Can A Corporate Culture Be Built With Digital Tools?

BY AUSTIN CARR AUGUST 24, 2012

whopping 20% of the world’s workforce telecommutes: virtually traveling to work via robot or iPad; conversing on Yammer, HipChat, or 37Signals’ Campfire; sharing over Box or Dropbox. But while the tangible benefits of conducting business digitally are manyfold, companies that are moving their employees online have largely ignored one of the most important factors of success: corporate culture. “You can start to feel like you don’t know anyone at the company anymore,” says Jenn Lim, CEO of Delivering Happiness, the startup she cofounded with Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh to assist companies in instilling corporate values.

Studies have shown that corporate culture can have a significant impact on a company’s hiring, talent retention, and performance. Yet what was once fostered by in-person interactions has been lost in all the emails, private messages, chats, and shared links common to office 2.0. Tools to help managers and executives cultivate a positive work culture in the digital space have not been developed alongside the myriad productivity tools we’ve become addicted to. But they are beginning to emerge. “The short answer is yes, corporate culture is spreading into the digital world,” says Lim. “But it’s difficult to have that one-to-one translation of things you can do in the physical world. There are some things that you can just never translate.”

At Zappos, Lim and Hsieh have worked to create a sense of culture even as its workforce balloons and spends much of the day glued to their computer screens. To address this issue, Zappos implemented what’s internally called a “name-to-face game,” whereby each time an employee logs in to his or her computer, a face of another employee will pop up on the screen. “We’ll then ask questions like, ‘Do you know this person? How well?’ And so forth, so we can really embed this idea of keeping connected,” she explains. Additionally, the company has worked with Nic Marks, known for his TED Talk on the “Happy Planet Index,” to develop a “Happy Business Index,” which can score how happy certain areas of an organization are through various survey tools.

But Lim finds it much easier to tick off all the methods Zappos employs to foster company culture in the physical world–Hsieh is famous for only allowing employees to enter one door of the building to force encounters that wouldn’t otherwise happen.

Yammer, the enterprise social network Microsoft recently acquired for $1.2 billion, is taking a different approach. The network, which essentially acts like a Facebook for internal business use, enables employees to exchange messages and media just as they would push status updates. Yammer has integrated the option to “Like” a coworker’s post or give him or her “Praise” badges (a heart, shiny trophy, double rainbows) along with some positive feedback. These features can feel contrived–the digital equivalent of receiving a gold star in kindergarten.

Not everyone believes that businesses need specialized badges to foster culture online. “My thinking is that culture isn’t something you can create,” says Jason Fried, founder of 37Signals, which develops web-based collaboration tools. “Software can help, but company culture is a by-product of consistent behavior–the way you treat people or release products, or whatever–that’s what forms culture. I think trying to make tools to create that culture is artificial.”

Fried sees culture organically forming at 37Signals in the digital space, occurring naturally online just as it would traditionally happen around the water cooler. “Technology plays a huge role in our culture because we have a distributed company. Without technology we couldn’t have a uniform culture; it’d be fractured with a Chicago culture and a somewhere-else culture,” he says. “Campfire, which is a real-time group chat tool, is where the culture happens at 37Signals.”

While Fried acknowledges that tension and distance can build in an online workplace, where an innocently short message from one employee can be perceived as a curt reply from another, Fried argues any downsides aren’t necessarily a result of the digital tools themselves. “Yes, in some ways technology can hurt, especially when it’s so easy to misunderstand someone’s comment, but I think that’s just a matter of humans being human, and not a symptom of the technology,” he says. “Human beings just have a hard time getting along with each other.”

To address such concerns, emotion-intelligence startup Kanjoya has developed a way to tap into a workplace’s Yammer network and analyze shared messages and data to measure how employees are feeling at any given moment or on any given topic–“trending emotions,” as the company says.

The add-on, called Crane, is designed to take advantage of the emotions shared on Yammer that would otherwise go unnoticed. “You’ll see spikes in emotion,” says Kanjoya CEO Armen Berjikly. “Sometimes, things don’t matter: If you don’t provide lunch, nobody is likely to feel that emotional about it. But if you ruin people’s Internet access, they might be ready to murder you, though they’ll smile to your face.” Without addressing these issues, tension can fester and workplace culture can turn toxic.

