Category Archives: Social Media
If you are one of 63 percent of Americans who say they followed the tragic Boston Marathon bombing news very closely, it’s likely you kept up with the story on television. According to a report released by Pew Research Center last week, 80 percent of Americans followed the story on TV. About half (49 percent) say they tracked the story online or a mobile device.
The national survey, conducted April 18-21 among 1,002 adults, reports a quarter of Americans (26 percent) got their information on the incident from social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. More than half (56 percent) of young people ages 18-29 got their news and information from social networking sites.
For the first time, I watched a breaking news story unfold primarily on Twitter. Call me a news junkie, but it was fascinating to follow the updates on the suspect on Twitter (hashtag #manhunt) and listen to the reports on cable news. From my estimate, breaking news on Twitter was about 10 minutes ahead of broadcast news reporting.
While there was a lot of misinformation being tweeted and retweeted, Twitter users were streaming local Boston news and police scanners as well as sharing the information with their followers. This created a crowdsourced manhunt that some have questioned and others praised in the search and ultimate capture of the suspect.
With more than 500 million registered users, Twitter has evolved into a mass communication vehicle capable of disseminating breaking news, spreading misinformation and mobilizing citizens—all in real-time. Clearly, Twitter has reached “it” status for breaking news as The New Yorker acknowledges in a recent blog post:
“The issue, in part, is velocity: news has never moved faster than it does now, and few events of the past several years have captured America’s attention like the Boston bombings. Every new bit of information was instantly, indiscriminately sucked into the media vacuum. If there is a medium of this moment, it is Twitter.”
I couldn’t agree more. What’s your opinion on the role of social media and Twitter in breaking news? Does it harm or hurt in issues affecting national security?
Facebook has changed. Again.
Their new feature, EdgeRank, is supposed to help ensure that users receive content that is relevant and wanted. The EdgeRank algorithm determines which posts on your company or personal page will appear on your followers’ news feeds.
According to Facebook, EdgeRank factors several distinct attributes in determining what appears in a news feed, including the number of comments a post receives, who posted the story and what type of post it is (such as photo, video, status update, etc.).
To help breakdown how the algorithm works, GetPostRocket.com released a fun and informative infographic for folks who may not be math or algebra gurus (like me). PostRocket breaks down the algorithm into two main social factors: 1) how an individual user interacts with the author and content of a post and 2) how the Facebook universe interacts with the author or content.
In a nutshell, it works like this: if you’ve engaged with the author before, you are likely to see their posts in your news feed. And if you’ve liked or shared similar content before, you are likely to see more posts of the same nature.
Applying that logic to the Facebook community at large, the more users who engage with a post, the more likely that post is to appear in other users’ news feeds (so expect to see more dancing baby videos or hysterical animal pics). Conversely, if users give negative feedback to a post, or as the number of shares and likes decreases over time, the less likely that post is to appear on users’ news feeds.
Appearing in news feeds is important, as not all Facebook spaces are created equal. Comscore.com reports that 40 percent of user time on Facebook is spent on the news feed while only 12 percent is spent on profile and brand pages.
So the need for businesses, both large and small, to increase the likeability and “shareability” of their posts is increasingly important for the content to be seen by the largest audience possible. (Though it’s important to remember that promoting posts and purchasing ads on Facebook will also increase your traction.)
Is EdgeRank working for you? Are you getting more of the content you like or want? Is your business able to conquer the new algorithm, or will your page fall off the edge?
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has recently issued guidance on use of social media by corporations as a means to communicate with investors. But the guidance is receiving mixed reviews and, as Fortune magazine put it, received a definite “dislike” from many investors.
The SEC addressed the role of social media in investor communications in response to an
investigation into information released by Netflix (NFLX) CEO Reed Hastings on Facebook. In July 2012, Hastings used his personal Facebook page to announce that Netflix had streamed 1 billion hours of content in the month of June. Neither Hastings nor Netflix had previously used Hastings’s personal Facebook page to announce company metrics, and Netflix had not previously informed shareholders that Hastings’s Facebook page would be used to disclose information about Netflix. The post was not accompanied by a press release, a post on Netflix’s own website or Facebook page, or a Form 8-K; the post did, however, send the firm’s share price higher.
This week, the SEC issued guidance approving the use of social media sites to broadcast market-relevant corporate news, saying social posts are as legitimate means of disclosure of information as news releases and company websites as long as companies inform investors in advance which social media outlets they intend to use.
So why the distaste by some stakeholders over the SEC’s embracing of social media?
- Investors of “a certain age” may not use social media, and those who do will need to be mindful of company announcements about where to find information they will release through social media;
- A survey conducted by financial consulting firm KCSA found that 77 percent of CFOs and investor relations professionals at major companies do not think the SEC provided enough guidance; and
- BusinessWire, which distributes news releases, said the SEC is hurting investors by “threatening increased fragmentation of price-sensitive information.”
