Author: Eric T. Tung

About Eric T. Tung

I'm Eric T. Tung, the principal social media consultant and founder of Quantum Mass Media and social media strategy consultant for Chatterblast Media. We specialize in new relationship marketing and engagement for companies large and small. Contact me for more information or for speaking availability. Thank You!

Thoughts From a Furloughed Federal Government Employee

US-capitolThe government shutdown is affecting about 41% of federal government employees including 3,000 aviation inspectors, FDA food inspectors, auto recall inspectors, training for new TSA agents, and most of NASA. What most folks fail to realize is how the government shutdown is not only affecting employee morale, but also the view of the government as a potential employer in the future.

Here’s a post sent to me to publish by an acquaintance to express his/her thoughts about the shutdown.  All words belong to him/her, emphasis added.

550w_soaps_silhouetteFirst of all, the views expressed here are my own and not those of the U.S. government.

Since I was a child, it has been my goal to work for the United States government. In my eyes, agencies like the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration represented the largest cohort of passionate scientists, physicians and public health professionals that truly love what they do: Helping the American people.

Decades later, I still feel this is true– I am proud to say that I work with individuals who graduated from some of the nation’s best universities and medical schools and who represent some of the most intelligent critical thinkers and decision makers. I am surrounded by fellow government employees that focus on doing research that protect the health of the public from potential bioterrorism events, pandemics, and other disease and food-borne outbreaks…and they do what they do because they love it, not because they get the personal glory of naming a new discovery after themselves or by listing themselves as first author on a scientific manuscript. The glory is simple: We save lives. Period. There is nothing better than that.

Apparently I’m not alone with this point of view– consistently, the Department of Health and Human Services (specifically, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is always voted as one of the top, favored agencies by public opinion polls across the United States. (http://www.gallup.com/poll/ 162764/americans-views-irs- sharply-negative-2009.aspx)

Now, I’ll tell you what worries me: this generation of young people view the government as a single entity that is responsible for the tattle-tale battles between Republicans and Democrats that invade television…and yes, even social media. If I were growing up in this current political climate, I can honestly say I would have steered clear of the government when I was choosing the direction of my future career. Why would I want to be involved in constant embarrassing battles that are proudly paraded in front of the world? Why showcase our vulnerabilities to our enemies? More importantly, why would anyone who attends a top-tier university choose to work as a government employee when we are threatened by continuous budget cuts and furloughs? This is what worries me.

It seems the days are gone when one could be proud of being a government employee. At this point no one is sure how long this furlough will last, but I personally find it nauseating that it will cost $2 billion dollars to simply close the government for a single week. Are the American people aware that this amount could singled handedly fund an ENTIRE government agency for an entire year? Instead, fighting and pointing fingers is apparently more important than continuing to do the work that saves lives. $2 billion dollars will be flushed down the toilet…for absolutely no reason at all. I’m not sure how taking away pay checks for almost 1 million United States government employees will boost the economy. I feel like the back and forth conversations as of late represent a ship in peril; a ship that is on the verge of sinking…Which is my point: Any intelligent person will get off of a sinking ship.

I won’t talk about how I’m worried about how I will pay my mortgage this month or how reading “Green Eggs and Ham” to my children before bed now causes me anxiety and anger– I bet Ted Cruz won’t be affected by the same nagging worries that I have in the back of my own head due to this shut down. No, I won’t talk about those things because other Americans have been dealing with the same issues for the past few years. More important than any of that, I worry about all of the vital work that agencies have been doing that are now stalled and perhaps irreparably damaged due to this shut down. I worry that future generations of government employees won’t be of the same caliber, won’t have the same drive, and won’t have the same passion toward their work because they simply feel “non-essential.” This keeps me up at night more than anything. I hope I’m wrong and that looming budget cuts and furloughs and holding the government hostage for ideological views isn’t the only thing we have to look forward to in our future.

I hope the government isn’t a sinking ship. But if it is, you better believe the government employees doing the important work that needs to be done, will go elsewhere to get off of this sinking ship.

What are your thoughts about the government shutdown? Comment below.

Houston’s Most Social Newsdesks

Social NewsdesksSocial Media is the new frontier, yet many traditional news outlets have yet to have fully accepted Social. Houston is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the US, we have the second-largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies, and many great news sources.

Back in June, I compiled a list of the Top 100 Social Media Influencers in Houston. Using the same methodology, I’ve compiled this list to see who’s got the most pull on Social.

Social Pull measures the the influence of a social media user by the likelihood that their followers will engage with a post and expresses it as a multiple. Where the average user will have a 1x social pull, a user with a 10x is ten times more influential than the average user. Although the number of followers affects Social Pull, the influence and engagement of the followers make a bigger impact. (I’ve listed the Social Pull score along with the descriptions.)

The Analysis

Screen Shot 2013-09-22 at 12.13.53 AMFor some thoughts about Houston’s traditional media channel’s adoption of social, I turned to Houston media blogger and analyst, Mike McGuff (@MikeMcguff). Mike’s the expert when it comes to ratings, social and the news so I reached out for his thoughts on how the news is adopting social, and some of his thoughts.

