Tag Archives: Facebook

Social media during the workday: Time waster or mental palate cleanser?

Unless you work in the bat cave, you can probably find a useful way to incorporate social media into your workday.
Unless you work in the bat cave, you can probably find a useful way to incorporate social media into your workday.

I check social media more often than I would care to admit. Facebook and Twitter are the first things I check in the morning after snoozing, then turning off my alarm, and before checking email. Then I keep tabs of different social networks open all day long at work — or at the very least Hootsuite. And when I go home, I’m usually checking in on social using my phone or tablet.

Luckily for me and for my employer, social media is my job. I keep so many social tabs open during my work day because I’m managing our brand’s accounts and I’m looking for story ideas to pass onto reporters.

Because of the nature of my job, it’s hard to classify each action I take on social media as work or personal. I might click on a seemingly mindless Buzzfeed list for a personal reason, but then I could find inspiration in a stupid GIF — a brilliant story idea that I pass on to the appropriate reporter. Not that every listicle inspires me, but I won’t know before clicking.

However, social media is not a part of the job description for every employee in the world checking Facebook during the workday. So how can employers who want efficiency make sure workers aren’t wasting working hours on social media?

I think the answer is the boss needs to give a little to get more. Outlawing social media at the office is not the answer. In fact, Forbes says that social media actually increases productivity. The businesses who reported this social-media-driven efficiency focused their employees’ efforts on productivity using the networks instead of wasting time surfing. However, the Forbes piece also mentions that short social media breaks can act as a “mental palate cleanser.”

On a related note, I think “spying” on employees — searching browser history or time spent on social media sites — is unethical. Even if employers are open about collecting such information — and if they are collecting data, they should definitely disclose it — this practice is bound to breed manager or company distrust and dissatisfaction among employees.

Instead, employers should allow and even encourage those short social media breaks. If some employees start spending a little too much work time on social media, it will likely be reflected in their work, and that should result in an employer-to-employee conversation.

How do you think social media could be incorporated into your work day?


Do you read the terms and conditions? Here’s what I would change

I started working on this week’s Social Media Ethics assignment a little too close to bedtime, and I’ve discovered a new alternative to Benadryl or Advil PM: Facebook’s Terms and Conditions. And if you make it to the bottom of that page and you’re still awake, don’t worry: You’ve still got 10 more options.

Better than counting sheep!
Better than counting sheep!

Twitter is slightly better, and at least they provide the “tips” you see below that convert legalese to English and point out the most important stuff.

The terms are still long, but at least you're helpful, Twitter.
The terms are still long, but at least you’re somewhat helpful, Twitter.

I’m not a lawyer, but I’m sure there’s some legal reason for all these sites to have terms and conditions for days. I’ve never read the full terms for any of the social media platforms I use, but I have read posts on blogs like Mashable and TechCrunch that have outlined major changes in certain networks’ terms over the years, so I do at least have a general idea of what they say. But I would be willing to bet that the majority of users don’t even do that.

In the future of terms, I would like to see more of what Twitter has attempted to do. Publish your mile-long terms if you must, but also offer a concise version in words that make sense to people without a law degree. Maybe even offer some interaction, like a “Do you know your rights on [insert social network]?” quiz, which people can take and share their score. Every wrong answer could offer a sentence or two on that particular topic. If people take the time to figure out what kind of cookie they are, surely they’d spend a few minutes on a quiz to see how well they understand a social network they spend hours using.  They could even get the folks at Buzzfeed to design the quiz to make it more irresistible.

I think people are most concerned about their rights and about their privacy. Who can see my content? Who can legally use it and for what purpose? I’d like to see those concise terms I was talking about written in an inverted pyramid style, where the most important items are at the top, and the rest are written in order of decreasing importance. You can’t count on people to read all the way through anything, but you can at least increase the likelihood that they’ll read the most significant parts.

Do you read the small print when you sign up for a new account somewhere online? What do you think would make terms and conditions less boring and more digestible?

Unethical Facebook friend requests? I think not

imagesI loved the ethics class I took in undergrad. Thinking about what’s most “right” when there are so many factors fascinated me.  At that time, social media definitely existed, but it wasn’t yet the marketing juggernaut it is now. And there was certainly no Social Media Ethics class offered.

Well now I’m in it — and Lecture 1 already has my wheels turning.

The question, posed to journalists:

Is it (un) ethical to contact a murder suspect’s or murder victim’s friend on Facebook?

Justin Kings‘ technique for making an ethical decision:

  1. What’s my motivation?
  2. What are the likely effects, and to whom?
  3. Where does my duty lie strongest?

I think this technique is a fair strategy. The only potential weakness I see is that it requires the people using it to be very honest with themselves about their motivations, effects and priorities. For example, in the question of the murder suspect/victim’s friend, journalists could convince themselves of whatever yields the results they desire. But as long as the people using this technique are using it because they truly want to choose the most ethical path, and not convince themselves that what they want to do is ethical, this three-pronged approach is solid.

When the question was asked in lecture, I immediately started thinking about how I would handle the situation. I do work for a news organization, and although I’m not a crime reporter (and so I wouldn’t deal with this exact situation in real life), I have an idea of how I would handle it.

My motivation would be that talking to the friend would have journalistic value. It could reveal the character of the suspect or victim — and yes, generate page views. Scoring the interview could also be good for me as a journalist — getting respect from my managers and coworkers, and solidifying my future in news.

The effects? Depending on the person, the friend request, interview or story could upset them. And depending on the results of the interview, it could either be good or bad for the public’s perception of the suspect/victim’s character. But either way, the public is more informed and our news organization builds credibility, as do I, by making contact and gaining more information.

