Posts Tagged ‘internet’

Untapped Twitter potentials

September 3, 2012

There are many ways that people and companies use twitter.  There are those who produce and/or share content (active), the listeners, the passive and the ignorant. Of course, there are many shades and levels.

Let me be clear when I mention the ignorant I mean those people and companies that have no account. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this but they are missing out on a lot of opportunities.

One thing that continuously amazes me is the fact that people and companies are mesmerized by the numbers in twitter (followers and following).  Everyone, especially companies, love having a lot of followers.  In order to increase the numbers, it might help to follow twitter accounts to leverage the follow back practice. Here lie a number of untapped potentials.

The first untapped potential of twitter lies in the people that you follow. Have you ever wondered why you follow them as a company? The smart answer of course is: “they have interesting content”. We all know the real answers are less glamorous.

However, I am convinced that if your company follows people they are not doing it for the content but for the follow back.  Tweets of these people are rarely read, let alone content retweeted. At best, companies might reply if the tweet is to complaint. If you really follow people for their content why not

  1. Recommend them via a #(FF)/#followfriday tweet.
  2. Retweet some of their “interesting” content
  3. Start a conversation on twitter

Another untapped potential lies in the fact you contact the people who just unfollowed you. I know that some will bash this practice, but in an effort to learn you want to know why people follow you ( your good content 🙂 of course)  as well as why they stopped following you.  In this manner you can start a conversation and learn more about your audience. And are these not the reasons for using social media as a company?

I am sure there are more untapped potentials on twitter. Which ones are you leveraging?

Who controls the social media policy creation?

May 29, 2012

We all know that control and social media are contradictory, but that is what people and companies think you achieve through a social media policy.

Where in the past social media was the exclusive playing field of marketing, today HR, sales and other departments are finding great benefits in social media.  These departments are discovering new platforms or uses for existing platforms to benefit their departments.  So with this expanding usage of social media, comes the awareness that a social media policy is needed.

Today I am seeing a new battle arise, namely who will create the social media policy.  A number of departments are trying to pull that creation of such a much needed policy to them.  However, there are 3 clear main drivers: HR, marketing and IT. They do this for different reasons.

But first, the creation of a social media policy is project that is done in a number of different ways today.   Some resort to an automated tool to create a policy.  It goes without saying that this can’t be the full answer.  Others will surf the internet for a policy and do a copy/paste, this is a better approach but the reality is that your social media policy is not the same as the one from any other company and thus requires a personal approach.

In order to reflect all requirements and wishes within the company, a number of departments must be included in the creation of such a policy.  Each department will bring their unique experience, skills and motivation for the policy to the table.  No department alone should be dominating this effort.  Here is some experience from real life why.

Marketing wants to control all messaging by being in charge while having free reign.  They will try to create either a minimalistic policy (“use your common sense” as only rule) or control the usage by a detailed “how to use social media handbook”.

HR wants to limit the risk, liability and time usage.  Though they do bring the skill of creating successful policies to the table, their angle will be focused on “do not …” rather than “do…” or “become…”.

IT will be concerned about bandwidth and IT security and their driver will be shut down as much as possible in terms of access to social media.

Legal will for liability reasons be trying to cross all the t’s and dot all the I’s in terms. Most of the time this achieved through complex wording that no one understands (cfr. Terms of services of most social media platforms).

Employee will either want as much as possible access to social media with nearly no rules or guidelines while others will want nothing to do with it.  The contributors will be giving the social media policy makers the real insight to the use of social media in the company and they should be considered valued contributors.

Unions are a much dreaded group of contributors.  Companies are afraid to involve them in the process.  However, since policies must also be reviewed, approved or endorsed by these unions, who by the way also use social media, they are critical to implementing social media policies successfully.

In my personal experience, creating a 2 page or 20 page social media policy (guideline or handbook), you need to have all these people and departments involved in the project to create a personalized and integrated social media policy for your company.  To make the roll-out process a success you need to accompany this project with social media awareness sessions and/or training.

Do you have different views? I love to hear from you!

Why the political parties have no Social Media Policy?

December 25, 2011

2012 is an election year. This is not only the case in the US, but also in many other countries including my own, Belgium. There will be local elections and union elections this year. But I am looking forward, with a lot of anticipation, to how US politics will be using Social Media to rally to victory. Four years ago, Team Obama surprised everybody, but this year, many politicians and candidates will be fighting back and use the same weapons.

