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Social Media

Beware the Default Message When Building Local Business

By | Social Media | One Comment

There’s a new business development and professional networking tool on the scene: Alignable. What makes the tool different from LinkedIn or other social tools is its focus on connecting local business representatives. Here’s the message I received today to connect with someone on the platform:

 

This is a fine message, in general. The problem is that I’ve known the sender for about ten years. We’re connected in about a dozen ways and have done business together before. That’s a pretty common story for the majority of people in business in my local network. This message comes across as not only ridiculous but offensively impersonal. The default settings of these tools ALWAYS make it easy to blanket your contact list with the same default introductory message in an effort to build your network quickly. Don’t do it. You run the risk of having the opposite effect.

What to Do When You’ve Been an Idiot in the Past

By | Social Media | One Comment

Were you an idiot, once upon a time? (“Yes.”) Did you share your idiocy publicly, say, via social media? (Hangs head, “yes.”) Are you an idiot now? (“NO!”) Well, good. There’s hope for you. ¬†The internet in my immediate geography is buzzing over some old tweets from a person who is now in elected political office. Wait. That could be misconstrued. Not recent tweets from our president-elect — OLD tweets from a city councilor. It’s different.

The tweets are offensive and the owner of the account has since apologized publicly (on Facebook) and is no doubt, hoping this issue goes away.

The wonderful and for some, terrifying thing about social media is that it allows people to publish their thoughts freely and without editing. That can be pretty hard for people who don’t possess an internal filter and who have thoughts that are offensive to others. And if you’re a person who cares about your reputation, or has thin skin, or who wants to craft a certain persona, it might be wise to stay away from social media altogether.

If it’s too late, however, and you were an idiot in the past, but you’re MUCH BETTER NOW, proceed with caution. Know that people will be watching you now more than ever before, and that for those who want you to be successful, they want to see you proving how authentic you are by continuing to share your thoughts. Could you be an idiot again? Possibly. But that’s the beauty of an unfiltered form of media — the real person behind the account can come shining through.

Doug Muir, the Bella’s Boycott, and Black Lives Matter

By | Crisis Communications, Social Media | 3 Comments

A week ago, we attended Rooting Out Injustice, the signature fall event put on by Legal Aid Justice Center and Central Virginia Legal Aid Society. Full disclosure, I’ve been involved with Legal Aid for more than seven years and am on their advisory council. The event featured co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, Alicia Garza, who was a fantastic, inspirational speaker. The speaker panel, emceed by local attorney and author John Grisham (you may have heard of him) explored the intersection of race, injustice, disparities within the system, and ways the nonprofit organizations are tackling civil injustice.

In the midst of the event, a local business owner, Douglas Muir, saw fit to post a comment on Facebook stating, “Black lives matter is the biggest rasist (sic) organization since the clan. Are you kidding me. Disgusting!!”

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Mr. Muir is the owner of Bella’s, an Italian restaurant in Charlottesville. He’s also listed as a guest lecturer at the University of Virginia.

What Mr. Muir obviously didn’t know is that the wrath of the offended via social media is swift and ruthless. There’s a hashtag #boycottbellas and there has been a peaceful demonstration. But that’s not the end of this. Doug Muir deleted his comment and is, no doubt, keeping a low profile while his employees suffer a lack of income (restaurant workers make their money mostly in tips. No customers = no income.)

I think this is an opportunity for all people — not just the people who attended the event, or who have heard and seen Mr. Muir’s comment and are aware of the boycott of Bella’s to go look at the†http://blacklivesmatter.com/ page. Think about civil rights and a movement that didn’t just start last year, but has been going on since before Abraham Lincoln was president. This isn’t new. Racism isn’t new. Social media is, though, and how we use it can change minds and change our society.

UPDATE 10/12/2016:

The Cavalier Daily ran an apology from Douglas Muir about the comment.†It’s a good apology.

What to do When Your Campaign Accidentally Goes Viral

By | Communications, Crisis Communications, Social Media | No Comments

There’s really nothing that can prepare you for that moment when you pick up your phone and/or †log in to Facebook and see 8,000 new messages. Just yesterday, you think, we were trying desperately to get 300 likes on our page!

It’s the stuff some companies dream of. It’s a nightmare for most.

The thing is, you’re not going to know when your campaign is going to take off like wildfire. You may be pretty sure you’re going to get some attention, but you don’t really think it’s going to be Snuggling Baby Goats attention.

It doesn’t matter — it’s still worth the time to do a little preparation — a bit like the conversations people are having about the nearly†$2 billion Powerball jackpot and how they would spend the money if/when the win. (Buying baby goats!)

Know these four things:

  1. To whom you will†turn to help manage the overwhelming number of messages across all channels. This must be a trusted, experienced individual. Do not throw your intern under this bus.
  2. To whom you will turn to increase production/meet demand, etc. How big could you scale, if necessary?
  3. If things go viral in a bad way (you mess up, a terrible review gets major attention, etc.) what will your apology say, and how will you make it right? Write that message†now, leaving blanks to fill in later, of course, †long before you need it.
  4. What will be your strategy when people are mean, overenthusiastic, threatening, troll-like, etc? If it’s to turn the monitoring of comments over to the person identified here under number one, that’s OK. Shutting down and disappearing might feel like the right action in the short term, but don’t cut off your nose to spite your face. The flames will die down, a new viral story will emerge, and you don’t want to be in a position to build your audience from scratch. Hang in there.

And if it happens to you suddenly, and you have no idea what to do, and you don’t know any of the four things, just give me a call.

Baby Goat Snuggling Opportunity Goes Viral

By | Media, Social Media | No Comments

It’s not hard to see how this happened: Virginia goat cheese producer Caromont Farm advertised on its Facebook page a need for volunteers to snuggle baby goats. People responded in droves, eager to get some goat love, and the story, adorably enhanced with tiny cable-knit sweater wearing kids, got picked up everywhere, like Buzzfeed, and†ABC News, The Washington Post†and The Today Show; pretty much a media relations slam-dunk if I ever saw one, and not even what the little farm intended! No need to apply for goat snuggling this season, but the farm has scheduled a Goatapalooza for anyone who still needs their goaty fix.

We love the attention it’s getting, though because our client Cavalier Produce is a distributor of Caromont Farm cheeses, supplying local restaurants with it, and another client of ours uses goat’s milk for another purpose: Wynott Farm sells goat’s milk soap. Goats are getting their day, for sure!

UPDATE:

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that local NBC affiliate WVIR-TV NBC29 covered the story first, largely responsible for setting off the avalanche of media coverage. Also, it appears (as of January 14, 2016 at 2:00PM Eastern, that Caromont Farm has deleted or unpublished their Facebook page, a sad footnote on how small businesses are often unprepared for a big wave of attention.