Social Media Policy: MLB Players

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The use of social media for MLB and the players is undergoing a major renovation for the 2012 season. For those of you who are unaware of the changes, check out this Mashable article! In short, MLB is planning on using twitter to host contests for followers with the hashtag #MLBTVme, staff will interview and take insider photos/videos of players before the game, and during the game staff will live tweet events going on in the ballpark. Make sure you check out the article for all the details.

After I posted this article on my delicious site, I was intrigued by what the social media policy looked like, especially for the players. So I did some research and found out! Below is a screenshot of the policy, but if you would like to visit the website and see for yourself, visit MLB Social Media Policy.

The social media policy is not part of any larger policy at the organization, but it was implemented due to the, “…recently completed collective bargaining negotiations….” I am sure this policy is also in conjunction with their cell phone policy, Baseball Operations Bulletin A-2. For example, players cannot use their cell phone starting thirty minutes prior to a game and until the last strikeout.

I will start with the positive part of the MLB social media policy. It begins with four definitions of key phrases/words used throughout the policy so all players understand the meanings in the context of this document. I like this because not all players may have the same idea of what the word “content” is referring to. In defining these key phrases/words, MLB is reducing confusion.

The negative of the policy is that it is not clearly formatted, but rather a list of ten rules to follow. The document also states an enforcement policy at the bottom, but it is not clear at all as to what the punishment is. Basically, it says that a player may be subject to discipline. In my mind, this means that it all depends how much you break the rules, if you are a star player, if they like you, etc. It almost seems better to just leave this part out if it is going to be so vague.

My Recommendations

I would start by grouping similar rules together to make it easier to read. Eight of the ten rules start with the phrase “Displaying or transmitting Content.” This makes it really hard to read because I feel like I am reading the same thing over and over and do not actually think about each rule individually. MLB could possibly make the header “Displaying or transmitting Content:” and then bullet the eight rules under. Another change I would make is to define how to get proper authorization for doing some of these things like posting a link to any MLB Entity. If the coach says it is okay, then does a player have proper authorization? I can see this being very confusing to players. Not being able to post a link to their own website is a terrible rule. I would change this. Isn’t the point to drive followers back to the website where they can find more information about the team and purchase tickets? The final thing I would change, as mentioned above, would be to re-write the enforcement policy to make it more clear. If MLB wants to be so wishy-washy about this, then take it out.

I believe that it is essential for organizations to have a social media policy in place. As we discussed in adpr4300, proper social media use seems like common sense to us, but many people do not have that common sense. Therefore, it is essential that organizations cover their butts and have a policy in place for all employees. Employees are representatives of the organization they work for and should view their social media platforms as such. Not only should employees represent their organization in a positive light, but themselves personally as well. A social media policy can help people avoid making terrible personal mistakes that could possibly ruin their reputation.

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Case Study: AJ Bombers

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For those of you who do not know what AJ Bombers is…. I’m sorry. AJ Bombers is a restaurant and bar in Milwaukee and Madison that prides itself on their handmade hamburgers, fantastic side dishes, peanut bombs, and selection of beer. I suggest you check them out ASAP at their website if you are unfamiliar! AJ Bombers was the winner of Travel Channel’s FOOD WARS with their Milwaukee Burger when they took on local competitor, Sobelman’s. Watch this video to see how it all went down!

Joe Sorge, who opened AJ Bombers March 9, 2009, has enjoyed great success through social media and word of mouth marketing. AJ Bombers uses platforms such as Facebook, twitter, Flickr, and foursquare to advertise. Specifically, I am going to talk about their Facebook page and the “Can I Get A Like” tactic.

AJ Bombers Facebook has 8,488 likes, 452 talking about this, and 5,276 were here. They post once a day in the morning before 11 am. The posts are usually a mouthwatering graphic, accompanied by engaging text. This engaging text is what I am going to talk about in this case study analysis.

