Educating Our Kids to be Responsible Digital Citizens

Generations kids parents social media technologySometimes it seems hard to remember a world without digital anything. It has changed business models, communication paradigms and how we need to think about what it means to be a digital and global citizen. Technology has shifted the way we shop, pay bills, save money, consume media, get cash, travel, advertise, manage workflows, store information and even how we want to be remembered.

According to the Ad Age Mobile Fact Pack 2013, the average adult in the United States spends an average of 141 minutes per day using mobile devices. Despite that, the good news is that the changes are teaching us how to stay connected to our families. According to Pew Internet, since 1965, fathers have tripled the amount of time spent with their kids. Even mothers spend more time now with their children than they did in 1960Despite loads of information at our fingertips, we still don’t have all of the answers, and perhaps there is some redemption in that.

In presentations when I speak to people about what it means to remain relevant in a digital world that continues to expand, there are still so many people who feel overwhelmed.  There are arguments on all sides about topics like transparency, being politically correct, when to take calls, check email and how to behave in public when talking on mobile devices, etc. Read more of this post

Growing #OWNers Social @ Oprah Winfrey Network on Twitter

Wall page Kakie OWN

#IAmAnOwner and this weekend, I have been invited by The Oprah Winfrey Network to be a social media moderator for their @OWNers Twitter account during programming. I had a few people ask me what that means and if I would explain it here. So here are the details and how you can participate.

During the shows listed below, viewers use a #Hashtag to have live conversations about what is heard or seen, that resonates, surprises or inspires as a result of the programmingPeople re-tweet comments made by others, or share insights, ask questions and respond to comments.

Who are #OWNers? Viewers who believe in the vision of The Oprah Winfrey Network and it’s movement, which is about inspiring people to celebrate, learn, grow and be empowered to live their best lives by sharing what they are learning with others.

I’ve watched the network’s social media efforts unfold since it first aired and was immediately drawn to how they were engaging viewers.  This effort, their “Twitter Takeover” initiative is a great way to organically grow a network while demonstrating the core of what social media is really about. Conversation. I hope you will join us. Below is the schedule and related hashtags and how to participate.

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Extraordinary Singular Sensation | The Daily Prompt

If one experience or life change results from you writing your blog, what would you like it to be?GraduationPostblog

The connection that sparks meaningful conversation and reaches the masses. Dialogue that results in personal, professional and spiritual growth, paradigm shifts, reflection, healing, laughter, joy, and friendships.

Relevant discussions about alternative perspectives that are rich, thought-provoking and insightful.

I have served as a speaker and presenter about different topics. I have been writing for years in a number of formats. I believe at my core, that there is something in my experiences that are supposed to move and touch the lives of many people. It just hasn’t revealed itself yet. But I have faith that something greater is in store because we all have a story to tell. So what is yours? Please comment below!

This post was inspired by The Daily Prompt

Commentary: Best Buy Keynote Scott Durchslag at MN High Tech Association Spring Conference

MHTA Spring Conf 2013 KeyNote Scott Durchslag SVP Digital and Mktg, Pres .comI have always been an early adopter when it comes to media and technology and early in my career spent 4 years working at Best Buy. So it was exciting to attend the Minnesota High Tech Association Annual Spring Conference to hear Keynote speaker Scott Durchslag, SVP of Digital and Marketing and President of and e-commerce. Despite the company’s challenges in the past year, they have had a lot of exciting things going on.

Last November we published an academic paper called Best Buy Strategic Management Analysis as part of the Executive MBA Program at The University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business. (I’ll be Graduating in May). Being a person who loves the process of discovery and learning, it was fascinating to uncover companies and brands they own, observe how the Board of Directors and Dick Schulz, the founder and former CEO interacted as he was making attempts to buy back the company.

