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Holtz Communications + Technology | Blog

blogging at the intersection of communication and technology

Published: 2017-02-17T17:21:00+00:00


Friday Wrap #206: Videos get sound, fake news fail, holograms on your phone, UGC beats brand posts


I extract items for the Wrap from my link blog, which you’re welcome to follow. To make sure you never miss an issue, subscribe to my weekly email briefing. Webinar Alert On Thursday I’ll present a webinar on communication to employees about the political sides companies are taking. If you think this won’t be relevant to your company, think again. Organizations are figuring out that they will succeed or fail based on their values. Addressing social change is one of the three big ones that leads customers, investors, and prospective employees to decide they will or won’t do business with you. Imagine if your employees don’t know your leaders are about to speak out on a political issue and half of them don’t agree with the position they take. My webinar will help you get ready to communicate internally about your company’s social change positions. Register News Turn it off!—Silent videos have gotten hot thanks to Facebook autoplay videos default to audio off. That’s about to end. They’ll be playing with audio on soon. The takeaway: Fortunately, you can change the settings, as I suspect a lot of people will do, which means the idea of videos you can watch without sound will still make sense. The trick has always been making the videos effective with or without audio. Read more Fox sorry for fake news campaign—As part of its marketing for the new movie, “A Cure for Wellness,” 20th Century Fox took a page from the 106 U.S. presidential election, creating fake news sites with plausible names like The Salt Lake City Guardian and The Houston Leader, then filled them with partisan headlines for stories about President Trump, mental health, and vaccinations. And, just as in the election, people who didn’t know they were fake shared them on Facebook. Since the movie is about a fake cure that makes people sicker, there was a connection to the idea of fake news, but it nevertheless crossed a line, leading the company to apologize and replace all the content across the fake news sites with clear movie promos. The takeaway: As part of any planning process, communicators and marketers should project into the future, one month after the campaign drops, and ask, “What went wrong?” This simple exercise might have avoided 20th Century Fox and Regency Enterprises some embarrassment. Read more NBA updates social media policy over teams mocking each other—The NBA thinks the semi-good-natured banter between teams via social media has “crossed the line between appropriate and inappropriate.” There was the time, for instance, when the Grizzlies’ Chandler Parsons made a laughably bad shot, leading the Portland Trail Blazers to poke fun at him, sharing a GIF of the whiff on Twitter along with the tweet, “To be fair, the NBA 3-point line is really, really far from the basket,” leading to an exchange of barbed quips. The new rules restrict teams and players from disparaging, belittling or embarrassing an individual opponent or game official; mimicking or impersonating an opponent or game official in a negative manner; and criticizing officiating or the NBA officiating program. The takeaway: Someone please tell me why I shouldn’t find these rules excessive. These teams are opponents and some clever digs just draw fans deeper into the sport. At least the rules aren’t as draconian as the NFL’s. Read more Google and Disney drop YouTube star PewDiePie—Brands have been quick to align themselves with YouTube stars, who are more popular among a certain demographic than TV stars. But PewDie Pie (aka Felix Kjellberg)—one of the highest-earning YouTube stars of all—lost his deals with Disney and Google over a string of videos and posts in which he made anti-Semitic remarks. YouTube has dropped him from its preferred advertising service. The takeaway: As the article notes, this is a cautionary tale for brands pursuing influencers with big followings. They “need to understand what little c[...]

