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Charlie Sheen’s #Tigerblood Internship, Round 3, Starbucks, and why I am trying to get it.

This post is created because I have gotten into round three of Charlie Sheen’s #Tigerblood internship.

Explanation

First let me explain why I would post about an internship. My answer to this is three-fold.

Firstly: I didn’t expect to be this involved in a possible summer internship for a mayor Hollywood star.

Secondly: I choose to enter the race for the internship on a whim.

Thirdly, and most importantly, my answer to round three represents how I think about Social Media.

Introduction:

So let me please explain what this Internship is all about, how it was set up and how I got involved. Have you heard of Charlie Sheen? Well you must have lived under a rock or on the other side of the moon the last couple of months to have not heard of him. Charlie Sheen, the Hollywood actor and star of Two and a Half Man has been fired. Why? Well, in short the TV producers of the Hit-Comedy didn’t like the fact that Charlie Sheen spoke the truth (or at least that is what we are to belief). After he has gotten fired a lot of people believe he has gotten crazy. Getting himself taped on tv interviews, explaining that he lived like a drug addicted rock star, and he loved it. He didn’t even apologized for it. Crazy right? Well I have a different opinion. I believe Charlie Sheen has finally embraced his true self and has become really smart in exploiting his reputation. The ‘surprise’ visit on the Jimmy Kimmel show was just another example of this.

The internship:

So when Interships.com announced their collaboration for a Social Media summer Internship for Charlie Sheen, I jumped on the bandwagon. I just entered my version of why I had #Tigerblood in me @my twitter feed: @nclangereis: “I applied 2 http://bit.ly/dJsTRF 2 be the #TigerBloodIntern bcuz that I know that this man needs a #Winning audience or he dies trying”. So Apparently I was not the only one. According to Internships.com more than 74.000 people applied for the internship.

Round 2:

So when they roughly filtered the group of applicants, I was through to the next round. I do not know how they selected everyone for the next round, but their where still thousands of applicants. I had to share my background, education, my experience etc,etc. I filled these out, just to see how far it would go. As my more loyal followers already know, I have my own company in Social Media strategy consultancy, and I am a part-time lecturer at a college here in the Netherlands, so I filled those things out and waited.

Round 3:

I am in the middle of my Ski Holliday in Switzerland when I get this email:

Personal invitation Charlie Sheen's #Tigerblood Internship, round 3

I was through for the next round. Now I was getting really interested, and I started a search to find out how many people have been gotten trough for the next round. It turned out to be 250! So what was the assignment for round three? I had to make a short YouTube video (no more than 2 minutes) where I introduced my self, the question I would be answering and my answer to this question.  The 3 question where:

  1. If you were the Social Media Director for a major humanitarian aid organization, how would you create awareness and raise money via social media in the aftermath of a global disaster?
  2. In your opinion, what is the best company using social media today and why?
  3. How would you advise a candidate running for public office to leverage social media in his or her campaign for election?

Starbucks:

I chose question number 2. “In your opinion, what is the best company using social media today and why”? I believe in the saying:  “Write what you know”. And I knew the answer to this question: Starbucks! So I started on a short script, and started to learn the lines by heart. I already saw other entries on YouTube who just read their answers to the camera. I did not have the right equipment as I do have at my home and office, but  I borrowed and tried to manage. I did not even bring a suit with me on my holiday, so again I had to improvise. Also, as you can imagine, a Dutch guy, staying in Switzerland, applying for an internship in LA, I had to make some sort of connection with my video background and make a reference to it as you will see.

First I will show the video and then I will explain why I chose Starbucks and give you the reason behind my numbers and reasoning.


So now you know I chose Starbucks. All the numbers I used in my answer were based on realtime searches on all those accounts. Almost a 150.000 check-ins each week by using Foursquare are indeed impressive and are based on a post on Mobile Marketing Watch. Their use of Foursquare is famous. They know how to use location-based market, and they use it to the fullest. It is very probable that Foursquare will be outmaneuvered by their competition at Facebook Places, but It has proven its worth with Starbucks. People who say the total percentage of check-ins is still relatively low compared to the total amount of consumers are right, but also wrongly focussing on the negative. The Investment (i in ROI) in using Location Based Marketing is very low, and the conversion is very high. Instant gratification and instant conversion for every click is worth a lot these days (the r in ROI).

