Transparency and Disclosure

I wanted to remind everyone about transparency and disclosure when posting online. If you work for a company, you should disclose your affiliation when posting about the company online. The people participating on social media sites are smart people. If you don’t disclose your affiliations, people will find out, and it won’t reflect favorably on your company if people feel like they have been misled.

Kohl’s V.P. of Digital Marketing, Ed Gawronski, is the most recent example of this faux pas (described by Augie Ray):

Based on his activities in Kohl’s Facebook community, Ed Gawronski seems to be a big fan of Kohl’s. Two weeks ago he noted, “Less then 4 hours to get a great deal at I just hit the jackpot and saved 30% on some ASICS sneaks. Cost me almost nothing.” And a couple days later he had another scoop for Kohl’s Facebook Fans: “make sure to give your email to I think they give you $5 when you give it in. The deals get even better too. I’ve seen special online promotions every week.”

You might think Ed is just a helpful guy and a big supporter of Kohl’s, except a visitor to the Facebook page outed Gawronski as a Kohl’s marketing executive. In a reply to one of Ed’s posts, the anonymous visitor notes, “Interesting. Ed Gawronski is the VP of marketing for Kohl’s. Masquerade much?”

Quoted from Transparency (or Lack Thereof) on Kohl’s Facebook Fan Page in Experience: The Blog

Keep in mind that open, honest and transparent conversations are the norm for most social media sites. Spend some time thinking about your social media / digital strategy, and think about how your actions reflect on your company. When you are thinking about doing something questionable, ask yourself 2 questions:

  • Would I want my mother to know that I did this?
  • Would I be embarrassed if I read about it on the front page of the Wall Street Journal?

If your answers to either of these questions is anything other than yes, you should find another course of action.

Recent Links

Here are a few interesting things from this week that I wanted to share …

Understanding retweeting on Twitter

Word of Mouth (offline) works better than online social media

Twidiots: The Fact and Fiction of Social Media Demographics

Social Media + You – Brand and Reputation Management = Disaster

Care about the Cloud? CloudCamp PDX is for you

My First Five Tips For Writing Better Blog Posts — What Are Yours?

Is Blogging Evolving Into Life Streams?

Three Essential Lessons to Teach Twitter to a 72-Year-Old

9 Ideas To Revive Your Stale Community

You can find all of my links on Delicious.

Community Managers and Bloggers: The Face of Your Company

When you are talking about online communities or social media efforts for a company, you need to think very carefully about who you put in charge. In particular, this applies to community managers, bloggers, and the people running your social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) The people in these positions become the face of your company. You want someone who will do a great job of representing your company and who fits well within your corporate culture. In short, an actual full-time employee of your company.

Earlier this week, I ran across a blog post by Jackie Huba about The Intern Trap where she says:

“Would you let a company intern:

  • Man your customer service line?
  • Be your receptionist?
  • Be your spokesperson to the Wall Street Journal?
  • Be the main contact for your most talkative customers?

If not, then why do companies put, or think of putting, interns in charge of their social media presence?”

Quoted from Church of the Customer Blog

This doesn’t just apply to interns, either. I often see companies put consultants, public relations firms, and other outsiders in these key positions. As a result, the face of the company is someone who isn’t even a company employee.

These conversations come up frequently with clients. In general, I encourage clients to put employees in these key positions rather than putting someone from the outside into a role that has so much visibility. This doesn’t mean that your interns, public relations firms, and consultants can’t be involved, but I prefer to see them helping out behind the scenes rather than being front and center. Have them work on your content roadmap for your social media efforts, find data or quotes for a blog post, or provide feedback and suggestions for making a blog post better. Consultants can provide advice and mentoring for your community manager rather than managing the community themselves.

I also think that there are a few exceptions to this rule, especially when you are dealing with very large companies. In those cases, having someone on a contract basis or as an intern step up to help with some minor community moderation can help during times where you need a little help, but not enough for a full-time employee. Likewise, big companies with dozens of bloggers can bring in someone to write a few posts in their area of expertise as a way to add some additional content under the direction of company employees. In these cases, you are bringing someone in as a supporting role, rather than putting them in a position where they become the face of the company.

