Facebook is Still Sexy Like the Electric Company

On CNN’s Reliable Sources Feb. 10th edition, HLN’s Digital Lifestyle Editor Mario Armstrong and PandoDaily’s Founder and Editor-in-Chief Sarah Lacy joined Howard Kurtz to discuss whether or not Facebook has lost its allure. According to a study by the The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 61 percent of Facebook users have taken a break from the platform while 20 percent of adults online say they’ve left Facebook indefinitely.

Around the esolutions360/aiellejai office, we’ve said for some time now that although Facebook is no longer the darling of the tween and teen set, it’s become a utility—a part of our lives that we don’t think twice about it. Much like the electric company or our mobile phone carriers, we don’t think much about their existence. We just take for granted that they exist and that our use of their services will endure. It’s ingrained in our daily behavior.

Also, with the new Facebook Graph Search—which we’ll examine in a later post—the social network has become the marketer’s dream. No other entity holds more demographic information on a sixth of the planet. It helped to elect our president and marketers are hoping that magic will rub off on them when it comes to selling products and services to their customers.

However, for Facebook to continue to be beneficial to marketers and the rest of the business world, it needs the general population of users to continue to engage and share their interests with their family and friends within the platform. Without this level of engagement, marketers can’t gather timely information on customer habits and they’ll be sharing content with droves of people who won’t be listening.

We can’t realistically expect every last one of Facebook’s one billion account holders to be faithful and enthusiastic users. We can only hope that we can strike a balance between meaningful and genuine engagement and pure targeted marketing based on users’ interest.

And we can also hope that Facebook works on their mobile app. “Facebook has an absolutely horrible app,” Lacy said. “That’s why I haven’t been to Facebook in weeks. It crashes every time I open it.”

Angie Jennings Sanders is chief content architect at aiellejai, a boutique content creation consultancy specializing in marketing communications project management, social media engagement, writing instruction/tutoring and book writing/publishing strategy. aiellejai is a subsidiary of esolutions360, a digital solutions agency that marries the creativity of content creation with the fundamentals of software engineering. Follow her on Twitter at @pronouncedALJ.

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Time to Dust off That Communication Strategy

It’s the same scenario every year. You return to the office after a relaxing Labor Day weekend and what is waiting for you? A memo from the boss informing you that the first drafts of budgets are due on Friday.

That’s right, in four days. So you scramble to pull together something that reflects your goals for the coming year, and in doing so at warp speed, you neglect to build in funding for new programs or expansion of current ones.

And let’s not forget that this year will be even more challenging; with drastic cuts in program and personnel budgets, many communicators will be hard-pressed to justify maintaining current programs, let alone introducing any new expenditures.

You know it’s coming. So why not take advantage of these next two weeks to start thinking about your communications strategy and do some preliminary work on your budget projections for the coming year?

My advice: pull out that dusty file with your communications strategy and take a hard, unbiased look at the strategic direction – does it still support the company’s business strategy and goals? Are you reaching all audiences? Are your programs effective?

Don’t forget to review any metrics that you have been collecting over the past year. This is the time to cut programs that don’t bring a solid return on investment (and return on effort!) and re-direct those funds to more effective deliverables.

Next, gather your team for a working lunch. Challenge your team to do some online benchmarking and come prepared with ideas to “steal shamelessly” and implement in your own organization. Tap your team’s creativity and brainstorm ways to improve and expand your current deliverables in the coming year. Discuss no cost/low cost ways to re-energize a tired vehicle, to make programs more cost-effective, to drive participation in events and meetings.

Once you’ve got your updated plan, along with budget projections, print it out and leave it on your boss’s desk when you head out the door on the Friday before Labor Day.

Then go off and enjoy your three-day weekend, secure in the knowledge that you will be well ahead of the curve when you return to the office on Tuesday morning.

Susan C. Rink is principal of Rink Strategic Communications, which helps clients take their employee communications to the next level.  Email her at rinkcomms@verizon.net.

Time for an Employee Communications Check-up

StatisticsThank goodness for Jiffy Lube. I drive up, they check a bunch of fluids and things like that, replace some other stuff (can you tell I’m not a mechanic?), and send me through the car wash. A mere 20 minutes later I drive off, secure in the knowledge that this mysterious machine I rely on to get me from Point A to Point B won’t break down on the way to a client meeting. Best of all, they slap a little sticker on my windshield to let me know when I need to come back.

We communicators can learn a lot from Jiffy Lube.

Seriously. When was the last time you gave your employee communications programs a check-up? I’m not talking about a full-scale audit, just a quick assessment of your messaging and vehicles.

Unless your organization has adopted a balanced scorecard system of quarterly metrics, it’s probably been a while. You can’t be sure which vehicle is operating at its full potential. And worse, you have no way of knowing whether that labor-intensive vehicle is worth the time and effort you put into it.

So here are some simple steps for giving your employee communications programs a check-up.

Step One: Inventory

You can’t measure something if you don’t know it exists. So I recommend that you pull together a comprehensive listing of all your communication vehicles. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy — a table or spreadsheet that lists each vehicle, the target audience, content, frequency, method of delivery, etc. Take advantage of this inventory process to collect any metrics associated with those vehicles (web traffic, readership and post-event surveys, program participation, etc.)

Step Two: Assess

Now that you have a snapshot of your communications efforts, you should be able to see where there are redundancies and vehicles with low ROE (return on effort). Take a look at any metrics collected in Step One and use that data to determine if the vehicle is meeting your expectations.

Step Three: Purge

Now is the time to take a hard look at those “pet projects” and eliminate those that don’t support your overall communication strategy. Be bold — if less than 30% of your target audience is actually reading that newsletter, it’s time to retire the publication and deliver that content via another vehicle.

Step Four: Launch

With the “deadweight” eliminated, this is your opportunity to introduce a new vehicle — or expand an existing vehicle — to fill that gap identified in Step One. Look for ways to maximize your effort and multipurpose content in as many vehicles as possible.

Step Five: Schedule

Make a point to do a quick check-up at least once a year. This information will be particularly useful when budget time rolls around — the valuable insight you’ve gained will help determine where to devote your resources in the year to come.

Susan

Susan C. Rink is principal of Rink Strategic Communications, which helps clients take their employee communications to the next level.  Email her at rinkcomms@verizon.net.