Michelle Sullivan Communications

No time for Twitter? You must be busier than Toronto mayor David Miller.

If you work as a social media specialist, you’ve inevitably come across the line ‘I don’t have time for things like Facebook and  Twitter’. Understandable coming from a client; most Canadian companies haven’t even started to test the social media waters or are just getting their feet wet. More of a mystery coming from a communications professional. When it comes to answering the latter, I usually just smile and nod, knowing that it’s just a matter of time before reality catches up with him or her. Saying you don’t have time for social media when you’re in the communications field is akin to going back in time 50 years or so and saying you’re in advertising, but don’t have time to understand this new-fangled thing called a television.

When it comes to the former, however, I try to put social media in context, explaining that there are tools to help make its use more efficient and, above all, emphasizing the power of it all.

The next time a client tells you he (meaning he, his communications team and his brand) doesn’t have time for Twitter, and you would like to beg to differ, ask him, without being sarcastic, if he’s busier than the mayor of Canada’s largest city. Then bring up the example of Joel Dembe. He might just start to see things from another perspective.

Who is Joel Dembe? No one famous or powerful or well positioned enough to bend the ear of someone like a big city mayor and get him to jump into action. Or so you’d think.

Joel has 75 Twitter followers, follows 96 people and is on 2 Twitter lists. A 26 year old marketing analyst, it’s reasonable to expect that he’d be on Twitter. What’s less expected is that when he found himself stuck on the 18th floor of his Toronto office highrise, because a power outage caused by yesterday’s heat wave shut down the elevators he needed to leave the building in his wheelchair, the person he chose to reach out to using Twitter is Toronto’s mayor David Miller. Even more surprising? One of the busiest men in the city was listening, and responded. Surely the Mayor of Canada’s largest metropolitan area must have one of his flunkies monitoring Twitter and answering for him, you say? Well, within 6 minutes of sending that tweet, Dembe received a Twitter reply and within 15 seconds of tweeting Toronto’s mayor his phone number as requested, Dembe received a call from David Miller himself. They spoke for 5 minutes:

Dembe said he made it clear to Miller and the fire department that his situation was not an emergency, but was happy to know that someone was listening.

Source: Maclean’s

How’s that for democracy at work?

If the mayor has flunkies working his Twitter account for him, they’re highly efficient flunkies with a direct line to the little red phone on the mayor’s desk. Either way, the good PR Miller has received online, in print and on national newscasts as a result should be proof enough of the power of using social media to be there to listen … and to respond. Not to mention that chances are he’s secured at least one more vote for the next election (if he were running again, which he’s not).

Our clients should be where their customers are. If their customers are using social media, our clients need to be there too. Let’s just hope that as communications advisors, we’re there as well. Before our clients are, ideally. In an age where some of our clients are starting to earmark their entire marketing/PR campaign budget for social media initiatives, we have no choice but to do so if we want to remain relevant.

Would it be great if David Miller would publish his phone number and take phone calls too? Well sure. But let’s not get carried away, now 😉

Social Networks : Modern day Knights of Columbus (or Loyal Orders of Water Buffaloes)

I spent part of a glorious Sunday afternoon this weekend sitting in an unusual place (for me) : a pew at the Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts church in the Laurentians. Curiosity had led me there. While I’d sat through countless Sunday masses as a child, this was the first time I would witness the ordination of a priest.

The whole process was very fraternal (emphasis mine). The novice, the Bishop and dozens of priests were led into the packed church by a plumed and caped group of older men I knew to be Knights of Columbus. While I’d never seen these men in full regalia, I knew immediately by their demeanor and costume who they were. For the uninitiated, the Knights of Columbus is the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organisation. Akin to Fred Flintstone’s Loyal Order of  Water Buffaloes, if you will.

As I cursed myself for not having a fully charged iPhone with me for live tweeting and TwitPics, I sat back and reflected on the community I was observing before me. My mind eventually – inevitably – turned to social networking. Yes, I see everything (not really, but anyway), even the ordination of a priest, through a web 2.0 lens. I call it 2.0/2.0 vision.

I was watching a tribe in action. Two communities of men (the Knights, the priests) – mostly of an older generation – sharing similar values, a similar belief system and a relationship which is mutually beneficial. It’s not a stretch to imagine that members of the Sainte-Agathe chapter of the Knights of Columbus help one another and even refer business to one another. This is what we do when we’re part of a group of like-minded people. We refer people to those we know and we help other members of our tribe when we can.

Business groups are the same. On Facebook a few minutes ago, my cousin Dermot, an Irish photographer,  shared a Sunday Times article in which he’s featured. In the interview, he credits part of his business development success to Business Network International (BNI), an organisation that brings business owners from different disciplines together into a single group whose members refer their personal and professional contacts to one another.

Social networks, like LinkedIn, step in to provide a virtual way to cultivate and maintain business links. Today, I received a note from a colleague from a dozen or more years ago who is now a real estate agent looking for business.  Would I know anyone in the market for a house? I might decide to go out on the limb for him for any of a number of reasons — because I like him, because I see an opportunity for myself, or just because I’m nice. I’m not likely to do it, however,  if I don’t perceive him to be a member of my tribe.

No matter what form our business networking takes, the glue that holds it all together is the concept of tribe.

As we build our LinkedIn profiles, join Facebook discussion groups or join a hashtag-ed discussion on Twitter, we’d all be wise not to lose sight of the fact that human relationships remain at the cornerstone of it all.

