To Tweet or not to Tweet; That is the Strategic Question

Della Smith
Della Smith
Q Workshops Della Smith

Today we welcome Della Smith. I met Della at one of her workshops in September where she discussed Twitter and the role it can play in companies and organizations who incorporate it as part of their Communications strategy.

Della is someone has worked with organizations in virtually every sector over the past 25 years. Her unique style and ability to quickly understand complex subjects or situations ensure high quality workshops that net results.

She closed her company Quay Strategies in August of 2009. She is now writing a book and dedicating her client time to facilitation, workshops and media training. Quay Strategies, a strategic public relations and communications firm, was established in 1995 and is based in Vancouver, BC.

For more information on Della check out her website

Della’s article is below.

I am a self-admitted Twitter junkie. I spend tons of time following interesting people and connecting to links of all sorts. However, I don’t tweet right now because it is not strategic for me.

Twitter can be a powerful and effective communications vehicle for organizations and individuals with interesting information to share. The key for most businesses to be successful in this arena is to ensure their reason for tweeting is strategic.

Making sure the use of Twitter is part of an overall communications strategy that fits your organization is the first step. The next is quality information. Content matters more than ever as people can gloss over your 140 characters in less than a second. Your tweet needs to stand out in between the scads of news about Demi Moore splitting with Ashton Kutcher or other such titillating gossip.

Traditional news values still apply whether you are tweeting or writing full- page editorials. Here are the quintessential eight news values you need to consider when entering the Twitterverse:

1. Humanity – people connect to information about people or opinions that impact them.

2. Conflict – disagreement or challenging points of view sparks interest.

3. Immediacy – now really means now, new stuff gets stale fast and it looks bad if you are reporting something that happened yesterday.

4. Novelty – the wacky and weird of the day.

5. Celebrity – Demi and AplusK make news just because of their profile. You can create your own celebrity news value based on the quality of your information.

6. Pix – pictures and videos can be great if you can intrigue me enough with your words to click.

7. Peril – anything in danger is news.

8. Locality – geographically pertinent news can trigger interest as much as information that is relevant to “people like me”.

So tweet away to your heart’s content, just please don’t be boring. Have at least one news value to keep us coming back for more. And, I’ll be tweeting soon, when I have a strategic reason. Stay tuned @dellasdeck


Tweet Tweet Little Birdy!! Looking at Twitter and Microblogging Applications

With the news yesterday of Twitter it’s pretty impressive how far this application has come in a short time.

I’d have to say upfront I’m a big fan. I’m a regular social media user bordering on a junkie perhaps and I can’t get enough of or say enough good things about Twitter. I love its short succinct messages down to 140 characters and its ability to send out shortened URL’s that allow me to link to all kinds of sites and information on the fly.

Facebook seems to be getting more and more cluttered with the amount of information and applications embedded into it.

Twitter can seem like a complicated mess of messages and missed meanings but it’s actually a powerful tool that it many ways has revolutionized how we communicate.

The “tweet” has become part of our daily dialogue and who really can go through a day without wondering what’ s been happening on Twitter or what a celebrity might have tweeted.

The application itself started as an internal service for employees of the Odeo company. With its first successful public unveiling in 2006 and upgrade to the new Twitter in 2010, It eventually spunoff and became a successful company in its own right and has really never looked back.

Twitter is built on the idea of microblogging, which means that short status updates are sent out through a personal profile. This personal profile is created by a user and resides on a microblogging website such as Twitter. These sites are free and you simply need to create an ID and sign up. You can make your profile private or public. You then simply search for potential people you want to follow or often any company website that you visit will have a twitter icon that will link to that company’s profile.

It seems that virtually anyone is one twitter these days, be it companies or people. The real appeal of micro blogging app such as Twitter is that its easy to get information on the fly. Things happen in real time and with mobile phones now being more prevalent than computers, you can tap into these services whenever you want.  Provided you are plugged in all the time, you will never miss a beat or rather the latest tweet!

