Why in the World do people use Snapchat?

I had dinner with my nephews the other night and the topic turned (as it usually does with Aunt Karen) to social media. Snapchat came up. I was interested to learn about the “Faceswaps” because I’ve seen some wacky Buzzfeed posts about those lately. I didn’t realize they are a Snapchat thing. They are pretty freaking hilarious.

creepy snapchat face swap
creepy snapchat face swap

They remind me of the “gene machine” creepy face merge photo booth from Dave & Busters.

dave and busters gene machine
dave and busters gene machine

Here’s the primary reasonwhy the “young’uns” are using Snap Chat: “My parents are on Facebook, I don’t want to post anything there.”

And to my protests of “but snap chat disappears” my younger nephew responded:

“I don’t need to save my memories, because I’m not using it to communicate anything important.”

Part of me wonders if this is a phenomenon of the “participant trophy” generation? I’m competitive, I like to see how many “likes” and “shares” I can garner. But I confess that what I tend to post on Facebook is not very real…I tend to gloss over life’s daily disappointments and only post Glamour Shots.

My nephew uses Snapchat the way that my husband and I use text. To send casual comments or images that aren’t “important” enough for Facebook. When I asked how brands make money on Snapchat, my nephews showed me some interested “branded” filters. They both seemed to like the “Batman vs. Superman” filter. From what I could tell, branded filters are the best way to reach the snapchat audience, although there’s also local lists. And wouldn’t you know it, today I saw an article from Ad Age:

To Big Brands, From a Millennial: Snapchat Filters Are Where It's At Three Steps Companies Can Take to Sponsor Snapchat Filters
To Big Brands, From a Millennial: Snapchat Filters Are Where It\’s At Three Steps Companies Can Take to Sponsor Snapchat Filters

And now there’s even another platform that I hadn’t heard of, “Yik Yak” (I’m afraid to Google it since I hear it’s also a fave of child predators…)

Yik Yak is anonymous, so no one even knows it you who is posting. When I asked why this is appealing, my nephew responded “I like that it’s anonymous, there’s no pressure.” I confess I do see the appeal in those creepy Face Swaps, though.

Is Twitter Finally Ready for Its Close-Up?

In this story:
Osama Bin Laden Dead, The Story Twitter Broke we learn that the first person to break the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death was Keith Urbahn (chief of staff for the office of the former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld). He posted it via his @KeithUrbahn Twitter feed 20 minutes before any other source confirmed the story:

But as it turned out, Sohaib Athar, a technology manager at Really Virtual, was liveblogging the raid on Osama without realizing what was going on. Twitter was the only medium to capture the action as it was actually happening.

And all this adds up to what Matt Rosoff describes as “Twitter having its CNN Moment” He says:

Remember CNN when the Gulf War started in 1990? Before then, it was watched mostly by obsessive news followers — people in finance and government, political science professors, insomniacs. Then Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and suddenly CNN was everywhere. Even in bars. That’s what’s going to happen with Twitter after tonight’s announcement that U.S. Special Forces killed Osama Bin Laden…

But, even more importantly, when our parents ask us why Twitter is useful, we’ll now be able to point to this example. Rosoff says it beautifully: “Twitter was faster, more accurate, and more entertaining than any other news source out there.”

Advanced New Media Strategies Conference

I recently attended the “Advanced New Media Strategies Conference” for Federal agencies in Alexandria, VA. There were lots of great Social Media case studies, both internal and external.

Here are my notes from some of the highlights of the conference:

Why Use Social Media?
• To be alerted when the organization is mentioned
• To create a dialogue with the public
• To join the conversation and bring credibility
• To increase workforce engagement and knowledge transfer

With social media you cannot control the conversations, you can only hope to control the effect of the message by staying in the conversation


Last year CDC was actively listening and monitoring to correct misinformation about swine flu. Now, Facebook fans of the CDC page step in to correct misinformation, for example, myths about autism; CDC doesn’t even have to respond.

• Participates on a dozen social networks. 650,000 people have engaged with them online in the past year. They’ve fielded over 45,000 comments on their platforms

Building Developer Community / Open Gov
• FCC.gov/developer: build community around data and people engaging with data. Get feedback from developers.
• They crowdsource the data and enable the API for people to build apps from it. (e.g., app people could download to measure their broadband speed.)
• Opened up rulemaking for enlightenment from the public.
• Publish content into HTML and Blogs instead of PDFs
• Restructure the way the gov. shares information online “measure by participation and impact”

Bureau of the Census used Social Media channels to correct myths and respond to controversy.

is leveraging Social Media for recruiting, targeting a younger audience.

