Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Effective Communication (on Social Media): A Remedy for Employee Complaints

Last week, I invited the Director of Human Resources (HR) at the Sheraton Syracuse University (SU) Hotel and Conference Center to speak in my Human Resource Management class, in which we discussed a few HR issues. One topic was about employee relations and complaints. For instance, what is the most common complaint among hotel employees? How should a HR manager deal with such complaint?

I expect the answer will vary among different HR managers. According to our guest speaker, the most-heard employee complaint is: “That is NOT fair.” Often times, employees do not feel they are treated equally because they misunderstand their managers, regardless of whether they have a valid complaint. In this case, effective communication can help.  

In Sheraton SU, for example, the Housekeeping Manager holds a pre-shift meeting every day to ensure that management’s expectations are effectively communicated in the department. The manager is perceived as a “tough guy” with high expectations, but because of effective communication, people in the department feel they are treated fairly (and toughly), and they have very few complaints. As a matter of fact, employees in the department also nominated the “tough guy” as an outstanding manager.    

What if a manager cannot host a pre-shift meeting every day? Are there any other remedies? Will an open door policy help? How about adopting a social media strategy for internal communications?  

I understand that there are organizations and managers still feeling reluctant to implement any social media strategies because of the privacy concerns, but the truth is not every social media tool is designed for public communications. A good case in point is Yammer. Even the most popular social media tools, such as Facebook groups, blogs (with restricted access), and Twitter (with restricted access) can be used for “private” communications. Social media itself is not a bad thing; it turns bad when a person or an organization does not know how to use it properly. In my opinion, social media is just another means of communication.

What do you think? Can social media be used for internal communications? How so? Are there any cases where companies use social media in dealing with employee relations and complaints?

Relevant discussion:

The picture was downloaded from http://3204group7.wordpress.com

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Microblogging: Learning about Tumblr

Microblogging: Learning about Tumblr

Today, microblogging is a popular social media tool to get your opinions and thoughts out into the world. Microblogging allows you to let your friends or followers know what you are up to, using up to using a limited number of characters.  Friends use microblogging to keep in touch, businesses use it to coordinate meetings and/or expand their brand, and celebrities’ blog about concert dates, tour schedules, etc.

Tumblr is a free microblogging platform and social media-networking site.  Tumblr is very easy for new users and is a great way for users to promote photos, designs, thoughts, etc.  It is a popular site and has a young crowd, but today, companies such as Newsweek and GQ are using it to connect with customers and expand their brand.

Even though I have heard about Tumblr, I have never used it...so I decided to create and account for this course.  Here are a few things that I have learned from it:

While using Tumblr, users can “follow” other users’ blogs, can re-post their comments and give them credit, and can #hashtag keywords and URLs to connect to other similar posts.  By Tumblr having these features, it is easy to spread your blog to get followers.  When you first sign up, you immediately start to build your own microblog by clicking on which #hashtags you are most interested in. Tumblr expands your SEO because even though the URLs are long, there are keywords from the title to make it easier and cleaner.

Tumblr is a great microblogging tool because it allows users to post pictures, links, text, audio and chat.  Compared to twitter, Tumblr lets the user have more freedom on designing their website and choosing the way they want their dashboard to look.  They have pre-picked themes that are available to users including premium themes, free themes, single columns, two columns, three columns, vintage, hi-res, grid, etc.  Many of these themes do have a price, which I think is ridiculous-- why would someone pay $49 to have a specific theme?  But, by having all of these options, it gives the user the freedom to make their platform look as original as possible and make it their own.

Tumblr connects to Facebook and Gmail and users can use these other social media networks to find friends to “follow”.  Tumblr has a page on “People you can follow” and “People you may know”, which is a great way to find other bloggers with related interests.  There is also a page where a user can search the popular #hashtags to see if they want to follow or re-post the blog called the “Explore Page”. Also, taken from Twitter, Tumblr has “status updates/blog” for downtime and/or technology issues. A status blog allows the users to express their thoughts in a short sentence or two, while not worrying about having to post pictures or videos.