The approach that AJ Bombers seems to use is outright asking for likes. This is what I am calling the “Can I Get A Like” tactic For example:

These are just a few examples of AJ Bombers outright asking for followers to “like” a post. I am somewhat skeptical about this tactic because we have talked so much in ADPR4300 about how brands SHOULD NOT ask for likes. On the other hand, here is an example of a successful company that is doing it and getting lots of positive responses! So what is going on here? Are those who “like” a post just doing it to win some incentive? I highly doubt it. AJ Bombers offers no prizes (as seen in the examples above) for people who “liked” a post. That can only mean one thing: followers must actually like the content AJ Bombers is pushing out there. All of the comments I showed above had at least 25 likes and several comments. So what does that mean for other brands then? Can they ask for “likes” as well?

My Conclusion

Through examining AJ Bombers Facebook, it is clear that the answer to the question posed above is no. No, not all brands have the ability to outright ask for likes. I have learned that it depends on the nature of the business, the followers, and what you are asking people to “like”. By the looks of comments, AJ Bombers followers are all loyal customers. They follow the brand because they really do care. Therefore, AJ Bombers is able to post tantalizing pictures of their food and drinks, and ask followers to “like” a post if they truly agree with what AJ Bombers is saying about their food. In my opinion, nothing is better than an army of brand loyal fans who consistently engage with your Facebook site.

Case Study: The Limited

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The Limited is a retail store that provides young, style-conscious women, with timeless pieces that are “ready-to-wear” and inspired from the runway! The Limited has been in shopping malls for 50 years and view themselves as the iconic fashion retailer. For more information about the background of the company, visit their website!

Specifically I will be focusing on The Limited’s Facebook site which is the ideal culmination of high customer engagement, user-generated content, and lead generation. The Limited’s Facebook site has 202,483 likes and 1,817 people talking about them. The brand posts on average two times a day with one post asking for comments/thoughts and the other with a link to a contest, their website, The Limited in the news, twitter, etc. The brand only likes a handful of other Facebook pages including mostly women’s magazines, a few retailers/merchandisers, and a style blog.

The Limited does a wonderful job of posting engaging content for their followers. My case study will focus on one day this week, Tuesday, to show just how well they resonate with their audience.

TUESDAY’S FIRST POST:

Tuesday’s first post was at 8:30am. As you can see it drove followers back to the website to view the Outback Red Collection. 56 people liked that post, and two commented on it. The Limited even “liked” one of the comments. Although I cannot see how many people clicked the link, I am sure that AT LEAST 56 people did. As a side note, The Limited uses models of all ethnic backgrounds. This picture for example, features an African American woman. It is in their favor to diversify their advertisements to ensure that all young women feel like they can shop the brand.

TUESDAY’S SECOND POST:

The second post was at 12:36 pm. This post much twice as popular as the first one and allowed for user engagement. 106 people liked the post and there are currently 61 comments. The post asked followers for their thoughts on this seasons “darning prints”. All of the comments were positive and most not only voted but then explained why they felt that way.  Comments started pouring in just minutes after The Limited posted this poll, and the latest comment was made 9 hours ago (over 48 hours after the initial post)! This shows that followers are not just looking at the latest post by the brand, but are taking the time to scroll down a few times!

I only took Tuesday’s two posts as an example of how this brand is using social media right! If you have time I highly recommend exploring the site further to see all the cool user-generated content (like using instagram to upload pictures of you mixing and matching clothes in a cool way, just like a stylist)! The Limited, in my opinion, really is doing social media right and through this case study analysis I have learned a few key things:

1. It is essential that you have a solid base of followers who actually care about the brand and will interact with you.

2. If your brand is going to have polls, contests, etc where there are winners, the prize should be something from your company. The Limited giving away iTunes money would not be relevant and would attract the wrong crowd.

3. Posts do not have to be awesome and exciting and fun and colorful and blah blah blah! I stress myself out about the perfect post all the time. Post what you as a consumer would want to see. Relax a little!

 

 

 

 

No, you cannot have my password.

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Last week in ADPR 4300 we discussed the new trend for potential employers to “really see what kind of person you are” through Facebook. Creeping has been taken to a new level! Potential employers are no longer simply accessing your public Facebook profile, but are now asking for your username and password to gain greater insight as to what type of person you are. This means that they can see all your albums, tagged pictures and videos, inbox conversations, hidden statuses, etc.