Values Wars: CEO outbursts vs. authentic sustainable engagement


In every decade, a lot of businesses thrive because they can deliver what’s scarce. Scarcity is a fundamental economic concept that examines the gap between limited resources and limitless desires. Customers will beat a path to the doors of companies that can deliver whatever they want that’s in short supply. For the next 10 years, according to business theorist Geoffrey Moore, authentic sustainable engagement will be the most important scarce commodity. The notion of authentic sustainable engagement underlies a new report from Brian Solis, Influencer 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing. (TopRank Marketing and Traackr produced the research for the report.) In the report, Solis argues that influencer marketing needs to evolve into influencer relationship management. “By consistently connecting relevant influencers (and) useful and interesting content in the right places at the right time, brands earn reciprocity, establish trust, and build loyalty,” he writes. In other words, the payoff for authentic sustainable engagement with influencers is bigger than the one-time lift from a paid post on Instagram or a short-term influencer campaign. The principle of authentic sustained engagement isn’t limited to influencer marketing or customer relationship management. Among the vast array of business practices where it fits, leaders should think long and hard about applying the concept to their company values. The next few years will see a marked increase of companies getting serious about their values. We know from a mountain of research that climate change is the top concern of Millennials, making sustainability a critical value. The Edelman Trust Barometer has been warning us for a couple years that rebuilding trust (currently at depressing lows) means treating employees well and devoting company resources to advancing social change. Recent days have seen a headlong rush by a cadre of CEOs into social change. It started as a trickle, with a few leaders going public with their opposition to some state legislation that would legalize discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community. Since the beginning of the nascent presidency of Donald Trump, though, leaders have been tripping over themselves to take stands against administration policies. Seeing the surging value of companies Trump has attacked, some have even started to crave being called out in a presidential tweet. Their motivations (as well as those of some conservative leaders who have spoken out in favor of Trump policies) are laudable. They may also be misguided. In a recent post, a master of ethically-challenged marketing practices worries that alt-right leaders are using his playbook. Ryan Holiday, author of “Trust Me, I’m Lying,” explains… Most brands and personalities try to appeal to a wide swath of the population. Niche players and polarizing personalities are only ever going to be interesting to a small subgroup. While this might seem like a disadvantage, it’s actually a huge opportunity: Because it allows them to leverage the dismissals, anger, mockery, and contempt of the population at large as proof of their credibility. Someone like Milo (Yiannopoulos) or Mike Cernovich doesn’t care that you hate them—they like it. It’s proof to their followers that they are doing something subversive and meaningful. It gives their followers something to talk about. It imbues the whole movement with a sense of urgency and action—it creates purpose and meaning. It’s easy enough to sympathize with the urge CEOs feel to speak out about polarizing policies they believe are contrary to their values. Like a paid Instagram post that Kim Kardashian, holding a bottle of skin care cream, shares with her 40 million-plus followers, these appearances on the political scene are short-term. Truly demonstrating a company’s commitment to social change requires authentic sustainable engagement. Proclaiming your anger or disappointment in a policy is fine (u[...]

FIR Podcast #74: Influencer Marketing or Influencer Relationships?


Cross-posted from the FIR Podcast Network Note: This episode continues our experiment with a streamlined format: two guest co-hosts instead of three panelists and fewer stories. We were able to shave even more time off the show this week and will aim for further slimming next week. Please let us know how you like the format — and the length — by sending an email to Shonali Burke and Angus Nelson join Shel Holtz for this week’s episode, which covered these stories… A report from TopRank Marketing, Traackr, and Brian Solis presents some influencer marketing data and recommends evolving the practice for one-shot, quick-hit marketing efforts to longer-term influencer relationship building. One story Angus shared predicts the future of work will be all about freelancers and companies tapping into vastly distributed talent pools. Another opines that Human Resources will be pivotal in the future to ensure companies take advantage of the uniquely human elements of their employees. Are these ideas mutually exclusive? Dan York reports on a new report out of the Pew Internet Center about algorithms. The primary benefit of Artifical Intelligence is to make predictions — something that has been expensive — abundant and cheap. The value of people is in exercising judgment. This will represent a massive shift in the nature of work that people do. Are organizations taking adequate steps to prepare employees and other stakeholders for this change? Ryan Holiday created the roadmap for effective unethical marketing practices. Now he’s worried that the alt-right has adopted his playbook. CEOs who are quick to condemn laws and policies may be playing right into their hands. Connect with our panelists on Twitter at @shonalii and @AngusNels9on. Links to the source material for this episode are on Contentle. Special thanks to Jay Moonah for the opening and closing music. FIR is recorded using Zencastr. About today’s co-hosts: A veteran of small and large PR agencies, Shonali Burke is the award-winning president & CEO of her eponymous social PR consulting firm, Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc., where she and her team(s) help for- and non-profit organizations small and large reach business goals by taking their communications “from corporate codswallop to community cool.” Shonali also serves on the Adjunct Faculty at Johns Hopkins University in its M.A. /Communication program, as well as the Rutgers University School of Communication and Information.  Before launching her own consultancy, Shonali worked as Vice President of Digital Media and marketing for MSL Group, and as Vice President of Media and Communications for the ASPCA. Angus Nelson is the “people guy” at Brain+Trust Partners, an engaging consultant, facilitator, speaker, and executive coach. Former head of Member Success at Crowd Companies, he and Jeremiah Owyang founded an innovation community of Fortune 1000 companies – his focus on the p2p economy and future of work. He’s spoken at corporate headquarters for Walmart, Whole Foods, Coke, Adobe, Hallmark and Swisscom. His podcast, “Up In Your Business”, was recognized as a Top 20 Business Podcast on He’s been featured in,, Huffington Post, VentureBeat, and Later this year, Morgan James will release his book, “Empowering Work” addressing the gigification of corporate roles, freelance economy,  and the needy for emotional intelligence in the future of work. [...]

