications.

Martin Waxman points out that we have so many “places to go,” so many channels of communication, that managing these different channels can become a challenge unto itself.

And then there’s Facebook. We received a comment from Liza Butcher, who suggested that, “With the changes made this past week, I believe facebook it is trying to be too many things in one space, and ostracizing generations of people that may not be as tech savvy as others. … Facebook was a place for everyone, and now it is becoming too technical for the masses.”

Gini and Martin talk about their impressions of the most recent Facebook changes. Gini points out that it will be important to decide what you want to include in your timeline. Sharing everything won’t be for everyone. And it’s important to be aware of what the timeline automatically shares so that you can filter out the info you wouldn’t want to see there. Martin suggests that we all should become familiar with the “view activity” panel that will enable us to remove content from our timeline. Other neat features: the cover photo we can add to our Facebook profile and the ability to add “milestones” to fill in our timeline.

As for me. I still can’t be enthused about Facebook’s effort to move us away from the open Internet toward the walled garden of Facebook. Bah. Humbug.

And one final reminder: Inside PR will be recording live from the PRSA International Conference in Orlando on October 16 and 17. We’ll also be interviewing speakers and participants. So, if you’re planning to be there, let us know and we will grab a sound bite with you.

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cross-posted from the Inside PR podcast blog

 

Inside PR Podcast returns from summer hiatus

August couldn’t last forever (too bad) and neither could our vacation from the Inside PR podcast. So, as September ushers in cooler weather, Martin Waxman, Gini Dietrich and I are back in front of our microphones to record this week’s Inside PR.

 

Be a mensch

We start off with a discussion of corporate social responsibility – an issue Liza Butcher raised in a comment last week. Gini talks about the preference people have to work with a company that gives back. I cite Guy Kawasaki’s suggestion in his new book, Enchantment, that you “should be a mensch.” Among other things, this means that you should “help someone who can be of absolutely no use to you.” Martin underlines this point with an example of a company that risked appearing self serving and self congratulatory in acting upon their social responsibility.

We the People

We also talk about the We the People site that is being launched by the White House. I compare it to the British Prime Minister’s Number10 Website, which also has a petition function as well as links to policy consultations. I’m skeptical of the value of pure crowdsourcing for policy development. I believe that it can lead to unfocused conversations. The best results are achieve, I think, when the policy makers are prepared to guide the conversation, being up front and honest about parameters, practical limits and secondary objectives. In other words, I think that the best public policy emerges when policy makers channel pure crowd sourcing into “purposeful discussion” through their active and open participation in the conversation.

Gini argues that the site falls short of its potential by making the culmination of the process a response from policy makers in the White House. Martin wonders about the requirement for 5,000 expressions of support as the threshold at which petitions will receive a reply. Is it an arbitrary number? Or is there some rationale for this?

Darwin for measurement

Finally, we talk about the recent news that monitoring service VMS shut its doors recently. Katie Paine published a thoughtful post on why the service failed. One of her arguments that rang true to me is that some longstanding suppliers are focused on giving their customers what they feel comfortable with. Newer entrants like Radian6 and Sysomos are innovating to provide the marketplace with new insights. Services that don’t match them will fall by the wayside.

So, that’s our first post-summer IPR. Please give it a listen and let us know what you think.

Inside PR: Hanging Out on Google+

It’s two weeks since Google+ launched and the Inside PR hosts, Gini DietrichMartin Waxman and I, have been testing it for its strengths and weaknesses. This week we  talk about our experience so far.

One of the things that has caught most people’s attention is Google Hangouts, the feature that lets Google+ users set up video conference calls with up to ten users. So we thought that we’d use this feature for our recording. Well, as you’ll hear in this episode, there’s a reason why Google+ is still in the “test” period. Not everything works the way that you’d like it to. We lose Gini part of the way through. But she rejoins us by the end. We also experienced the same problem that Shel Holtz noticed when he and Neville Hobson recorded a special episode of the FIR podcast using Google Hangouts with Camtasia studio. The video recording had several defects – frozen screens and video that lagged behind the audio. Hangouts is quite ready for this use. But we’re hoping that Google will keep improving this feature and we’ll keep testing it. Eventually, I’m sure we’ll be able to produce a video version of Inside PR to accompany the audio version.

Have you ever sat down with a long time partner and said, if we could do it over again, what would we do differently? So far, I think that Google+ is the Social Network that’s doing it over and is doing it right.