Okay, to me this is crazy! Facebook is a personal page that allows users to express themselves and connect with friends, brands, places, etc. Facebook users can decide how strict they wish their profile settings to be. Not all people keep their profiles private because they are hiding things, maybe they are just concerned about their security. I, for example, keep my profile private even though I have nothing bad on there. Yes, there are pictures of me and my friends out at a bar playing pool. So what, I’m 22 and I go out. I am not ashamed of it and would tell any potential employer in an interview that I go out. I do not think the answer to getting to know a potential employee is to access their personal profiles. Why not just come to my house, go through my mail, garbage, and my underwear drawer while you are at it!

If potential employers want to get to know you, why don’t they try the old fashion way of face-to-face encounters? I would much rather have several in person conversations than feel like my potential place of work does not trust me and must access personal information to believe I am who I say I am. I am not quite sure I understand how Facebook will tell you exactly what type of worker I am. I use Facebook to plan events with friends, connect with old classmates, and post pictures of my friends and I. I do not have much information on Facebook that would help a company see my work ethic. In fact, I do not think many people’s Facebook accounts are used to talk about work. You care about my interests? I like Glee…does that help you? You want to know what music I listen to…country. Helpful? You want to go through my inbox? I get invited to a ton of 21st birthday parties and Marquette sponsored events. Wow, now you know so much about me. Seriously.

If you are interested in learning more, this article gives some tips on how to protect yourself from having to give your password to employers. Click here to see the article.

Does your brand pass the smash test?

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Right before Easter break, our ADPR 4300 class was graced with the wonderful speaking talents of Thirsty Boy’s Matt Andrews. Matt had a ton of awesome insight and was really interesting to listen to. I didn’t even feel like I was in class!

The main concept that I took away was from his rant on brands who post things on their social media sites that do not engage customers or correlate to the brand in any meaningful way. For example, Matt showed us a handful of Facebook posts and tweets, blacked out the name of the brand and asked us the ultimate question, “Which brand wrote this?” After repeating this several times, it was clear that the posts that these brands were putting on there social media sites did not give readers any idea as to who posted it without their brand name being involved. If the twitter handle or Facebook name would not have been revealed, none of us would have been able to guess in a million years which brand had posted this random message. The funny thing is that the brands who were posting these random messages were BIG brands. Walgreens for example posted a random message asking who was going to win the Superbowl. One would think that big brands with lots of money would hire a social media coordinator who would know better than to post an such an irrelevant message!

On the other hand, Matt showed us how some brands do a really good job of alluding to their products in fun and engaging posts. Lava lamp for example posts messages as if the lava lamp was the one behind the computer typing. As soon as the Lava lamp post showed up on the screen the entire class knew exactly which brand posted the message. The post was something along the lines of, “What gets your lava going?”

The marketing term for what Matt is talking about is the “smash test.” The idea of the smash test comes from when coca-cola bottles were a thick green glass with a very specific shape to them. If a coca-cola bottle was smashed on the sidewalk and all a passerby saw were the broken pieces, they would know the glass was from a coca-cola bottle. Same thing with a website or social media site. If a customer were to only be able to see a portion of your companies website or a piece of text from a post, would they be able to identify your brand? Does it stand out and differentiate itself?

I think a lot of times brands are mesmerized by the quantity of likes and comments rather than the quality. Although a lot of people may like a post, are they really engaged, will they buy your product, will they give you positive word of mouth? These are all important things to think about before posting messages on brand social media sites.

Location based social networking…creepy?

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This past week in ADPR 4300 we discussed location based social networking sites, and the pros and cons of businesses using them. The sites we explored included: Highlight, Gowalla, SCVNGR, foursquare, and Path. Location based social networking is a platform that can be used by mobile device or computer users to “tag” their location. In most cases the user can decide if they want their tagged location to be public, private, or limited to friends only. Some sites offer incentives for tagging themselves at a specific location and others don’t. Although all the sites are different in their own way, the idea is the same. Whether it be by “checking in” or making a journal entry, the user is essentially tagging themselves in a physical location in real time.

