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4 elements of your social media policy that may be illegal

A study from Proskauer, a business-focused law firm, revealed that companies routinely take action against employees for their behavior on social media platforms, even when it’s their own account used on their own devices on their own time.

Although the infractions that prompted the disciplinary action may have been consistent with the companies’ social media policies, the policies themselves could be illegal. It’s time for companies to revisit their social media policies.

According to the Proskauer report, more than 70 percent of companies reported taking disciplinary measures over misuse of confidential information (80 percent), misrepresentation of the company’s views (71 percent), inappropriate non-business use of social media (67 percent), and disparaging remarks about the business or fellow employees (64 percent).

Read through just about any company’s social media policy, and you’ll find that the document spells out employees’ obligations in these and other regards. But in a sweeping ruling last week, an administrative law judge with the National Labor Relations Board ruled these and other policy elements could violate workers’ protected speech.

To begin with, the judge ruled on a provision in Kroger’s policy (Kroger is a U.S.-based grocery store chain) barring employees from online behavior that would be inappropriate at work and that would reflect negatively on the company, deeming it overly broad. It could, the judge said, bar protected speech such as criticism of the company’s treatment of employees or discussion of wages, hours, and terms of employment.

I always look to IBM’s Social Computing Guidelines for best-in-class policy language. The eighth plank of that policy cautions employees not to engage in any “conduct that would not be appropriate or acceptable in IBM’s workplace.”

Between companies that used IBM’s policy as a template and those with like-minded lawyers and HR staff, a lot of organizations will have to consider whether they can retain this clause. But we’re not done yet.

The third item on IBM’s list instructs employees to “make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of IBM.” Kroger had a similar rule, also struck down by the judge. This, according to the ruling, “unduly burdens employees’ rights because it would be likely to chill employees’ willingness to engage in protected communications.”

The judge didn’t dispute that Kroger has a valid interest in not wanting it to appear that employees are speaking on its behalf, but did assert that so few employees’ social interactions could be confused with official Kroger statements that the company’s interest cannot override employees’ rights.

IBM’s 12th and final policy forbids employees to “misuse IBM logos or trademarks and only use them if you have the authority to do so.”

Not so fast. The judge found this provision overly broad, as it prohibits a lot of non-offensive uses of the company’s intellectual property that employees might be inclined to use as part of their protected communications.

The final IBM plan you’ll find in almost every social media policy reads, in part, “Don’t provide IBM’s or a client’s, partner’s or supplier’s confidential or other proprietary information.”

Again, the judge turned policies upside down by ruling that this restriction violates Section 8 of the National Labor Relations Act because it prohibits employees from having conversations about personnel matters and business plans, which are also protected under Section 7 of the act.

These four components often serve as the foundation for company social media policies. Each has been found illegal, at least as they apply to Kroger’s policy. If your U.S.-based company’s policy contains any of these elements, it’s time for a meeting to determine whether a major rewrite is in the cards.

3 tips for starting a podcast

podcasts

Podcasts are an often-overlooked element of online marketing.

Facebook and Twitter thrive by affording users instant access. Podcasts are long format and slower to update. In this case, long format and slower updates are good things—if you know your audience.

Think of all the people driving to work or going on their daily run. They’re probably listening to the radio or their iPod. Podcasts are a great way to connect with these people, and fortunately, it’s fairly easy to create a successful podcast.

Get the equipment

This is pretty obvious. Still, explore your options; there are a number of routes you can take. The cheapest option is to use your computer’s built-in microphone, but you could buy one. A decent headset costs around $30. Next, you’ll need editing software. Again, you can get this for free by using GarageBand or Audacity. For businesses, it’s worth paying a little more to use Adobe Audition.

Create interesting content

Podcasting is a niche-heavy form of media. iTunes has over 250,000 different podcasts. It’s a crowded market, but the best podcasts survive by knowing their audience and giving them relevant material. If you want to drive business to your company, focus more on issues related to your field than on yourself.

If you’re a restaurant owner, talk about different recipes or food history. Podcasts allow you to delve deeper and connect to your audience in a way other forms of media can’t. Be mindful; the average attention span for an adult is somewhere around eight seconds. Keep it short (five to 20 minutes) without diminishing quality.

Advertise

Use social media sites to promote your podcast. Make sure to tag your podcasts and upload them to different directories like iTunes. Visit websites that pertain to your topic. A groomer, for example, could visit pet forums and make an announcement. Finally, join a podcasting community. A group of like-minded folks will have different insights and tricks to share.

Source:prdaily.com

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Survey: By Slim Margin, More PR Pros Use Facebook Than Twitter for Brand Communications

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Sharing content across a variety of social media platforms is a part of life for PR professionals. But not all platforms were created equal. Despite their popularity with users, certain platforms are harder for professional communicators to use for business purposes.

With that in mind, PR News and Cision fielded the “State of Social Media for PR Pros” survey to take the pulse of the PR community and find out which social media platforms it’s using most, how it’s measuring success on those platforms and which sources of information it trusts most.

By a slim margin, PR pros who took the survey use Facebook more than Twitter on behalf of their brands or clients (87.6% vs. 85.1%). After Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, there is a big drop-off in usage of the other social media platforms and apps.

social-media-usage-chart1

Source :prnewsonline.com

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7 ways to lose followers

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The other day, a close friend of mine relayed a rather hilarious anecdote about a Twitter account she had recently unfollowed. “Every tweet,” she laughed, “was punctuated with seven to 10 exclamation marks. Every single tweet!!!!!!!!!!”