Friday Wrap #205: Twitter tackles trolls, Flipboard gets personal, everyone’s using Stories


I extract items for the Wrap from my link blog, which you’re welcome to follow. To make sure you never miss an issue, subscribe to my weekly email briefing. Webinar Alert This edition of the Wrap features a new category—The Values-Driven Marketplace—which reflects the meteoric rise of corporate activism and values-driven marketing. I wholeheartedly embrace this trend—I’ve been promoting it for years—but I worry that companies are launching into it without preparing their employees. When an automaker’s CEO says he opposes the travel ban, does he know how many employees working on the factory floor feel differently? How many employees will suddenly switch from being engaged to being actively disengaged? How many will seek employment with companies whose values are more closely aligned with their own? My webinar, set for noon ET on Thursday, February 23, will provide you with a roadmap for addressing employees as your company becomes a values-driven organization (which it will, even if it hasn’t yet). Details and registration News Met makes 375,000 copyright-free images available—Three great big cheers for New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which has released 375,000 images of works from its collection which you can use with no restrictions. The images are all of art in the U.S. public domain. Images include works by Rembrandt, Veneer, and Degas, “but the real treasures are the Met’s photographs of objects and relics from ages past.” The takeaway: In addition to providing me with a new source of images, this is a brilliant way to expose the museum’s collection to more people and make more people aware of the treasures on view at the museum. That is, people using the art will also be marketing the museum. Read more Twitter takes a big step to shutting down trolls—Twitter announced in a blog post that it will take steps to identify abusive users and block them from creating new accounts and hide offensive tweets more effectively.  The takeaway: While this move comes years after it should have, I genuinely hope it works. The abusive content on twitter is one big reason so many people either stay away from it or leave after they’ve joined, and few brands want their promoted posts and ads to be in the same proximity as hate-filled messaging. Read more Apple is no longer the world’s most valuable brand—That distinction now goes to Google, according to Brand Finance’s Global 500 2017 report. Apple falls to the number two spot, followed by Amazon, AT&T, and Microsoft. The takeaway: One reason for the slip is Apple’s failure to maintain its grip on some tech-focused consumers. The Apple Watch has been a yawner of a product and the latest iterations of iPhones have been incremental with no big, exciting new features. With reports that the next iPhone will be a radical departure from previous models, we’ll have to see if Apple can retake the lead in 2018. Read more Ford uses Facebook Live to unveil a new car—Ford Motor Company has a reputation for launching cars in unconventional venues. A few years back, eschewing the traditional Detroit Auto Show for the launch of a new car, it instead launched on a Facebook Page. Now, the new Expedition has seen its launch take place via Facebook Live. The takeaway: A Ford marketing manager said the vehicle doesn’t lend itself well to TV advertising, which may explain the decision to attract attention with a live-streamed event. Whether the Facebook Live unveiling succeeds, it’ll surely inspire others to launch products in a similar fashion. Read more AMP adds source links—The Google-led Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) language now lets users share source links. Until now, you could only share Google’s own links, part of the effort to speed up content retrieval on mobile devices. But soon you’ll start seeing an “anchor button” [...]

Is your company overlooking employees as it goes political?