It was intriguing to learn what has evolved over the past few months and hear how everything is unfolding. Best Buy has a new initiative called Renew Blue which was presented at their shareholder meeting in November. Based on MBA learning, and the information Durchslag presented, it felt like they are facing a revolutionary change which is a rare, dramatic transformation that shifts mindsets and culture in the business.

I have a unique background that blends Marketing, Social Media, Digital and Project Management (IT and Business), so it wasn’t much of a surprise to see that early the same morning a press release was posted saying “Best Buy to Sell its Stake in European Business to Carphone Warehouse.” I understand why they did it and think leadership made a good call based on the research done in the assessment we published. Best Buy is using a mindset of “Test, innovate and learn” which is good because it encourages people to take a risk and become part of creating a new culture. And Innovation is more important now than ever, so it is definitely going to remain on my radar.

I would love to hear your thoughts! Please share below.

# The Hashtag, Innovation and Social Learning

Answer to What is a HashtagThe innovative #Hashtag started on Twitter and is now being used across multiple social media platforms. I have seen people asking about it on Facebook and thought this might be helpful.

#Hashtag defined: A word proceeded with the [ # ] symbol, which is used as a keyword or topic in a Tweet. It helps categorize words or phrases so users can follow a stream. It can also be used to search for others who use the same hashtags.

Information about using #hashtags on Twitter:

  • The symbol [ # ] before a keyword or phrase, with no spaces. These hashtags are then categorized, which makes them easier to find in the search function.
  • Click on a #hashtag word in any message and you will see the most recent tweets using that hashtag.
  • Hashtags can be included within the 140 space limit (Best practice only 2-3 hashtags per tweet.)
  • Hashtag words become popular & can be Trending Topics.
  • Hashtags are also used at conferences, on live video streams or at a large presentation during Q&A.
  • Some groups facilitate moderated conversation at set times, using hashtags to discuss topics of interest or share best practices.
  • If another tweeter searches for a hashtag you have listed, they may follow you!

Live Stream example: Every Sunday the Oprah Winfrey Network ( @OWNTV ) channel has a program called #SuperSoulSunday and viewers can go to then enter the hashtag to see what everyone is talking about in real-time. Below is a response I received from the OWN Network.

If you have any other tips, please share them below!!

Hashtag Response from OWN

Transparency And the Journey to Truth

Transparency, it’s an interesting concept. How much about ourselves and our lives should we share online, in public, with another human being, and as leaders?

The truth is there is no answer because it is a decision we must seek individually. The most important person in the world that we ought to be transparent with, is ourselves.

Recently I found myself re-watching the movie; “Eat, Pray, Love,”  based on the book by Elizabeth Gilbert and there is a quote in the movie that rings true for all of us.

It discusses how the Physics of the Quest is a force in nature governed by laws as real as the laws of gravity and it goes something like this:

If you’re brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting, which can be anything from your house to bitter, old resentments, and set out on a truth-seeking journey, either externally or internally, and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher and if you are prepared, most of all, to face and forgive some very difficult realities about yourself, then the truth will not be withheld from you.

So what are your thoughts and feelings about transparency online? I really want to hear from you so please, share below what this means for you and let’s talk!

Day 13: Excercise Freedom of Expression Today: #Hoodiesup Movement

21 days to happiness: My story and 3 things I am thankful for:

Today the NAACP, Move-On.Org and Changeforcolor.Org have teamed up to declare social media #Millionhoodies #Hoodiesup day, an online demonstration to encourage people in to post a million pictures wearing a hoodie to honor  Trayvon Martin, the unarmed Florida teen killed by a neighborhood watch man George Zimmerman, after he was told by a 911 operator, to stop following Trayvon.

The dialogue in the media and online is controversial. Some have mistakenly categorized Trayvon’s death as an issue about black and white, but I assure you it has to do with far more. This tragic event, for many people in this country, is about perception, bias, race, judgement, assumptions, our history as a country, a flawed legal system, the media and more.