Now that you know more about Tumblr and its uses, here are a couple of questions I would like you to answer:

1.     If you use Tumblr, do you recommend this site over other microblogging site? If yes, why? If you do not use Tumblr, do you think that you ever will?
2.     Do you think that Tumblr will connect with more social media sites, other than Facebook? Do you think that they should?






Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Video: Are you the next star in video-sharing?

In today’s day and age, if you’re not searching, watching, learning, discovering, or uploading video, you are not up to date on some of the most popular social media outlets in the world. Being a part of video sharing websites means that you are aware of one of the most successful ways of communication available currently. In fact, most people who know how to use a computer know how to access video-sharing sites.

If you were to ask a roomful of students to define what YouTube is, the entire class could explain it on the spot. If you followed up that question by asking, “Can anyone tell me what QuickTime is?” you would, most likely, get a group of raised eyebrows from the students and a less than mediocre answer.

Why is this?

QuickTime is a computer’s audio and video file standard format that was once the biggest innovation in the video world. Though still used on computers now, QuickTime has been replaced by video sharing websites. Today, YouTube is one of the most popular video sharing websites in the world. Not only does YouTube provide the option for people to create a social media portfolio in a quick and easy way, but it’s also free, helps with SEO, and gives extensive media exposure.

Still not convinced that participation in video sharing outlets is important or relates to you? Here are just some of the many ways in which creating video can benefit you or your company:

1. Filming, editing, and uploading is free and easy to do (use a camera on a cellphone, a computer’s built in camera, or a digital camera)

2. Video content is a way to gain free exposure through social media. Brands constantly use sites like YouTube as a social media marketing strategy. Now, you can share videos to other social media outlets in just a few clicks of your mouse.

3. Gives brands and companies a way to interact with consumers on a more personal communicative level.

4. Comments/conversations from people is a way to see people’s opinions and gives a brand the opportunity to provide customer service.

5. There’s a possibility of a great return economically for your investment of time through advertising and by being approached by brands (see #7). Yet, this only applies if you publish engaging content. through advertising.

6. Tagging videos can help with SEO…muy importante people!

7. If you’re popular on YouTube, it is almost guaranteed that you will collaborate with companies. This means that you’ll make money, and they’ll gain a greater audience, which, in turn, results in lucrative benefits.

Now that you understand why video is so important in social media, think about these questions:

1) If YouTube is the present-day, accessible, go-to video outlet, what do you think is next for the video industry?

2) What strategies can video sharing sites use to further the integration of social media with video content?


Monday, February 11, 2013

Integrate Strategies and Identify Resources

Two out of five steps to social media success are integrated strategies and identify resources. The first step in developing an integrated marketing strategy is the identification of the best media for each demographic you want to appeal to. Once you know your demographic you have to find out what social media platforms they are using or if they are not using any and adjust your marketing tools accordingly.  
Develop clean individual goals. When you create your message it has to have clear goals or conversation. Each message should have a predetermined definition for conversation. The fastest growing demographic is the 54-plus-year-old.   An example of knowing your demographic and how to reach them is  a conventional marketing tools such as selling things to the retired; direct mail might still be the best way to reach your targeted demographic.
Examples of Integrated Marketing Strategies

Integrate Existing conventional and new digital within each other. Place your major social media websites on your business cards. Put a hyperlink in every one of your emails that links people to your websites.
Another reason to engage in social media is that you are responsible for your reputation management. If someone says something positive or negative about you, wouldn’t you want to know that? Yes, this will allow you to keep good relationships with your customers. It also helps keep you informed one what your business if doing right or wrong.
Resources such as twitter, facebook, and blogger allow you to control reputation management. You want to retweet good tweets and disarm bad ones on twitter.  Never delete a bad comment on your blog. This should be used to talk with customers and it give you a chance to make things right. If it used inappropriate language, delete it.