In an internal test of Fast Company‘s Yammer network, Crane revealed some interesting findings: Just 3.6% of conversation on Yammer is devoted to feedback among employees, including messages such as “good stuff” or “looks great,” which indicates a low level of support among coworkers. [Eds note: this is a great story so far!] Crane also found peak periods when employees became incredibly confused and annoyed–such as when a new content management system was introduced. But even with this data, it’s not always clear what actionable steps one must take to address these issues–nor is it evident whether managers can even respond to a souring corporate culture once it’s too late, when employees are just generally unhappy or upset.

But An Le, VP of business development at Yammer, says it’s these small issues that can add up to an unhappy workplace. “Company culture I think is the end game,” she says. “You have to enable the tools to get pull points along the way. So as things are trending negatively, you can start taking small actions around these things so they don’t add up over time.” And though we were hoping to get a sentiment analysis of individual employees, Berjikly says the company is trying to “stay away from profiling any individual,” perhaps due to privacy concerns. It’s too bad, as disruptions in office culture can often be attributed to single employees. (Plus, we were hoping to find the grumpiest editor at Fast Company, and then praise them with a Yammer badge.)

Though Lim and Fried believe similar web-culture tools are likely to be developed down the road, both remain skeptical about the benefits of such products. “You always have to take it with a grain of salt: With any index or tool or survey, it’s just one of the factors that needs to be analyzed holistically,” Lim says. “When we talk about culture, we really want to make it a science, so you’re not just measuring this fluffy feeling of happiness.”

Fried takes issue with Crane from a practical standpoint. “Software is not good at detecting inside jokes or sarcasm or slip-of-the-tongue stuff,” he says. “With these sorts of tools you start to remove the humanity from it. So if the system raises a red flag because someone is talking this way and that, what do you do? You have to go confront them about it, and there might be nothing wrong in the first place. And you don’t want to create a culture of fear in an organization, where everyone feels they’re being tracked and analyzed all the time. That’s just horrible and nasty.”

Of course, it’s still early on in Crane’s integration with Yammer, and Berjikly says the company is still fine-tuning its emotion-mining tool. Crane can currently home in on well over 100 granular emotions, though the company has narrowed down to roughly a dozen relevant data points for users. “We just aren’t sure there is any practical value in telling you that your employees are exuberant instead of excited,” he says.

As telecommuting becomes the norm and tools from Lua to LinkedIn become commonplace in the workplace, perhaps it’s inevitable that companies are going to have to start considering corporate culture in the digital world.

Yet when asked whether 37Signals was considering developing related tools, Fried says he’s not yet thinking about it. “I think there are very few things that substitute for going out to dinner or hanging out with coworkers,” Fried says. “That’s what you should do rather than try to find some digital alternative.”

Hang out in person? Who would ever dream of such a thing?

 

Start A Company When You’re 25 — Not When You’re 52

You need industry expertise to start a company, right? You need to have spent 30 years learning the ins and outs. Everyone should already know who you are. At this point you’re also making over $300,000 a year and have a family with 3 kids, 2 of whom are going to college next year. Starting a company means you probably will not receive a paycheck of substantial size for a while, and you have a huge risk of failure.

At age 25, the sky is the limit. You generally have no mortgage, no children and maybe just a cat to feed. You can store all of your possessions, if you have any, live in a filing cabinet/your space at the incubator, and shower at the gym when needed. You’re only making maybe $50,000 a year, so if you make $40,000 in a startup it’s not that big of a risk. Working late is not a problem. You’re used to staying up until 1am for homework. You also see incredible inefficiencies in the market and want to change it. You have no fear of challenging “market standards”.

Naturally, I would argue that a 25 year old should start a company, under the guidance and coaching of an older mentor who has been in the industry before. If you’re young and sharp, you will quickly learn the industry, and you will ask your mentors thousands of questions. You’ll also challenge the industry norms, and your mentors will let you know if you are off your kilter.

The challenge for a 25 or 30 year old running an early-stage company is recognizing the fact that one day you may be replaced by the 52 year old. Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not. If your company has grown to the point of a large Series A or B round, you should seriously ask yourself who the best person to run the company is because your VC certainly will. Is it you? Is it a seasoned exec?

I believe much of that depends on the individual and the company’s growth stage. It’s your job as the CEO of your company to constantly question who is best for the situation and gracefully step aside when needed. Some people are better suited to run firms at various stages. Ultimately you may find yourself as the type that only wants to start firms from the early stages, and then either just focus on the product development or start on the next market changing idea.

