For quite a while now, as I have searched for work, I have been dismayed at not only issues with networking, but also with the need to make myself stand out from the pack.
I believe that education will do this. However, most social media educational opportunities are with what seem to be more like fly by night operations.
When I learned that Quinnipiac University had a graduate and certificate program in social media, I decided to give it a whirl.
Currently, I am taking one class, ICM 522.
ICM 522, Social Media Techniques and Practices, 3 graduate credits
Spring 2014, Summer 2014 – 12 weeks
The proliferation of social media in society has created a new communications environment built on platforms that encourage contribution and collaboration through user-created media and interaction. This course explores the underlying theoretical concepts, development and management of social media platforms as well as the creation of effective strategies to facilitate a viable social media presence. Covered will be:
Content creation and interactions from semester-long blog postings
Establishment and maintenance of credible social media presence on multiple platforms
Demonstration and understanding of platform usage and capabilities
Written analysis and review of notable social media practitioners or brands
Overall growth, and effectiveness of student’s semester-long social media presence
It’s all over but the shouting, and most of the shouting is done, too. So it’s time for some analysis and Wednesday afternoon quarterbacking.
This campaign was more shaped by social media than any other campaign has been in history. I have little doubt that 2016 will be even more entrenched in the online world. And what have we learned? Let’s see.
I seriously doubt there is anyone on the planet who doesn’t realize just what a juggernaut FB is, but if you needed any convincing or confirmation, look no further than the campaign. Both sides (er, sorry Jill Stein and other third-party candidates but … srsly?) used and overused FB for their own ends.
Messages to the Faithful
These were all over Facebook, often coming in about four or so times per day. This ensured a steady stream of information and rhetoric, on the top of everyone’s feeds whenever they could get onto the site. Checking before work in New York? Gotcha. Lunchtime in Chicago? All set. After work in Denver? We got your back. Insomniac in Los Angeles? Just getting up in Anchorage or Honolulu? Hey, you’re covered, too. I can’t think of a day when I didn’t see several messages showing up.
Some were undoubtedly created by the candidates’ own committees, but a lot of them weren’t. Plus related groups, like the Occupy Movement, got into the act, often sharing the same information. Stuff went viral really, really quickly.
This was likely the most creative and impactful use of Facebook. Your opponent said something dumb or weird? A meme was created quickly, often with a silly image attached to it. This one is one of my favorites, as it is more or less bipartisan (frankly, I can’t recall another meme that was more or less poking fun at both sides at the same time. If you know of one, lay it on me).
What I love about this image is how it brings all of it together and more or less pokes fun at every bit of politics. Bill Clinton is present, at his horndog best. Barack Obama looks tired and not amused, chagrined, even. And of course the statement was made by (or, rather, it was heavily implied and then everything was amped up to infinity) by the guy who isn’t in the picture – Mitt Romney.
Beyond the memes, there were the images. For the President’s victory, he chose a stunning image that was easy to relate to. Perhaps as interestingly is the fact that the image is anything but political. I’ve seen this image shared in lots and lots of places already.
For Governor Romney’s concession speech, I like this press image and hope he finds a way to use it in the future. It gives a very warm sense of family. It also rather neatly shows there is the physical differences in his family, a fact that, I feel, never really came across during the election. Of course a candidate’s family isn’t running. Or are they?
Twitter skews younger demographically than Facebook does. It’s definitely not the place for long speeches. Link and go, or add an image link and you’re outta there. But Twitter still had its moments.
Woe to Mitt Romney the day someone in the Obama campaign came up with #Romnesia to cover the Republican candidate’s evolving positions! It sounded a little like a country, and a little like a disorder. Romney was dinged either way – either it sounded like he was remote at best and forgetful at worst. Not a good combination.
The Twitter Army
Obama was just moving faster on Twitter, and a good part of that was that people who weren’t officially “working” for him were tweeting and re-tweeting for him just the same. A secret weapon named George Takei really helped – and Takei didn’t even tweet much more than he usually does. But Takei is a master of FB and Twitter, with an enormous legion of followers (almost half a million on Twitter alone). Also key, I feel, was that supporters like Takei often didn’t carpet bomb their followers with political tweets. Instead, intermixing some political content with a lot that wasn’t political seemed best. You could look at a stream and, if you didn’t favor the same candidate, still find a lot to like.