I’d love to hear some examples if your company has tried this (successfully or unsuccessfully).

Recent Links

Here are a few interesting things from this week that I wanted to share …

Social Media ROI: Dell’s $3m on Twitter and Four Better Examples

Managing Werewolves

Update on Yahoo! Pipes

Dear Wanna-bes, Your Twitter Stardom is Coming to an End

Trends: Impacts Of The Era of Social Colonization –Every Webpage to be Social

The Key To Developing A Social Media Strategy

What Social Media Isn’t

Wrapping up community management

You can find all of my links on Delicious.

Discount on Monitoring Conversations with Yahoo Pipes Class

It isn’t too late to get the early bird rate plus a 20% discount if you want to attend my upcoming Yahoo Pipes class! Early bird pricing ends on June 18th, so register soon for the best price.

Register and get 20% off with this discount code: fw20

This course will help you find out what people are saying about you and your industry across social media websites using Yahoo Pipes. Your customers are talking about you, and your competitors are revealing information that you want to know. Can you find these conversations quickly and efficiently now?

When: Thursday, June 25, 2009 from 5:00pm – 7:30pm
City: Portland, OR
Location: Big Pink Ground Floor Conference Room, 111 SW 5th Ave, Portland, OR (no remote attendance)
Learn more: Prerequisites, Course Outline and Information


  • Early Bird: $125 ($100 with 20% discount)
  • Late registration: $200
  • Students, freelancers, or unemployed can contact me to attend at a significant discount

Who Should Attend

  • Public relations professionals
  • Marketing managers
  • Brand managers
  • Social media managers
  • Community managers
  • Web Strategists
  • Content managers / bloggers
  • Customer care specialists

Online Community Metrics

This morning, I ran across a list of social media metrics on the Page One PR site, and I realized that I spend quite a bit of time talking to clients about success metrics, but I haven’t spent much time writing about metrics on this blog. In a previous post, I talked about my general guidelines for online community success metrics:

The metrics that you select will depend on your specific goals, but common community metrics include page views or visits, new member sign ups, and participation (new posts or replies). It is easy to go overboard and measure everything; however, I recommend that you pick a couple (no more than 4 or 5) of the most important measurements to use to report to management on your success. You should have an analytics package or reporting tools that allow you to drill down for more details that you can use to help troubleshoot issues and understand the data, but use these as background materials for your team.

In other words, your success metrics are a small number of items that you use to determine success or failure over a period of time. You should measure many other items that you can use as indicators for what works or what doesn’t work, but make sure you separate what you are measuring because it helps you do your job vs. what metrics you are using to determine success.

Now, let’s get more specific. Online community efforts, including social media, can be very difficult to measure. I try to focus success metrics across three areas: awareness, membership, and engagement.


Awareness is focused on getting people to notice your community and visit it to learn more. I typically use a general purpose website analytics package, like Google Analytics, to track visits to the community or page views as my primary measure of awareness.


Membership looks at the people who are paying attention to your community on an ongoing basis. These are the people who take the time to sign up and join the community as members. I usually use the number of new members or the total number of members of the community as the success metric for membership.


Engagement is all about the conversations that people are having in your community and their interactions with other community members. The number of discussions, replies, or comments are typical ways to measure engagement in a community.

While awareness, membership, and engagement are long-term metrics, you should also have success metrics for shorter-term programs that also tie back into your overall community metrics. For example, you will want to keep track of when you do any kind of outreach (online or offline) and watch relevant success metrics for your community both before and after the outreach activity. This additional measurement will help you determine what methods of outreach work best for your community and will determine the success or failure of a shorter-term program.

While the success metrics mentioned above are geared toward online communities, you can use a similar approach for social media efforts. Awareness could include mentions of your company or product name across various social media sites (Twitter, blogs, video, etc.) Membership might include Twitter followers or RSS feed subscribers for your blog. Engagement could include comments on your blog posts and Twitter @replies.

Exactly how you will measure these success metrics depends entirely on your community dynamics, the community platform capabilities, and what activities in the community are the most important for your members. Don’t get too caught up in the examples I’ve listed here. The important part is finding a way to measure all three of these areas: awareness, membership, and engagement. Exactly how you will determine success will probably be a little different for each community.