In 1983, one of my best friends was brutally murdered and her killer served just 5 years. It left us all asking; “Why?” So  many years later I think of her regularly and the death of Trayvon Martin last month has stirred emotions for me as a result of that loss. But also because I am a parent of a kid just like Trayvon. Yes, I will repeat. I am a parent of a child just like Trayvon.

Think about that for a minute and let it soak in and then put yourself in my shoes for just ten seconds. I must have productive and honest conversations about the ugly realities of race and judgement with my son because of the color of his skin and I want him to embrace all facets of his multiculturalism.  I also think it is important he is aware that there are some people who are not color-blind and there are logical arguments that the best approach is to have dialogue about it. The sad and ugly truth is that in our country social and racial injustice happen every day.

Think about the sound of anxiety in your child’s voice when an issue about race suddenly becomes real for them. And then at another time, how would you respond when your child shares fear of getting shot because of their skin color and what they have seen in the media?

I reach out to communities who understand my reality. They provide insight about having these conversations regarding perception and judgement in teachable, healthy and productive ways. I would be lying if I told you I didn’t get angry, sad or frustrated sometimes. What we live, we teach, so I focus on what I can control, which are my responses and faith that integrity wins out every time. I try to keep the following speech front of mind, because it’s how I want to interact with every person I meet.

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate.
So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

                                                                      -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

There are people who don’t know how to have complicated conversations like the one I am discussing. As you can see from an interview I gave a while back with my friend Amy Bowllan, a blogger at The School Library Journal in a series called; “Writers Against Racism,” there is a dysfunctional old school of thought that implies “If we don’t name it, it can’t exist.”  It is unjust, but it happens and every day the social undertones that go unspoken and are often misunderstood. As a parent and a compassionate human being, I am sad and shaken to the core about what happened to Trayvon.

We have had ongoing, complicated conversations in our family about the ugly realities of prejudice and racism. Through those discussions and having a strong support network, I emphasize that there is power in choices. We work towards being living examples of what is right and what is possible. The only way to plant seeds of hope and peace is to open conversation.

I believe that silence condones approval, which is what drove me to write this post. As part of this movement, they are asking we change our profile pictures on Twitter and Facebook using description  hashtags #hoodiesup and #millionhoodies (instructions below) so it can be tracked via social media monitoring tools. Here is how you can make a difference. 

  • Talk to kids about it to give them assurance and guidance. Use the Huffington Post article How To Talk To Your Child About Trayvon Martin’s Death to have productive dialogue
  • Join the conversation and tell me your thoughts and comments below.
  • Tweet, blog, comment on various social media forums using hashtags #hoodiesup and #millionhoodies
  • “Like” the Facebook Group A Million Hoodies For Trayvon Martin
  • Change your profile pictures on Twitter and Facebook using description  hashtags #hoodiesup and #millionhoodies so it can be tracked via social media monitoring tools.

Four things I am grateful for:

  1. In this country we have freedom of expression. I recently spent time in South East Asia where this is often not an option.
  2. Adversity pulls us together as communities and individuals. It takes one person to make a difference. Will you make yours today?
  3. We have access to tools and resources to facilitate conversation about challenging situations like this
  4.  Being a parent of a terrific kid

Nielsen Publishes Q3 2011 Report: The State of Social Media

Just a Few Interesting Key Findings:

  • 4 in 5 internet users visit social networking sites
  • 40% of social media users access from mobile
  • 70% adult social networkers shop online (12% more likely than others)
  • 53% of active social networkers follow a brand online
  • 32% follow a celebrity

MC Hammer Speaks Social Media at Stanford Graduate School of Business

Initially, I watched this out of curiosity and was pleasantly surprised. Seriously? MC Hammer? Stanford? It shouldn’t be surprising that he is an eloquent speaker. He has spent several years as an ordained minister and that comes through in a way that is really genuine here. My response? Can’t Touch This. (okay, bad pun, I know.) Watch it, you just may like it and get some new perspectives.


