Twitter Trends Become News

Trends on Twitter: Are They Really News?

Since I managed to finish and launch our new site this week, I did something I haven’t done in quite awhile. Nothing. Me + couch + cocktail + remote control = my evening. I don’t tell you this to stir up envy in the event you had a busy night. I tell you this because in scrolling through my various entertainment options, I decided to finish out the final season of “The Newsroom” on HBO. If you haven’t seen it, it is a show about life in the newsroom of a 24 hour news station. I was hooked from Jeff Daniels’ character’s rant in the opening moments of the very first episode. There’s some strong language in it(it is HBO after all), but with that warning, you can see it here. (This clip has nothing to do with the rest of this post, but it is pretty incredible.)

I bring this up because the episode I watched tonight featured a small story arc concerning Twitter. The station has been bought out by a young corporate hotshot concerned with ratings and revenue. Despite the fact that they have real news to report, the News Director orders them to run an interview with Lady GaGa’s manager because one of her tweets is trending. This demonstrates something I discuss often during our classes — what is trending on Twitter becomes news.

I realize that “The Newsroom” is fiction. It isn’t real. But, it’s based in reality and it sparked a desire to really drive this point home. A current trend on Twitter is a “game” called #FiveWordsToRuinADate. (Those of you who have some Twitter knowledge are aware that the name of the game is written as a hashtag, which allows anyone to post a Tweet using that hashtag and have their Tweet show up in the overall feed.) For those of you who haven’t seen this particular game, it is fairly easy — come up with 5 words that could instantly bring a date crashing down around you. Such as:

Many tweets highlighted pre-date stalking as a guaranteed way of spoiling the atmosphere

Katie Stanton thinks you may be able to get away with pregnancy but going into labour is a no no

Get the idea? Definitely not “real” news.

But, a quick search on Google for the phrase proves otherwise. I took a screenshot so that you can see the current results. (Click the image to see a larger version.)

Twitter trends create news

I took the liberty of highlighting the news sites covering this trend which currently show up on page 1 of Google. (Incidentally, page 2 has an even higher concentration of news sources.) It’s everywhere. It has become news because it is trending. Why? Because media outlets (of all types) are driven by advertising. Advertising revenue is generated by readers/viewers. It’s a simple equation: more people consuming content = more advertising revenue generated. Trends, by their very nature, involve a large number of people, translating into potential revenue sources. Thus, trends become news.

 

Webinar Wednesdays!

A couple weeks ago, Danny was in front of the Washington State Building Trades giving a presentation about Labor Rising. He had me teleconference in and walk them through the Leading Labor mass texting platform. To say it went over well is an understatement. In our Chicago classes, the texting plan always makes a big impact. It is an easy, effective, inexpensive way to quickly communicate with your membership. I ran a live simulcast yesterday and realized there’s no reason to to do some more webinars, so… I’ve decided to make Wednesdays into “Webinar Wednesdays”! Every Wednesday, I am going to run a webinar that walks you through Phase 1 of Leading Labor’s three-tiered communications platform — Mass Texting. This webinar will be free for all attendees. It is only about 20 minutes long, but will show you how effective, simple, and inexpensive a text-based communication platform can be for your Local, District Council, or even your International.

You can find out all about the webinar and sign up at this link.

When you go to register, you will see this:

registration page

Simply choose the date you want to watch the webinar from the dropdown menu. (You can even watch yesterday’s recording if you just cannot wait!)

Then choose the time.

Enter your name and e-mail address, then click “Register Now.”

 

Technology in the Trades

I know that the Building Trades Legislative Conference is coming up next  week, and I wanted to take a minute to talk about technology. I’ve been in the industry for nearly 20 years. (I was selling websites to businesses before most business owners even knew what a website was. Really.) But, my focus during almost all of those 20 years has been helping businesses understand how to leverage technology effectively in order to grow their bottom line through marketing and the smart application of technology. Most businesses don’t need (or want) the “latest and greatest” technology. They need technology that actually helps the business run more efficiently, grow, and prosper. Selling a widget to a business that doesn’t need it helps no one but the people making widgets.

I bring this up because in the past two years, I have worked with more than 400 members of the Building Trades. To say it has been an eye-opening experience is an understatement. I have experienced so much frustration with technology vendors that only tell their clients part of the story. As an example, I recently met with a group that had just spent a significant amount of money on a new website. They turned to a trusted vendor to help them achieve the goal of getting more business for the local’s contractors. The end result? They trusted that their vendor would steer them in the right direction, spent the money, and have nothing to show for it. This seems to be the norm, rather than the exception: websites built in Flash (even though Google doesn’t index it and Apple devices don’t support it); technologically-advanced communication platforms that are “coming soon” (and have been for a year); locals that have a brand new website, but can’t update it and don’t know that they can measure their website traffic. Why is this still happening? It is disheartening to say the least.

I got involved with Labor Rising because I am a vehement supporter of Labor. When you attend our class, you’ll realize that this is more than a career to me – it is a passion. I want to change the status quo. I have brought my marketing and technological expertise to bear in order to help Labor be more efficient, grow, and prosper. As an independent consultant, I am in a unique position to help you evaluate technology-related decisions. I care about you getting the technology you need – to advance your unions and contractors. Feel free to give me a call – I would love to help. I bring this up because I know there will be vendors wining and dining at the conference and I don’t want 2014 to be another year of status quo. This should be the year that Labor Rises!

