CisionWire connects with bloggers

Cision is one of the biggest players worldwide among press services, with businesses in over 150 countries and the world’s largest data base of media contacts.

Their strategy has always been to work closely with their users and business partners to improve their services continuously. That way they keep high standards in terms of usability and easy access to all the latest news.

As part of this strategy they now started involving  bloggers more closely than ever before by giving them the opportunity to be seen on CisionWire-articles in context with topics they blog about. Twingly supplies the technical solution.

For bloggers it means that they can blog about a topic, then link to the related press release on CisionWire, ping their post to Twingly. Their post will then automatically appear below the press release within a few minutes.

Right now, this new service is available on CisionWire.com and CisionWire.se. So go and check it out!

With now both, CisionWire and MyNewsdesk linking to blogs as part of their strategy, we consider this development a big step in terms of press services establishing a new standard of providing information by integrating news and comments from the public via social media services.

Interview: Social Media and Politics in Germany

This week politicians, journalists and other organisations gather in the city of Visby on the Swedish island Gotland for the yearly “Almedalsveckan” to discuss and connect (Twingly is there, too!). As last year, one of the main topics will be the effects of the digitalisation on politics and campaigning.

Since the spotlight is on for politics, we wanted to take the chance and give you an insight into the state of digital politics in Germany, another important Twingly market. How are German parties using Social Media to engage with voters? How do Germans react, and what are the main challenges? We spoke to Patrick Brauckmann, an expert in the field of political online communication.

Patrick studied politics, law, theology and European business. He wrote his dissertation about “Online-Communities in the German parliamentary elections of 2009”, has been and is involved in several political initiatives, founded a communications consultancy with focus on “Online Campaigning” and contributes as a freelance editor to different publications focusing on digital politics. His private blog is kampagnen-fabrik.de.

Hi Patrick! The German parliamentary elections last fall was the first time when parties in Germany made heavy use of Social Media for their political campaigns. How much success did they have?
That depends on the perspective. If the goal was to increase the number of voters, than the online campaigns did not have a huge impact. But if the goal was to retain voters and loyal following, then it worked out quite well. At least until now Social Media did not help the German parties to gain new voters, but it helped to keep existing voters committed.

So the parties succeeded in engaging those people that already did support them?
Yes, and I think in that regard German parties keep up pretty well with their US counterparts. The web has become the foremost communication and organisation tool, both regarding the parties own sites, but also regarding social networks (Facebook, German studiVZ), Twitter and blogs. But it’s mainly about connecting to the existing voter base of each party, not a real election campaign where parties fight to get the people’s sympathy.

Many politicians in Germany try to replicate the “Obama effect”. Do you think this is possible considering the country’s different culture and mentality?
This is the question every campaigner in Germany would like to get the answer for. In my opinion it is possible, but people must not forget that Barack Obama did not create his reputation and image online, he just leveraged the web to spread and communicate it. The politician Obama who gathered 250.000 people at the Siegessäule in Berlin does not necessarily need the web. But the (political) web needed him to realize how to use the Internet for reaching out to the citizen.

How did Germans react to the new ways of having a dialog with politicians and parties?
The Internet filled a gap that TV and print media left wide open due to their lack of possibilities for a two-way-communication. It enabled participation and opinion making, which you can see every time a topic from the political agenda becomes subject of discussions. It’s now usually the web where the public debate starts. On the other hand, these debates are in most cases limited to the “Digital Natives”, so huge parts of the German population are still absent from the political dialog online. A recent study from the University of Hohenheim found that TV and print media still are the two preferred sources of information about politics, followed by the web which now ranks before radio. Only 13 percent mentioned the Internet as their number one source. It’s much more in the US.

Is there a party or candidate who excels in digital communication?
There are some who use Social Media in a smart and effective way, who run an interesting and regularly updated blog, Twitter stream or Facebook page without just pushing their press releases, instead encouraging users and potential voters to have a dialog. It seems as if the smaller parties have a lead over the the two big parties, the Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Social Democrats (SPD), since their flat internal processes and structure makes it easier to engage in the fast paced online communication and conversation. Furthermore, their members often are younger and their affinity for new technologies is higher.