FDA leveraged podcasts, videos and mobile phone apps to share their messages about Tobacco – messaging across as many platforms as possible. (65% of Adults need to hear a message 3-5 times before they believe it)

US Airforce
• Significant presence: 150 Facebook accounts, 90 Twitter accounts, 15 flickr accounts. Decentralized: “let the airmen tell the story for them.”
• They have been engaged so long they’re trying to avoid going into a “Sophomore Slump”
• Social Media Team responsibilities:
o Research (identify the “next Facebook”)
o Reputation Management (monitoring, responding, outreach)
o Assessment: Metrics analysis (helps drive strategy)
• Problem: Executives fear that Social Media poses a security risk and is a waste of time Solution: Counter with education, workshops and conferences

US Navy: Best Practices
• 230,000 Facebook Fans
• “Micro Content” – break existing Web content into pieces
• Custom content created for social networks
• Relevant stories from other sources
• Photo of the week – vote for your favorite photo
• Recognition of individual contributors – highlight on a weekly basis.
• Historical events
• Question of the week
• Status update, updated at least weekly
• “Interviews” with top executives – send them 5 questions and post the answers verbatim
• Need a team approach to publishing (for backup)
• Use google calendar for a content calendar
• Spread news out throughout the day, post in AM then in afternoon.
• Sometimes repeat the same messages.
• Make external social media as personal as possible: people want to be a fan of a person, not an agency (from Steve Ressler of Govloop)

Dept. of Labor: Outreach Ideas

• Sec. of Labor blog, video diaries of travels use Facebook to answer email FAQs in 24 hours: use as a customer service tool to better connect with people
• Embed a Flickr URL in press releases, makes pics available to reporters
• Use a FlipCam to do on-the-spot interviews
• Instead of traveling for speeches: record them and put them on YouTube (a 9-minute video got 13,000 views)
• OpEds: Customized 91 OpEds with a link to the speech, special custom flash page with video, map of OpEds, Radio Shows and Print Interviews
• Create “a day in the life of” video series


Success Stories:

DoD Used and Internal Wiki, “Intellipedia” to develop their social media policy – Someone said “it’s going to take 2 years.” Within 24 hours had 200 subject matter experts collaborating on the document. Within 76 hours had the bulk of the core document finished. After 5 months of reviews the bulk of the core document had not changed.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission had 3900 collective years of experience leaving the agency every year, needed to capture that knowledge – so they started an Internal Social Network. They are #1 best place to work in Federal government.

State Department created an internal collaboration platform
o Foreign service officers move every 2 years — needed institutional knowledge
o 12,500 articles on the internal Wiki
o 45,000 pageviews a week (after 3 years)
o Professional Networking: you can identify expertise and link to your content
o Reverse mentoring with millenials
o Beta group of 300…”invite 10 friends

“NASA@Work” is an internal collaboration tool. When it comes to suggestions about internal business process improvement, they need to plan for resources to move the ideas through the system.

Failures: “If you build it, they may not come”
Air Force built an internal social network but NO ONE IS USING IT — Demonstrates the importance of a community manager.
NASA Spacebook is widely considered to be a failure

Choosing a Platform: Evaluate Culture and Objectives
• If you’re going for “discoverability” and want random people to join the community, then it should be more Web based and agile.
• If you need locked-down documents and version control then you’ll want Sharepoint, which has latency issues for remote users.

GovLoop: Best Practices for Building Community
• Building audience and engagement is very difficult
• “Spend as much on community management as on the technology”

Nortel uses their PR Blog to Discuss Financials

I think it is interesting how more and more companies are turning to their blogs to communicate “serious” financial news.

Nortel’s PR Blogger Weighs in On Negative Financial Coverage
PRWeek (11/17/08) Daniels, Chris

One day after Nortel announced a massive third-quarter loss and layoffs of 1,300 employees, new media manager Bo Gowan listed on his Nov. 11 blog links of news articles that, in his opinion, presented “a little more in-depth analysis and commentary that provided some differentiation [from] the typical straight coverage” regarding Nortel’s quarter financials. The Nortel Buzzword blog was introduced earlier in 2008, and Gowan informed PRWeek that Nortel’s business communications team made a deliberate decision to discuss financials, in spite of heightened concerns about disclosure. He noted that 90 percent of the media coverage regarding Nortel’s third quarter concentrated on the numbers, and, with his recent blog post, explained that the telecommunications firm is offering a service to analysts and other interested entities who are seeking different viewpoints. Traffic to Nortel Buzzword supports Gowan’s point, as the amount of visits to the blog rose to unprecedented high! s recently. “If we are going to have an effective blog and have a conversation with people, you have to have that conversation in good times and bad,” Gowan said. “It is very similar to traditional PR: If you talk in the good times, but say no to interviews in the bad times, you lose a little credibility.” He added that this is much more the case with blogs, because they are “such a conscious stream of information.”

Web Link | Return to Headlines

Help create believers in Social Media!

Help me show how effective social media can be as a recruiting tool! I’ve already spammed my networks on LinkedIn, but now I’m casting a wider net by posting this on my blog. I’d love to raise some eyebrows and impress my colleagues here at VeriSign with the effectiveness of online social networks.

Help me find qualified candidates for these jobs which are in Dulles, VA; Mountain View, CA and New York, NY. I figure that at this point all of us know *someone* who is looking for a job. And, as the self-crowned “social media queen” of VeriSign it behooves me to create a real-world case study for Twitter and Blogging. (full disclosure: I’ll get a referral bonus if someone gets hired – but that’s not what is motivating me here, ok? REALLY!)