I am a foursquare user myself, so I am going to use this application as an example for this post. The remark I often here from friends and family when they see me check in on foursquare is something along the lines of, “Thats so creepy, now everyone knows where you are.” My fiancé is going to school to be a police officer and he told me how his  professors all warn the students to NOT use applications such as foursquare. I disagree. Yes, if you use foursquare and your profile is public and you check in at home, work, and a few favorite hang outs at the same time everyday, then yes, this is creepy. It is never a good idea to create such a pattern and make is public. But if you are smart and take the proper privacy measures that these applications provide for you, then you should not have to worry (unless you have creepy friends…). Location based social networking has really been evolving and is now so much more than just a way to let people know where you are. For example, today I checked in at Boston Store in Mayfair Mall. My check in earned me $10 of my purchase of $29 dollars. What a great deal! All for using a social networking site! I also use the tips section on foursquare before I eat at a new restaurant to see reviews from past diners. To me, these features are not creepy at all. They are helpful!

Yes, tagging your location CAN be dangerous if the user is not smart about their privacy settings. But in general, if used correctly, location based social networking is not creepy at all. The platform allows the users to get great deals, check out real customer reviews of businesses, and play a “game.”

Where my customers at?

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In ADPR 4300 this week we spent a lot of time talking about and exploring the social media software, sysomos. Sysomos is a social media analytics tool that allows users to measure and monitor their brands. Information gathered from the software enables users to gain competitive knowledge about their target audience. Although this software is not free, it is very beneficial for a social business. It offers unlimited queries, identification of key influencers, highlights key conversations, and conducts in-depth research. The software nicely and neatly lays out the most important data in an easy to understand format.

As Dennis was explaining how he uses sysomos for his clients, I began to think that maybe I should suggest this tool for my company. The biggest problem my company has is that we do not know where our target customers are “hanging out” and “talking” online. We have two main targets, those who are our clients and those who would donate/volunteer. My company really does not know how to go about reaching these people, what to say to attract them, and most importantly how to keep them on board.

Sysomos has a special feature that allows users to see where the most important conversations are happening and who the influential people are. This would be so beneficial for my company because instead of grabbing at straws, we would have actual data leading us in the right direction. Sometimes I feel like I am just guessing and throwing money in a direction I HOPE is right. Spending some money on a software tool such as sysomos may actually SAVE us money in the long run. If we know where our customers are, and are spending our money there, at least we know we are reaching our target audience. What we are doing now in my opinion is wasting money. We spend a little bit of money in a lot of areas. Why not spend it all where our customers are? Although the software costs money, I believe it is worth it to have an effective social media site.

I am going to start my company off slow with google alerts. If that is successful I will suggest free social media analytics sites such as Social Mention and Viral Heat. Eventually I hope to use sysomos at my company because I believe that this is the best site to use to develop campaigns, events, and engaging social media sites.

Pin it!

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Pinterest has become quite a phenomenon in my senior year at Marquette University. I remember first hearing about it last semester in my e-marketing class.  I was interested in what the buzz was all about and soon was requesting an invite. A day later I was accepted and my obsession began. At first I started pinning practical things. What was coming up that I could look at pictures of? An engagement! I will post pictures having to do with engagements. Well after I was engaged I needed to switch to posting pictures of weddings. That got boring fast, so I decided I would need to know how to cook. I’ll pin recipes! Well needless to say, pretty soon it got out of hand. I was pinning clothes I liked, cool DIY ideas, space savers, organizational ideas, and on and on. I always saw Pinterest as a cool website that girls could go on and waste some time. Wow was I wrong.

After much thought and experimentation, I have decided that Pinterest is A. not only for women and B. it is not only for individuals. The website can be very beneficial to companies as well. My ADPR 4300 class has really opened my eyes to the world of social media and the variety of ways it can be used.

So as mentioned above, I have decided that Pinterest is beneficial to both men and woman. Although men may not be using the site to plan their weddings, they can use it to brand themselves and pin pictures of things they like. Social media sites are used to tell viewers who we are, and whose to say men can’t use this tool?

I also decided that Pinterest can and SHOULD be used by companies. For example, my group worked on a social media strategy for the Milwaukee County Zoo. We decided that the zoo could really use a Pinterest account to showcase their animals and all the family friendly events they host. In my mind, Pinterest is a little like YouTube, but still frame version, which in turn leaves much to the imagination. YouTube feeds viewers the entire story, while Pinterest just gives glimpse. This glimpse sparks viewers interest and drives traffic back to the website. This is the ultimate goal, isn’t it? Marketers want viewers to visit their company website to learn more, purchase, post reviews, etc.

