Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Jason Falls and the Ethics of Social Media and News Reporting

Last Friday, Jason Falls came to speak to our social media class.  I was insanely excited to have him speak and he didn't disappoint, because whatever kind of lecture I had been expecting, it was not the one he gave (and I mean nothing negative when I say that).  He spoke to us about the lack of ethics in social media when it comes to much of the "news" that is broadcast on mainly Twitter, Facebook, and blog posts.  But he didn't seem to lecture from a strictly social media professional outlook.  Jason Falls was once a journalist, so he (very successfully, mind you) tied in the issues of ethics from the journalistic point of view as well.  Before coming to UofL, I was a photojournalism major at Western Kentucky University so the fact that he brought the journalistic aspect into the equation really struct a positive chord with me.  Falls drew from a recent and relevant topic to help support his points; the bombing of the Boston Marathon.  

Currently in the field of social media, it's not an unknown fact that there is a consistent push to be first to say relevant on the topics, be current and up-to-date with real time marketing and reporting.  Because of this insane push, people forget that there are certain lines that you must be cautious not to cross in addition to people's lives that could irreversibly be ruined.  An example Mr. Falls used was a 17 year old track star that essentially happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and somehow became a "suspect" for the bombing.  His picture was plastered all over the internet via Twitter and Facebook and now he can barely attend classes, let alone leave his home all because his name and picture were paired with words that essentially condemned him.  Another incident he mentioned was about an individual that overheard a name given out over a police scanner as a possible person of interest (possible, not yet an actual suspect) who then turned around and gave the name to NBC.  This broadcasting company then reported this name on live television and received mass amounts of backlash for releasing this name before it was even confirmed with authorities.  As you can imagine, another name falsely tarnished. 

While I cannot argue that during times and incidents such as these, it's very easy to have emotions get high, as well as having an elevated need for answers and something to help understand.  Couple that with the need to be the first to get something out for people to read and be at the fore front of the news, it's now more important than ever to really fact check before you jump in.  Always remember, it's generally better to be accurate than first.  It's much more difficult and time consuming to fix an avoidable mistake.  Before an individual active in this area slights not only their reputation, but another innocent person's in the process, make sure what you say is true and not just myth or a temporary explanation.

There's an article that was shared with the class that ties in nicely with Jason's lecture.  Augie Ray wrote the article Ethics in Social Media Marketing: Responding to the Boston Tragedy.  While his is written less from the journalist aspect and more from the marketing and advertising side of things, I think the main point trying to be made is reached.  My favorite argument he makes discusses the Ford ad thanking the Boston first response team for capturing the last bombing suspect.  While yes, it's admirable that they attempted to show support for the individuals involved in the capture, their execution left something to be wanting.  

(credit: Augie Ray Ethics in Social Media Marketing: Responding to the Boston Tragedy)

If they had left it at a simple text post on Facebook or a tweet simply saying, "Thank you, you are true American heroes" that would have been admirable and enough.  But to turn around and release an image with their product and logo plastered all over it was going a step too far in the wrong direction.  Had they used a photo of the first responders with their logo in the corner as it is above, that would have even been acceptable.  But not what was sent out to the public.  It comes as using this tragedy to gain more advertising possibilities.   I compare what Ford did to what Jason Falls is currently doing with his company.  For any product they sell that has anything to do with Boston, the proceeds for the bought items go straight to charities in Boston.  They aren't advertising this at all because they don't want any recognition for what they are doing (which is why I didn't want to name the company).    

Before I close this out, I want to mention that I'm sure Ford has done several other things to help those affected in Boston.  I was merely pointing out that in this one case, they could have done better.  I have nothing against the Ford company at all :)

Jason Falls Twitter: @JasonFalls

Augie Ray Article

Instagram meets Blogger?? Yes, please??

So, quick thought/suggestion here while I work on the remainder of my social media campaign proposal...

Can we get Instagram to link up with more blogging websites than just Tumblr??  Not everyone uses Tumblr and it would have really helped with this campaign...

A happy suggestion!!  :)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Well, it was a long time coming...HOOTSUITE CERTIFIED!!

After a bumpy road of technical difficulties, crazy finals schedules, and with no short amount of ADHD, I am finally a certified HootSuite Professional!!  And I couldn't be more excited about this.  Before the beginning of this semester I had no idea what HootSuite was or how to use it.  But after taking Dr. Karen Freberg's course as well as going through the certification process, I know without a doubt that HootSuite is a tool I hope to use in whatever professional career I end up in.

This social media tool is one that all businesses, companies, and brands should incorporate into their marketing and social media plans.  It has many organizational and analytic benefits.  For example, throughout the course of the semester, my Social Media class were separated into groups to take a department on campus and propose a social media campaign for them.  My group was assigned to the McConnell Center, one of the more prominent scholarship programs on campus.  Going into the initial meetings with our client, my partner and I quickly discovered that one of the major hurdles our client would be facing is the fact that there is currently a severe lack of manpower for any kind of social media team (we're talking one person handling all the PR and social media with little to no social media literacy at all).  We wanted to give our client a tool that would help save her time and keep her organized with all their social media platforms.  Our first plan of action, introduce the McConnell Center to HootSuite.  It allows the one person running the media show to schedule tweets and Facebook posts, as well as having all of the current McConnell Center pages in one place at one time.  There is no time wasted signing in and out of all the different outlets.  So far, our client as been nothing but thrilled with HootSuite and it has helped make her daily job more manageable. So for any companies out there that are in the same situation, I really urge you to sign up with HootSuite.