Successful Campaigns allow you to closely monitor and measure your before and after result.  Set a benchmark, implement and measurement tools, run a small campaign, and measure the results. It is important to trace what resource is giving your business the best benefit. For example if a company spends all their time into managing an account and they are not get any business out of they have wasted time and money. You will want to test different tools and resources in different ways to get the best benefit from each.

How do you monitor all your social media accounts? What resources do you use to best market yourself? Have you ever thought of marketing yourself towards a specific demographic?

Social Media Trinity

The social media trinity involves the 3 major strategies you need to know and understand when it comes to being successful using social media in your marketing strategy- blogging, microblogging, and social networking. 

The first strategy, blogging, is considered very vital to a company's marketing campaign and its image.  It is an avenue to help you, for instance, brand yourself and your company and get a large, trusted following.  Not only that, but it gets you and your brand in front of your audience automatically and however frequently you desire it to.  Blogs have a way of affecting certain businesses, for instance, if somebody writes about the food a restaurant provides and adds pictures along with the feedback, that restaurant could end up with additional foot traffic and boost its business.  Blogs about vacation experiences alongside pictures can make the followers want to go to that spot as well.  The American Association for People with Disabilities have a summer internship program and they have the interns do a weekly blog about their experiences in various federal agencies and that is a way to people to see what the AAPD is helping their interns to experience. 
One suggestion is to run the blog directly off your own website, that way you can take advantage of search engine perks.  The number of links to your web pages can push you higher on the SERP, search engine reply pages, and by creating a lot of blogs, you are creating a lot of different web pages for the search engines to find and index.  Blog pages get a higher priority than a standard HTML web page so if you create a lot of blogs, your webpage can get a higher priority search engine ranking and be visible more often to people who surf the net.

The second strategy, microblogging, (can be done on Twitter or Instagram) is also one of the most important social media tools to use.  If you are going to use Twitter for business, don't tell me what you are doing with your day because that would only be appropriate for a personal account. Instead, microblog about your business, including a significant amount of pictures to draw interest and attract your followers to the products.  People follow clothing or food businesses on Instagram because of photos and the curiosity see what new designs or products they are up to, it is more personal and people like to be more personal with the business, especially if its a local one where you can build trust with the followers.  Businesses grow faster because the company tries to be personal with the customers to meet their needs. One neat thing about microblogging on Twitter is that each tweet can only be up to 140 characters, and takes maybe five seconds to comprehend, which is a small investment of time on their part and yours. 

The third strategy and last part of the Social Media Trinity is social networks. That person assigned to the task needs to stay active, participate, kick out advertisers and spammers, post new content, and have a social presence. If Facebook were a country, it would be the third-largest country in the world, exceeding the 309,409,364 total population of the United States.  This statistic stresses how significant social networks are and why it should be utilized by your business to further build a following. 

One benefit of the social media trinity strategies is that it is free to use and easy to set up, costing you nothing but time to sign up.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Retention Management – What Strategies Are (Not) Working?

The U.S. added 157,000 payroll positions in January according to The New York Times. Such job growth, however, did not result in a lower unemployment rate. On the contrary, the unemployment rate rose to 7.9% for the month. What is going on?

There must be more than one reason behind that. One could be employers now require existing employees to take over some of the responsibilities for the vacant positions until they are filled. When employers are not filling the vacant positions, the increased number of payroll positions does not help lower the unemployment rate.

Another possible reason is that fewer employers are willing to invest in candidates with less experience but great potential. Companies prefer to hire candidates who are ready to plug in and perform the job immediately --- usually those holding a similar position in a competitive firm. By doing so, companies can save a good amount of training and development cost. Therefore, it may seem everyone is “hiring,” but the truth is everyone is fighting for the same candidates who have already had a job. When no one is hiring the unemployed, the increased number of empty positions has little effect on the unemployment rate.

