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To “Like” Taco Bell or Not to “Like”

This week I followed Taco Bell’s Facebook page. The company’s site has 5,819,690 fans and includes extra pages, such as news, photos, careers and more. The most obvious plus of Taco Bell’s site is that they allow fans to write on their wall. Several companies that I debated following before choosing Taco Bell did not allow this (i.e. Papa John’s, Domino’s, Pizza Hut).

On average, the company posted once or twice per day. They use these posts to engage followers, get feedback, advertise promotions or deals, and post information about the company that will make them look good (public relations type posts). Some posts they use to engage followers include:

  • What’s your favorite Taco Bell burrito?
  • Are you staying in tonight or out and about? Who’s making a Bell run tonight?
  • Who “Likes” late night Bell runs?

Some ways the company asked for feedback are:

  • Who’s tried the Quad Steak Burrito with 4X the thick and juicy marinated steak? Thumbs up or down?

Concerning the advertising and PR posts, Taco Bell used Facebook to share information about events they sponsored (i.e. a basketball contest), share the latest specials offered at Taco Bell (i.e. 88 cent Crunch Wrap Supreme), and to offer special coupons and deals to their fans. Most of the promotional posts are accompanied by links to places on Taco Bells website where fans can go for more information. One of the most interesting ways the company utilized its Facebook page was to deal with the recent crisis due to the law suit claiming Taco Bell’s seasoned ground beef is only 35 percent certified meat. Taco Bell responded to this law suit and ushered people and fans to the Facebook page. Coupons for a free crunchy taco were available to all those who “Like”ed the page.

One major downside of Taco Bell’s Facebook site is the way they respond (or don’t respond) to posts. For example, I stated that the company posted a lot of questions asking for feedback or for comments from fans. However, once the comment was posted, the company never commented on or responded to any of the fan posts. These posts to engage the audience usually received 2,000 to 4,000 comments, but Taco Bell never adds input, comments on posts or thanks fans for their input.

Also, as noted earlier, Taco Bell does allow fans to post on the site. However, maybe the company should rethink this. The company does not answer questions or thank fans a majority of the time. When customers complain and the company does choose to respond, they are offered this standard, yet “personalized” message:

  • ·@Megan – Sorry about that L Please call 1-800-TACO-BELL or fill out the form at: http://www.tacobell.com/legal/feedback.
    It helps to provide the store number and any additional details. This will be sent to the store so that they can improve in the future.
    Thanks!
    Taco Bell

Although I give the company props for attempting to respond, this type of answer is not ideal. It is not personalized and offers no additional help in the complaint process. I think it would be more beneficial if they were to say something like, “I’ll make sure I take care of this,” or “I’ll make sure your complaint gets into the right hands.” People don’t want to fill out forms or call automated messages, that’s why they complain on Facebook.

I also noticed the company deleted some of the complaint comments. For instance one woman posted: “I tried to complain about how little meat was in my Crunch Wrap Supreme and you deleted it and didn’t even respond! Thanks a lot!” After this second complaint, the fan received the typical: “That’s no good L Call us at…” response.

Finally, although Taco Bell tried to utilize Facebook to respond to the ‘meat crisis,’ the company did a poor job of actually addressing the issue on Facebook. When followers commented on the situation or asked about the law suit or meat recipe, Taco Bell solicited the same response every time:

Except the coupons and interaction between fans, I don’t see a whole lot of value in Taco Bell’s Facebook site. In other words, I don’t think the company is adding any real information or service that isn’t available elsewhere. I know it’s difficult to respond when fans post at least every 10 minutes, but the vague and unhelpful responses are not ideal.

Learning to use Facebook professionally

1. Want to learn about safe sex without being lectured or feeling awkward? Come to comedian Cindy Pierce’s presentation of “Ringing the Doorbell” on Mon., March 7 at 7 p.m. in Loeb Theater. The event is hosted by the Purdue Panhellenic Association and the Interfraternity Council. Will you be attending?

2. We all remember how awful that required sexual health class was in high school. Now, learn about healthy choices, safe sex, birth control and porn from a noted comedian! Join the Fraternity and Sorority Life at Loeb Theater March 7 at 7 p.m. as Cindy Pierce defuses sensitive topics in “Ringing the Doorbell” with unfiltered and frank humor. What topics or issues do you want covered?

Social Media Scavenger Hunt

Find a news release related to your beat.    