As a KTRK employee in 2008, Mike was one of the first people in Houston to get a TV station on social media,  “I started creating Twitter and Facebook accounts and did a lot of experimentation to figure out how these tools could help get more website page views and TV audience eyeballs.” McGuff even livetweeted Hurricane Ike for about 30 hours, “Since there was no power in many parts of the city, Twitter over the phone was one of the few ways people could get info on the damaging storm.”

How did the management react to social? “It was a long struggle with management, because they were not sure at the time if the station should use social media,” says McGuff. “I can understand, because this was very early in social media’s history. Few TV stations around the country were even using it.”

In the end, McGuff’s persistence paid off, “We were years ahead of most of the other Houston TV stations as a result, so the “Houston’s News Leader” slogan extended in social media [when] most TV stations weren’t jumping on the social bandwagon until about 2010…some later. The media generally likes to take a wait and see approach on new technologies.”

Traditional Media Has Been Slow To Adopt Social

“Media companies have been chugging along for many years and have a certain way of doing things, they don’t usually adapt quickly to new trends, says McGuff. “There hasn’t been a need for innovation for the most part because the last decades have been good business wise for media companies. It’s only in the last seven years or so newspapers, and now television stations, have really needed to worry about erosion from the digital world.” I feel they will be adapting at a much quicker pace from now on out of necessity.

“Organizations like the Houston Press are good at building communities and are niche publications with a point of view. The other Houston media properties have mass audiences and must appeal to everyone. The Press can more easily target its content to what its audience likes. I would also think the Press’ readership would be more likely to use social media too.”

Traditional Media Naturally Garners Social Media Engagement

Even traditional news stations are able to quickly grow followers and can easily engage with followers. Mike shares an example, I saw a Houston TV anchor simply say something like ‘How are you doing?’ on Facebook and get a ton of likes and comments. Doubt a plumbing company or insurance firm has it that easy engagement wise.”

What can traditional media do to move forward? “When the media really analyzes how to use social media properly and more effectively, I think it will be a very powerful tool for stations and papers in the future.” says McGuff.

The Ratings…

1. Houston Press: The Houston Press is Houston’s News and Entertainment weekly, and the sponsors of the “Best of Houston” award series. They claim 600,000 readers monthly, but are a clear upset with 1/3 fewer followers than the Houston Chronicle. (38k vs. 62k). Their new media mindedness seems to be rooted in the type of news they cover and their target readership. They do a great job of asking web visitors to add their email address to their newsletter in a popup. – 137x

2. Houston Chronicle: The Chronicle is Houston’s only daily newspaper, making Houston the largest metro with a single paper. Owned by the Hearst Media Group, the paper even sells social media ads and rightfully so. Even though they aren’t the most influential on social media, they do have the largest Twitter following. – 132x

3. ABC 13 Houston: Also know as KTRK-TV, ABC 13 Houston is an ABC owed-and-operated station. Little known fact, the KTRK is derived from the fact that The Houston Chronicle owned a majority stake when the station first started, and modeled it after its radio call letters, KTRH. Although they came in third in the ratings, ABC 13 seems to be doing well on social. – 128x

4. KHOU: KHOU is the CBS-affiliated, Belo Corp owned news station (Belo is pending sale to The Gannett Company). Where the first three outlets on this list were tigtly grouped within 10 points, there’s a 40-point difference between KHOU and ABC 13. KHOU was the second television station licensed in the Houston area.  – 86x

5. MyFoxHouston: KRIV was the third UHF station in the Houston area, and is currently owned and operated by Fox since 1986. MyFoxHouston and KHOU are fairly closely ranked when it comes to social pull.  – 84x

6. HouBizJournal: The HBJ is part of the American City Business Journals group, with 40 metropolitan weekly publications and is based in Charlotte. – 41x

7. ABC13Weather: ABC13’s weather-only Twitter feed –  38x

8. Free_Press: Free Press Houston is a monthly newspaper focusing on arts and entertainment in Houston.  – 34x

9. HoustonPBS: KUHT is Houston’s PBS-member public television station, and the first public television station in the United States. The station s owned and licensed to the University of Houston System. – 32x

10. KPRCLocal2: KPRC-TV is Houston’s NBC-affiliated station, owned by the Post-Newsweek Stations subsidiary of the Washington Post company. Of the four major network-affiliated stations, KPRC is the least socially influential, with 1/6th the score of ABC13’s – 20x

11. Local2Weather: Just a couple points from it’s parent feed, KPRC’s weather feed – 18x

12. FuelFixBlog: The Houston Chronicle’s energy blog,  – 18x

13. KUHFNews: Owned by the University of Houston System and operated by Houston Public Media, @KUHFNews is the news handle for Houston’s public radio station.  – 17x

14. News92FM: KROI is an all-news station owned by Radio One, who also own the 97.9 The Box and Magic 102, according to Mike McGuff. The station started in 2011. – 16x