I’m doing my best to be objective in this hypothetical situation, and maybe my journalism school training is shining through here — but I truly believe my duty to inform the public would be more important than allowing the friend to remain anonymous.

I’ve also tried to consider, what if I were the friend? Would I want to be contacted? Probably not. But I could always ignore the friend requests or messages from reporters. I may find the communication annoying, but I can’t imagine such a request for contact striking me as unethical. A reporter contacting the friend does not mean that the friend must talk to them, but the reporter not even trying to contact a potential source just doesn’t seem like an option for a journalist.

How would you handle the situation as a journalist? What about as the friend?

Why things go viral: The not-100-percent-but-really-close formula

It's not hard, but it's not *that* easy.
It’s not hard, but it’s not *that* easy.

There’s not a content producer out there who thinks, “I hope this won’t go viral,” when they hit the publish button. But if everyone wants their content to go viral, why don’t we see more viral stuff? That’s because not everyone has it figured out yet. Wharton professor Jonah Berger said it best to Forbes:

“There’s not 100% certainty” that a given product or concept will go viral. “It’s like a batting average in baseball; no one hits a home run every time. But it’s also not luck. By understanding the science of word of mouth, you improve your average.”

Berger identifies six factors that contribute to virality:

  • Does it make you look good?
  • Are you reminded of it?
  • Does it make you feel something?
  • Are others seeing it?
  • Is it useful?
  • Is it memorable?

Oreo Rainbow CookieLet’s think about which reasons are behind a few viral campaigns. Oreo gained a lot of attention with their pro-LGBT rights campaign. That photo got more than 90,000 shares — and that’s not counting the people who uploaded the photo on their own instead of clicking the share button. Why? Because people want to weigh in and show their peers that they stand (or don’t stand) behind the cause that Oreo very powerfully illustrated with their rainbow cookie. The content of the photo affirms something about the sharer. And the photo also evokes some strong emotions in those who would share it.

Speaking of powerful illustrations, a recent Chipotle commerical also played into people’s values to get shares and hit viral status. The beautiful and longer-than-TV-commercial ad definitely makes viewers feel something, even if you’re not a fan of Chipotle’s food (but who isn’t?).

In general, content that elicits positive reaction is more viral that ones than ones that produce negative reaction. As Social Triggers points out, there are lots of unhappy people in the world, so positive content that lifts the spirits is always going to be popular.

The Wordstream team produced a study comparing Facebook’s and Google’s advertising options that went viral thanks to good timing (just a few days before the Facebook IPO) and general usefulness. As news outlets looked for reasons to explain why GM dropped its Facebook ads, they found the study. Before long, all major media outlets were citing the research, and the study was officially viral. This one doesn’t really make you feel strong emotions, but it is very informative and hit on a timely topic.

What was the last piece of viral content you shared? Keeping these reasons in mind, what made you share it?

Have you ever produced content that went viral? Which of these reasons describe why your content was so popular?

Likes, comments and clicks: How to give your content a full life on Facebook and Google+

Facebook Newsfeed

I work for a news organization. So I like to think that people spend a lot of their time online staying on top of local, national and international news. Certainly, they do. But according to this infographic, people spend more time on Facebook Newsfeed than six major news sites — ABC, MSNBC, Yahoo News, CNN, New York Times and Huffington Post — combined.

Yes, I said combined. I also said Newsfeed, as in only what you see when you’re signed in at facebook.com, not including facebook.com-slash-anything because that would mean straying from your Newsfeed. That’s why it’s important to know what Edgerank is and how it works. Basically, Facebook measures what kind of content you’ve shared (photo vs. link vs. text), how long it’s been up and your relationship with other users and brands based on engagement. And then the result of that formula determines whose Newsfeeds your content graces and for how long.

Ideally, you want to hit every piece of the Edgerank algorithm. On AL.com’s Facebook page, our social team shares photos when we have really good ones and always shares at least a link. We ask questions or post extra information with the links that we hope will generate conversation, both because we want to hear from our fans and because we know comments equal better Edgerank. We update our Facebook page several times a day. We aim to always have fresh content to rank, while not posting so much that we stack up in our fans’ Newsfeeds. We want to be a part of that 20 percent of content that makes it into our fans’ “customized newspaper,” as Facebook has stated is its goal for the user experience.

How many minutes (or hours) a day would you estimate your spend on your Newsfeed? How does that compare to your times spent on other Facebook pages or profiles?

AL.com is also active on Google+, although after this week’s readings, I am thinking we’re not active enough. Google+ is actually just Google. It’s the search giant’s way of integrating all of its products, Google Docs and Gmail for example, into one big product; Everything else is just a feature of Google+ now. Even when you’re using plain, old Google to search for something, you’ll see what those in your circles have +1’d or shared. Social search and personalized search have been merged. That’s why it’s so critical for brands to have a good Google+ presence. As people circle you and as you share content on Google+, you’re increasing the likelihood that those people will see your content, either on Google+ or in their integrated Google search results.

AL.com also takes advantage of Google+ Authorship, which basically verifies content creators. Verified authors have their photo plopped beside the content they created when listed in search results, which attracts the eye and introduces an element of trust. There are so many bogus things on the internet that it can be hard sometimes to discern the real stuff from the fake. But if you see content from a Google-verified writer, whose photo you could even click on to get background information from their Google+ profile, you know you can probably trust that content.

Do you or your brand maintain a Google+ profile? How active are you on the network? If you’re a content creator, have you completed the Authorship steps?