What happened after the parliamentary elections?
As one almost could expect, what followed was silence. Websites, Twitter streams, YouTube channels and Facebook profiles were not updated anymore, the dialog stopped. But after a few month, things picked up again, probably also fueled by the state election in Germany’s biggest federal state Nordrhein-Westfalen in May this year. Still I’m afraid the next boom for digital political communication won’t happen before the next parliamentary elections.

What advice would you give parties and political individuals for their future online campaigning?
Choose the right online instruments carefully and use those in the best way possible. Politicians should focus on engaging in solid and convincing political debates, not on being present on every existing web site imaginable. If they use Social Media for those debates, even better. But if they don’t do anything else than creating noise without adding value, they might be better off staying away from the Social Web.

/Martin Weigert

Introducing Martin Weigert as Twingly’s new blogger

Hello Twingly fans!

My name is Martin Weigert, from now on I will write regularly in the Twingly blog. I will introduce you to new features of existing Twingly products, write about launches of totally fresh Twingly services and keep you posted about what’s going on in the exciting social web world where Twingly is an important part of.

Let me tell you a few words about me: I’m originally from Berlin, but moved to Stockholm after finishing my Bachelor studies in Business Communication Management. I have been working as a Project Manager within advertising/print media for three and a half years. Simultaneously I followed my passion of blogging about web topics, like the rise of social networks, the real time web or – in the past month – the young but thriving sector of location based services.

At first I had an own blog in German together with a friend, then I started to write at one of Germany’s leading tech blogs netzwertig.com, and recently I got the chance to take over the role of the editor for netzwertig.com. That is a little bit like if I realized a dream, since I always wanted to blog for living. There is nothing more exciting than covering the web world. A world that is changing rapidly and developing faster than many can imagine. From time to time, I also publish some thoughts in English on martinweigert.com.

At least once a week you will read an update from me here on the Twingly blog, and me and the Twingly team would be happy to hear your feedback in the comments.

Welcome to the era of Guessperimentation

This is a guest post by Marit Woody:

Guessing and experimenting. That is what I do for a living. Of course not without a strategic plan and I try to keep guesses qualified. But it all comes down to trial and error, with a crucial new twist to it: once guesses and theories are empirically tested, methods, tools and truths have already changed again.

I use the new opportunities for communicating that companies like Twingly, GoogleFacebookTwitter and others offer in services like Google WaveTwingly Channels and Twingly live. What those companies do is in fact guessperimenting. They won’t wait for a product to be booringly perfect before letting people use it. Instead they put something they’ve guessperimented on out there for users to try, talk about, help develop and bring new ideas into. Things don’t come with a user manual anymore, because what use would it be when you don’t know how the users will make use of the product? It’s actually easier for a company to just put stuff out there for people to try than to wait and spend years in developing the ultimate product.

So what qualities make people and companies successful in guessperimenting? I suppose that a well executed trend analysis combined with a lot of feeling is a great way to start. A good knowledge of your trade theory to lean on, yet still beeing fearless and not tied down by old truths and traditions of the industry. And creativity of course. Didn’t I just describe a jazz musician? Guessperimenting and improvising his or her way to reach new highs.

For people working in PR, advertising and other kinds of communication, social media and the real time web has indeed meant a lot has changed. I, for instance, believe it means the end of using target audiences as one of the bases of communication. Read more (in Swedish) here . We need to guessperiment our way to make our clients reach out and we need our clients to be courageous and have faith in us while doing so. More importantly, we need to make sure the individual finds what he or she is looking for. Because what consumers do today is they seek information and form their own groups and opinions around a subject or a brand. If I’m looking to buy a new mobile phone it’s easier for a mobile phone company to find me through what I seek, than trying to pin point what type of person would be likely to want a new mobile phone. That’s why it’s completely outdated to be talking about target groups or target audiences.