Twitter imposters: when it’s better to laugh than to cry

The Montreal twitterverse is all a-buzz this morning. It would seem that Michelle Blanc‘s better half, ‘Bibitte’ as she is nicknamed, has had her identity usurped on Twitter. Which is a little odd, given that she is a discreet person, who, granted, shows up on occasion as a mention in Michelle’s blog, Facebook page and twitter stream. I guess that a mythical aura is developing around her, which must be odd, to say the least.  She has responded by parking her identity on her own Twitter account, and, thanks to validation by Michelle, already has more followers than the fake ‘Bibitte’.

Which reminds me of a hilarious Wire Tap I heard recently. Jonathan Goldstein hunts down and confronts his Twitter imposter.

So I dedicate this blog post to the charming (and real) Bibitte. Enjoy the listen.

Last week on WireTap: My Imposter.

Foursquare: mobinautes, partez à l’aventure de la géolocalisation

Foursquare? Vous connaissez?

Depuis quelques semaines, je m’amuse à découvrir ce réseau social à base de géolocalisation. À première vue, il n’y a rien là pour m’intéresser, personnellement. Non seulement je ne ressemble pas (mais vraiment pas) au portrait de la femme magasineuse présentée à la journée Infopresse hier, je suis de la génération qui protège jalousement sa vie privée (de moins en moins peut-être, mais quand même). Pourquoi donc s’inscrire à ce jeu, à cette application iPhone (ou Blackberry) qui permet à notre réseau de suivre nos déplacements?

La tribu
Les ‘mobinautes’ qui cherchent à tisser et à maintenir des liens avec leurs pairs trouveront intéressant la possibilité de voir où se retrouvent ces derniers, surtout lorsqu’ils sont à proximité. Qui dit que l’Internet isole? Au contraire, avec la venue de Foursquare, les possibilités de rencontres improvisées croissent. Grâce à Foursquare, mon téléphone intelligent peut me dire qui se trouve dans le quartier que je fréquente, voire dans le même magasin ou restaurant que moi.

Yelp, exponentiel
Nous savons que les consommateurs se fient davantage aux recommandations de leurs pairs qu’à toute forme de publicité. Foursquare profite de cette réalité, permettant aux utilisateurs d’attacher des commentaires aux profils des adresses qu’ils fréquentent. Gare aux serveurs et aux vendeurs qui déplaisent aux mobinautes: si vous les voyez en train de pitoner sur le clavier de leur iPhone, sachez qu’il se peut fort bien qu’ils sont en train de laisser des traces qui pourront être retrouvées  non seulement par les membres de leur réseau, mais par l’ensemble des adeptes de Foursquare qui se renseigneront ainsi au sujet de votre entreprise.

Et les commerçants dans tout ça?
Un nombre grandissant d’entreprises  cherchant à fidéliser les mobinautes se tournent vers cette plateforme de géolocalisation pour le faire. Parmi ceux-ci,  la boutique de macarons montréalaise PointG. Très présente sur les plateformes comme Twitter et Facebook, l’entreprise profite également de Foursquare, offrant un macaron gratuit au mobinaute qui franchit pour la première fois ses portes. De plus, le ‘maire’ de PointG .. c’est à dire l’adepte Foursquare qui fréquente le plus souvent le magasin .. se voit offrir six macarons. L’offre se répète sur une base hebdomadaire, récompensant systématiquement les fidèles. On comprend que l’aspect ludique de Foursquare entre en jeu (oui, j’ai bien dit en jeu), faisant appel à l’esprit compétitif des mobinautes, tout en renforçant les liens entre le commerçant et ses clients.

Mardi dernier, Foursquare a annoncé le lancement d’outils analytiques qui permettront au commerçant de connaitre le profil démographique de sa clientèle mobinaute (nombre, sexe, moments forts d’achalandage etc) et même de rejoindre les anciens fidèles afin de les inciter à reprendre leurs anciennes habitudes. Les possibilités d’interaction entre l’entrepreneur et son client sont énormes, ce qui fera le bonheur des consommateurs qui cherchent à donner du feedback et à influencer la qualité du service qu’ils reçoivent, ou la variété, qualité ou quantité de produits à leur disposition.

Et si je ne suis pas adepte de Foursquare?
Abonnez vous … surtout si vous êtes un consultant en communication qui se doit d’être bien placé pour conseiller ses clients. Où si vous ne voulez pas vous abonner à encore un autre réseau social, sachez que Twitter et Facebook viennent de lancer ou lanceront sous peu leurs propres services de géolocalisation.

Comme quoi le monde continue à devenir de plus en plus petit.

Apps at AppStoreHQ

Twitter: sondage québécois

L’IABC m’a fait l’honneur, récemment, de m’inviter à faire une présentation à leurs membres. Le sujet? Twitter. Une présentation assez practico-pratique qui semble avoir fait le bonheur des participants, si je peux me fier aux commentaires.

Une de ces participantes, Renée de Léry, a eu la gentillesse de me faire part d’un nouveau sondage SOM commandé par Branchez-Vous qui cherche à mesurer la qualité de la notoriété et de l’utilisation de Twitter par les Québécois.

Les résultats ne sont pas surprenants, mais parmi les faits les plus intéressants, on découvre que :

  • les francophones sont moins portés à utiliser Twitter que les anglophones
  • l’utilisation de Twitter se fait plus fréquemment par les Montréalais qu’en région
  • le niveau de scolarité a un impact sur l’utilisation de Twitter
  • 42% des Québécois disent avoir entendu parlé de Twitter, mais seulement 2% d’entre eux ont ouvert un compte (et dieu sait que bon nombre de comptes demeurent inactifs)
  • au Québec, plus d’hommes que de femmes sont sur Twitter (intéressant, lorsqu’on sait qu’en général ce sont plutôt les femmes qui utilisent Twitter – 53% selon Quantcast)