Jobs in Mountain View, CA and New York City

Jobs in Dulles, VA

Steal This Social Media Plan!

I recently put together a Social Media Program plan for 2009. My hope was to expand our existing blog program into a larger entity that would coordinate and oversee the social media efforts of our disparate business units. There is a need for proper processes and policies, and especially for education around the “dos and dont’s” of social media. I caught wind of some rogue marketers who plan to spam the blogosphere with their messages. I quickly pinged Amy Paquette of Cisco, who has been a great source of knowledge and advice. She advised that training and education should be a primary focus of any social media program. Well, here is my proposed plan. I’m not sure how well it has served my purposes, so I encourage everyone else to see if there is any value in it for them. Then at least I won’t feel like I have wasted my time.

Company Culture at HP creates an Integrated Social Media Program

Part one of an “interview” with HP’s Tac Anderson

Tac Anderson is a the Web 2.0 Strategic lead for HP’s Imaging and Printing group. HP is one of the brands that I benchmarked for blogging best practices in 2005, so I was curious to find out what they are doing today with social media. Tac has been a student of social media since back in the 90s when we used to call this stuff “Community.” He truly loves his work, saying:

If I wasn’t getting paid to do this, I’d be getting in trouble for doing it too much at work.
– Tac Anderson

Does HP have the Three “Success Indicators” For Social Media?
As I have previously blogged, there are three factors that are present in Enterprise Companies that are successful in the use of social media:
1. A top-down driven approach
2. A robust internal community
3. A company culture that encourages openness and trust.

At HP the hierarchy is flat, with small, empowered work teams and managers who control their own budget. There are 3 business units, Tac works in Imaging and Printing (IPG). Tac’s BU is advanced in their use use of social media, mostly because their executive Vice President was a key driver of Web 2.0 technologies inside HP. So, just like we saw at Cisco, Intel and SAP, there was a top-down driven approach at HP

Tac described a strong internal community at HP, with hundreds of blogs, and an Internal Wiki called “Pligg” (like “Digg.) There are many more social media tools used internally than externally.

The motivated, empowered workforce at HP creates a culture that is conducive to embracing social media. The business units are independent of each other; there is no Corporate Social Media Team. There is a lot of social-media-related activity at HP, but it’s more about integrating Social Media into existing Corporate Communications or product launches.

A Comparison to Dell’s Unified Corporate Approach
It’s critical to understand this company culture if you want to understand HP’s approach to Social Media. It’s different than — for example — Dell, which has a unified approach to marketing and social media. (All the Tweeters use “@Dell” as part of their name.) But let’s remember that at Dell, someone wrote a blank check to get the company out of “Dell Hell.” And Comcast, now the darling of every Social Media presentation, had to do something to erase the memory of the technician sleeping on the couch, didn’t they? Does it really take a major Brand Disaster to get Enterprise companies on the Social Media bandwagon?

How Did Social Media at HP Evolve?
HP’s social media program was originally driven out of marketing, and began with a handful of corporate blogs. HP Communities
Seems to be the “official” HP Community, complete with employee-contributed video that you can vote on, podcasts, a link to the idea lab and to the “Wet Paint” wiki, which is a community for members to show off their creativity. And 50 “official” corporate blogs.

Then there are 60 HP “Employee Business Blogs” that are hosted on HP Platform, written by various business groups. A few executives even have their personal blogs. The number of blogs is growing weekly, recently they launched their first foreign language blog.

But the real jaw dropper is that there are links off to the employee’s PERSONAL blogs. I love this! My legal team would keel over if we tried to do this. But HP’s Legal team was apparently satisfied with the following disclaimer.

How Does HP Mitigate the Risks of Blogging?
1. The HP Blogging Code of Conduct is posted front and center on the Community site.
2. HP has an organization called the “Core Community Council” that reviews blog applications and approves them. But they don’t follow up or monitor the bloggers in any way.
3. Legal advises bloggers on how to protect themselves from risk, but unless it’s an obvious violation, they don’t interfere.

So, in other words, employees are trusted to not act like idiots. As Tac puts it:

“We hire the right people and we let them do their job”
— Tac Anderson

Nicely done, HP. Your unique company culture seems to work pretty well.

Autumn Truong of Cisco: Moving in the Right Direction

There is nothing more encouraging than talking to someone who is doing REALLY cool stuff. I had the good fortune to speak personally with Autumn Truong of Cisco today. We met last year at the SNCR forum in CA. Autumn used to manage the virtual events for Cisco, but now she is in a strategic role where she consults with the business units and Corporate Marketing to educate them about social media.

With any announcement, there is a PR and an AR component. Autumn helps determine what the “social media” version would look like: since that is always different.

Autumn said it’s tough sometimes to think of new tactics, since there are no roamaps and no rule books. She asks herself the following questions before she pursues a mew tactic:

— is what I do going to impact customer behavior / sales transaction?

— what types of opportunities can I jump on that would give me a unique case study?

“Initially, education is always challenging. But once it’s done, and they see results, then next time they are more open to bringing you in.”

For example, she did some great work this summer on the User’s Conference, so the Analyst Relations team came to her for assistance.