Though we chuckled about why anyone would want to waste 10 of their allotted 140 characters by violently exclaiming something, we began to think: What makes someone click the “Unfollow” button on a person’s profile? What are the underlying reasons behind a decision that is usually made instantaneously?

If you’ve ever wondered something along those lines, you’re in luck. Here are seven ways you can lose Twitter followers, and what you can do to prevent it:

Your Twitter feed is repost after repost after repost.

Whether you’ve set up your Twitter account to automatically tweet your Facebook posts, or you share every single one of your Instagram photos to your Twitter feed, don’t do it. It’s lazy and sloppy, and it’s likely your message is getting truncated (or worse, lost) beyond the point of recognition or clarity.

You have 140 characters to work your magic, so do so.

Caps lock is your best friend.

I’m a big fan of the occasional word or turn of phrase in all caps. But an entire tweet? 140 characters of nonstop screaming? We don’t think so.

Carefully consider what you’d like to emphasize and capitalize it accordingly. BOOM.

You have the word “followback” in your Twitter bio.

The word elicits a visceral reaction and sends shivers down our spines. “Followback,” and its evil twin, “#TeamFollowback,” have no place on Twitter—a platform meant for fostering meaningful relationships of substance. Just because someone follows you doesn’t mean you have to follow back. You should connect with accounts that can help you grow and learn, not because you like to see your follower numbers grow. Connect with the right accounts, and they will grow.

Shortened URLs? What’s that?

Goo.gl and bit.ly and ow.ly were created for a reason. Use them to shorten unsightly, ridiculously long URL addresses. Your followers will thank you.

You only tweet about yourself, to yourself.

If, after scrolling through your feed, we see zero interaction, we can’t help but wonder if you are a human being. All those tweets and not one directed at another Twitter user? What are you even doing on Twitter?

People don’t want to just read your tweets. They want to interact with you. Engagement is everything.

#Every #thing #is #a #hashtag.

Life isn’t an endless series of hashtags. Your Twitter feed shouldn’t be, either. Hashtag keywords strategically and conscientiously—“#a” should never be a thing. Ever.

You’re a fan of subtweeting.

If you’re not familiar with subtweeting, it’s indirectly tweeting about someone without mentioning their name. Petty stuff, if you ask us, and it truly has no place on the World Wide Web—nor on your Twitter feed.

Now go ahead, clean up your act and keep those Twitter followers you’ve worked so hard to amass. 

Source:prdaily.com

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6 tips for bite-sized technical content

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“Snackable” content is a hot topic in business-to-business marketing. According to this recent post on B2B Marketing, the average human attention span is now shorter than that of your typical goldfish. 

In a professional context, we are frequently short on time and under pressure to juggle conflicting priorities and meet tight deadlines. There are countless statistics to show that easy-to-digest, short-form (and preferably visual) content wins.

Whether it is a white paper, infographic, or case study, marketers are often briefed to create compelling content. The information that we are asked to communicate is usually highly technical. It can seem like an impossible task to create bite-size material without oversimplifying the story or omitting essential details. 

So, do the principles of “snackable” content still apply when looking to communicate highly complicated messages to technically demanding industrial B2B audiences? 

The first question, of course, is what are the “ideal” length and type of content to use in their marketing activity? Well, the answer varies depending on the nature of the material, but you can’t get away from this simple truth: the shorter, the better. 

We don’t kid ourselves. Snackable content does require a shift in mindset for some technically minded individuals. Lead generation can throw an additional consideration into the mix. 

If they have been asked to provide their contact information, isn’t there a risk that the reader will feel short-changed? But the strength of the content isn’t measured by the word count. It’s the value of what you are sharing that matters; your customer or prospect doesn’t want to have to trawl through pages of dense copy to uncover key takeaways.

Producing material on a complicated subject matter is usually easier said than done. Too often, the writer’s eyes are too big for the readers’ stomachs. The reasons for producing snackable content go out the window, despite the best intentions. 

How can you create content that appeals, while including all the requisite technical information?

1. Back to basics. Ask yourself three simple questions: Whom are you looking to talk to, what are their pressure points, and how are you going to help them? If you’re not sure, keep thinking or get input from somebody else.

2. Be clear. Identify your key message and make it clear that this is the purpose of the content. If you can’t summarise what you want the audience to learn from the material, then your reader won’t know either.

3. Keep firm. Don’t succumb to pressure, whatever the source, to broaden the content’s scope or include unnecessary details. It will only dilute the impact of the communication.

4. Don’t try a one-size-fits-all approach. Think about creating multiple pieces of content for different audiences and stages in the buying process. If there is too much to say, then try a series of technical papers. You don’t have to give the reader all the information in one go.

5. Think of your reader. When creating content, remember that we are all people. We process information in different ways, whether we prefer visuals, audio, or hard facts and figures. If your budget allows, consider multiple tools to deliver maximum appeal to your potential audience. 

6. Evaluate the results. Always measure the success of a campaign and accept that you might not always get it right the first time. Try alternative approaches, and use the analytics to hone your approach until you nail it.

The most important thing is to enjoy the intellectual challenge. It is not always going to be easy to create “tasty” technical content, but if you think carefully about what you want to achieve, then your content is likely to work harder for you in return. 

Source:prdaily.com

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