What I can not stop wondering about is whether the Democratic or Republican party has a Social Media Policy. I do not think so and in all honesty I am not sure they can make one that sticks. In reviewing the database of social media policies (, there are a number of elements that always show up in such a policy. Maybe this is a good time to benchmark some paragraphs of these policies versus the political world. It will become apparent why it would be close to impossible to create a Social Media Policy (that would stick to) for any political party: Here are some clauses and further meaning:

  • Respect your Audience: One should show proper consideration for other’s privacy and topics considered inflammatory.
  • It is a Conversation: it is supposed to be a two-way conversation and not just shouting out to the audience.
  • Respect your competition, do not pick fights or launch personal attacks: Seems very obvious and does not really require any further explanation.
  • Be honest and transparent: do not be sneaky or devious. Do not have others go out there and say good things about you and bad things about others. Stay away from ghostwriters.
  • Be yourself and respectful: Voters will see through your marketing tricks and talk. Be passionate and let that show through your personality.
  • Get your facts right: Separate your opinions from your facts. How often is this not forgotten?
  • Admit mistakes, apologize and correct your mistakes: do not be afraid to say that you were wrong. Admit to those mistakes and correct them.
  • Think twice about posting: Before you post think about how it will be perceived since that is what people will see as the reality. The internet does not forget easy. Make sure you are allowed to post this content.
  • Do not lie: Obviously since you are personally responsible for “speaking” on a public platform.
  • Add Value: People’s time is valuable so do not waste it with.
  • Aim for Quality and not Quantity: Offer your contribution with content and in context.
  • Do not spam your audience: Respect people’s time.

As most companies and organizations are urged to create good social media guidelines and policies, I think politicians should set the example. However, I know that politicians stand on the barricade when they see these types of policies, but just like marketers they feel that their hands are tied. So I wonder if any of the political parties are even giving this any thought and would love to hear from them. Any thoughts?

Does your social media policy fall short?

November 13, 2010

If like me, you keep an eye on the trending topics of your business, interesting stories show up. In the world of social media, there were 2 trending topics over the last week. One was the fact that the American Medical Association just created a social media policy for physicians and the other about a medical technician being laid off on the basis of her comments about her supervisor on Facebook (NY Times article).

First to the policy, it is simple, straight forward and still comprehensive. It can be summarized in 5 short statements:

  • Separate private and professional presence online
  • Respect Doctor-Patient privacy and confidentiality
  • Maintain Doctor-Patient relationship online
  • Use security settings to the maximize protection for your social media profiles
  • Know that your online presence will influence your offline reputation especially true with negative content

This is a great start but it is by no means a complete policy. I would consider it more some guidelines on usage rather than calling a policy. Some hospitals are taking this one step further and making more extensive policies that include aspects such as authenticity, honesty, disclaimers, etc. Good examples are the policies of the Mayo Clinic, Ohio StateUniversity Medical Center, etc.

However, as companies are hurrying towards making and implementing such a policy, the latter trending topic is generating a ground breaking legal case, which is stopping companies in their tracks. What is going on? A medical technician was fired over violating the rule for depicting the company in a negative way on social media (specifically Facebook). National Labor Relations Board has jumped in and said this firing was illegal since employees have the right to talk about the working conditions whether that is at the water cooler, in a bar or even facebook. It is unrealistic to think that barring employees to talk about their company anywhere is an option and even a very restrictive social media policy will not help.

There are five conclusions I would like to draw up:

  • The best way to address such a situation is to have an open door policy where unhappy people can go and vent their frustrations to a real human being with no repercussions so they do not have to do this on social media.
  • Include a paragraph addressing respect for and defamatory statements about company, co-workers, clients, suppliers, etc.
  • Additionally, social media policies should include actions and consequences when the policy is not adhered to.
  • Often forgotten, is the fact that you need to make sure employees have read and understood the social media policy to the same extend as the employment policies.
  • Finally, employees have to keep in mind that they are also tarnishing their own reputation making these types of remarks and burdening their future employability.

hospitals and their social media policy

October 31, 2010

I did not think I was going to write so quickly a follow up to my last week’s post on social media in the hospital area, but my interest was peaked this week by a poll I saw via Twitter (@reedsmith).

The polls asked the question whether the organization/hospital had a social media media policy.  The result was somewhat amazing.

72% of the people who answered (25 answers) the poll said they did have a policy.  This number is very high but due to the fact that on average only 1 in 3 has a policy.  The fact that this poll was run through Twitter probably skewed the results.  The users are already on social media and thus somewhat likely to have a policy.

Looking at some publicly published policies, the areas that are covered can be summarized as:

  • Clear definition on where the medical facility stands when it comes to social media and what usage during and off work-time.
  • Commenting guidelines and rules
    • Focus on positive comments
    • posts with abusive and offensive language will be removed
    • posts with personal attack  will be removed
    • All spam-like posts will be removed
  • Blogging guidelines including the use of disclaimers in both directions (medical facility and the commenter)
  • Identity and affiliation with the medical facility
  • Use of code of ethics including all other applicable policies
  • General rules of conduct (add value, be smart, be authentic, etc.)