I consider what I mentioned above the “malpractices” in HR operations because these companies are doing nothing but “digging the grave” for themselves. Today, almost every professional is on LinkedIn. Many are also active on other social media platforms. As compared to regular staff, valuable employees are more vulnerable to be seen on the internet and be approached by a competitor. As a result, when the economy is turning around, the companies that require employees to do more for less or do not want to invest in their human capital will end up losing the top talent for the competitors.

Considering retention management is a system-wise approach to encourage valuable employees to stay with the employer, I would like to ask you the following questions: What considerations a company must take in managing employee retention? Based on what you experienced in the workplace or what you have read in literature, what tactics can employers use to manage employee retention? Which tactics work well? Which do not? For what reasons?

Relevant discussion:

Rampell, Catherine. (2013, February 2). Job growth steady, but unemployment rises to 7.9%. The New York Times, pp. B1. Also available online via http://nyti.ms/XxVsxP
The picture was downloaded from FrankCrum

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Is Instagram The New Twitter?

Social networking and micro blogging are trends that have been flashing through our eyes as we visit our most visited sites, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. According to an article on Educause.com called, “7 Things You Should Know About Microblogging”, ELI Publications defines micro blogging as “the practice of posting small pieces of digital content online—which could be text, pictures, links, short videos, or other media—on the Internet”.  In other words, Micro blogging is a way of blogging in with less content than original blogs. While communication is key in our everyday lives, our current generation has used both social networking and micro blogging as outlets to share their thoughts, experiences, and images.

Twitter has been around since 2006 providing an online social networking service and micro blogging service. Twitter is a site that allows its users to send text-based messages, edit their profiles, and send pictures. It’s almost like updating your Facebook status throughout the day except with Twitter; you are limited to 140 characters per tweet enhancing people’s creativity to send more with less. Twitter allows their users to integrate their tweets with Facebook, linking tweets to the both accounts for a simple status update and a tweet all at once.  While Twitter allows its users to tweet text, images, links and other media, Instagram is similar, yet different. 

Instagram was launched in 2010, enabling its users to capture, filter, and share photos on other integrated forms of media like Facebook. Yes, Instagram is still young but is rapidly enhancing its services. Originally Instagram was just a mobile application, now it’s a site that can be visited with or without using a mobile device. Guardian News and Media released an article called; “Instagram and Twitter wrestle as social network war reaches new level”, which speaks on the reason as to why Instagram cut its integration off from Twitter. According to the article, “Twitter benefits from having content from other media-generating services - such as Instagram. In September, the AllThingsD site reported that user engagement from Twitter to Instagram pictures was greater than within Instagram itself”.  Which means that if Instagram continued integrating with Twitter, it wouldn’t be where it is today. Now, Instagram has a new owner; Facebook. Instagram is independent from micro blogging sites such as Twitter and is doing well in having over 500 million user agreements. Below are some questions I would like for you to think about for a discussion.

For all those who use both Instagram and Twitter, do you think that Instagram can potentially be the new twitter?

How much different is Instagram from Twitter, and do you agree with the cut off of integration with Twitter?

Will twitter and Instagram join forces? Will we be Instatweeting?


Saturday, February 2, 2013

The future is here: Cloud Computing

     In the last few years a new technology has been emerging in the virtual world. Cloud computing may in fact be the future of the internet. Cloud technologies basically take a companies information and store it on online servers which makes it accessible from anywhere to anyone with an internet enabled device and a password. Although this may seem like a simple concept its changing the game and innovators who can use the cloud in new ways are flying ahead of the competition. Its first use was primarily for storage as seen in icloud services launched by Apple, dropbox, and CISCO cloud business solutions. although the cloud is a perfect tool for storage is power and worth lies elsewhere.
     Cloud technologies have made turned collaboration from a process that was difficult and needed a lot of workarounds online, to a beautiful and powerful collaboration platform. When Google launched its Google apps suite the game was changed. The suite features an array of cloud based apps that all are focused around collaboration made easy. The suite's premium version was a perfect solution for large businesses, colleges, and small businesses alike giving the power of easy collaboration through documents, calendars  and other project based programs to its subscribers. one of the most important things that set Google apart from other cloud services was that although they introduced a very user friendly interface for their products they didn't forget the clouds roots in storage and added that in. Most companies traditionally give their employees about 500 megabytes of storage space in email and other programs. With the Google apps suite users get  25 gigabytes of storage space on email alone. That number is increased with every program a business uses in the suite.
   So if super easy collaboration and a solid amount of storage wasn't enough Google just kept going. The whole suite is browser based so no software download is required. This makes the service completely compatible on virtually any device with a web browser and internet connection.
     Google isn't the only company switching from traditional products to cloud based products. Adobe released its CS6 suite as a cloud based subscription service allowing users to access the whole suite by downloading whatever program they wanted. The cloud based service also frees up space on user's hard drives by hosting the the whole suite in the cloud.
     So i guess the question becomes what is next for the cloud? In addition to that how will the cloud affect the hospitality industry? 