It had a smaller role but it’s not completely out of things. President Obama has a LinkedIn profile. So does Governor Romney. Curiously, Romney’s has more recent activity, although some of that could be from what may have been some catch up that needed to be done (as I recall, the President had a LinkedIn profile the last time he was running. I can’t comment on when the Romney profile was created). Interestingly enough, the Romney profile experience is written in the third person, whereas the Obama experience is in the first person. Now, I really doubt that the President filled in his own LinkedIn profile. But the use of the first person sure makes it look that way, and gives it more of a feeling of a desire to connect, versus an obligatory social media outpost duly handled and nurtured by a campaign worker (although undoubtedly both of these profiles are).
Google Plus and Pinterest
For Governor Romney, his page is colorful but has little interaction. And someone should be moderating the comments! The President’s Google Plus page also has some commenting issues, although not as many as I noticed on Romney’s. In truth, both are somewhat scattershot collections of images, soundbites and short videos, but that’s the nature of the medium.
This much newer (and smaller) medium skews rather heavily toward women.
The Barack Obama set of pins has a lot of repetition, but some are fresher images, including this meme. Much like with President Clinton during his initial run and the beginning of his first term in office, President Obama works in an appeal to youth by flashing a lot of pop culture references and inside jokes.
As a contrast, the Mitt Romney Pinterest board is more serious, but this official photograph also makes several appearances and is a very humanizing image.
As I look at the official, semi-official and repeated imagery from various social media sites, I wonder where it all was during the Romney campaign.
While Facebook and the like can often skew perceptions (we “like” this, we “collapse” that), the overall picture should still get out there. And it didn’t, at least, not when it came to the challenger. Will this become an equal time issue? It just might.
Gaffes and Misstatements and Sound Bites, Oh My!
This campaign, like every other campaign before it (and, undoubtedly, like all that are to come) was a gaffe-rich zone. Some statements, to be sure, are more harmful than others – and some aren’t accidents at all.
Statements about the 47% were extremely damaging, and were repeated and built upon again and again. See Romney on the 47% for details. The same was true about Mitch McConnell’s statement that the top priority of the GOP was to deny the President reelection.
Introducing his running mate, Paul Ryan, as “the next President of the United States” was a small slip of the tongue, but social media grabbed a hold of it and wouldn’t let it go. The President looking tired or annoyed ended up in images that were passed around and went viral. And then there’s what was said by people further down the ticket. Romney was hampered by Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock’s statements on rape. Did he do enough to counter them? The only poll that counts says no. And those little sound bites absolutely came back to bite him.
Debate zingers went viral quickly, too. There’s the “binders full of women” statement, referenced above, but there were also references to “horses and bayonets”. This campaign has lore that will be discoverable on Google for decades to come (should Google exist that long).
Email and Snail Mail
While they aren’t (really) social media, they are a part of candidate messaging. For the first time in my living memory, I was not bombarded with snail mail. I received one item – it was a bumper sticker – and then only because I got onto a particular mailing list. Plus of course this is an article that cannot be emailed. Hence, interestingly enough, aside from salaries, most of both candidates’ social media campaigns was free.
As for email, that was much more of an issue. My inbox was inundated, and I know that was true for others. For so many things that were handled so carefully by both of the candidates, email was like a dropped ball. It should not have been used with the frequency of Twitter and Facebook. The campaigns should have dialed it back several notches, and I suspect they will in four years.
Bottom Line Lessons
Always look good, even when you feel lousy. All images will go viral; you can’t stop it. Of course, this is impossible, so the best thing a candidate can do is to try to be rested for appearances. The only acceptable illnesses are losing one’s voice (campaigning too hard) or, perhaps, shin splints from running (because they’re also supposed to maintain fitness levels after eating God only knows what at fifteen county fairs in a day).
“Off the record” no longer exists. All candidates must operate under the assumption that everything they say – even to the party faithful – is going to be filmed by someone’s smart phone and tossed onto the Internet. Hence, how do they speak freely to the party faithful? Very, very carefully.
Hire an experienced social media manager and get a good, responsible group to help out. Tweeting and Facebooking frequencies were a big help to both candidates. They both obviously did their homework in that area and were well-covered. Kudos to both campaigns.
