Musings of a PR Professional

Chapter 3: Understanding Social Networks

I have been on Twitter for about two and a half years now. I was more active the first year and a half, and have slacked off since then for a number of reasons, but I have recently begun to tweet again. I have consistently had the passing thought wondering if anyone and who was looking at my tweets. So, after readings this chapter, I decided to map my social network.

I used TweetStats and here is a portion of what the analyzing tool came up with:


Just by taking a quick look at these results, it’s clear that I interact rarely (which I do admit) and with a limited number of people. It is one of my goals to expand my social network, and if I am to do so via Twitter I clearly need to start reaching out to more, different people in order to be engaging. I need to up my percentage for “Replies To” to at least 50% to start and hopefully I can work my way up from there.

Additionally, I think this analysis is a great example of how influential hubs are in a network. The text mentions Chris Brogan as an example of an influential free agent hub. The fact that I have retweeted him the most indicated just how influential he really is- it’s not just the authors attesting to his credibility, but I am a real life example of someone he has never met, yet nonetheless reached on multiple occasions.

The vastness and strength of social networks are great. If this analysis and chapter has given me anything, it is the motivation to up my Twitter game and connect with more people.

Comments on Blogs

I commented on Chris Brogan’s blog post in which he discusses what it really means to create a social media presence online, specifically in regards to Ford’s Fiesta Movement project. Check out his post, and I’d also recommend looking at what Ford’s doing with this  new project, I’d love to hear what you think about what they’re doing and whether or not you’ll think it will sell more cars.

I also commented on Todd Defren’s blog post in which he talks about the Twitterati backlash that occurred as a result of Oprah joining the site.

Colbert Interview with Twitter Co-Founder

Via the High Tech PR Blog’s post No Twit Here: Twitter Co-Founder vs Colbert a Win for Biz Stone, I was pointed in the direction of the interview that occurred last Thursday, April 2nd on the Colbert report between Stephen Colbert and Biz Stone (the Twitter co-founder). Before reading Lois Paul’s reflection on the interview, I clicked the link to watch a video of it myself.

Facts I found interesting:

  • Twitter was a side project they worked on while working for another company.
  • Began with the idea that Twitter would be connected to mobile messaging (wasn’t just an application after-thought)
  • The reason they picked 140 characters (rather than the 160 character limit of text messaging) was to leave room for a username.
  • Twitter will eventually generate revenue.

Quotes I found informative/interesting:

  • “Messaging service we didn’t know we needed until we had it.”
  • “We’ve got to keep pushing.” Stone brings the audience’s attention to the fact that methods of communication are constantly evolving and with the birth of technology and the Internet, that growth is occurring at exponential rates. It is his belief that we shouldn’t just rely on our current methods of communication, but we need to keep discovering and trying new things that improve the communication effectiveness and the connections effective communication can foster.
  • “140 characters is actually a lot more than you think it is and creativity is definitely inspired by that constraint.” Twitter isn’t just another communication medium. It challenges people to actually think about and craft what they want to say to an audience. It encourages new ways of talking (and thinking) about things.

Overall, I think Stone does a great job of getting his points across. Obviously when dealing with an interviewer such as Stephen Colbert, making good points you want to be taken seriously can be hard with a comedian constantly making jabs at them. However, Stone does a great job by laughing along with the jokes. Also, he kept the number of his points to a minimum and they were concise enough so that he could state his claim before the next question or joke was fired at him.

Additionally, I think it was a good choice for Stone to do the interview. By speaking with Colbert, he acquainted the viewers of the Colbert Report, who many of which may not be aware of what Twitter is or may have even never heard of it before, with Twitter. It gave him a chance to his piece on something that is new and unfamiliar to a lot of people to increase exposure and ultimately communicators on Twitter.

What do you think?