NIH – “Researchers indentify protein essential for embryo implantation”
http://www.nih.gov/news/health/feb2011/nichd-18.htm?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
Found via Twitter – http://twitter.com/#!/NIHforHealth/status/38677180149932032

Find a blog on your beat.

A Trail Runner’s Blog – http://runtrails.blogspot.com/
Found via Twitter – http://twitter.com/#!/FitnessDoc/status/38341541219016704

Identify an expert on your beat that has a Twitter account and follow them.

Jillian Michaels (fitness guru from The Biggest Loser)
http://twitter.com/#!/JillianMichaels

Using Facebook (not your friends), find three “real” people you could interview.

1. Kevin Isaac – College student who works at the Co-Rec
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Purdue-Rec-Sports/102183217462#!/Sac13

2. Sarah Hanson – Assistant Director of Operations at the Co-Rec
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Purdue-Rec-Sports/102183217462#!/profile.php?id=37601929

2. Scotty Carte – Student involved in lots of health and fitness activities, including the Air Force, Wakeboarding, Snowboarding, Purdue Free-Runners
http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/profile.php?id=587237687

Find a company related to your beat that has a Facebook account and become a fan.

Purdue Rec Sports
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Purdue-Rec-Sports/102183217462?ref=ts&sk=wall

Identify an organization related to your beat and find their social media pages.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/stjude
Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/stjude
YouTubehttp://www.youtube.com/mystjude
RSS feed – http://www.stjude.org/rss

Using hashtags only on Twitter, find what people are saying about a current event.

The new health care reform bill (includes positive and negative opinions)
Hashtag = #hcr
http://twitter.com/#!/search?q=%23hcr

Requesting Sources via Social Media

Last week, I put a call out for people who have participated in the Learn to Play classes at the Co-Rec. I was hoping to get some sources I could interview for an upcoming blog. I posted this request on my Twitter account, Facebook account and my J&C blog. I got one response total. It was my roommate’s boyfriend that responded, and he said “Spinning classes there are great.”

I think that it would be helpful to post these types of requests multiple times on Twitter and Facebook. One reason is that people will be more likely to see it. When I log on to Twitter, I don’t necessarily scroll down and look at every single tweet I’ve missed since I last logged on. I follow over 230 people; it would be nearly impossible to read every tweet with my full attention. Another reason this would be helpful is that I think people will be more likely to respond if they see the same request a couple times. For instance, the first time they see it, they are probably just browsing through posts quickly and don’t want to take the time to respond even if it applies to them. However, if they see the same post a couple times, the request is more likely to register in their minds and seem more important that they answer. Or maybe they will be so annoyed of seeing the same post over and over that they will reply. Either way will suffice!

I think this might be a little easier in professional situations. For example, if a journalist puts out a call for sources or story ideas, who doesn’t want their name or company publicized? Putting out a call is just another way of gathering 140-character press releases. With PR professionals dedicated to social media, hopefully they are catching on and will respond to these requests more quickly and with more information.

Blogging Advice for Liz

10 Tips for Writing a blog post:

1. Make your opinion known
I like how you insert yourself into posts. Instead of just saying, here’s this group, you really relate to it yourself and help the readers relate to it as well!

2. Link like crazy
When posting links, try to make it more subtle. Instead of saying “Here is a link to their website,” or “Check it out here,” try linking a word that is already in your writing. For example: I really regret not joining the Association for Women in Communication [link]. After checking their group out on Facebook [link] and Twitter [link],…”

On that note, try to post more links! One example is your post previewing the Miss Purdue Pageant; I really wanted to learn more about it! Even if there isn’t a real website, you can still link to Exponent articles previewing the event or Purdue news releases.

3. Write less

4. 250 words is enough

5.     No block of text more than 5 lines
Sometimes the blocks of text are a little too long. For example, in your latest, “Want Professional Work Experience?” I would recommend splitting the paragraph up into at least two different sections.

6. Make headlines snappy
Good catchy titles. Make sure you give a little bit of preview as to what you’ll be talking about. One example is your LinkedIn post where the title is simply “advice.” It works how it is because the LinkedIn logo is showing, but it might be helpful to have a more descriptive title such as “Use LinkedIn to Your Advantage” or “Get LinkedIn.”

7. Write with passion

I really like when you include what the clubs’ current projects are or what events are coming up next. It’s a great way to show what the clubs are really about and how they can benefit future members.

8. Include bullet point lists

Great lists in your posts about Women in Communication and the LinkedIn advice. They are a great way to show off the most important information while making it easy for readers to follow and read quickly.