Despite these concerns, the consensus seems to be that the SEC’s embracing of yet another communications channel is a generally positive thing overall. Companies embracing the new guidance will want to be sure to update their social media policies to include the social media accounts that will be identified to investors as channels for disseminating company information and other guidance for employees responsible for those accounts.
Which reminds me, is your social media policy up to date?
Pinterest announced this week that it is making some tweaks in an effort to further engage its more than 40 million users and make the discovery process more enjoyable. The grid layout will be similar but will feature larger images and a new navigation bar. The most advantageous changes for Pinterest and users like me are:
- The back button will now return you to the same spot no matter how far you drift from your original pin.
- When you select a pin, you will see other pins from that board and source on the right side of the page so you don’t have to navigate away from the page.
As users, we will no longer suffer the frustration of losing our place while browsing and pins will contain significantly more information, which will keep users on the site longer so we keep pinning and repining.
If you are a Pinterest user you should receive an email this week inviting you to check out the improved site or – if you can’t wait – you can visit the site, look at your newsfeed and look for the “Preview our new look” box in the upper left corner.
These changes come just on the heels of the site’s new web analytics product that launched last week, which helps website owners better track how their pinned content is advancing through the millions of pinboards. The analytics help websites better understand what content users find most interesting. The analytics product is free for now but could eventually be another way to generate revenue for the thriving website. If you are interested in setting up Pinterest analytics for your company’s website, this article is a great resource.
Let the new, improved pinning begin!
Last week, Burger King was no king in the social media realm. Burger King’s Twitter account was hacked which led to an avatar change featuring McDonalds as well as posts with racial slurs and other obscenities.
Here are five tips for social media managers to avoid being put in a scenario like Burger King:
- Change your passwords regularly. You can have the same key phrase but change the numbers or symbols every month. The strongest passwords contain letters (both capital and lowercase), numbers and symbols.
- Minimize the number of people who have access to your social media accounts. The more people you let control your accounts the more accessible your account is to being hacked. Cell phones are easily lost or stolen, which could grant access to your social media accounts to perfect strangers. That being said, also make sure the people who have control of your accounts have passlocks on their phones.
- Pay attention to announcements about password breaches. On February 1, 2013, Twitter announced that cyber attackers may have stolen user names and passwords of 250,000 users. They weren’t sure what accounts had information leaked; therefore everyone should change their password as a precaution.
- Change your passwords every time someone leaves the company. Whether it’s amicable or not, you don’t know a person’s intentions or the grudges they hold when they leave. They can easily write down passwords or make a copy of a password sheet and take it with them as they leave the office.
- Monitor your accounts. Have your retweets, favorites and replies emailed to someone who currently works at the company. This way, if you are hacked, you can catch the attacker within the first few minutes, rather than find out after it goes viral.
If there is anything positive to pull from this situation it’s that all the publicity that Burger King received did grow their followers by about 30,000. What are some tips you use to protect your accounts from being hacked?
The buzz on Capitol Hill is economic reform, but what impact does the economy have on the public relations sector?
As social media continues to gain legitimacy as a key platform to interact with customers and constituents, companies are experiencing the need for solid communications planning and those with the skills to implement the tactics. Public relations budgets are increasing at a rate outpacing the GDP growth. Despite the negative economic media coverage, many businesses are expanding at a fast pace, so building a brand that can sustain such rapid growth is of utmost importance.
The focus on economy and legislation aimed at producing company transparency means many C-level executives are leading their companies from the front lines. The need for solid communications management is critical externally but also internally. “Most business leaders aren’t aware of the full scope of the PR/communications function and the breadth of skills their team should have” stated our very own Paula Lovell in a recent Q &A with Nashville Post. “It’s not just about media relations. PR is a strategic business function that should coordinate with marketing and sales, and it can have significant impact on the bottom line.”
As a result of this changing landscape, today’s communications professionals need to know how to do more than write a press release and post on Facebook. Understanding business, the key components of a company and how it all fits together is crucial to producing solid communications strategies. Communications teams are growing as platforms for messaging increase, so working collaboratively as a team is critical for success as well. How do PR pros stay in the game during the economic adjustments and thereafter?
- Watch, listen and read. It’s important to stay current on trends. You also have to know the tools available and be able to manage messages/data using them.
- Be on your guard. In a world that speaks 24/7 through social media, you can’t let your guard down. This means communications professionals are on call 24 hours a day. Be proactive with messaging when appropriate, but also be ready at all times to react.
- Don’t discard the old skills. It might come as a great shock to some, but there is a world outside of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Traditional communication skills are still important.
- Don’t be afraid. The face of communications is changing worldwide as technology advances and cultures evolve. Embrace the change and allow your imagination to go a little crazy to keep fresh ideas coming!