15. NewsFixHouston: KIAH’s NewsFix is an anchor-less, newsreel-type news program, and the only of the type in Houston. It ranked as the least socially influential of the TV news programs in Houston. – 14x

16. TelemundoHou: KTMD is the Houston-area Telemundo Owned and Operated station. – 14x

17. TexansonABC: A Texans-focused Twitter handle from ABC13. Note that the TexansonABC handle is actually more socially influential than ABC13Sports, ranked at 20. – 14x

18. Local2Sports: KPRC’s sports desk handle.. – 10x

19. KHOUWeather: KHOU’s weather team handle. – 9x

20. ABC13Sports: ABC13’s sports desk handle. – 5x

21. KTRHNews: Better known as News Radio 740 airs primarily talk-radio. KTRH is owned by Clear Channel. – 4x

22. UniRadioHouston: Although we couldn’t find a Univision station handle in Houston, the Univision Radio handle still ranks on our list. – 3x

23. HCNOnline: The main handle for the Houston Community Newspapers. Last year, the HCN network of 28 Houston-Area newspapers was acquired by 1013 Star Communications, based in Reno, Nevada. – 2x
SugarLandSun – 2x
LakeHoustonSun – 2x
VillagerNews – 2x
CypressMirror – 2x
BayAreaCitizen – 1x
PearlandNews – 0.95x
WestUExaminer – 0.92x
KingwoodNews – 0.77x
ConroeCurrier – 0.76x
BellaireExaminer – 0.69x
PasadenaCitizen – 0.67x
FtBendNews – 0.65x
RiverOaksNews – 0.64x
HumbleNews – 0.52x
FriendswoodNews – 0.49x
SpringfieldObserver – .34x
MemorialNews – .34x
DeerParkNews – .28x
TomballNews – .26x
MyDaytonNews – .22x
MyClevelandNews – .18x
MagnoliaNews – .17x
RancherNews – .17x
EastexNews – .12x

24. KHOUSports: KHOU’s sports desk handle – 1x

25. CMoreMy20 – Although Houston’s third independent TV station, KTXH has dwindled. Once a UPN station, My20 is part of the MyNetworkTV and is currently owned by Fox as a sister station to KRIV, myfoxhouston. – .03x

What are your thoughts about the Houston news scene on social? Let me know in the comments!

Worst Press Release in Social Media History

Sure, Klout may be one tool for measuring influence, but no one “on the inside” of digital marketing actually puts much credibility into it. It was a great tool when it emerged three years ago, but there are more developed tools for measuring influence. It’s pretty much using your EPA-sticker from your used car to prove your fuel efficiency – inaccurate, unreliable and a known diversion from the actual facts.

One quick way to lose credibility within the online marketing world is to lead with your Klout score – you should have case studies and campaigns you can point to where you raised awareness, created ROI.

Here are three quick ways to use Klout to lose credibility for your online marketing agency.

1. Decide that a Klout score is important.

This is exactly what Anchor Communications did, but wait… there’s more.

2. Issue a press relase about Klout scores.

Anchor thought that Mr. Kirgin’s Klout score reaching a 68 was important enough to write and issue a press release… (I’m a 71/72, and haven’t even written a blog post about that).

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 1.25.47 PM

(original press release – h/t Jure Klepic)

Not only does this type of press release tell the world that you think Klout is the amazing influence tool it’s not, but it says that you’ve got nothing else to talk about at your agency. Any cool campaigns or client work going on? Talk about that.

Anchor goes a step further by actually linking to Mr. Kirgin’s Klout profile:
Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 1.32.53 PM

If you proceed to the page linked in the official press release by the agency, you can see Mr. Kirgin’s top posts, or some of the reasons that he was ranked so highly by Klout (h/t Muhammad Saad Khan)

3. Linking to pro-firearms and swimwear-wearing models from an official company press release.

And clicking through to his Klout page, as linked from an official company press release and distributed by PRWeb, is his love of firearms and scantily-clad women. Probably not the types of messages you might want associated with your company if you’re considering hiring an online marketing agency.

(NSFW – NOT SAFE FOR WORK Warning)

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 1.20.43 PM

 

And then… the Twitter comments…

 

 

Not my an impression I’d like to leave for my company. What about you? Let me know about your thoughts below.

Similar thoughts from Joey Devilla.

Live Tweeting Tips and Best Practices

Live Tweeting is when a person tweets along with a live event. It was popular occurrence during the Presidential debates earlier this year, as well as during popular TV shows. It gives the tweeter an opportunity to establish a voice, communicate with other tweeters around an event and establish thought leadership and influence on the topic.

What is Live Tweeting? Continue reading

Hashtags, Mentions, LiveTweets and Tweetchats: What’s the Difference and Why You Should Care

Perhaps one of the most confusing areas of Twitter are hashtags. How do they work, who can use them, are there huge directories somewhere where they list all the official hashtags you can use? Once you have some of these questions answered, there’s even more questions surrounding TweetChats and Live Tweets and how those work (we’ll elaborate on these more in the next couple blog posts).

We’ll answer all of these questions for you and help you jump deeper into the conversations you want to engage with on Twitter. Continue reading