Also I explain that Starbucks is using Social Media as an integral part of their Communication and Business strategy which is true. Starbucks is using Social Media as extended element to reach out to their customers. The offline Starbucks experience is emphasized by the fact that consumers can connect and engage with their brand off and online. But the most important reason Starbucks has been so very successful with their Social Media strategy is because of RELEVANCE.

If Starbucks would not have been able to create relevance, their customers would simply not follow their brand, their store or their favorite coffee online. They would think it would not apply to them. This is where Starbuck is different from many other companies who are really good at Social Media. Starbucks does not think in campaigns, or channels, they think of the whole social media spectrum. They try everything and they listen to their consumers. Of course I could have pointed out that I really like KLM’s Surprise (Little Acts of Kindness) campaign or Old Spice’s ” The Man your man could smell like” Campaign, but these campaigns are no more than just a small part of the main business, and focus on a peak of relevance for a short period.

Starbucks sees the bigger picture. As I point out in the end of my movie clip: Starbucks ensures there customers loyalty by being there where their customers want them to be. They create relevance for their consumers so they come back again and again.

please let me know what you think of my entry!

Rules of Engament for the young ones…

This last month I have been busy with teaching bright young minds about Social Media. One of the relaxing thoughts you experience when talking with students and/or pupils of 18 or younger is that they already understand the basics of Social Media. Of course most of them do not know the terminology, but they all know by heart the differences in applications and possibilities. They live Social Media, they grew up with it.

When I asked the first class, of the Secondary School I had to teach, when they started to use Social Media. They revealed that most of them where 8 or 9 when they started with their Social Network Profile. I found those numbers striking but not, as most of their teachers, upsetting. Truth to be told, what is upsetting, is that their has been not any educational guidance throughout those first years. Some, even more shocking, numbers: 37% of 5- to 7-year-olds has visited Facebook in the UK (source).

You can be sure they had  theory grounded talks on the subject, no lessons to master the skills of using your Social Profile safely. Although there are lessons on how to handle computers and software programs widely available and used, these ‘risky’ numbers obviously have not reached the government educational programmers.

Their should be a program of lessons build around the rules of engagement.  And I am of course not talking on how to use Social Media as company, although this could be related to a corporate code of conduct, like the Communications expert Charles Huijskens tries to introduce in his book Code Social Media (Sorry, only available in Dutch).Or better explained by Social Media Expert Brian Solis *. We should wake up the ‘older’ generation in charge of the national educational systems across the world and explain to them that we should do something about this lack of knowledge.

If you know anyone, who knows anyone in the government branch of education please send them a link to this post and/or get them in contact with me, I would love to share some ideas about who to solve this whole in the education of the ‘young ones’. And If you have your own ideas about what we can do, please let me know and comment on this post, so we can start a discussion that will help parents and teachers sleep at night 😉

An other interesting fact is that there is a Social Media shift building between the ages 12 and 18. The youngsters all use Hyves ( the biggest Dutch Social Media Network, until now) and the young adults, in 5th and 6th grade, all use Facebook. This shift is not build on a lack of knowledge by the youngsters but it had to do that all their peers still use Hyves. They know Facebook, but the #influencers have not acquired the tipping point needed to all convert from Hyves to Facebook. The gap between the ages becomes smaller though, as the group changing towards Facebook keeps getting younger. My educated guess is that the younger demographic will disappear totally from Hyves in the next two years. Why? Because two years ago 18 year olds all where still on Hyves.

*who is actually one of the three people in the world I would describe as Social Media Expert

Social Media: “Why are we not talking about safety for kids”?

A neglected issue

One of the true, neglected, issues surrounding Social Media is safety. Safety of how to use your Facebook account, or what the consequences are of posting a drunken photo on Flickr or Tumblr. Safety when you’re talking to world about your short ‘party-holiday’ to Ibiza on twitter. Or by showing that you are nice guy who is really into Nazi memorabilia. You may think this will not make any kind of difference when you are applying for a job or when you are looking for a new girlfriend, but it probably will.

Drunken chatter and party shots

If you think that posting your party photo’s and your ‘drunk-talk’ on the World Wide Web would go through an ‘i-am-stupid’ filter, than you are sadly mistaken. These days you’ll find plenty of lawsuits and disputes that started by rash or reckless Social Media posts. Sadly, mothers and fathers are losing custody over their children, get fired from work, or they even get convicted for sexual harassment when they are really stupid or Plain-Old-Pigs.