Three (Incredibly Simple) Questions The Most Successful People Use To Change The World

I’ve heard it said that the most brilliant business ideas are often the simplest. From my experience, it’s true. In fact, when I am fortunate enough to receive sage advice from a famously gifted person, I’ll often ask myself, “Why didn’t I think of that?” So here I humbly share with you a winning formula that I see leaders use again and again and again…to change the world.

Use this formula the next time you feel stuck—whether you are trying to change your industry, your company or your personal life—and I promise you it will work.

Question Number 1: What’s the outcome I want?

Most people seem to get stuck in the moment, caught up in the drama of a situation they don’t like. They unwittingly wind up playing the helpless victim, and as I’ve written in the past, victims can’t innovate because they are focused on the problem—not solutions. You will hear them talk about how things aren’t fair, who has wronged them, and they look for encouragement or excuses to feel better about the status quo. While this may make them feel good, being energized by problems is a recipe for inaction.

Asking the question “what is the outcome I want?” forces the mind to focus on the final destination, not the current bumps in the road. The brilliance of this question is that it immediately puts you in the “creator” mindset. And once successful people envision the destination, they move quickly to the second, world-changing question.

Question Number 2: What stands in my way?

(Hey, I told you these were simple questions.)

The best leaders are masters at identifying and prioritizing obstacles that are between them and the outcome they want. Then they brainstorm ways to eliminate, avoid or neutralize the obstacles.

Last year I saw George Clooney on a late night talk show. He had recently lost 20-plus pounds that he’d put on for a movie role. The host was amazed at how good Clooney looked and asked him how he had managed to lose the weight so quickly. Clooney’s response sounded something like, “I ate less and exercised more.”

Too often in business, we talk about how hard it is to “lose weight” while reaching for a potato chip. But leaders using this formula move quickly from the outcome, to the plan, to the execution.

“I want to be 20 pounds lighter,” says the enlightened leader. “So what stands in my way?” Let’s see…

I don’t seem to make time for exercise.

So I will start the day with exercise or I will block time on my calendar.
So each weekend, I’ll pack my gym bag for the entire week and put it in my car.

I need to eat better because a bad diet will make this impossible.

So I will do my homework, buy healthy snacks and eat small portions throughout the day.

So I will pack my lunch and stop eating fast food.

Without a bunch of accountability, this will never happen.

So I’ll tell my friends, family and coworkers about my goal and when it will be achieved.

So I will buy a digital scale and weigh myself every day.

Question Number 3: Who has figured it out already?

So now our creators have identified the outcome they want. They have created a list of obstacles, prioritize the list and identified ways to overcome each obstacle. This is where some leaders spring into action while others pause to steal ideas. Yes, I wrote steal ideas. But since stealing is a politically incorrect term, we’ll call their strategy parallel engineering.

In the mid ’90s, our company had grown to about 25 people. We had dozens of projects happening at once and needed a more efficient way to manage the growing complexity of our business. So being the brilliant, naïve entrepreneurs that we were, we naturally decided to build a software system to help us track, manage and optimize each project.

After spending roughly $185,000 and hundreds of hours in time, we scrapped the project. Three phone calls later we bought an off-the-shelf system that did 90 percent of the things we were trying to build into our own custom solution.

Gosh, I wish we had paused to parallel engineer ideas.

Intelligence is learning from your own mistakes; wisdom is learning from the mistakes of others. It’s less painful to be wise than smart. It’s also a lot cheaper. That’s why this third question is so important.

The Best Places For Business And Careers

#1 Provo, Utah

Metro Population: 542,700
Projected Annual Job Growth Through 2014: 2.5%

Brigham Young University provides a stabilizing presence to the $16 billion Provo economy. It is the third-largest private college by enrollment in the U.S. BYU is also generating new jobs. During 2010 it ranked third in the number of startups produced through university research—13 in total—behind only nearby University of Utah (18) and MIT (17).

#2 Raleigh, N.C.

Metro Population: 1,169,000
Projected Annual Job Growth: 2.9%

The net migration rate to Raleigh was second high­est in the U.S. over the past 5 years as the area added 116,500 more people than it lost. The population has doubled in the past 2 decades.

#3 Fort Collins, Colo.

Metro Population: 306,200
Projected Annual Job Growth: 2.7%

Fort Collins boasts an educated workforce—46% have college degrees (U.S. average is 28%) and 18% possess graduate degrees. Credit Colorado State University, which is a major presence in the town.