9. Edit your post

10. Make your posts easy to scan

One other random point: try using the bold, italic and underline features to make certain words or phrases stand out. It makes the blogs easier for people to scan and understand your main points!

11. Be consistent with your style

12. Litter the post with keywords

 

Other random point: I like when you engage your readers and ask for help. One example of this is your snow day post when you ask for readers to add to your list of things to do during a Purdue snow day!

Overall, great job! I like that you are including a wide variety of clubs on campus, not just ones that you would be interested in. I can also tell you’re very passionate about Purdue and want to help others succeed!

My not-so-perfect attempt to Tweet live

On Monday, Caitlin and I attended one of Purdue’s WorkLife Program sessions with lecturer Karen Hosterman-Sabel. When we arrived, only the woman taking attendance and the guest speaker were there. When asked to sign in, we explained why we there and that our professor had notified the program that we would be attending as a class assignment. However, neither woman had heard anything about this and both were very confused as to what we were saying. So we took the time to explain ourselves and our assignment and asked if it was okay that we tweeted from the event. Reluctantly, they agreed.

During the event, Caitlin twittered away on her phone as I sat (obnoxiously) behind my computer because my phone is slowly going out-of-commission, and I didn’t want it to malfunction during the event. Only about 10 other people showed up to the event, all arriving after Caitlin and me. Watching us multitask, unaware of our assignment, they gave us very rude looks. One of those “Ugh, college students are so unappreciative.” I think this is one of the main problems with Twitter. I first noticed this at Com Day, Purdue’s career and development fair for communication majors. We were sitting in a development session, listening to Patrick Nycz from Indiana Design Consortium, and the girl next to me (in the front row I might add) was texting on her phone the entire time. I’m pretty sure she was tweeting a majority of the time, but it came across as though she was simply uninterested and was being extremely rude. I’m interested to see how this issue develops in the future. Personally, I think there is a time and place for it.

Back to issue at hand. Tweeting live from this event presented new difficulties as a reporter. For instance, I had to figure out “the big picture” during the presentation, not after. Also, sometimes it was difficult to fit everything I wanted to say into the 140 character limit, so I spent more time editing than listening to what the speaker was saying next. One of the main things I realized is that research beforehand is much more crucial when covering an event live. You don’t have time to sit there and research the speaker, double-check a fact or read more about something you didn’t understand. I also had trouble thinking in a “Twitter mindset” as opposed to a traditional reporter mindset. I’m so used to focusing on the main ideas, the facts and the relevant quotes, that I had trouble figuring out how to incorporate the little fun details that Twitter allows for. For example, the speaker made a couple of funny jokes, but I couldn’t find a way to portray them via 140 characters without them sounding lame or rude. I think humor is something that is very touchy over Twitter.

Personally, I would rather read a news story in the newspaper or online as opposed to Twitter. I have tried to follow events via Twitter, but the stories come across jumbled and tend to skip around a lot. However, I think as we learn and develop, this is a form of news that will improve greatly.

Twitter: Friend or Foe?

Reaction to NYTimes’ Article: “Spotlight Again Falls on Web Tools and Change”

           The world is changing. We are transitioning to online, immediate and personalized news. And not just in the United States. I think the harder people try to fight the popularity and strengths of social media, the harder it is going to backfire. The recent uprising in Egypt and eventual resignation of Mubarak is just one example of this.

            I agree with Evgeny Morozov’s opinion that new media, if used correctly or innovatively, can be a very powerful and successful tool. Just look at the latest presidential election. Pres. Obama was the underdog, but by utilizing new media to reach young, passionate citizens of Gen Y, he was able to raise an enormous following, raise millions of dollars in donations, and eventually win the presidency. Although we do not necessarily want the power of social media in the wrong hands, it’s hard to deny its power.

            On the other hand, it will be interesting to see where censoring comes into play among new media in the coming years. As the article states, Iran already utilized Twitter to arrest thousands of political activists who posted in opposition of the government. I wonder if this concept will come into play in the United States. To some extent, it already has with reporters and employees being fired for posting inappropriate or slandering statements.

           With the Internet and the prominence of social media comes a certain level of easiness in everyday life: an easy way to connect, an easy way to share ideas, an easy way to get news. But with this huge connection comes consequences. I constantly have to question every 140 character tweet before posting – could this offend someone? Will a future employer throw my resume in the trash if they see this? I love Twitter and new media, but it’s getting harder and harder to have a personal life. Every thing I do is public. Even this blog, which is just for in-class assignments, comes up when I Google my name. How much is too much?


Twitter Updates

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