How Can Social Media be Used to Combat the Effects of Racism and Promote Tolerance?

My friend, Amy Bowllan is an Emmy award-winning journalist and a blogger for The School Library Journal. Recently, she has been doing a series of blog posts called : WAR: Writers Against Racism on Bowllans Blog. Amy addresses some very good questions about how can we use literature to combat the effects of racism and promote tolerance. Recently she featured me as one of the writers titled in her article called: Writers Against Racism: Kakie Fitzsimmons

Amy asked writers the following three questions:

  1. Briefly describe the impact racism had on you as a young person.
  2. Has your personal experience of racism impacted your professional work as a writer?
  3. In what way can literature be used to combat the effects of racism and promote tolerance?

It got me to thinking, “How could we take the literature in this medium and ask the same question about social media?”

I want to hear your thoughts and insight below. Thanks for joining me in this conversation, I look forward to your responses.

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A Historical Breakthrough in Social Media: The Obama Internet Campaign

A while back I had the opportunity to hear Scott Thomas ( @simplescott ) at an event held by MIMA (The Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association.) Scott was the media design director for the Obama campaign and he worked with a talented team of innovators who made it work. The campaign was groundbreaking because it was the first time in history that a campaign was approached as a brand that tied in the marketing communications component as well.

The Obama website was designed to be a consistent face of the campaign. They engaged people in registration and participation, sent out regular team emails for those who registered on the site. They made the user experience and bringing groups together easy. In the end, there were more than 150,000 planned events by the public. The site had 1.5Million+ visitors and raised more than $6 Million U.S. dollars

Their approach shifted away from the traditional “about us, how can we make you love us campaign model and focused on how does what we are doing going to influence lives? That is how the new face of advertising is supposed to work.

They learned how to listen to internet chatter and leveraged search engine optimization (SEO), bought pay-per-click advertising with sponsors. They participated in other platforms like Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and more.

One perfect example that fascinated me, was being on Twitter during the debates while watching the live stream. I was blown away because I knew I was watching history in a way we had never seen before and it was happening right in front of me. Every time McCain said a number or fact was wrong, within seconds I would see a fact check pop up and was amazed at how they were able to respond so quickly. I was in awe.

I asked Scott Thomas about it and he described managing the changes in the campaign like “building an airplane while in flight.” Interesting illustration.

What did I learn? It seems they weren’t afraid to make changes when something didn’t work right. They learned from their mistakes and were given the freedom to be innovative. They were trusted for their business judgment. When it comes to social media, I think this is a message that the corporate world will eventually embrace. I believe they are starting to catch on, slowly and we are moving in the right direction. What do you think?

Below are four key take away lessons he learned

  1. Deliver clear, concise messaging focused on “we” rather than “he” encourage participation and activate people
  2. Keep the message of hope while dismantling the notion of being aloof. Hope and change are two different messages so they figured out how to create consistency between the two.
  3. Establish consistency and balance to exemplify stability and experience. They had trusted web designers who knew the experience, typeface, design, etc.
  4. Communicate historic atmosphere by pulling from the imagery of the past & current information next to each other to unify the message of “we the people.”

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Best Buy Leverages Twitter Opportunity

Electronic retailer giant Best Buy is creating a customer service team, @Twelpforce, that will listen to the chatter on Twitter and respond to questions people may have about electronics. It appears as though they are using the hashtag #twelpforce.

Why is that so cool? Because they are creating personal service and expertise that is authentic and transparent which is what social media is all about. The report came out on Bloomberg on July 2nd in an article called Best Buy Uses Twitter to Create Sales, Service Team (Update1)

CMO Barry Judge (@bestbuycmo) alluded to this on his blog in a post titled Bringing Dream Support To Life In The Customer Experience. where he is quoted as saying “I think what you will notice, in the next several months, is a renewed commitment to making our customers’ happy; unparalleled support to make technology work the way it should; and advertising that gets at the heart of our brand. Let me know. I am always listening and I want to know how we are tracking.”