#4 Des Moines, Iowa

Metro Population: 580,700
Projected Annual Job Growth: 2.1%

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie recently traveled to China on a trip organized by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. He met with his counterparts regarding Chinese investment in the U.S. and no doubt made a pitch for the many financial services firms in Des Moines.

#5 Denver, Colo.

Metro Population: 2,602,900
Projected Annual Job Growth: 2.6%

Denver is a thriving hub for aerospace, which employs 19,500 people in the private sector—the second-biggest center for the industry in the U.S. Among the 400 employers and suppliers are global giants Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman.

#6 Ogden, Utah

Metro Population: 557,600
Projected Annual Job Growth: 1.9%

Last year Procter & Gamble opened its first U.S. manufacturing plant in more than 3 decades, 30 miles north of Ogden. The $540 million facility will create 1,000 new jobs.

#7 Lincoln, Nebr.

Metro Population: 306,900
Projected Annual Job Growth: 1.9%

Nebraska’s capital has the lowest unemployment rate in the U.S. at 3.5%. Mortgage delinquency rates were third lowest in the country in 2011 at 2.8%, according to Equifax.

#8 Dallas, Tex.

Metro Population: 4,356,500
Projected Annual Job Growth: 3.3%

Gross metro product surged 6.2% last year—second best in the nation—to $254 billion. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is undergoing a $2 billion renovation, which began after the city hosted the Super Bowl last year. Four of the 5 terminals will be gutted in a project that will not be completed until 2017.

#9 Austin, Tex.

Metro Population: 1,789,100
Projected Annual Job Growth: 2.9%

Austin’s economy is projected to expand 6.2% annually during the next 3 years, fastest in the U.S. The region has a constant influx of young talent thanks to more than 70 colleges and 360,000 enrolled students within a 200-mile radius.

#10 Nashville, Tenn.

Metro Population: 1,620,600
Projected Annual Job Growth: 2.0%

Business costs in the Music City are 18% below the U.S. average. Large employers include HCA and Nissan.

#11 Omaha, Nebr.

Metro Population: 878,300
Projected Annual Job Growth: 1.8%

Financial services employees make up 9% of the workforce (U.S. average is 6%), with the headquarters of Berkshire Hathaway, TD Ameritrade and Mutual of Omaha all situated in the Gateway to the West.

#12 Oklahoma City, Okla.

Metro Population: 1,278,900
Projected Annual Job Growth: 1.8%

Overall rank jumped 16 spots from last year as the job and economic prospects for the metro improved dramatically. Major employers include AT&T, Chesapeake Energy and Devon Energy.

#13 San Antonio, Tex.

Metro Population: 2,201,400
Projected Annual Job Growth: 2.9%

More than half of trade between Mexico and U.S. flows through San Antonio. The city is bolstering its green cred: local utility CPS Energy is committed to making renewable energy 20% of its total capacity by 2020.

#14 Durham, N.C.

Metro Population: 513,600
Projected Annual Job Growth: 2.0%

Most of Research Triangle Park is situated in Durham. RTP boasts 170 companies and 42,000 workers. It is one of the largest and most prestigious R&D science parks in the world.

#15 Fort Worth, Tex.

Metro Population: 2,187,000
Projected Annual Job Growth: 3.0%

Fort Worth’s economy is projected to expand 5.8% annually through 2014, according to Moody’s Analytics. American Airlines, a major employer based in Fort Worth, filed for bankruptcy in November.

#16 Seattle, Wash.

Metro Population: 2,696,600
Projected Annual Job Growth: 1.7%

Seattle’s IT industry counts more than 100,000 jobs thanks to Microsoft, Amazon.com and Expedia. Facebook’s Seattle outpost is one of its largest engineering offices outside California.

#17 Asheville, N.C

Metro Population: 429,700
Projected Annual Job Growth: 1.8%

Business costs are 21% below national average, according to Moody’s Analytics. Asheville is home to the U.S. National Climatic Data Center, which is the world’s largest active archive of weather data.

#18 Charlotte, N.C.

Metro Population: 1,799,700
Projected Annual Job Growth: 2.0%

Charlotte is hosting the 2012 Democratic National Convention in September, a first for the city. Local leaders expect the event to generate as much as $200 million in economic activity.

#19 Fayetteville, Ark.

Metro Population: 474,700
Projected Annual Job Growth: 2.8%

The cost of living is 11% below the U.S. average and lowest among top 50 metros. It gets huge boost from $456-billion-in-sales retail giant Wal-Mart, headquartered in Bentonville, part of the Fayetteville metro area.