NOTE; WEBINAR REGISTRATION DETAILS AT THE END OF THIS POST What was it like on the Budweiser brewery floor the day after the Super Bowl? Did Audi workers eye one with suspicion, wondering where they stood on the equal pay issue? Corporate activism is on the rise. Consider just a few examples: Business coalitions are rising up in Southern states to oppose legislation that would allow discrimination based on gender identity or force transgender people to use the bathroom associated with the gender on their birth certificates. Among the companies lending support to these advocacy groups are the likes of Delta Airlines, International Paper, and Marriott International. More than 125 tech companies filed a joint court brief supporting a lawsuit to stop President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. Individual CEOs are speaking out against Administration policies, including the leaders of American Airlines, Lyft, Apple, Ford Motor Company, Facebook, and even Koch Industries. Starbucks is facing backlash from CEO Howard Schultz’s plan to hire thousands of refugees at its locations around the world over the next few years; opponents have threatened a boycott and other actions. Meanwhile, a boycott is already underway targeting Budweiser over Anheuser Busch’s Super Bowl commercial imagining Adolphus Busch’s immigration to America. Media from The New York Times and the Drum to the Harvard Business Review and are reporting on the phenomenon. In a recent post, Edelman Global Strategy Director David Armano wrote, “Advertising and brand storytelling often reflects the culture, trends and increasingly the societal issues of the day. But in bringing the three together it also presents a tall order for today’s brands who will likely hit the target with some and totally miss with others.” But brands that aren’t relevant in our lives, he notes, are brands in decline. Crowd Companies founder Jeremiah Owyang was more blunt: “Companies have no choice to consider their political bent,” he wrote; “not just behind closed doors, but now in public.” How many companies that are becoming political brands have considered their own employees in their equations? It’s one thing for the corporate values statement yellowing on the wall where it has been tacked for years to proclaim the company’s commitment to diversity. It’s another for religious, conservative-minded employees to read about their employer’s support for transgender rights in reporting being shared across social media. It doesn’t take much to imagine the pressure they feel when friends from their church challenge them about their employer’s position. It’s equally easy to imagine lines drawn among employees based on whether they support or oppose their company’s advocacy. Deep divisiveness can erupt among staff who work side-by-side making old union-management conflicts look like a case study in civility. And what of employees who have joined employee advocacy groups thinking they would just help the company promote its products and employer brand? Are they expected to attract the attention of trolls by taking up the cause? After all, how many companies actually hire to their values? As companies become “political brands”—something most will feel compelled to do—employee communications and Human Resources departments will need to take steps to maintain engagement and harmony in the workplace. I haven’t yet read a single post on how to approach the issue, either reactively as employees come to grips with their companies’ public positions on controversial political and social causes or proactively so current staff and new hires know what to expect from their leadership. _________________In my February webinar—at noon EST on Thursday, Feb[...]

FIR Podcast #73: One Crisis After Another


Cross-posted from the FIR Podcast Network Note: This episode is the first of several that experiments with a streamlined format: two guest co-hosts instead of three panelists and fewer stories. The goal is to slim FIR down to a more listenable length. This first effort shaved more than 30 minutes off the usual length and next week we hope to reduce even more. Please let us know how you like the format — and the length by sending an email to Christopher Carfi and Serena Ehrlich join Shel Holtz for this week’s episode, which covered these stories… At least three Super Bowl commercials were forthright in addressing issues that are controversial in the early days of the Trump Administration and the increasingly polarized political atmosphere President Trump was referenced in 32 of the S&P 500 quarterly earnings calls in January, 20% more than President Obama was in 2009. Do Investor Relations professionals need to factor the president into their planning? Not too long ago, some columnists and analysts predicted Volkswagen might not survive its emissions-fraud scandal. Today, they are the world’s top automaker. How did crisis communication help save the company? of Snapcodes that let users open your company website Hundreds of thousands of people deleted Uber’s app from their phones during the three days the #DeleteUber hashtag trended. What did Uber do wrong? Connect with our panelists on Twitter at @ccarfi and @serena. Links to the source material for this episode are on Contentle. Special thanks to Jay Moonah for the opening and closing music. FIR is recorded using Zencastr. About today’s co-hosts: Christopher Carfi is GoDaddy’s Director of Content Marketing, and leads the team responsible for GoDaddy’s global content marketing strategy and its execution. A veteran of both startups and the enterprise, Chris also has a deep track record in developing customer community and evangelist programs for brands such as Adobe, H&R Block and Aruba Networks while holding executive positions at Ant’s Eye View and Edelman Digital, and he was co-founder and CEO at Cerado. He currently lives in the Bay Area with his family. Chris holds a degree in Computer Science from Northwestern University and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University. Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media, provides guidance for internal and external content creation and distribution services, ranging from PR programming to mobile marketing to social media updates. Throughout her career Ehrlich has worked to provide guidance on investor relations, public relations and overall consumer behavior relations trends. Before rejoining Business Wire in 2013, Ehrlich designed and implemented successful local, national and international social, influencer, mobile and traditional marketing campaigns for brands including Kraft, Kohls, Avon, Mattel, Mogreet and more. A ’91 graduate of Brandeis University with a B.A. in History, Ehrlich was named one of the 2013 Top 25 Women in Mobile to Watch by Mobile Marketer. [...]