 

A Day in the Life of a Labor Leader — the video

 

We put this video together to highlight our upcoming webinar, “Revolutionize Your Communication.”  It’s a story we’ve heard too often — “we don’t have a good way to communicate with our members.”  Considering it is such an integral part of every successful strategy for moving labor forward, we decided to do something about it.

Your members are all individuals, but often, it is necessary to communicate with them as a group.  What works for getting in touch with member A might not work at all with Members B-Z.  In discussing this with the groups we’ve worked with, we have discovered that organizations don’t have a structured communication plan.  They’re doing their best using one or two methods to try to reach their membership.  The end result of this is that they end up leaving important information out because they simply have no convenient way to get it to their membership in a timely manner.

Understanding your membership preferences, the platforms available to you, and the importance of the information being disseminated are all key factors in getting information out to your members in a timely, cost-effective way.  Technology provides several different ways to communicate with your membership.

  • Phone calls — this is by far the most common communication platform that we see being utilized.  Labor Leaders are making hundreds of phone calls per day to get their message out.  While there’s nothing like a good old-fashioned phone call for two-way communication, this platform presents a number of problems.
    • The very advantages created by a phone call (personal, two-way communication) are the same aspects that create the problems associated with using the phone.  The time involved with making a large number of phone calls only grows when you actually reach the person you are attempting to speak with.  A phone call invites the member to provide immediate feedback on whatever information you are trying to share.  Worse, there is nothing preventing the member from bringing up completely unrelated items on the call, making the call take even longer.
    • Using an automated phone call (sometimes referred to as a “robo call,” is a way to eliminate the interactivity of a phone call, allowing the calls to be completed faster, but many find them annoying and impersonal.  If they go to voicemail, it is likely that your members won’t get that information in a timely fashion.

 

  • Postal Service — As the cost of postage continues to rise, the postal service becomes less and less attractive as a way to share information.  While some types of communication are relegated to the mail due to legal requirements, these are few and far between.  And yet, the amount of money spent on postage by most organizations continues to grow as they try to get their messaging out to their membership.
    • While traditional mail doesn’t invite an interactive conversation (making it a great way to share information), it isn’t timely, either.  And the cost of a mailing continues to grow.  By the time you include the creation of the message, printing, envelope stuffing, and postage, the money you are spending on postage could potentially pay for an entire communications platform on its own!

 

  • E-mail — while e-mail is a universal communication method that has long since surpassed phone calls in terms of worldwide volume, many organizations simply don’t have a platform in place that allows them to effectively share information with their membership via e-mail.  Missing e-mail addresses and the lack of a mass e-mail system mean that this form of communication is far less effective than it could be.
    •  Even with a full list of e-mail addresses, problems can arise that can cause information to miss its mark when using e-mail.  Federal anti-spam laws and automated anti-spam engines can cause serious difficulties when trying to send mail to a large list.  It is crucial to use a mass-mailing platform for this type of effort.  Those platforms comply with all anti-spam regulations in order to ensure your message gets to its target.
    • For those who do not rely on e-mail communication every day, e-mail is less of an immediate communication method.  (Even for those who do use e-mail heavily every day, we don’t always get information via e-mail in as timely a manner as we would like.)

 

  • Texting — compared to e-mail and phone calls, texting is a relatively new way to communicate, yet has been widely embraced by the global community.  It is a great way to share small pieces of information almost immediately.  Only the lack of a convenient way to send a text message to hundreds or thousands at once keep this from being the default method of communication with your membership.
    • Mass texting platforms solve the problem of sending texts to many recipients at once.  Texting allows you to easily and quickly share your message with your membership.  The main drawback to mass texting is the cost.  With the sheer amount of information you have to share with your members, the cost can add up.  Quickly.

 

  • Smartphone app — the smartphone has become ubiquitous.  According to Pew Research, 56% of adult Americans owned a smartphone as of May, 2013.  As prices drop and non-smartphone options become more limited, this number continues to grow.  Leveraging this platform to engage your membership only makes sense.  It is something that many of your members are already familiar with.  In addition, this is a vehicle that allows you to do much more than simply share information (although it does that remarkably well and very inexpensively).  Any type of information that could go on your website could also go into an app.  That makes it incredibly easy to share things like:
    • Leadership contact information
    • Do Not Patronize list
    • Apprenticeship & training news/updates

In addition, a smartphone app can make it easy to send immediate messages to those using the app.  These notifications (sometimes referred to as “push notifications”) work like a text message, but are built into the app, which means no additional charges.  They can also be geographically targeted, allowing you an easy way to limit specific information to those who actually need it (those in a specific city, for instance) or those who are close by and can act on it (for a picket, rally, etc).

Because smartphone apps are interactive, it is also a great way to collect information from members.  You can use this to collect physical addresses, e-mail addresses, conduct surveys on specific issues, etc.

 

The Solution

None of these communication methods is a standalone answer for every situation.  They all have pros and cons.  That’s precisely the reason that a structured communication plan is the real solution.  Devising a method for when/how to send out information is key to getting your message out to your membership.  This is exactly what LeadingLabor can do for you — create a structured communication plan that is specific to your organization.  We work with you to understand your needs, your budget, and how best to deliver your message.  Tune in to our webinar to find out more.  You can sign up for our next webinar here.