Traditional media and the music industry are also guessperimenting big time right now. They should have started sooner. What will happen to services like Spotify now that artists complain about not getting paid properly and therefore withdraw their tracks? Spotify will have to guessperiment some more. And will Rupert Murdoch really find more revenue by boycotting Google? He should be adopting the guessperimenting strategy.

The times couldn’t possibly be more exciting and the opportunities are endless. Everyday something new happens and cool services on the web emerge. And the use is completely developed by the users. May the era of guessperimentaion never end!

About:
Marit Woody work as a pr-agent at Greenhill Relations in Stockholm. She has been in the music business for several years before going into PR, and is now specialized in communication on the real time web and in social media.

Customer Service 2.0

Customer service is very important, it’s a fact every company knows. But not every company understands how to handle customer service on the internet and in the social media. This creates problems when customers expect you to communicate through these channels.

The Swedish blog The Artopod Experience has written a really good blog post (Google Translate) that summaries four important points of consumer service on the internet. Here’s an inspired list translated to English:

1. E-mail

The standard way to handle customer service on the internet today, is by e-mail. Customers know how to use it, and get pissed off if you’re company doesn’t have e-mail, or doesn’t answer it fast enough. This is just a start and something every serious customer service has to use.

A tip from us at Twingly is to make the communication more personal. Have pictures of those who are answering your e-mail on the company’s website. Send your answers from aname@service.com-email , and not by info@service.com. Don’t use standard phrases with a copy-and-paste-feeling in your answers. Make it personal and those who contact you will be nicer to you. It’s easy to be harsh towards a faceless brand, but not to an fellow human being.

2. Frequently Asked Questions, FAQ

It’s the easiest and most effective way to reduce the number of incoming questions, saving both time and expences for the consumer service. Could be a page on the website with regular text, instruction movies or a giant database of information.

3. Answer questions where your customers ask them

This is something new that, through the quite recent development of social media, has become a necessity. Many of your customers may no longer come to your site or send you an e-mail, they simply ask a question on their microblog, blog, social network or forum instead, and get helped. It’s of course all good and well when the customers are helping each other out, but it’s not the only thing they are doing. Instead of just being a kind question in a forum: “How do I get it work?” it can become really bad PR: “This crap doesn’t work! Don’t buy it!”. It’s in many ways very important to handle this type of customer service yourself, even if it’s difficult to get control over it. But if you as a company don’t listen and act, you can’t influence what is said about you. Be a part of the discussion on the microblogs, blogs, social networks, and so on, and think of it as a way of not just treating your customers well, but also creating PR in a positive manner.

To do this in a proper way, you have to monitor social media every single day. The easiest and probably best way to do it, is to subscribe to search results in blog search engines like Twingly, microblogs search engine like Twitter Search and use Google Reader.

4. Let the customers help to solve the problem together with you

Another simple and really useful tool for customer service 2.0, is Get Satisfaction. Here’s a forum for both customers and official representatives from companies, that works as a customer service community. Customers can ask questions and get help both from official representatives and other customers. Companies can ask what customers really want. Get Satisfaction can also be implemented and used on your own site via an API, which Spotify does very well.

So what is really happening?

The internet has changed what customer service essentially is, in many different ways. One of the key issues is that every little problem could become bad PR. 20 years ago only the neighbors and friends of a disappointed customer learned that “this product doesn’t work so it sucks, don’t buy it”. Today the same message could be on microblogs, forums and blogs and that way hundreds of people might get the information. In real-time. Every single customer can reach a lot of people, and the message will stick, through search results, search traffic and such.

When customers have become real-time influencers, your company’s customer service and communication has to be fast, open and attentive. As a company you can no longer wait for your customers to come to you with their questions – you need to find them, and know where and how they are talking about you.

It’s quite a big revolution.