#20 Houston, Tex.

Metro Population: 6,102,800
Projected Annual Job Growth: 3.2%

Houston emerged from the recession faster than any other major city. It was the fastest growing economy in the U.S. last year at 8.6%.

#21 Atlanta, Ga.

Metro Population: 5,364,300
Projected Annual Job Growth: 2.3%

Atlanta’s Hartfield-Jackson is the world’s busiest airport, with 90 million passengers annually. The median home price in the metro was $98,700 in 2011, down 42% from its peak 4 years earlier.

#22 Minneapolis, Minn.

Metro Population: 3,323,100
Projected Annual Job Growth: 2.2%

After a decade of debate Minneapolis will keep its beloved Vikings thanks to the legislature’s approval of a new $975 million NFL stadium. The team will pay $477 million toward construction, with the city and state picking up the remaining tab. The team plans a 2016 opening, with dreams of a Super Bowl someday.

#23 San Francisco, Calif.

Metro Population: 1,795,800
Projected Annual Job Growth: 2.4%

San Francisco makes the cut due to a strong job and economic outlook despite the nation’s highest living costs—a staggering 54% above the average U.S. city. San Fran has a highly educated labor force with 48% of the population possessing a college degree.

#24 Columbus, Ohio

Metro Population: 1,859,700
Projected Annual Job Growth: 1.9%

There has been $2.3 billion of public and ­private investment over the last 12 years to revitalize downtown Columbus. Ohio State University ranks second in the U.S. for industry-sponsored research.

#25 Cambridge, Mass.

Metro Population: 1,519,000
Projected Annual Job Growth: 1.6%

Schools like MIT and Harvard fuel the area’s high-tech employment, which at 17.7% is second highest in the U.S., after San Jose, Calif. Cambridge is one of only four metros where 50% of adults have a college degree.

Online Display Ads: The Brand Awareness Black Hole

There are very few things that get venture capitalists excited, and even fewer things that make them want to leave the safety of their ivory towers. I know, because I used to be one. As the vice president of digital media at a VC firm, I spent my days looking at digital advertising from 50,000 feet, analyzing trends and identifying market opportunities. One day, I gave it all up to return to the hectic roller coaster that is life at a startup. Why? The answer is simple. I saw an opportunity to be part  of a revolution and to solve a serious need in the online advertising industry.

By and large, advertisers are missing the boat when it comes to using digital ads for branding. Far too many dollars are flowing into display ads, which are incredibly weak branding vehicles. You can add all the bells and whistles you want to banner ads, but they’ll never truly create the kind of emotional experience that gets consumers excited about your brand.

Don’t believe me? Try this quick exercise. What was the last great commercial you saw? Any come to mind? I’m sure several do. Now close your eyes and try to tell me about a display ad you saw lately. Anything? Hard, isn’t it? That’s because it’s almost impossible to tell a story in a banner. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t think display advertising is bad. It’s just not great for top-of-funnel, true branding. No matter how much bigger or better we make these banners, readers continue to be impervious to them.

On its surface, this may seem like a small, isolated problem. But it’s a large part of what’s holding back growth in the online advertising business. By some estimates, the gap between online ad spending and consumption of digital media is already as much as $20B. Without effective options for driving brand awareness, the industry will continue to be stifled, as media buyers revert to tried-and-true options like the 30-second TV spot.

The bottom line is that there is only one true branding mechanism online and that’s content marketing. What makes me so certain? Well, for starters, content marketing enables brands to share their story in long form and in their own words. An incredible sea of change in the way information is shared and distrbuted online means that for the first time ever, any brand can create its own content affordably and at scale. The story can come in the form of blogs, articles, reviews, ebooks or videos. It can be low-cost or it can be professionally produced. But let’s be clear: we’re not talking about ads! It’s real, interesting content that delivers informational or entertainment value.

Content marketing is a strategy with two obvious pillars: content and marketing. ‘Content’ means the creation of original content or the curation of content for the benefit of your audience. ‘Marketing’ means getting people to discover and engage with your content.

One cannot live without the other. Creating content for SEO, for example, is not content marketing. It’s content waiting. You need to get out there and actively get your content discovered, and you have to do it in a subtle way, without pushing it down people’s throats or interrupting them with push advertising. Content marketing should be a pull strategy — a strategy that allows people to discover you, rather than you crashing their party.