Most of the attention in these kind of cases goes to the privacy settings of the Social Network Platform they use, but I think that’s wrong. Most of the attention should go to prevention of uttering these unthinking, unwanted thoughts. I think it has more to do with the privacy settings in our heads than the settings on the platforms. Of course our favorite Social Media channels should in some way offer protection if we would want that and actually most of them do. But one of the appealing traits, of platforms like Facebook and Twitter, is that most people like to see other people’s mistakes, even if they are horrified by the fact this could happen to them.

Kids: A completely different ballgame

Keeping ourselves from making mistakes on the internet, the place that never forgets, is one thing, but keeping kids from making mistakes is a completely different ballgame altogether. If we would be talking about kids while referring to stupid mistakes, it would be more understandable, because the boundaries of cause and effect are a little vague when you are 11 compared to when you are 28. Keeping children safe in this day and age is terribly difficult. Not so long ago a Dutch girl of  13 was beat-up because a close girlfriend posted a picture of her online, that was deemed to be too sexy by some students of her own school. In a fight between two student groups that revolved around the photo she bruised one of her vertebra. In an interview, the head of the school, Rick d’Ancona pointed out, that children are not aware of the dangers of sites like Twitter, Facebook or the Dutch social platform Hyves ( a link to the report in Dutch can be found here). I believe this is true, and this is not only true for children in the Netherlands, this is true for children around the world.

Why?

Before we will address how we can fix this, I would like to suggest a reason why children do not seem to grasp the amount of danger they are in when they are using Social Media. I will not use this blog post to paint a horror picture, but I hope this post will wake-up some people who are in charge of safety for children. Firstly we can assume that most of the children between 8 and 16 are fully aware of the internet and the possibilities to share their stories with the world around them. They grew up with the internet being all around them. From using it to play their favorite games to seeing the integration of the Smart-board in their classroom.  And while the children didn’t know any better than working with the constant presence of the Internet around them their parents where adjusting. Actually they are so busy adjusting that they do not notice that using Social Media to voice their opinions, showing their holiday photo’s and sharing their intimate secrets comes natural to the Children they are busy raising.

Let’s educate the children

I have heard a lot of parents complaining that they will never catch up with the children, and this may be true, but they are still adults. We may have created the internet as one happy, open, free playground. But it is an adult playground. And while Social Media are quickly becoming the new School Playground, they are created without borders, rules or regular checking teachers. And even though the dams have already burst,  we can make our children aware of the dangers when they are hitting the water. We should educate our children about the dangers that are very real. I have thought about some simple lecture material to make it easier for the educators and parents to become aware of what is happening on Social Media and more importantly how to make children aware of the dangers and the possibilities.

But why would we also point out the possibilities if there are so many dangers around? Anyone? Exactly, children will not listen to you if you only put all you effort in notifying children of the dangers. You want to educate them so they themselves can make educated guesses and decisions of what to do and especially what not to do. And maybe, just maybe the adults will learn a bit about drunken chatter and stupid photo’s too.

Thoughts on the book: “Social Media Metrics, how to to measure and optimize your marketing investment” by Jim Sterne

“Social Media Metrics, how to to measure and optimise your marketing investment” is a new book by Jim Sterne that I have been reading. As I hoped, it turned out to be a very interesting book. It is refreshingly honest. I am glad to read that he starts in Chapter 1, as I hoped he would, by identifying the business goals.

Three goals

He determines that there are three acceptable business goals when talking about using Social Media. 1. Increased Revenue, 2. Lowered Costs and 3. Improved Customer Satisfaction. “They all that matter in the long run. If the work you do does not result in an uptick in one or more of those Big Three Goals, then you are wasting your time and spinning your wheels”. To put this into a different perspective: measuring the success of Social Media has as much to do with finding the right data as it has to do with asking the right question.

 

A Social Media Strategy is like a living document.

A good friend of mine, Erik de Vreede from Creative Monkeys (link), told me not so long ago that Social Media Strategy and/or Social Media Campaigns are like “Living documents”. It should be adjusted and added too constantly, to make it grow and flourish.

You should be aware of this. Social Media Strategy is instantly adjustable, measurable and workable, and you should take advantage of this. To put it stronger words, Social Media is like ( a fluid, adjustable, can put things in, and take things out, hard shelled case) And this is especially difficult for junior marketeers when they have to convince their older, stuck in the 80’s, sales-results-are-all-that-count bosses. This particular problem is discussed in chapter 8 of the book.