Friday Wrap #204: VW rebounds, Serial is back, NYT makes Snapchat move, blowback for Starbucks


I extract items for the Wrap from my link blog, which you’re welcome to follow. To make sure you never miss an issue, subscribe to my weekly email briefing. News Volkswagen’s crisis response apparently paid off—Volkswagen has ousted Toyota as the world’s top carmaker. That’s remarkable, given that it wasn’t all that long ago some were predicting it wouldn’t even survive its emissions scandal. Despite some serious missteps at first, the company employed a “ruthlessly efficient PR strategy” to repair the brand image worldwide. Some reports also attribute VW’s repaired image to the simple fact that fading media coverage led to less consideration of the scandal. The takeaway: The truth probably lies somewhere in between, but you can expect to read case studies soon about how VW was able to pull a JetBlue-like turnaround based on a smart crisis communication program. Read more You’ll be able to binge-listen to season 3 of Serial—Serial is returning to its roots for season 3—a true crime story—and unlike the previous two seasons, every episode of the season will be available rather than making you wait a week for each new installment. The season, titled “S-Town,” debuts in March and focuses on the son of a wealthy Alabama family who reportedly bragged he had gotten away with murder. The takeaway: For limited podcast series like Serial, we should see more of a Netflix approach with all episodes available at the same time for bingeing. There’s no reason people shouldn’t flock to all-at-once episodes of podcasts the way they do the full season of “House of Cards” or “Orange is the New Black.” Read more Reddit bans white nationalist subreddits—Reddit has banned two of the more prominent white nationalist subreddits—r/altright and r/alternativeright—over doxxing, the practice of sharing personal information of people (home address and phone number, for instance) online without their authorization, usually so others can harass them. The takeaway: Offenses must be pretty egregious for Reddit, a bastion of free speech, to ban a group. Consider it fair warning to other groups that engage in unacceptable behavior. It’s also a reminder to be sure to familiarize yourself with the terms of service of any network you use. Read more Lego launches a safe social network for kids—Lego Life is an app for iOS and Android for kids under 13 to share photos of their Lego projects, watch animated videos, and compete in building challenges. To keep the network safe, Lego is building anti-harassment tools into the platform. No real-life names are permitted, only photos with Lego-related content is allowed (no people can appear in the pics), comments are permissible only via emoji, and parents must confirm their children’s accounts. Human moderators approve every post. The takeaway: Ultimately, the goal of Lego Life is to get kids to put the phone down and go build, but it sounds like a lot of thought went into the network to make it nothing but a positive experience. Read more You’ll soon be able to watch Facebook videos on your TV—Facebook is developing an app for TV set-top boxes like the Roku and the poorly performing Apple TV designed for watching videos on the big screen. The move is consistent with its new focus on longer-form video and the popularity of Facebook Live. The takeaway: The move also reinforces the idea that Facebook is aiming to become a video-first company. Read more New York Times publishing to Snapchat Discover—The Gray Lady is looking for a younger audience. Snapchat is most popular with the under-35 set that prefers to get its news in a more visual format via mobile devices. The takeaway: The Times is a great example of an organization adapting to changes in channels and format[...]