The good news is that there’s already plenty of inspiration to draw from. Just check out some of P&G’s content sites, such as BeingGirl.comMan Of The House and Home Made Simple. Browse the great recipes at General MillsTablespoon.com or Kraft’s KraftRecipes.com. Get some quality advice from Liberty Mutual’s Responsibility Project or the Allstate blog.

Just like search was a decade ago and social was five years ago, content marketing is the next digital media revolution.

Guest post written by Gilad de Vries

Gilad de Vries is vice president, brands and agencies, at Outbrain, a content discovery platform. Previously, he was a principal at Carmel Ventures, an Israeli venture firm.

#TheRules of Social Media: Not Everything Will Work–And That’s Fine

Social media isn’t always about #winning–sometimes, it’s about #learning from experiments and mistakes, too.

“Look at American Idol,” says Twitter Media VPChloe Sladden, who helps major media organizations leverage the power of the popular microblogging service every day.

“I think you saw a turning point this past spring, with American Idol, one of the biggest behemoths on air,” Sladden says. “They were experimental, almost as a new reality show, hitting the air this year to try and figure out how to use Twitter to create better conversation.”

The Idol team was willing to take risks and get creative–and that’s fine by Sladden. “They had contestant handles on air to try to drive follows and closeness to the contestants. They had mad lib hashtags. A lot of it didn’t work but that didn’t scare them away.”

According to Sladden, American Idol‘s foray into the Twitterverse–and its willingnesss to try something new–was a major moment for the social network and for television world.

“That’s a huge shift in how networks and shows think about Twitter and audience engagement,” the social TV maven says.

Learn more about tweeting for television on Twitter’s website, and check out our crowdsourced guide: #TheRules of Social Media.

 

The Rules of Social Media

Last year: Pump out content. This year: Optimize content.

Chris DeWolfe, @Chris_DeWolfe

TWEET THIS

Don’t try to be clever, be clever.

Wally Petersen, @Draftfcb

TWEET THIS

Stop & Ask: Would an ACTUAL person talk that way?

Noah Brier, @heyitsnoah

TWEET THIS

Don’t use ads to prop up boring content. Use ads to accelerate successful content.

Jeff Widman, @jeffwidman

TWEET THIS

Always be honest and trustworthy, in everything you say and do.

Madeline Johnson, @marketcouncil

TWEET THIS

People care what you had for breakfast–if you’re a food brand.

Natanya Anderson, @natanyap

TWEET THIS

Forget individuals. You’re creating content that encourages groups to form.

Jonah Peretti, @peretti

TWEET THIS

Never tweet just the headline of a story. Be creative and give people a reason to click.

Ryan R. Reed, @ryanreed

TWEET THIS

Don’t say things you wouldn’t want to be quoted as saying.

Saqib I. Ahmed, @SaqibReports

TWEET THIS

Everyone says they don’t want to be marketed to. Really, they just don’t want to be talked down to. Read More >

Patrick Starzan, @Starzan

TWEET THIS

Hire a good writer so your brand has a distinct voice and personality on social sites.

Tom Jeffrey, @tjeffrey

TWEET THIS

Entertain me. Tweets are short; so is life.

Tom Whaley, @TWSaint

TWEET THIS

Stop using exclamation points in every post. Unless you genuinely scream uncontrollably at cocktail parties.

Roshan Bhula, @roshanbhula

TWEET THIS

“NEVER USE ALL CAP LOCKS” in tweets or Facebook, use your indoor voice in the world of social media.

Shaaz Nasir, @shaaztastic

TWEET THIS

Don’t tweet about everything, tweet about what you know best.

Krista Rossow, @natgeokrista

TWEET THIS

Not everyone can be “trained” to create interesting tweets — it takes personality to tweet personality.

Laura Good, @goodlaura

TWEET THIS

Don’t use to many #tags in one tweet.

Leszek Kurycyn, @LeszekKurycyn

TWEET THIS

Quality over quantity.

Lauren Gallo, @missgallo

TWEET THIS

140 characters ARE enough.

Thomas Vanbrabant, @abdulinho

TWEET THIS

Thou shall not retweet everything you read.

Papas Con Cuero, @papasconcuero

TWEET THIS

BACK TO TOP

ON ENGAGEMENT

Don’t make people do X, Y, then Z. Stick with X. Read More >

Alex Iskold, @alexiskold

TWEET THIS

Take Twitter conversations offline and build a network.

Auren Kaplan, @aurensays

TWEET THIS

Listen first and never stop listening.