Though it is great to see that there are good examples of social media policies being put in place?  There are in my opinion 3 major components missing in these types of policies:

  • What are the clear guidelines to deal with negative comments?  What is the plan?  Who is the go-to person/department?
  • What monitoring is being done to make sure this policy is being “enforced”?
  • How has the policy been communicated to the employees?  Just put on the intra-net does not do it.

So as a conclusion, I think that having guidelines for your employees is great, but they need to communicated and monitored effectively so. People must know what can and can not be done and what to do in cases of emergencies.

Are you checking in into your hospital?

October 24, 2010

A few weeks ago, I got a call from a Belgian journalist (Peter Backx, editor of the Artsenkrant) asking if I had any data on whether the Belgian hospitals had any presence in social media. I was intrigued by the question and did some research which I will discuss later on in this blog.

The first question that comes to mind when such an inquiry pops up is whether and what hospitals are doing anywhere else in this world. Hospitals are mostly risk and discussion averse which completely opposite of social media. New projects are meticulously planned and kept under good cover. But still it seems that in the USA hospitals are embracing social media big time. From Facebook over Twitter to YouTube! Hospitals are finding their way to applications to increase their customer service, training (both patients and nurses), PR and crisis communication. There are several great examples around (Mayo Clinic, University of Maryland, etc.). A source of information is slideshare where there are some great presentations available on the subject.

Looking closer to home, Lucien Engelen recently noticed a significant increase in the social media presence in Holland. The number shot up from single digits to 30% presence in different types of social media. Similar to the USA, Dutch hospitals are uploading videos on YouTube, tweeting or posting messages on both Facebook and LinkedIn. One reason might be that hospitals are for profit and consider their patients potential clients (instead of just sick people). Another reason is that the effort of joining social media is headed up by HR which hopes to find new employees.

But what about Belgium? It is safe to say that the social movement has not hit our Belgian hospitals. There are some that are starting but a limited amount has social media profiles on LinkedIn (25), Facebook (even less), Twitter (single digits). Most of the social media is driven by individual contributors that are not acting on behalf of the hospital which could in term lead to some confusing and misleading representation and will have to be addressed by a social media policy.

So what is the next step? Since more and more patients are using social media to diagnose themselves before going to any care provider, hospitals should join the movement, know what is being said and actually contribute to the knowledge.

There are 5 steps that must be taken:

• Creation of an overall strategy which includes social media

• Create a social media policy and guidelines to help streamline the social media efforts

• Create the necessary profiles

• Take active part in social media (conversation and not just outward communication)

• Monitor social media

By being proactive they will be able to become a more trusted partner for the patient.

Is Obama checking in into the White House…

October 3, 2010

Using Foursquare, Gowalla or Facebook Places?  Or does Sarkozy at the Elysée? The Queen at Buckingham Palace?  Or even closer to home, Yves Leterme at the Lambertmont #1?  We are sure of one thing: Bart De Wever and Elio Di Rupo are not using it to plan their “secret location” meetings to form a government.

What is this all about?

Location based social network applications are among the fastest growing sectors of the digital world and getting a lot of attention.  Where as Facebook answers the question “What is on your mind?” and Twitter “What is happening?”, location based software answers the question “Where are you?”.

Foursquare and Gowalla are today’s leading players.  They have quickly understood that check-ins need more than just telling people “where” you are.  They are offering badges and mayorships to maintain competitiveness and keep users interested.  Facebook is now also joining the race with the introduction of Facebook Places.

Today, location based social media is a narcissistic tool focusing on bragging rights tied to a leader board, number of check-ins and mayorships. But the business potential it holds is enormous.  Just image that when you check-in at a store on the high street, you can get an 10% extra discount on the spot if you show them the message you get back from the software.

Personal implications

Location based services are a great tool to bring the old and traditional networking back to life. Whenever you check-in using this type of service, you will get a list of friends in the neighborhood – as well as their location – inviting you to go and see them.

Of course, with every upside there is a downside.  When you are checking in, you are making your location public and wave the right to privacy.  Linking this update to your other social media profiles amplifies the reach of this message.  When you check-in, you tell the world you are not home and should keep in mind that there are people in the world that will take advantage of this piece of information (

Business implications

Attracting clients to a retail business might be fine, but in a B2B environment the benefits are more difficult to demonstrate.  Yes, you can get clients to come to your booth at a show, get info on your client’s preferences, etc.

Mentioning the clients where you are might be great advertising (you think), though checking in at these clients might not be the best practice since other people might be listening in and finding new prospects. On another note, you might be violating your client’s confidentially or they might not want their name mentioned in connection to you.  Personally, I feel that you should not mention client and project names and this should be clearly stated in your social media policy.