For me, Facebook started as a place that suggested we could have private conversations with friends and family. But as Facebook developed its business model, it broke the faith with us on that. Bit by bit, it pushed our information onto public feeds – and it wasn’t always up front about what it was doing and didn’t provide us with easy control over how we could control our information.

Martin has been focused on rebuilding his network on Google+. And he’s found that it feels like the early days of Twitter, before the celebrities invaded it and the network became obsessed with numbers of followers. Martin’s finding that he can connect with his real community of interest on Google+ and have much higher quality conversations than he’s experienced on the other networks.

So far, I’ve had an experience similar to Martin. I’ve found that I share the interests of most of the people who have followed me. And by using the Circles feature to sort people by topic, I can dip into different areas just as I would if I were choosing between sections of a newspaper. A great way to increase the signal to noise ratio.

Martin also finds that a strength of Google+ is the ease with which users can adjust their privacy settings – on a general basis and on a post by post basis. It’s intuitive and clear.

Gini also points out that the Circles approach is different from the asymmetrical following on Twitter and the symmetrical friending on Facebook. And this means that we’ll have to develop a different way of figuring out how to manage ourselves in a way that takes full advantage of the unique properties of Google+

So, that’s our Google+ discussion this week. It’s the biggest thing that’s happened in social media in the past couple years. We’ll continue to test it and share our experiences in future weeks.

And what about you? Are you using Google+? What do you think of it? It’s strengths? Its weaknesses?

Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoe Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

This week’s episode was produced by Kristine Simpson.

 

Inside PR: The Web doesn't have a Forget button

Martin WaxmanGini Dietrich and I are all here for this week’s Inside PR. We talk about a couple things this week – community-driven events and online sharing.

Are unconferences and community-driven events dying?

We look back one more time at our great experience at this year’s highly successful Podcamp Toronto. It takes a huge amount of effort to organize this type of event. And as professionally organized events have moved into the social media space, have they lessened our appetite and the pool of volunteers willing to organize unconferences? Do the professionally organized conferences cause us to have expectations of a conference that a community-based, volunteer driven conference can’t meet?

What’s happening in your community. Are there still vibrant unconferences or other community-driven events where you live? Are they becoming more frequent and more successful? Or rarer? Less well attended? We’d love to hear from you about this.

Sharing is Forever

We also talk about online sharing – or over-sharing. Martin starts the conversation by pointing to two sites that let you share your clickstream. Wow!

Would you want to share with others all the sites that you visit? Do you use the Web for work-related research? Is this an idea for a business that simply won’t work – at least if people appreciate the value of making conscious decisions about what we share.

Often, a choice to share is forgotten or poorly understood. We’ve already seen how Facebook’s frequent changes of their terms of service leads to people sharing information they hadn’t consciously realized they were sharing. Or think of Tumblr. How many people shared information on Tumblr, became bored with the platform and forgot that it is still spewing information about them. As Gini says, The Web doesn’t have a “Forget” button. Sharing is forever.

 

Americans Against Food Taxes shows Astroturfing is still with us

Will we ever be able to stamp out Astroturfing in public relations?

Take a look at this Website and this that the group ran on television and posted to YouTube.

Hold on a second. “Americans Against Food Taxes?” The names on the About Us page suggest to me it really should be called Soft Drink Manufacturers/retailers opposed to a tax on sugar-packed soft drinks. And if this ad really did run on the Super Bowl, as the Website claims, a total of 95, 275 signups on their petition sounds to me like no real grassroots movement actually exists.

The whole thing smacks of disinformation and bad spin. Yes, the ad makes explicit reference to a tax on soft drinks, but look at everything else: the images of fresh fruit on the Website home page, a grocery cart packed with wholesome food, the domain “nofoodtaxes.com” (why not “nosoftdrinktaxes.com?” and the name of the group itself. Take them all together and the uncritical viewer could easily think that there is a broader tax being proposed on all food. No lies are told. But it is possible to mislead by how we frame an issue and (mis)direct attention.

I raised this issue with Martin Waxman and Gini Dietrich in the most recent episode of Inside PR.

What do you think?

Do you know more about this campaign than I do? Am I setting the bar of acceptable behaviour too high – or does this campaign in fact cross the line?

Also worth a look:

Sourcewatch

Health Habits

PolitiFact

Treehugger