This week brought a number of interesting stories that will affect nearly anyone who uses a multi-channel distributed marketing approach to sell products or services, regardless of their industry. Here are five of the most interesting:
- NLRB Targets “Facebook Firings” and Social Media Policies — North Carolina law firm Nexsen Pruet publishes a monthly employment law update that always contains interesting information for managers. The July issue looks at several recent cases taken up by the National Labor Relations Board which involve blogging and social media policies. In one case discussed, the NLRB ruled that the common practice of requiring employees to sign a social media policy that includes certain kinds of language was illegal. Specifically, the NLRB cited provisions that prohibit employees from “making disparaging, discriminatory or defamatory comments when discussing the Company or the employee’s supervisors, co-workers and/or competitors” or from “depicting the company in any way on the Internet without the company’s permission.” These provisions, the NLRB said, illegally interfere with employees in their right to engage in protected “concerted activity” — that is to their right to complain or discuss their pay, work environment, and other terms and conditions of employment. The implication? Get legal advice before disciplining an employee for social media activities — and review social media policies to make sure they comply with the NLRB and other legal requirements.
- Crowd-sourced Justice: The New Form of Public Shaming — When a riot broke out in Vancouver, British Columbia after the Stanley Cup playoffs ended with a loss for Canada, the reaction was swift and sure. It’s called “crowd-sourced justice”, and it’s the new way for people to out criminals — or anyone perceived as being “in the wrong.” Not everyone pictured in the photographs of the riot actually participated in the riot — some were innocent bystanders running (literally) for their lives. But after being identified online from pictures taken — mostly by cell phones — some of those caught up in a riot not of their making are now finding it hard to keep their jobs or reputations. Why does that matter to business marketers? Because the same online vigilantes who turn in a rioter today may be quite happy to turn in a rude store clerk or expose the “unfair” terms of a contract tomorrow. The situation in Vancouver is just the latest example of how businesses — accustomed to tight, top-down control of corporate information — will have to adapt to the new world of social media.
- Head-to-head Comparisons of “Social Customer Service” are Becoming Common — We’ve all read the stories about how one airline broke a performer’s guitar, while another charged returning servicemen an excess baggage fee to carry required military gear back from Afghanistan. And the one about how one insurance company denied a claim while another settled promptly. But did you know that there’s now a service that will offer a (public) head to head comparison of YOUR social customer service, based on their ranking of your interactions with customers online? Alterian this week announced a new service that will track and report on how companies handle the public in a range of online forums and media — it’s the newest form of corporate ranking, and has the potential to affect a company’s reputation, valuation, market share, and ability to attract and retain customers and top employees. So far, no word on how a company can affect its ranking, or protest an inaccurate score. Which American corporation has the best social customer service according to the first Alterian customer engagement ranking? Microsoft.
- +1 Wasn’t the Only Google News of the Week: Google Analytics Now Tracks Social Media — Google calls it “social engagement analytics”. What it means is that marketers can now use Google’s Webmaster Tools for “social plug-in tracking” on things like +1s, Tweets, Facebook Likes, Facebook Sends and other social interactions. In the long run, this announcement is likely to affect most marketers more than +1 because it’s integrated with the tools everyone already uses — and it doesn’t require anything new. This is important, especially in regulated industries — and in light of the Alterian announcement (#3 above).
- Social Media Users are Happier — And Spend More, Too — University of Pennsylvania professor Keith Hampton has been monitoring social media users self-reported happiness and spending patterns since 2008, and his new 85-page report shows that those who predicted that social media users would be more isolated, less happy, and less involved in their community were simply wrong. Turns out that social media users are not only more affluent and more likely to buy the brands and services they interact with through social media than people in similar demographic groups who don’t use social media, they’re actually more likely to volunteer, see friends socially (offline) regularly, and say they’re happier in their personal lives and relationships than those who aren’t social media users.
Tha’s the Friday news round-up for this week — have a great Fourth of July weekend!