But what about me?

Let me take you back to the mid-80’s when I had to spend 7 weeks in the USA for a product training.  At that time, I made the decision to never go and eat twice at the same restaurant.  I ended up after those 7 weeks with a document of restaurants which I had rated.  My list became a hot ticket for the people in the training department since they were able to advice their trainees on different places.

Of course, I use location based software today, however my social media policy the guideline says that I should never mention the client or their building on this service.  So, when giving away my location, I tend to name the restaurant or hotel in the neighborhood where I have lunch, coffee or a break.  My connections get the benefit of where I am, but my client’s privacy is protected.

The future?

More and more devices will have built-in location aware technology and this will fuel the growth of this software application area.  I even want to go so far as to say that the location based software will become the front-end to most of our social media platforms.  Where B2C will initially rake in the benefits of this technology, B2B will soon follow. I wonder how fast the evolution in this field will be..

BTW, The Answer…

To the question posed at the beginning of this article is NO.  Obama does not check in at the White House, nor does Sarkozy or the Queen at their work residences.  Even Yves Leterme doesn’t.  But who does?  People looking for their 15 minutes of fame!

Mic Adam

Social Media Policy Creator, Vanguard Leadership

Originally appeared in De Tijd in september 2010

Making your company more visible

September 11, 2010

The company website is the main point of activity for most companies.  But since this is a somewhat static environment, companies are joining social media in the hope that they will be able to get closer to their customers and create a two-way conversation.

From research done by Vanguard Leadership in Belgium and Wildfire PR in the UK, companies are creating social media profiles but few make them public on their website.  Only 25% have such links on their website and are thus loosing opportunities to direct their customers to their social media sites.

Why do companies not advertize these profiles?  One could say that social media is not part of the company’s strategy; others will say that IT does not want to put this on the website; even more others will just say they do not care but the main reason is that no one thought about doing this!

So once you joined Social Media as company, here are some tips for you:

  1. Claim your social media profiles in Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and others.  Do not let others squat your social media names and pages.
  2. Display your social media links on your landing page – highly visible!  Do not hide them somewhere in “Links” or “Contact us”.
  3. Why not add social media profiles of your staff (especially when you are in recruitment).  Professionally looking LinkedIn profiles will be great image builders for the person and the company.
  4. Give people reasons to sign up and follow you on social media.
  5. Add a “Share” button to your website to encourage further sharing
  6. Use email signatures to promote your company’s social media profiles.

Increasing your visibility and it will eventually lead to new opportunities and increased sales.

If you have any comments, you can post a comment or contact me by mail at

Are companies listening to their social media accounts?

September 8, 2010

Social media is growing at phenomenal rate.  The popularity of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs, Video and Photo platforms together with the ease of use of technology is now making social media a great tool for companies and their marketers to get closer to their customers.  So many companies are taking steps towards social media.

However, social media implies two-way communication (interaction with/engagement of the customers) and presents therefore a number of new challenges for companies: visibility, monitoring and engagement.  When these 3 elements are ignored, a lot of opportunities are lost.  It also demonstrates that social media is not integrated into the company strategy.  The market study looks at all 3 areas.

Limited visibility.

Many companies (71%) do have some kind of presence in social media meaning a business profile, but less 1 in 4 (25%) make that visible on their website.  LinkedIn seems to be most popular social media platform where companies have such a profile.  Facebook and Twitter are still not much used by companies.

Are you really listening?

When it comes to listening, there are 3 types that should be covered: (1) What is said in the “cloud of social media platforms” about the company, its brands and its people; (2) What is posted on the social media platforms/profiles of the companies (opportunities to engage) (3) What are your own employees posting on social media platforms .  The research revealed that companies are not listening… Twitter is the best monitored social media platform, while Facebook is really used as additional advertising channel.

No, Lack of engagement!

Social media platforms are mainly used as a marketing tool and messages left on company pages are a lot of the time left unanswered.  Only 45% of all Twitter messages were responded to while less than 5% of the messages on Facebook were answered!

Individuals responsible for corporate social media accounts – if companies have appointed them – treat the company social media profiles with far less respect and professionalism than their own personal accounts.

This research is the result of a market study done by Vanguard Leadership in August 2010.  In this market study we have used social media and the internet to build the dataset.  We have analyzed 540 websites of companies (from Bel-20 over Trends Gazellen to general companies across all sectors).  Monitoring was done by posting messages on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin to check the monitoring behavior and response of companies.  The complete report and the presentation can be found on slideshare (report: or – presentation: or


Mic Adam

Social Media Policy Creator/General Manager

Phone: +32 478 50 41 35