Twitter is not the be all and end all of microblogging apps though and is often limited by heavy network usage and the infamous fail whale. Plurk and Jaiku are two others that are available, without perhaps the high profile of Twitter. These sites initially offered some features that Twitter didn’t have and both boast strong usage.

Jaiku started in 2006 and was purchased by Google in 2007. It allows for 100 character messages while Plurk uses 140 character messages.

So there you have it a quick summary and plug for Twitter and microblogging. Whether this trend like many social media trends sticks around long term remains to be seen but for now enjoy it and use it, it may be gone before too long!

Using Social Media to Monitor your Employees Work Activities

Our last two posts have focused on the benefits of how both people and companies can use social media to further their careers and improve their companies. Our third post in our series on social media focuses on whether or not companies should use social media to monitor their employees. In the workplace I have no issue with employers monitoring how I use social media or my online activities. While it’s reasonable and likely many employees use social media and the internet for research and for their daily work use of social media should have its limits.

Employees should also have enough common sense and know how to not visit sites that may make companies feel nervous or get themselves into trouble. Porn sites would be an automatic no as would gambling and file sharing and bit torrent sites.

The Workforce Management site has a great article on guidelines for how companies can treat and manage employees use of social media and online activities. The Workforce site notes that there are 10 commandments that employers can use in the development of a social media policy. While I won’t go into all of them here, there are a few important ones below.

Using your social media policy to set employee boundaries is a key point here “Every employer needs a simply worded social media policy to provide employees with practical guidelines to help prevent unthinking, harmful employee actions. Tell your employees, nicely but firmly, what you expect from them.” Even more important is that consent for monitoring is crucial, but “sell” it to employees. “The only actual question is how an employer can monitor with the least legal exposure so that employee privacy rights are not violated.”

The company you work for may or may not have something in place but it’s likely you’ve signed various employee waiver forms when you started. These will reinforce among employees that you shouldn’t perform certain actions that may violate company policy or may provide for protection against the release of confidential information to customers and competitors. Though companies and corporations can use these social media policies to help guide their employees and protect themselves, they still must follow the laws of the particular company they operate in.

In Canada, it is the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act or PIPEDA that determines how and when employees can be monitored. “The federal PIPEDA law limits the right of employers to collect, use and disclose personal information about their employees.” It applies in many parts of Canada, the privacy protections for employees apply only to employers who are federally regulated.” We are unique in BC though since we have our own personal privacy laws that apply to employees, one of three provinces that does so in Canada.

Our Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) monitors and enforces British Columbia’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) and Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA). These two acts allow for access to information held by public bodies (such as ministries, universities and hospitals) and determines how public bodies may collect, use and disclose personal information. PIPA sets out how private organizations (including businesses, charities, associations and labour organizations) may collect, use and disclose personal information.

In reviewing the PIPA website and searching for specific information related to employee usage monitoring, employee information can be collected for the purposes that are reasonable and need for establishing an employment relationship. In short, if an employer is hiring you for a job, then this is a reasonable use asking you to sign such a waiver or engage in the use of such legislation.

The use then of social media to monitor employees actions while at work seems reasonable as long as it’s done within the prescribed limits set out by the legislation above. Both employees and companies would do well to read and understand the legislation above before either entering into or creating an agreement for their company.

I wasn’t able to determine whether refusal by a potential employee to sign such a contract would result in denial of a position or if an employer has ever been taken to task by a former employee, it seems that with social media being a relatively new phenomena I couldn’t find any examples. I wonder too if studies have been done as to if the use of social media in the workplace has helped or hindered employee productivity. This may make for an interesting future articles. Stay tuned.

Featured image courtesy of Macleans

Using Social Media to Increase Employee Engagement in the Workplace

Depending on where you work, social media may already be a part of the corporate culture or it may not. While you can’t be a pioneer right away, depending on what you do and your relationships with senior managers, you may be able to introduce social media in your office to the benefit of your fellow employees and the company as a whole. Business and companies have to be or should be concerned with ROI on social media and that’s a whole other article in itself, but there are many ways companies and businesses can profit from using social media.