Dave Kerpen, @davekerpen

TWEET THIS

You should worry about all those who don’t complain and simply go away mad!

David Nour, @davidnour

TWEET THIS

People are going to talk about your brand. Can you afford to NOT participate in that conversation?

Brad Moore, @ferdenherd

TWEET THIS

Sticky customer issues are sometimes best to take offline and resolve via more traditional channels, i.e. email, telephone, etc.

Hassan Mikail, @hmikail

TWEET THIS

A tweet must be answered, no less than a ringing phone must be.

Jared Schechtman, @Jareds81

TWEET THIS

People would rather talk to ‘Comcast Melissa’ than ‘Comcast’.

Kip Wetzel, @kipwetzel

TWEET THIS

Social media engagement has to be an everyday routine. The keyword is “engagement”

Kumar Kandaswamy, @kumar_k

TWEET THIS

If all you do is respond to complaints, that’s all people will send you.

Marcel LeBrun, @lebrun

TWEET THIS

ALWAYS write back.

Paul Davison, @pdavison

TWEET THIS

Open your fridge…how many of those brands do you really have time to have a relationship with?

Rich Meyer, @richmeyer

TWEET THIS

Social is a conversation, not a message.

Robin J. Phillips, @RobinJP

TWEET THIS

Just tweeting or posting stuff is neither connecting nor engaging.

Ron Villejo, @Ron_Villejo

TWEET THIS

People are fickle, change their mind often, and don’t usually do what you want them to do.

Matthew Knell, @matthewknell

TWEET THIS

Go beyond the dialogues: promote “multialogues.”

Beto Do Valle, @betodovalleTF

TWEET THIS

A small act of appreciation (on a brands part) will go a long way to the person who receives it

Gabi Gesch, @gabiwinks

TWEET THIS

It’s a conversation not a commercial.

Tami Belt, @1bluecube

TWEET THIS

Stop thinking Campaigns and start thinking Conversations

Neil Hughes, @TIMJ_Neil

TWEET THIS

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ON FOLLOWS AND FANS

Asking me to follow you on Twitter guarantees I won’t. Read More >

Cindy Gallop, @cindygallop

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Spend a little time getting to know each new follower and what they are interested in.

Computappoint, @Computappoint

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People love to feel that they are special. Make followers and those who interact with you feel like they are getting inside access.

Erik Johnson @erikj

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Don’t buy Twitter followers; it tarnishes your authenticity. http://ow.ly/cPcL1

Erin Schulte, @erin719nyc

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Follow liberally. You never know who will lead you to discover something unique or important.

Liz Heron, @lheron

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Don’t follow just to get followed. It’s slutty.

Nneka Okoro, @Nnekarisms

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#SMR: Never buy fans for followers. Genuine users will find you genuinely pathetic.

Amber Lovell Boone, @puresurplus

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Follow people who have something worth saying…then follow the people they follow.

Rory Newcomb, @roryaileen

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Treat your followers like you’d treat your friends, not like numbers.

SonicomIT, @sonicomit

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Dont ask for followers,DO something worthy of followers

Wesley Diphoko, @wesleydiphokot

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ON PHILOSOPHY

The consumer is out for himself, not for you.

Andrew Weinreich, @aweinreich

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People fight for their privacy.

Caterina Fake, @Caterina

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Not everything will work, and that’s fine. Read More >

Chloe Sladden, @ChloeS

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Having a LinkedIn and Facebook profile does not make one a Social Media expert.

Douglas Ritter, @douglasritter

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Everyone’s an influencer.

Duncan Watts, @duncanjwatts

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People don’t want to shop where they socialize. Read More >

Krista Garcia, @eKristaGarcia

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Civility still matters.

Emelia Sam, @EmeliaSam

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My Rule No. 1: Be wary of social media rules.

Ron Harris, @journorati

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Your television can’t hear you. We can.

MTV India, @mtvindia

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Social media is all about collaboration, not isolation.

Niketa Patel, @Niketa

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Your fans own your brand.

Scott Hudler, @scotthudler

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People always matter most. Social tools enable and enhance our lives, but our lives don’t exist in technology.

Sheena Medina, @SheenaMedina

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Social Media is like a spouse rather than a friend with benefits.

Dedric Lam, @dedlam

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Cooperation is the most important attribute of any successful social media engagement.

Richard Sink, @richard_sink

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Don’t worry about tools – the two most important ones are always with you, your head and your heart.