Manage the message! Memes had to go out and had to be proofread. Images had to be clear. Video had to be audible.
A good presence on the bigger media (FB, Twitter and LinkedIn) was crucial. Presences on Pinterest and Google Plus were less vital but might become more important in four years. Stay tuned on this one.
Don’t email so much! It’s annoying and unnecessary. Too much message is just that – too much.
I don’t envy the people who run for public office. And the ones who serve live in fish bowls. But with social media, the horse races of the past couple of centuries got a new and different spin. Let’s see what happens in two, and then four, years from now.
I suppose I should have planned my site better or maybe not just gone in and barreled my way in just to see what I could do.
I don’t think that’s truly awful as I have some ambitions but they feel very possible and within reach. I look at my notes and I see — yes, I need to fix and put up Google Search. I need to play with keywords some more. I need to do … a lot.
And SEO! Oh my gosh. There’s a boatload to learn there and I’m still busy reading the books. I can’t recall who said that Time is Nature’s Way of making it so that not everything happens all at once. And I can live with that as an idea. It shouldn’t all happen in one shot. It should flow and develop.
Patience, a virtue. And sometimes an elusive one. But one thing is for certain — once a year elapsed, suddenly, I had a Google Page Rank of 3. Was that by design? Well, yes. But the science and art of getting a Google Page Rank of anything over zero is so obscure and unknown as to be akin to deciphering the Dead Sea Scrolls. Now, I get that it’s all proprietary, e. g. intellectual property, etc., but c’mon! It gets silly after a while. Jigger this, don’t jigger that. Say this in some particular, special, magical fashion, and not in another.
Don’t spam. Well, yeah, that makes sense. But what is seen as proto-spam isn’t always. And what’s seen as non-spam, I suspect, sometimes is. I do recognize that Google is attempting to make rules to cover as many scenarios as possible. And they wish to check out what people like I do by using computer algorithms rather than actual humans, in order to be somewhat timely when it comes to investigating websites. But! It remains frustrating and, in my opinion, unnecessarily mysterious. A clue, s’il vous plait, and by that I mean a real one, by someone who is there and really, truly knows. The rest, it seems, are speculating, with varying degrees of accuracy and results.
I swear that figuring out how to get a good or at least decent Page Rank is harder than translating the Upanishads.
I’ve been running through life lately by shooting along at seventy gazillion miles per hour, and it’s catching up with me.
I suppose that’s to be expected. After all, hurtling along like that should, eventually, lead to some form of burnout. So I am looking to cut back.
Now, I love to write. I truly, madly, deeply love it. But lately it’s been something of a chore to get the blog out. It’s been — oh Gawd, I’ve gotta do this again? And that’s led to, what are to my mind, some less than stellar blogs.
Perhaps you have noticed them, or maybe you have not. Or you are too polite to say so. Or, I am just talking to myself. I don’t discount that as a possibility, either. And that’s fine, too. Hey, it happens.
But in my head, some of the joy was getting sucked out because it had turned into much more of a chore than a labor of love. And — gasp! — I had been running out of things to say. Things had stalled, and I was floundering, and it was all moving more slowly and I am sure that you all don’t want to hear, yet again, about my exploits shoveling snow — fascinating as they may be.
Hence I have decided to pull back a bit, and write less. Instead of sustaining a twice per week blog, I am pulling back to a once per week blog. And, sometimes, that may even turn into a no times per week blog. It’s silly to merely pump out content for the sake of pumping out content. I want to write when I have something to actually say. And I suspect you — if you are out there — would much rather read my blatherings if they have a coherent point and a purpose.
I don’t want to waste my time. And I don’t want to waste yours.
So here I am, disengaging a bit.
The mountains will not crumble. The seas will not boil away.
The above two pie charts are a compilation of the rank and duration of every single topic that pops up on Twitter’s global Trending Topics chart throughout the year. That means, by definition, that smaller topics which, if taken in aggregate might actually turn out to be significant, aren’t given their due. No matter. It’s still fascinating information.
What interests me is how hashtags have pretty much replaced entertainment (although entertainment is still rather large in the overall scheme of things) as a major player. Holidays and politics both got less important. Social Media started to show up as a player. Sports and business tech were both diminished.