A recent article in the BC Business Magazine Noted how online tools can be a real boon to companies when hiring. We want to focus a little bit more on how companies can use social media to communicate with both their internal and external stakeholders. A key part of any use of social media is that it must have been incorporated into strategic planning considerations by senior management.

For external purposes, Communications and Marketing teams along with any other applicable groups must have incorporated social media into their communication or marketing plans. These plans can guide both an individual section and the company as a whole. Social media should not stand on its own but rather support an organization’s overall goals as it attempts to communicate with its stakeholders or serve its customers.

This can be by a number of means of the various social media tools be it Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other sites such as Digg. The key is that companies must be prepared to engage in two way conversations with people online and they must put a concerted effort into building relationships. It can’t be a case of we’re on social media because everyone else is but rather because they think they can carve out or create a unique niche by using these applications to their advantage.

From an internal standpoint, Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) seemed to embrace the need to use social media technology when it rebuilt its intranet. A February article in BC Business Magazine by Tony Wanless detailed extensively how the company did this. It needed new ways to communicate internally as it grew beyond just Vancouver. Relying on an outdated email-based internal communications structure, Wanless notes that “MEC turned to Vancouver’s OpenRoad Communications, which provided the ThoughtFarmer intranet system based on wiki (or social media) technology.”

MEC followed all the right steps by consulting with staff, many who were younger employees and were hip to social media. Any social media solution should as Wanless notes have “Multi-way delivery and organic communication should mirror social networking sites”. Also, it should provide content relevant that could be shared to create a sense of community.” Once rolled out, the site soon sported a 97 per cent user rate. Users began to post all kinds of information that was useful to fellow staff who may have had questions about company policies and procedures.

I also picked up a great book from my local library called Social Media at Work: How Networking Tools Propel Organizational Performance by Arthur L. Jue. While I won’t go into great detail here, this is an excellent resource for finding out how companies are using social media to build more effective and agile organizations, engage employees, and sustain competitiveness.

Featured image courtesy of Mountain Equipment Co-op

Mind your manners….


You all got those lectures as a kid. Mind your manners at the table, watch your P’s and Q’s,  sit up straight, hold the door open for others. If you had parents like I did then you definitely got lots of guidance on how to conduct proper social etiquette and manners when dealing with others.

With social media becoming a primary means by which we interact with others, its good remember that common things we practice when dealing with others face to face should be practiced online, manners and etiquette then are no exception.

I may sound like a broken record but follow your Facebook News Feed these days or at least mine and I sometimes wonder if etiquette has gone straight out the window. I’m not saying i am offended here or that I’d remove these people as friends but something are better left offline all together. I have always guided myself by the golden rule of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. I apply this to social media as well. Continue reading Mind your manners….

Social Media Takes Centre Stage at Vancouver’s 2011 Stanley Cup Riots

With the bitter taste of the Stanley Cup final lost to the Bruins, Vancouverites are grappling with a bigger disappointment today as thousands of “fans” choose to riot in downtown Vancouver last night following the game. estimates that close to 100 people were arrested by Vancouver Police and that the damage to property has yet to be determined. Continue reading Social Media Takes Centre Stage at Vancouver’s 2011 Stanley Cup Riots

Northern Voice 2011

On Friday May 13th I visited the Northern Voice Conference at UBC as part of my attempt to broaden my horizons in the areas of social media and blogging. Unlucky you might say since it was Friday the 13th but I’d argue it was one the luckiest I’d ever had.

As we are ramping up getting Vancouver Gadgets online, I was interested as to what I could learn from fellow bloggers and social media experts who clearly have more experience than I. However, as someone with a communications background and experience in various forms of website copywriting and development, I knew I wasn’t totally out of the water as I made way into the event. Continue reading Northern Voice 2011