Productivity Applications

In this modern day and age, we live and work in a world that has accelerated the expectation of how quickly we respond to one another.  I believe this is due to the introduction of the smart phone into the business world.  The expectation is that we get a lot done in a very short amount of time.  Life is in fast forward now, and we can either get with the times or become more in touch with the digital world that we live in, or be left in the dust, wondering what were missing.   Really the expectation is that you could be contacted at any given time.  Text email, Facebook, twitter and all of the se other social media outlets that we al use to communicating with one another, can be very overwhelming.  We used to use a filing cabinet to organize our important documents, but now, everything is digital, so we have become dependent on having everything we need at our finger tips at all times.  The need for productivity applications has become very apparent.

Whether you are filtering mass amounts of content, managing a project or professionally presenting a company, community managers deal with a lot of communication. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources to keep them productive.        
Shared docs, e-mail and internal micro blogging are great work, but combine all these and more in the social work platform, Podio, which allows for a wide range of project management and collaboration methods. It has an easy drag-and-drop interface for customization, along with a slick mobile app.

Tweet deck and Hoot Suite allow me to schedule my tweets for later, and gives me the ability to manage multiple social media accounts.

Screenr is a free way to record your screen for up to five minutes, for tutorials, demonstrations etc.
Time is such a valuable thing to us now, especially in out hectic lives that often blend both our personal live s with our work. There are many applications out on the market now that aim to make our work easier and us more productive. If there's a job that needs to be done, a simple download of a productivity app will help you do it faster, cheaper, and more efficiently. 

Discussion questions:
Do you think that all of these productivity applications that are out there, are actually making us more efficient or are they just complicating things even more?

Do you think that it is fair that because the majority of people have the technology, that we are now expected to respond to everyone right away?

For curiosity sake, is there a productivity application that you use? What is it, and how does it help you?

Interpersonal Communications

Most of us have friends or family members that are far enough away that we can’t visit them too often. Social Media has made it possible to stay in contact with them easy and simple with messaging and video calling. Some examples are AOL Instant Messenger, Google Talk, Ichat, Yahoo!Messenger, Microsoft and Windows Life Messenger, OOVVOO, and Skype. The most popular one and the one who started the video calling revolution is Skype. With Skype you can video call anyone as long as both people have a Skype account. Skype can also make it possible to talk from a computer to a cellphone for a cheap rate with the use of Skype Premium.

In a business stand point communicating through video calls has done wonders. Corporate meetings consist of many different people from all around the world getting together to talk about crucial topics. This usually meant a lot of travel for many of the workers. Companies like Polycom, Cisco Umi and Vidyo are the leading companies used for corporate meetings. A problem that corporate meetings have is the quality of the video when adding numbers of people who are on the line. Vidyo is now using a new technology putting him in the lead of teleprencanse. The new technology is called H.264 Scalable Video Coding. In simple terms what it does is create a different stream for each person joining the video giving each user the highest quality. The older technology used one single steam for the all the videos and the quality would go down every time you added another user. The video shows what Vidyo is capable of doing.

How do you connect with your friends that are far away? Why did you pick that company versus some of the others mentioned above?