I had high expectations for three of the sessions at BlogWorld Expo NY this week. And they did not disappoint.

Allow me to share with you a bit of what I learned about managing (and avoiding) a social media PR crisis, responding to attack comments on your owned media and how, without the appropriate metrics, you’re marketing blind. We’ll look at mom bloggers and the #ToyotaFail; Facebook wall moderation after a comment attack; plus News Feed Optimization — perhaps the most public secret in Facebook marketing success.

From the first professional conference I’ve attended where a session audience gasped. Twice.

This post continues the BlogWorld coverage I started in yesterday’s post. Excellent coverage of BlogWorld Expo NY has been posted by Andrea Cook on Social Fresh, Lisa Barone on Outspoken Media and by Century 21.

#ToyotaFail: The Crisis that Wasn’t

Earlier this year, a campaign surfaced to encourage mom bloggers to promote Toyota, providing a $10 Amazon gift card as an incentive. Whether this was originated by Toyota, its PR agency or a misguided blogger remains a matter of discussion. When the story got out, there was a wildfire of negative tweets using the #toyotafail hashtag, some admonishing Toyota for “bribing” bloggers and others admonishing the company for devaluing mom bloggers by offing them insufficient compensation.

The dynamics and Toyota’s deft handling of this situation were discussed by Anne-Marie Nichols [Blog: The Write Spot], Lucretia Pruitt [Blog: The Social Joint], Shelly Kramer [Blog: V3 Integrated Marketing] and Christopher Barger [Blog: Voce Communications]. There is a post by Kramer and another by Pruitt that provide details and perspective; both excellent reads.

Toyota acted rapidly. The company embraced the situation, didn’t freak out (at least, not publicly) and managed to co-opt it. Not only was the negative sentiment quelled, it quickly turned positive.

The panel explored the frequent failure of brands and agencies to adequately plan their blogger outreach. This, unfortunately, places burdens on time-constrained, well-intentioned bloggers to validate the credibility of the pitches they receive often without the experience or knowledge to do so properly.

You can access the presentation deck for takeaways from each of the four, insightful presenters. I suggest if you are pressed for time, grab the deck now so you don’t forget. Here are some tweetable points made during the session:

  • If there is negative sentiment out there on your brand, don’t miss the chance to turn it around.
  • The social media spotlight, good or bad, is a marketing opportunity. Take advantage of it.
  • It’s essential for brands to speak with bloggers. The bloggers are going to talk about you anyway.
  • Know when to take conversation offline. If solving the problem happens off line, don’t forget to post online to close the loop for those following the conversation.

 

How Brands Should Respond to Facebook Attacks

Ekaterina Walter [Blog: Building Social Bridges] is Social Media Strategist for Intel and based her presentation on real events and responses.

While inappropriate posts to Intel’s Facebook Page are deleted in accordance with policy cited on the Page, negative posts are generally let stand. When people from outside its usual community attacked its page with a barrage of negative posts a few months ago, the situation became so severe that deleting the posts was insufficient and the decision was made to deny all user submitted posts for a short period of time.

There were no long-term consequences for Intel’s Facebook community after things were stabilized. Here are some lessons learned that Walter shared — others are available from her presentation and an in-depth post on Fast Company.

  • Research reveals that it is easier to convert those who are negative about a brand to loyalists than those who are “neutralists.”
  • Hire and train community managers to keep peace by maintaining a conversational balance.
  • Form a crisis management team for situations that escalate above those the community managers are empowered to handle. The team should be able to assemble and act within hours.
  • If appropriate, take the conversation somewhere else. Or walk away from it.
  • During a crisis, continue with business as usual.
  • In general, respond quickly, keep information flowing, be honest and don’t take negative comments personally.

 

Why Facebook News Feed Optimization Matters to Marketers

It does not take more than casual observation to realize that one’s News Feed is not a raw, chronological steam of all the posts by all of one’s friends and Liked Pages. Facebook uses what it calls EdgeRank to determine News Feed placement and calculates it based on:

  • Affinity between the viewing user and item creator, using factors such as frequency of contact.
  • Weight of edge type; a comment, for example, may have more weight than a Like.
  • Time decay — how long ago the item was created.

This is in addition to, on average, your brand page competing for attention against 90 other pages and 130 friends, which are appearing in users’ News Feeds.

This session included Bryan Person [Blog: LiveWorld], Helen Todd [Blog: fbadz.com], Chad Wittman [Blog: Chad Whittman’s Blog] and Dennis Yu [Blog: Webtrends]. When it was Yu’s turn to speak, he abandoned the presentation deck and went online to one of his client’s Facebook page. He demonstrated the power of NFO by posting a comment. In the time it took the slow Internet connection to refresh, his comment drew significant numbers of Likes and comments in response. That was the first time the audience gasped.

Yu then went to Facebook’s Graph interface to show how much information on Pages and users was easily accessed and available for to inform marketing. Gasp number two.

Among other surprises:

  • Wittman presented data showing that Pages with fewer fans may have higher levels of engagement. And it’s engagement, not number of fans, which boosts EdgeRank. It was suggested that fan bases built via contests might not be as engaged as those built using other means.
  • Intentionally polarizing fans is one effective strategy for increasing engagement.
  • Use of third-party management tools may have a slight negative EdgeRank consequence.

Ideas for optimization include:

  • Via Yu: As a brand, you want to be as engaging with your Facebook fans as they are with each other. Nurture your Fans, not your content. Don’t overthink.
  • Via Yu: Use Facebook ads to engage your competition. They will check your page frequently and help your EdgeRank.
  • Via Todd: Content calendars may be good guides, but they should be subject to change based on feedback from fans.

I encourage you to review the full presentation that is loaded with NFO tips, as well as Person’s selection of top tweets.  I know I’m not doing this subject or the outstanding presenters on this panel justice in this post. To be continued in the near future.

 

Neil Glassman is principal marketing strategist at WhizBangPowWow, with a track record of success across linear, digital and social media. Join his conversation on Twitter or email Neil to talk about marketing or swap recipes.