Microblogging, community management, and online communities

Using Twitter for PR

In using twitter for PR, it is a great way for a company or organization to get even more personal and in touch with their publics. While blogs are great, that are only updated once a day, once a week, and maybe even once a month so while you are hearing things about the inside of a company or organization, you’re still largely disconnected. Twitter does away with that. On twitter, the slow-pokes are tweeting once an hour. Through microblogging, the conversations that need to happen to create relationships between companies/organizationsand their publics are occurring in real-time. People are more genuine, more off-the-cuff, and more tangible. As a result, the organization or company becomes more transparent, in a good way. The publics will feel like they matter, that they’re heard, and that they can trust you. It’s less Wizard of Oz and more .

Community Management

The beauty of Twitter and all other social media sites is  the fact that relationships over the Web are becoming more and increasingly more real and genuine. At the same time though, community managers should be aware that being completely yourself all the time is not appropriate. It is important to be professional and keep your personal life personal.

It is interesting to me that I have never thought about social media in this light- that things can possibly get a little to interconnected. I always assumed the more personable the better, but after reading Jeremiah Owyang‘s post Job Hazards of the Community Manager, the risks seem glaring. There is a very fine line between professional-personal and just someone’s friend they get advice from. PR practitioners on the Web now are walking that line everyday. Clearly, community managers are a necessary bridge between organizations/corporations and their publics, but how connected is too connected?

Online Communities: Second Life

We’ve mentioned Second Life a couple of times in class, but have never talked about it in detail. Second Life is an online community in which people create 3-D avatars of themselves and interact with the other player’s avatars in a virtual world. People can be whoever they want, create whatever they want, and do whatever they want. Participants have free reign, though they must abide by a few rules and they do function under an economy.  The entire community is brought to the public by Linden Lab, Inc. which specializes in streaming media technologies.

Second Life seems to be primarily a source of entertainment. However, according to the site there are the same business opportunities available in Second Life as their are in the real world. in that vein, it is very possible for companies to build the companies they have in the real world on Second Life and therefore get a lot of exposure to their brand/product to those participating in the game. Also, it is probably possible for the avatar of a company or organization to network with people via Second Life and promote their organization or company.

Twitter, online communities, and community managers serve to keep organizations and companies connected to their publics in a less obtrusive way that the typical media relations tactics. Here, conversations form because a back and forth exchange of information is facilitated.

Twitter Bug

Was catching up on blogs just now and found a post on Strategic Public Relations about how Twitter might just be becoming a little more mainstream. Shortly after, on PR 2.0, I read this post that offers the perfect support for the first. Check them out!

The power to change the world

Thursday last week was hands down the best PR class we’ve had so far. For the first time ever I actually started to understand not just Twitter, but the point of all the different types of social media out there.

The reason it was so empowering to me was because I got to see, first hand, my voice being just as loud, if not louder than very prominent people in the social media PR world. The Golden Wall was crumpling right before my eyes. The idea of the Golden Wall as Dr.V explained it to us is that before, corporations were making decisions about our lives with little regard to how those decisions would effect us (with a huge wall around them). They were untouchable. However, social media has broken down that wall. The power lies within the publics. Now, the corporation is never the center of attention because everyone has a voice.

So what do I think that means? People previously in power need to learn to lose control- social media is dispersing the power whether big corporations like it or not. This is touched on in Cluetrain Manifesto in the respect that the way business is being done is changing and people need to change with it or they will be left in the dust.

Hardly anyone understands that better than Laura Fitton. Fitton is known in some circles as the “Queen of Twitter” and honestly, I would agree. While talking to her in class on Thursday she admitted to us that she only began Twitter a year ago and even at the beginning there she did not understand it. That’s such an inspiration. To go from confused ot guru in a year is something tangible I can aspire to. I really do want to get good at this, and she gave us many tips on how to be an effective tweeter:

  • Be human. Have conversations. The more real you are the more people will be interesting in what you have to say.
  • It’s not the number of followers you have- with the right five followers you could change the world.
  • Find people on Twitter whose interests line up with your own. It makes it more fun and interesting. Relationships and connections can flourish.
  • It is very important to LISTEN.