I worked at Best Buy in the late ’80s and even back then, I remember Dick Schultz (the company founder and former CEO) talking about HTDV transitions in 2009. (Yes, they were talking about it back then). I say kudos to Mr. Judge and the rest of his team for continuing with the legacy of a forward-thinking Mr. Schultz. Let’s hope more companies are quick to follow suit and embrace social media as a marketing tool.

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Online Reputation Management and Crisis Communications Planning

Back in May, I listened to Christopher Lower speak about online reputation management at The Social Media Breakfast in St. Paul. Chris is the Owner and Director of Media And Communications for Sterling Cross. I covered much of this information in an earlier post called “Does Your Brand Own its Online Reputation. The issue of crisis communications planning was mentioned in that post, but not in depth. It is critical and not enough companies are paying attention. We have seen cases where companies have lost billions of dollars in revenue, legal expenses and more as a result of not having a plan in place.

According to KRC research regarding the recovery process of reputation management:

  • 91% of global executives believe their brand can recover
  • On average, recovery takes 3-5 years
  • Only 48% of companies are prepared for reputation damage

48%?  That number had me stunned. The old model (pre-web 2.0) of crisis communication planning involved planning for a crisis, addressing negative groundswell, providing crisis response, public relations, and assessment/monitoring. Social media demands we engage in a conversation

How: Strategy and Response:  When complaints are made, timing is crucial. The immediate course of action involves checking sources and facts to determine the credibility of the concern.

  • Where to respond: Respond to the same sites where the complaints occur. If it happens to be on someone’s blog, address the issue and respond on that blog, then turn around and post the response on your own site as well.
  • When to respond:  Timing is everything and waiting to put a plan in place when a crisis occurs is the wrong approach. 24 hours is a long time on the internet and slow response can result in billions of dollars in losses, legal expenses, and brand reputation.
  • Escalation: Although it won’t always be the first plan of action, you may need to involve your legal team or bring in a team who understands 1st amendment law because issues on the internet are not always clear or concise. Cease and desist orders to force the removal of your intellectual property may need to be drawn up. Harassment, defamation of character or online bullying or copyright laws may apply.

In conclusion, Lower provided the following information about the planning process and the reality for online reputation management:

Crisis communication planning post 2.0 process:  Check the facts – is the source legitimate?

  1. Determine the impact
  2. Bring together trusted counsel
  3. Understand your detractor & their motivation
  4. Decide right response – be sincere, that you care about the quality of what you are doing
  5. Host the conversation – give the audience a forum

Best Defense is a good offense (fill the sandbags before the flood)

  • The conversation happening whether you like it or not
  • Not good enough be present online engage
  • Transparency & authenticity rule the net and will always be found out and called
  • True customer service means responding that you care about what you are doing through providing a thoughtful timely response
  • Get a community manager. Hire someone to be the online face of your brand
  • Continue to adapt and engage

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Social Media Reviews Impact Brand Reputation

I recently attended a forum on Social Media where I listened to Christopher Lower,  Owner and Director of Media And Communications for Sterling Cross, and Greg Swan, Digital Strategy Manager at Weber Shandwick. Below is a recap of my takeaways from that discussion.

2008 business study in social media by Cone noted the following:

  • 60% in America use social media
  • 93% of online social media users believe companies should have a social interactive presence
  • 85% of those people believe companies need both social media presence and interaction with customers online
  • 56% of users feel a stronger connection and better served by companies when they can interact with them in the social media space

This same study also found that there is a narrow lineation between control and credibility when it comes to social media. Success for brands online depends on being aware of and having the right dialogue between those lines.