FIR Podcast #72: Corporations Take Sides


Cross-posted from the FIR Podcast Network Kelly Hoey, Andrea Weckerle, and Lynette Young were on the panel this week, reacting to the non-stop torrent of news from the White House and how business has responded, along with other communication-focused updates, including… The range of corporate reactions to the presidential order implementing a temporary ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 press conference, which some believe raised the bar for corporate apologies The Public Relations Society of America’s statement on “alternative facts” and a call for public relations professionals to uphold the standards articulated in PRSA’s code of ethics David Murray’s assertion that public relations professionals are in the unusual position, if we play our cards right, of being the most credible people with the best ability to wield influence Another view from Bill Sledzik that PR needs to turn the corner from advocacy to “responsible advocacy,” putting public interest and social responsibility ahead of, or at least on par with, client interest Snapchat’s announcement about how it intends to minimize fake news in its Discover section The new surge of rogue Twitter accounts in the wake of the Administration’s restrictions on agencies speaking with the public and the new trust issues they raise The use of Trump attacks as a marketing hook by everyone from PRSA to Dippin’ Dots A survey of B2B marketers found original research the most effective form of content marketing Nearly 20% of all online media consumed is influencer content; does this make content marketing more imperative for companies? Connect with our panelists on Twitter at @jkhoey, @aweckerle, and @lynetteradio. Connect with our panelists on Twitter at @crescenzo, @podcaststeve, and @jenmclure_JEM. Links to the source material for this episode are on Contentle. Special thanks to Jay Moonah for the opening and closing music. FIR is recorded using Zencastr. About today’s panel: Author and investor Kelly Hoey is a networking expert whose new book Build Your Dream Network is to be released in January 2017 by Tarcher Perigee. Kelly has reinvented her career from corporate lawyer to influencer, author and investor. In addition to her portfolio of angel investments (Levo League, Hullabalu, Smigin, CloudPeeps,, she is a LP in Laconia Capital Group. Kelly advises several emerging company initiatives (NZTE and CTA) and is an adjunct professor at LIM College in New York City. In addition to her professional pursuits, Kelly is the Chief Tech Ambassador for the YWCA of NYC’s Girls Geek Club. As a connector, and networking expert, Kelly has been lauded from Forbes (“1 of 5 Women Changing the World of VC/Entrepreneurship”) to Fast Company (“25 Smartest Women On Twitter”). She has a column on, blogs on (as well as Medium and and tweets frequently. Kelly has appeared as an investor panelist on CNBC’s Power Pitch and is the host of the BroadMic podcast. Andrea Weckerle founded and leads CiviliNation, a nonprofit organization taking a stand against online harassment, character assassination and violence. Its focus is on advancing the full capability of individuals to communicate and engage in cyberspace in a responsible and accountable way. She is the author of the book Civility in the Digital Age: How Companies and People Can Triumph over Haters, Trolls, Bullies, and Other Jerks. In addition to a JD, she holds an MA in Public Relations/Conflict Analysis and Resolution. Lynette Young is co-founder and Director of Marketing at ClaimWizard, a software-as-a-service workflow management system for the public adjuster industry. She is a marketing technology strategist and published author with focus on digital marketing and implementation services. With ov[...]

Friday Wrap #203: PRSA blasts “alternative facts,” Samsung sets a new crisis standard, audio surges