I really enjoyed how during the certification videos, they not only spoke about how HootSuite helps you to track hashtags and conversations in one area, thereby making it easier to respond quickly to any positive or negative feedback, but insight on proper ways to handle any bad tweets or messages going viral about your company.  They help with things to say or what do to if you don't have an immediate answer for an impending crisis.

My only recommendation for the certification process is maybe make new videos that are more interactive.  For people with attention deficit like me, sometimes it was hard to sit still or not kind of check out during some of the videos.  Which is upsetting because there is so much to learn about this great resource!!  If there were, say, little quiz questions after each section, that would have made the process easier to focus on as well as making sure the viewer is picking up on needed information.

My HootSuite Profile

Friday, April 5, 2013

How Instagram Can Only Get Better!!

It's fairly indisputable that Instagram is the major platform for sharing things that we love.  For all the foodies that upload pictures of their favorite meals or, if you're like me, sharing a photo of a meal you proudly cooked yourself all the way to posting about a brand you may love.  For example: a new car or the latest seasonal shade from the OPI Nail Polish line.  As Jamie Young states her in article Seven Features To Make Instagram Instantly Better, all of us are our own walking, talking advertisements (fully equipped with camera ready phones).  All seven ideas that Jamie Young listed, I completely agree with and even came up with an improvement of my own!!

Young's first idea is to make Instagram available for the iPad.  This is a fantastic idea due to the fact that large numbers of people have a tablet, a smartphone, AND a computer that they generally keep on their person at all times.  Why not have one more outlet to post on??  Back when Joey Wagner, owner of J Wagner Group, spoke in our class, he informed us about how his interns for the Kentucky Derby will walk around all day at the track, taking pictures of the fashion, the horses, anything to make the viewer feel as if they are really there.  From those iPads, they upload pictures in real to the company's Twitter account for all their followers to see.  It would be extremely convenient, as well as a fantastic strategy for J Wagner Group, to be able to edit those photos on the spot with their tablets, post them to Instagram and share those instagrammies on the company Twitter and Facebook pages.

I'm going to go out of order here and use another point Young makes to tie in with everything I just said.  How about the option to be able to use multiple accounts at once??  This could be useful for a company like J Wagner Group in case an intern snaps a shot for their own personal enjoyment (while not on the clock) to post on their own account with still being able to post for the company as well.  If you do this though, keep in mind to make sure you are aware of which account you are posting to!!  Social Media Crisis Management 101, haha.  As long as that risk is taken into account, the use of more than one account at a time can ultimately only be helpful for any brand and Instagram itself.

Syncing to the iCloud as well as the ability to make lists (like one can do on Twitter) are two other fantastic options.  Coming from someone that suffered iPhone issues with the Apple Software update a few months ago, I thought I had lost everything that had every been on my phone.  Thankfully because of the iCloud, that didn't happen.  The same essentially goes for Instagram with my pictures.  All of my important and favorite pictures are on Instagram and I feel like they are pretty safe there.  I delete things off of my computer and phone knowing that they are online on Instagram.  But what happens if Instagram crashes and all my photos are gone??  Having Instagram automatically be backed up by the iCloud is a vital thing for me. I wouldn't want any of those photos gone.  When it comes to the lists, that is more of an annoyance factor.  I don't want to scroll through my feed to look for gorgeous travel photos and only see pictures of people's coffee or inspiration quote.  Organizing the accounts I follow would help save time of I'm looking for a specific "genre" so to speak of photo.

Clickable Links, or at the very least, a Copy and Paste option for links is another improvement that Young brings to the table.  Being able to embed clickable links to open in another browser window or at least copy and share a link to take to a seperate browser is another convenience idea that would make the flow of Instagram that much steadier.

Finally, and I love this improvement so much, a character limit to captions or at the very least a read more option for captions.  It's quite frustrating scrolling through your feed only to end up reading a novel about someone's photo.  Keep it simple so that you don't lose your audience.

Now, for my own improvement, the ability to reshare a photo or when you tag another user in the caption of your photo, have that photo show up on their Instagram (as it does on Facebook).  Given that Facebook as essentially taken ownership of Instagram, I don't see how this could be a major issue.  Every single one of my friends says this about Instagram when posting photos.  A personal example of this: back in February, the fraternity that I am Sweetheart for and I went to Cincinnati for formal weekend.  There was a day we all went to the zoo and of the guy's date and I took a really cute photo together:

I uploaded it.  She loved it and wanted it on her Instagram.  In order to do this I had to either text her the picture so she could upload it from her phone or she took a screenshot of my Instagram account and then reposted it that way.  Which doesn't sound like much work but when you're running around in the sun enjoying your day at the zoo, or out at an event for work, vacation, etc. the faster you have a picture you want on your account, the better.  Everyone wins.  

If you want to read Young's article for yourself (and I highly recommend it) here is a link for you:
Seven Features To Make Instagram Instantly Better

Follow her on Twitter as well!!  I did :)