  • 89% of people read online reviews prior to purchasing. 43% most of the time. 22% all of the time.
  • 83% of people take the advice of a friend over Consumer Reports and reviews
  • 75% trust review of a product and service in a magazine
  • 63% trust review by a known expert
  • 52% rely on customer reviews prior to purchase

Bottom line? Consumers typically don’t trust individually, but they do collectively.  Companies need to have tools in place to retain their online reputation management.  Consider putting your own rating system in place for your consumers. Think about how people review online and who reviews online.

Those “Critics” will include items such as:

  • Post ratings and reviews of products and services
  • Comments on someone else’s blog
  • Contribute or edit articles on wikis

Think for a moment about all of the review platforms out there. Wiki alone has over 150 that they consider “mainstream review sites.” These mainstream sites receive their status by having more than 100,000 active users. If consumers trust groups when it comes to their purchases, imagine the impact a negative review can have for a brand.

Web 2.0 Collage logos by premiardiego.

Does your company “own” its online corporate identity? According to Weber Shandwick’s 2009 “Risky Business: Reputations Online,”

  • 7 out of 10 global executives fear for their corporate reputations as online risk continues to gain momentum.
  • 66% of global executives are not aware of or turning a blind eye to what their employees are saying about them online.
  • 34% across the globe know of an employee who posted something negative online about their company

Motrin Case Study: A Branding Lesson in Social Media

In 2008, Motrin released a commercial focusing on backaches moms get from carrying their children in “baby slings” with the idea that taking Motrin would alleviate their pain. Furthermore, it was trying to say carrying your baby using the sling was a fashion statement.

This ad outraged moms across the globe and became headlines in mainstream media. USA Today’s storyline read Offended moms get tweet revenge over Motrin ads.” In addition, it was listed among Ad Age’s controversial stories of the year. The hashtag #motrinmoms was created on Twitter. There were groups put on Facebook to boycott the product and responses to the ad posted on YouTube.

This negativity exploded on the internet for three days before Motrin pulled the ad and apologized to customers.  The company was not monitoring the internet chatter during this 3-day time frame. They emailed an apology to mom bloggers, a copy of which can be found on this blog.

I am the Vice President of Marketing for McNeil Consumer Healthcare. I have responsibility for the Motrin Brand and am responding to concerns about recent advertising on our website. I am, myself, a mom of 3 daughters.

We certainly did not mean to offend moms through our advertising. Instead, we had intended to demonstrate genuine sympathy and appreciation for all that parents do for their babies. We believe deeply that moms know best and we sincerely apologize for disappointing you. Please know that we take your feedback seriously and will take swift action with regard to this ad. We are in the process of removing it from our website. It will take longer, unfortunately, for it to be removed from magazine print as it is currently on newsstands and in distribution.

The email was then followed up by posting an apology on their website which read as follows:

With regard to the recent Motrin advertisement, we have heard you.
On behalf of McNeil Consumer Healthcare and all of us who work on the Motrin Brand, please accept our sincere apology.
We have heard your complaints about the ad that was featured on our website. We are parents ourselves and take feedback from moms very seriously.
We are in the process of removing this ad from all media. It will, unfortunately, take a bit of time to remove it from our magazine advertising, as it is on newsstands and in distribution.
Thank you for your feedback. Its very important to us.”

Kathy Widmer
Vice President of Marketing
McNeil Consumer Healthcare

Critics said it did not make an impact and Seth Godin is quoted on his blog saying; “This isn’t an honest note from a real person. It’s the carefully crafted non-statement of a committee. What an opportunity to get personal and connected and build bridges…”

What can we learn from this case study?

  1. Brands need to monitor social media chatter. If the company had people doing this, they could have caught it and responded sooner.
  2. Response time to crisis communication in social media is critical. Sources say it should be handled within 24 hours.
  3. Brands have to talk with their consumers in social media in a way that is personal and says, “We hear you.”
  4. The use of social media presents brands with opportunities to redeem themselves quickly and build bridges with the public

That is what interactive marketing is all about.