I extract items for the Wrap from my link blog, which you’re welcome to follow. To make sure you never miss an issue, subscribe to my weekly email briefing. News PRSA officially slams “alternative facts”—Good for PRSA (of which I am a member) for its official statement rebuking the White House for making false statements and labeling them “alternative facts.” The Public Relations Society of America issued a statement arguing that the behavior reflects badly on all communication professionals. President Jane Dvorak wrote, “PRSA strongly objects to any effort to deliberately misrepresent information. Honest, ethical professionals never spin, mislead or alter facts. We applaud our colleagues and professional journalists who work hard to find and report the truth.” The takeaway: It’s not like PR isn’t already saddled with the perception that we spin facts and promote lies on behalf of clients. We are on a long road toward the rehabilitation of our image, and the behavior of the press secretary and other members of the administration aren’t helping. It is important that we stand up for ethical behavior. I am also dismayed that we have not seen a similar statement from IABC. Read more Samsung’s Note 7 apology hits all the right notes—Samsung has earned universal praise for its comprehensive (if tardy) report on the causes behind the exploding Galaxy Note 7 smartphones. The press conference covering the phone’s flaws “was apologetic and thorough, with a level of disclosure clearly meant to close the book on a very chapter of company history,” writes Engadget’s Chris Velazco. “Over time, though, expect to see the narrative surrounding the company change. Samsung won’t just be the company that made exploding phones; it will be the company that made exploding phones but embarked on the road of redemption and still made shareholders loads of money along the way.” The takeaway: Candor and transparency are the new currency of crisis communication (not to mention day-to-day behavior) in business. Samsung’s example demonstrates that it pays off. Pay attention to this when your lawyers try to shut down a comprehensive explanation of a failure. Read more Stories come to Facebook’s mobile app—Snapchat grew its user base in large part on the strength of its Stories concept. A lot of those users abandoned Snapchat for the more familiar Instagram when Instagram copied the concept. Now Instagram’s owner—buoyed by the success of Stories—is bringing a Stories-like feature to the Facebook mobile app. Facebook Stories is undergoing a test now in Ireland but will roll out more broadly within the next few months. The takeaway: Facebook insists adoption of Facebook Stories is meant to ease the path to sharing photos and videos, but it is also clearly a shot across Snapchat’s bow. Read more Slack to launch a big-business version—Slack for Enterprise will be launched next week as the $3.8 billion company seeks to take on competitive threats from Facebook and Microsoft. The takeaway: An enterprise version may make it easier for companies to migrate from organically-built Slack networks to something more universal within the organization. I love Slack but I would be more inclined to recommend Facebook Workplace based on the testimonials I have heard from companies using it. There’s not much room for more competitors in this space. Read more Journalists join Slack group on FOIA and Trump—Here’s a use case the folks at Slack may not have anticipated. More than 1,500 journalists have signed onto a Slack Channel designed to help them better cover President Donald Trump and his administration. Among the uses to which it’s being put: getting assistan[...]

What does it take to get employees to keep coming back to your communication app?


A lot of employee advocacy programs rely on apps that deliver content for employees to share. It’s a reasonable premise: These apps make it easy for employee ambassadors to find and share content they think their online communities will find interesting. There’s a problem with this premise, however. If the app itself isn’t engaging, employees won’t make a habit of opening it. Coming back to an app over and over again is called “retention.” In the app world, retention is a critical issue. Research has shown, for example, that for all the apps people install, they generally only use five apps with any degree of frequency. Another study found that half of smartphone users these days install zero apps in any given month. It’s a mistake to assume an employee will routinely use an advocacy app just because she has volunteered to participate in a program. It’s also a mistake to define advocacy as nothing more than sharing items the company shares through an app. In fact, employees can advocate on behalf of their companies in all kinds of ways, including face-to-face conversation and answers to questions posed by people who know where they work. Employees are now your most credible spokespeople That kind of advocacy is vital these days. The just-released 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed a precipitous decline in trust. However, front-line employees remain highly credible compared to other sources of company information. Speaking at the World Economic Forum, Edelman CEO Richard Edelman said companies need to focus on their employees instead of investors if they want to win back trust. “Influence actually rests with mid-level people, who speak peer-to-peer,” he said. “If they’re for you, you win.” A critical element in the effort to makes sure your employees are “for you” is to keep them informed of news and information that is relevant to them and their work. Employees are more likely to advocate on their employer’s behalf —to be “for you”—when you provide a simple and convenient way to keep them informed, especially about issues and activities that affect their team and their work—and when they see the organization acting in ways that make them proud to work there. SocialChorus is building a platform for employee communications that delivers relevant, timely information to employees across complex organizations with diverse workforces. An app is part of that, but because the content is visually compelling, accessible the same way employees get information from popular news apps, and is tailored to their information needs, it engages them. Engagement leads to that coveted retention. And, based on data provided by SocialChorus, retention leads to higher levels of advocacy even if advocacy isn’t the core purpose of the program. What’s more, an app or digital tool needs to engage more than just the small group of socially-savvy employees who are already inclined to use an app and share whatever the company sends them. Interesting, relevant communications drives retention Thanks to SocialChorus digging into the data from its customers, including some of the biggest brands in the world, I learned… Employees using communication apps return twice as frequently as those using social-focused apps (like advocacy-focused tools); that is, communication programs have twice the engaged usage rates as social programs Programs designed for communication and engagement retain employees 70-80% better than tools designed to promote social sharing over the first 90 days an employee uses the app. Programs that retain employees for 90 days or more share 300% more than employees using apps that don’t produce strong retention. Those retained employees account for 65% of an app’s sharing activity. Employees who have the information t[...]