Evonne Benedict, @evonnebenedict

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Reach without influence is useless and irrelevant like that direct mail piece in your mailbox.

Bilal Jaffery, @BilalJaffery

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ON PROCESS AND GOALS

Be creative and spontaneous. Every mistake (if used creatively) can become an opportunity.

Allan Vazquez, @allan05

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Post on your customers schedule, not yours.

Steve Armneti, @armentisteve

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Embrace negative content about your brand.

Brett Hurt, @bazaarbrett

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Rules are great but all aren’t applicable to you. Test rules out to see what works for best results.

B Culture Media, @BCultureMedia

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It’s an organism, not a process.

Michael Lebowitz, @bigspaceship

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If you don’t see financial results, you wasted your money.

B.J. Mendelson, @BJMendelson

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As monetization attempts go up, consumer experience goes down.

Bo Peabody, @bopeabody

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Desktop is conquered territory. Mobile is the battlefield.

B. Bonin Bough, @boughb

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They’re are no one-size-fits-all solutions.

Chris Date, @chrisdate

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The only way to scale word of mouth: paid advertising.

Christopher Tuff, @christuff

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Social media doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Make traditional media and social work together.

Deb Roy, @dkroy

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Social is 24/7, not a one-time stunt.

David Wertheimer, @dwertheimer

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Have an ROI. Have an ROI. Have an ROI.

Erin Mulligan Nelson, @erinclaire

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Update your page, or delete it.

Matt Monahan, @gomattymo

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Become BFFs with your Facebook reps.

Graham Kahr, @grahamkahr

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Solve problems for people who talk about you, even if they don’t address you.

Hilton Worldwide, @HiltonWorldwide

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Don’t focus on numbers (fans, followers, likes, etc.) focus on real conversations.

Duane Hogg, @iamduanehogg

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Consistency is critical. Don’t expect results if you’re not regularly putting forth an effort.

Jennifer Bilbro, @jennifer_bilbro

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Social media should be part of the upfront planning, not an after-thought.

James Ha, @imonke

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People trust their peers…become a peer.

Joe Turgeon, @Joe_Turgeon

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ROR is the new ROI…Return on Relationship!

Lindsay Listanski, @LListanski

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Be real. Be supportive. Be consistent. Be nice.

Lori Gama, @lorigama

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If fans distribute your content without your permission, offer to help.

Melissa Brenner, @marose1025

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Contests and sweepstakes are fine, if you want to encourage short relationships. Read More >

Mike Proulx, @McProulx

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It’s okay to drive people to your site instead of Facebook’s.

Tara Missrogue Hunt, @missrogue

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Only way to figure out what works on social media is to try it.

Radhika Kapoor Giri, @radhikakgiri

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Would you measure the ROI of your conversation with your friends?

Roberto Estreitinho, @restreitinho

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If you’re bored by social media, it’s because you’re trying to get more value than you create. Read More >

Tim O’Reilly, @timoreilly

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Think past vanity metrics like followers. Read More >

Zac Moffatt, @ZacMoffatt

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Automatic Facebook and Twitter posts do the opposite of their intent: they drive audience away. Disable it.

Adam Henry, @viewofadam

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If you contribute content to a product for free, you are the product.

Andrew D. Nystrom, @adnys

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For restaurant’s customer service there is no better tool than YELP.

Natascha Otero, @NataschaOS

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Use cross-channel strategy to full engage your customer.

Ben Tepfer, @bentepfer

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For the love of god, stop regurgitweeting the same message you blasted on FB five seconds ago

Alex Covington, @AlexNoelleCov

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Don’t try to be everything to everyone unless you want them to ignore you.

Kendall Morris, @KendallMorris

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I know you’re fantastic, so stop liking your own posts.

Julian Silva, @onairmastering

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Don’t feed the trolls

Asaru Sans, @AsaruSans

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Show the real people behind your brand, and have a sense of humor.

Mike Wood, @mikewoodtweets

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Thou shalt set up Google alerts for both your brand and your domain.

Jeff Carroll, @jeffcarroll

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Different #socialmedia platforms lend themselves to different strategies.

Michael Behr, @bigpictureguy

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Never delete comments, queries or complaints!

Heike Meyburgh, @heikemey

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If you are active in social media, you don’t need to say so in your social media bio. That’s like having a bumper sticker on your car that says “I drive a car.”

Dan G. Bergeron, @dangbergeron

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Don’t tweet and drive

Greg Kubin, @kubeans

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