Michelle Sullivan Communications | Relations publiques - medias sociaux social media

By: Michelle Sullivan  09-12-2011
Keywords: Social Networking, Social Networking Sites

This blog is shifting gears.

I’ve written hundreds of blog posts presenting social media case studies, tools and best practices for PR professionals. Now, many more voices have joined and there’s a wealth of information out there. It’s fantastic.

And it’s why I’m now able to shift gears.

I’m going to start concentrating less on the tools and innovations, and more on the impact social media and the Internet in general is having on society, on tribes, on individuals. You’ll see and and . And than you ever thought possible. I may just have to rename this blog …

Third gear: Used for driving uphill, through a hazard at speed and where a greater degree of power is needed than fourth will allow.

This blog is shifting into third gear. The hazards are greater in number, the stakes are higher. We’re talking about people’s lives and how they use social media to change the world around them.

It’s going to be a fascinating ride. And yes, I pick up hitchhikers.

And so it is for me, with Jack. A time to reflect upon the contribution of a great Canadian. «Ce bon Jack» as we say in Quebec, when talking about Jack Layton. And he carried his name well.

In the hours following news of his passing, my mother compared Jack Layton to my father. That’s the highest of compliments . to Mr. Layton. But she was right. Both were honest, compassionate men of integrity whose true « religion » was love for their fellow man. The outpouring of affection for Jack from Canadians and the urge felt from coast to coast to mourn collectively is deeply touching. When we mourned my father, we were comforted by words of kindness and shared memories from family, friends and acquaintances about the man we’d loved and had lost.  Eleven years later, the passing of a much more public figure shows how far technology and the Internet have brought us in our ability to grieve collectively.

And all these online spaces and social networking sites allowed me and thousands of others to share our thoughts about Jack’s passing and legacy with one another in real time.

My father passed away in September of 2000 and friends and family from across Canada and as far away as Ireland gathered for the interment of his ashes a month later. Not being there to receive the condolences of our community in the days following his death was a difficult thing for those who were far away in those first weeks. It is a key stage in the grieving process. Eleven years later, it is clear that developments in technology in general, and of social networking in particular, make physical distance almost inconsequential. We can come together to comfort one another in our grief, and we can collectively share in those all important rituals that accompany death, as they happen.

The social media space is composed of tribes. Tribes with common interests, overcoming physical distances to come together in sharing. Since Jack Layton left us on Monday, Canadians have been gathering online as a tribe of millions, to pay tribute to one of their own, and to comfort one another in their collective grief.

Who said technology alienates us from one another?

Now if you’ll excuse me, now that Jack’s funeral is over I’m going to turn off my laptop and grab my bike for a ride through the Laurentian woods. Time to reflect and quietly pay tribute to this great Canadian.

RIP Jack. You will be sorely missed.

And give my love to my Dad for me. He’ll be the guy welcoming you to the eternal-club-of-good-guys with a golf bag on his shoulder and a warm smile, hand outstretched.

MAJ: Footage from the various ceremonies, including musical tributes, have been circulating online since Jack Layton’s death. Below, I’ve updated the musical list presented above with footage from the funeral ceremony, hosted on YouTube.

Is Twitter dangerous? Should agencies ban their reps … particularly their junior reps … from using it?  Or at least stay awake nights fretting about risk? Lately, there have been a slew of Twitter-related PR gaffes by unlucky (or irresponsible or unenlightened) PR types that have made senior agency and in-house executives particularly uneasy. But is their fear misplaced?

Let’s recap:

While I’m of the mind that these incidents speak more to very poor judgement than to the perils of Twitter, and that instilling solid values is what agencies should do to ensure their employees communicate professionally no matter the communications channel, there are a few things you can do to ensure this kind of slip up doesn’t happen at your PR agency:

2. Be transparent: While it’s not  best practice, many brands turn a portion … if not all … of their tweeting responsibility over to their PR agencies. They should do so transparently, ensuring tweets are identified; using initials is standard practice.  At least this way followers can identify the actual source and not necessarily link it to the brand (in an ideal world, anyway). It might help if accidents happen.

3. Remember crisis management 101: Own up to the error and, if possible and appropriate, keep a sense of humour about it. Social media is fluid and moves quickly. A well placed mea culpa and a bit of self-effacing humour can go a long way to quickly cooling off a heated crisis.

4. Think twice before hitting submit, share or reply: do you really want to spew venom through social media channels when you’re managing accounts that aren’t your own? Don’t let momentary rage or frustration get in the way of good client relations and a reputation you’ve cultivated over time.

5. Be prepared: Maintaining an active Twitter presence, becoming part of the community and ensuring your brand’s account always has a human face is the best way to ensure your Twitter account isn’t seen as the impersonal mouthpiece of a faceless corporation. The community understands that to err is human, so be human.

As for the Duke Nukem example, threatening people, online or off,  usually isn’t the best course of action. Just saying.

What are your favourite Twitter apps?

Pourquoi l’évoquer sur ce blogue?

Parce que la disparition de ce blogueur nous rappelle que dernière chaque blogueur que nous identifions comme étant un « influenceur », il existe un individu qui vit, qui aime, qui souffre et qui connaît des moments de grand bonheur. Un être mortel, qui compte pour la communauté qu’il a tissé autour de lui.

Lorsqu’une entreprise décide de se lancer dans l’aventure des médias sociaux en menant une campagne de relations auprès des blogueurs, les responsables des communications ne doivent jamais perdre de vue que les blogueurs ne sont pas des journalistes.  Ils ne sont pas des professionnels embauchés par une entreprise médiatique pour produire du contenu qui sera vendu à côté de publicités dans un grand quotidien ou à la télévision. Ils sont motivés uniquement par leur passion. Leur œuvre est forcément intime. Forcément personnel. Et ces passionnés forment des communautés – des tribus – caractérisées par des liens serrés et tissées avec chaque commentaire. Avec chaque hyperlien.

Dans les séances d’introduction aux médias sociaux que j’offre à mes clients existants et potentiels, je parle immanquablement  de la notion de tribu. Je considère qu’il est essentiel de comprendre que les médias sociaux permettent à des tribus de se former selon des champs d’intérêt, et ce indépendamment de distances et de frontières. Nous ne devons jamais oublier que derrière chaque blogueur que nous approchons dans l’espoir d’obtenir de la visibilité pour les entreprises et marques de nos clients, il existe un être passionné qui s’investit souvent corps et âme dans la production de contenu qui l’intéresse et qui intéresse les membres de sa tribu.

Et lorsqu’un membre de notre tribu signe son dernier billet, pleurons-le ensemble.

Derek K. Miller, repose en paix.

The world, indeed the whole universe, is a beautiful, astonishing, wondrous place. There is always more to find out. I don’t look back and regret anything, and I hope my family can find a way to do the same. – Derek K. Miller

Keywords: Social Networking, Social Networking Sites

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