It seems that everyone and their mother (including mine) are on Pinterest today. Why not use the tools out there to brand yourself and your company? It’s free, so try it. If it doesn’t work, oh well. Happy pinning!

Facebook Timelines for Brands.

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With the new Facebook timeline on the brink, brands need to be aware of the changes and understand how to take advantage of the opportunities it presents. The timeline can be a very positive and powerful tool for those who know how to use it. Those who do not understand it and do not adapt will be left in the dust. Coca-Cola, as discussed in class, does a great job of utilizing the new Facebook timeline. Check out their page here!

The new Facebook has an updated look and feel. Brands are now able to display a cover photo, as well as highlight milestones from the past. Highlighting milestones in the brand’s history can be a very good way to educate the public about how they got to where they are today. It also creates a way to “brag” about achievements in a more humble way.

As our ADPR class brought up, one of the more dramatic changes will be the loss of the left column that was once full of links. Most users are used to looking under the profile picture for links to pictures, likes, about, etc. The new Facebook eliminates this column and moves these links under the cover photo. The links will not display as before, but as boxes with a picture in them. Only four boxes show at a time, and the rest are stored in a drop down box to the right of the row. Because only four boxes show at a time, brands need to carefully consider which to display. Most likely the most used/important boxes will be put on the landing page, and the others will be stored in the drop down box. Those visitors looking for specific information will check the drop down box, while those just visiting will most likely only look at the four boxes that are displayed. This is why it is so important that these boxes are the most used/important. Brands should consider their target audience, do some research, and possibly run some tests to determine which boxes would be best to display on the landing page.

The cover photo, profile picture, and picture boxes are the first things visitors to a brands site will see. It is essential that they “make a good impression” so to speak. The more catchy and intriguing the content, the more likely visitors will stay on the brands Facebook page and interact. Highlighting major achievements, awards, and historical milestones will educate visitors and possibly encourage them to interact as well. If visitors are impressed by what they see, they will stay on the page longer. We all know that in today’s society, if something does not catch our attention we move on to the next thing. If used effectively, the timeline creates great opportunities for brands to showcase themselves. Therefore, it is of absolute importance that brands understand how to take advantage of the Facebook timeline.

Facebook is no 9-5.

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Last Tuesday, Sarah VanElzen from Laughlin Constable spoke to our class about how to effectively use Facebook to enhance a brand. Although she made many interesting points, the most influential point for me was that managing a Facebook page is not a 9-5 job. There is no “turning it off” so to speak. Sarah mentioned that way to many brands monitor their Facebook and post during the normal work hours. But when 5 pm rolls around, it is almost as if the saying, “out of sight, out of mind” sets in. Unfortunately, these brands are missing out on a large audience. When I am done with work or class, I go home, eat dinner, and check out my social media sights. If brands are not posting or available for questions during this time, I have to wait until the next morning to get a response. This seems pretty dumb. When most people are at work, they are not supposed to be using their personal social media sights. That leaves them from 5pm to 9am to log on and get caught up! If brands are not managing their sites during that time, then customers are left unsatisfied. Another point Sarah made is that these same brands are not managing their pages on weekends. What if there is major spam on your Facebook with no one checking it? Is it left on there for everyone to see for the entire weekend? What if Frontier Airlines is really irritating me with their service and I write on the Facebook page telling them how displeased I am. And then what if they do not get back to me until Monday. And then what if by that time hundreds have seen this comment and many have posted similar stories? Hmm… why have a Facebook page if you are not ALWAYS monitoring it?

When the class asked Sarah who monitors the Facebook sites she oversees on nights and weekends, her response was, “That’s what entry level positions are for.” But really, this is true. Hire someone to monitor your pages at all times! Employees can have shifts in which they are responsible for the site at varying times of the day. Facebook is accessible from almost anywhere on a phone, computer, iPad, etc which makes it very convenient to constantly check.

If I learned one thing from Sarah it is that working in social media is no 9-5 job. Someone always needs to be monitoring the site to ensure the most accurate and up-to-date information is conveyed.