Yesterday, Facebook unveiled its newest product – Facebook Graph Search. The product aims to put Facebook head-to-head with Google by allowing users to search for people, photos, places, and business pages, all from within the social networking site. Graph Search is currently in a limited beta version available to US audiences only, and there’s a waiting list. While I wait for my invitation, I wanted to share a little about what we can expect from the upcoming Graph Search.
“In the past, Facebook has been primarily about mapping out and staying in touch with the people you already know in the real world,” said Facebook Engineering Director Lars Rasmussen. “But now, we’re building a product that can also be used to find people you maybe should know, people that have common interests, people you may want to work with,” said Lars.
With Graph Search, you can find anything others have shared with you on Facebook, including any public content from non-connections. You’ll see different results based on your friends, friends of friends, and terms you search for. You can filter through photos that you and your friends have been tagged in and find restaurant and music suggestions based on what your connections have liked.
“It’s interesting because most people today don’t think about Facebook as a place to discover places they could go eat, or things that they could go do, but with this product, it’s so natural to be able to do that,” said Mark Zuckerburg, Facebook Founder and CEO.
“You can find friends of friends who have common interests, who are into ballroom dancing or running or hiking,” Product Director Tom Stocky said. “In many ways, this will make your community feel a little bit smaller, make your world feel a little smaller.”
At a news conference Monday at Facebook’s headquarters, Zuckerburg said the tool could give the social platform a shot at the online-dating market as well as professional networking sites, like LinkedIn, and says the search terms will only expand with time.
“Today, we’re starting off with a few basic things: people, photos, places, pages for businesses,” Zuckerburg said. “And that’s just the start.”
If Facebook’s Graph Search does not have information in its database that reflects your search query, it directs users to relevant results in Bing. I’m a pretty loyal Google user, but I like the idea of connecting with others who have similar interests on Open Graph. Do you think you’ll use Facebook’s new product? Let us know in the comments below!
As I was catching up on some of my industry reading last week, I happened upon a story from Ragan.com titled, “6 PR and social media predictions for 2013.” All the predictions were thought provoking, but I thought No. 3 – “The reputable journalist is revived” – was particularly worth sharing.
The author makes the point that the rise of blogging and social media has increased the volume and accessibility of online news, often at the expense of what she calls “responsible reporting.” (As evidence, she points to one of the media’s less sparkling moments in the past year – the misreporting of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act.) And she asserts that, “The citizen journalist’s 15 minutes of fame are running out and information-overloaded consumers will demand a higher standard of reporting in 2013.”
I don’t know that I’d exclude all of the newer, fast-moving online news sources from the “responsible” category, but I agree with the author’s basic point. And I hope she’s right.
As consumer tastes for accessing news have evolved, and technology has advanced, newspapers and other once muscle-flexing media outlets have been forced to consolidate, cut corners and gouge newsroom staffs. This trend has had a big impact on media relations efforts, and it has left many a news junkie or would-be informed citizen feeling less-than-satisfied with quantity and quality of news available in their newspaper of choice. As shrinking and shuttering media outlets have cried over the past few years, rebuilding these media outlets will require reader investment (paid subscriptions) in quality reporting.
Maybe 2013 is the year consumers will begin to return to traditional media outlets. That would be good news for media relations pros looking to land stories with those newspapers, magazines, television and radio stations. I’d certainly be happier to see newsrooms grow again, and to see reporters who are able to spend more time and space reporting their stories.
I’m feeling cautiously optimistic for 2013. What do you think – will the “reputable journalist” be revived in the New Year?
Facebook has added a new advertising opportunity for individuals and businesses. The company recently released a new experimental feature which allows you to promote your updates, photos and posts to increase the chances of reaching a larger percentage of your targeted audience.
If you’re willing to pay an average of $7, Facebook will guarantee that your “promoted” post will appear near the top of your friends’ news feeds. Of course, if you decide not promote your post, many of your “friends” will still see it. However, by promoting your post, you’re increasing the chances that a larger percentage will view your message.
Some Facebook users may use this new feature to share news of an engagement, a newborn baby or an inspirational event. I think the biggest beneficiaries of this new feature will be businesses, large or small. If a company wants to advertise a particular skill, completed project, or field of expertise to a large audience, they now are able to do it quicker and with more precision. It’s a new form of online advertisement that allows businesses to cut through the jumbled assortment of continuous updates that generally crowd Facebook pages.
As you know, Facebook is free to the public but the people who use it, pay the price of loss of privacy to use it. Our previous blog addressed that “Through our posts, comments, likes and group memberships, even low-activity Facebook users reveal a lot about themselves.”
So, the question is, will Facebook drive users away with this new “commercial” feature? Will it be too “in your face?”
We’re interested to hear your opinion on the new feature. Will your business be able to benefit from the new “promote” feature? Or will it clutter your audience’s news feed even more?