Jim Sterne writes about reaching your audience, identifying influence, recognising sentiment, but more importantly; he knows that this is not all. The recipe to a successful Social Media strategy and/or campaign is also founded on triggering actions from your audience, hearing the conversations they are having and it is about driving your business outcomes. And with driving your business outcomes, he comes back to my point about “Living Documents”.

A 100 ways to measure Social Media

In the introduction Jim Sterne quotes David Berkowitz’s piece on a “100 ways to measure Social Media”.

One of the obvious flaws I found in the book was the mention that the PR Department is not and will not be able to cope with the changes brought upon us by Social Media. The self importance of Social Media Experts/Gurus will change fast when PR companies or departments are starting to invest in Social Media. And so placing themselves in a obvious gap. Of course it can be said that the expertise needed for a successful attempt in Social Media is lacking right now, but PR and/or communication specialists have a clear advantage over other departments or specialisms: they know how to communicate.

I understand that the very thought of this happening scares the living daylight out of Social Media professionals, but in my humble opinion it is the truth. Social Media will become as an important part of Corporate Communications, as Marketing, Consumer Services and Human Resources is an part of a business is right now. And when looking in the further future I can state that Social Media will become an integrate part of all the departments aforementioned.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Let me know.

Social Media Experts do not exist! Now what?

A favourite expression of mine is: Social Media Experts do not exist (At least, not yet). And to be completely honest with you, maybe there will never be a true Social Media Expert.

The reason why I think this, is based on the history of our field. Because you probably noticed it to, Social Media is relatively new. Every day (and especially this coming year), Social Media will become even more mainstream. It is finding a place in the minds of business owners and they find it useful for practically every department they have. It can support your sales team, your marketing department, your PR division and it has its use in finding new employees with the HR department.

So your are a successful company, (or at least you have a plan to be successful) and your a waking up to a 5 year slumber in which you kept every idea of making your company more available to interaction of your consumers to a absolute minimum and you wake up and find out that in 2011 Social Media is ruling the world. What to do?

What to do:

Media in definition are not social. And creating Media that are asks more than just some adjustments to the channels. It asks for a different mindset. First you have to accept the fact that you are falling behind, fast. When you’ve accepted this notion, you must remember: do not do anything rash or suddenly. You are already behind, so you better can take the time to discover what you need to do and what you can do. There are a lot of companies out there thinking they have to act fast and so they hire a so called “Social Media Expert” or as most people like to call themselves in this business “Guru’s”. These so called experts can be found in the freelance enlistments but also with the communication and marketing companies you already trust to run your business, and support you in these ‘special requests’.

Rule nr 1

So rule number one if you are new to this game, field, world: Stop and listen.

You can take the time to discover where you should invest, and what this means for your business. Listen on the different Social Media where they are talking about your brand and what people are saying about you, your products or clients. There will be a lot of companies offering their services to you. They will say that they will be able to make your money, create more “buzz” or “brand awareness” and even promises you that your viral video will reach millions. This could well be true, but in most cases it isn’t.

Why? The reason is simple; you have to discover where your consumers, clients and products are discussed. What your target group wants to discuss with you, and even if they want to talk about your company and products at all. If you have a decent company making decent products, try to find what people are saying about you, where they do this and what they are saying about your competition. If you are not aware of this, it will really pay of to discover this first and than find money to engage with your target group.

Rule nr 2

So concluding rule number 1 = Listen. Rule number two is: Be Prepared.

It is so simple; it is almost as these rules where written for Cub Scouts.

So what do I mean with, be prepared? In this fast moving, ever changing world you need to be prepared for something you probably never thought that could happen. Your customers complain about you. They complain about your company, your service or products and you need to be prepared to respond. There are loads of examples: http://bit.ly/fYdFaB. And most of the companies that are using twitter to help them with customer care are doing so because of failure in the past. So if this happens to great companies like Dell, Southwest Airlines and BP, why would it not happen to you?

So it is safe to say, you would be wise to be prepared for an online customer service war against your company. Of course this will not stop the blows from hitting, but it will cushion the blow. The plan you must create must revolve around reputation management. An essential part of your communication strategy is probably built around reputation management, and you probably are served well by your communication company in this subject. Still, at the next meeting ask them if they have an immediate response team ready if something like this might occur.

For more information on the reputation crisis management look here: http://bit.ly/dWguyl

More ideas and rules will follow. Please comment or ask question I will be happy to respond to them.