What the heck does it all mean?
Well, I’d be lying if I said I absolutely, positively knew for sure. But I suspect that the trending may have to do with (a) more people “discovering” Twitter and (b) more people understanding it and engaging with it. That is, instead of people just following celebrities and reading (and potentially also just retweeting) their tweets, it appears that people may be actually — huzzah! — making their own content.
And — the content they’re making seems to be a bit more meaningful than just “Merry Christmas” or “Let’s go Patriots!” (no disparagement to the Patriots or the Christmas season intended, of course). It looks like it might actually be the promotion of offsite material (e. g. blogging hashtags), attempts to use Twitter to update other social media sites (e. g. you can set up your LinkedIn account so that, if you use the #in hashtag, it updates your LinkedIn status) or just an effort to bring certain information to the attention of other people. After all, whenever I write about robots for Neuron Robotics, I use a #robots or #robotics hashtag.
Hence people seem to be using Twitter more to its potential, as both an ad hoc type of community and a means of cross-pollinating other social media sites. Let’s see what happens this year.
Perhaps there is something that the mighty Facebook doesn’t do quite so perfectly.
Not so fast. Stumbleupon’s raison d’etre is the passing of traffic. Facebook’s is not. And Stumbleupon is wonderfully designed to fill its one niche, and fill it admirably — to get traffic moving.
Facebook, on the other hand, continues to evolve as much more of a social site. Probably Facebook’s best and most important feature is one not even found, specifically, on the site. Rather, it’s your ability to log into other sites using your Facebook login. In this brilliant conception, the data from Facebook ends up applying to job search websites, blogs, ecommerce, etc. All those other sites have to do is partner with Facebook to use that login. And Facebook garners even more data. It’s a powerful combination.
Is it a violation of anti-trust laws? My guess is no, because you can log in through other means. Just because Facebook is providing a more convenient means of logging in does not mean that it’s monopolizing logins. Using the same logic, well, if a product captures 99% of any given market, it’s not a violation of anti-trust laws just because that product is better, cheaper, more efficient or can be purchased in a more convenient manner, so long as its existence as being a cheaper, better, etc. product does not come about through unfair/illegal means. The spirit and purpose of anti-trust legislation is, certainly, not intended to squelch good and proper competition. Success is not illegal.
So Facebook, despite being the huge elephant in the room, doesn’t necessarily capture and control every tidbit of the Social Media universe. And I think that’s how it should be. After all, a world only seen through a Facebook filter — much like a Friend Feed when you’ve only got one friend — would be rather dull indeed.
… but don’t go celebrating the end of the recession just yet.
US News and World Report states that there were about three times as many jobs with “social media” in their titles in November of 2010 than in the same time period in 2009 — at least on the Indeed job search aggregator site.
This trebling occurred over the course of all of 2010 — November is no fluke.
Um, okay. So, that’s one website and one kind of title. What about other kinds of job titles, such as “New Media Marketer”, “Community Manager” and “Facebook FanPage [sic] Marketer”? The US News study hardly seems comprehensive. A quick search just now, and just for Boston yields over 1200 jobs with the word “social media” somewhere in their descriptions. When the search is narrowed to just the job title, the number of job postings plummets to 57.
So are there more jobs out there, or fewer, or what?
More, maybe. A savvy job seeker should certainly conduct as thorough a search as possible. And, that same job seeker should load up his or her resume with as many key words as possible, in order to match as many openings as possible (this is what a job seeker should be doing, no matter what the sought job is). But it’s a bit tricky knowing what an employer wants, and is going to emphasize. Some want a community built from scratch. Others want to grow a Facebook page from a few dozen fans into the hundreds of thousands. Still others want a blog to take off, or for Twitter to be mastered and monitored. And a lot don’t know — they just know they have to get out there. Somehow.
Many of these openings seem, to me, to indicate that a lot of companies may have one very specific idea in mind. Perhaps they are looking to clone one beloved employee who is suddenly retiring or otherwise moving on, or maybe they are attempting to follow just one vision. And that vision might not be as broad as it should be. Social media is going to continue to be a source of employment openings. And some lucky few will get to fill these openings. My crystal ball continues to be cloudy but I strongly suspect that 2011 will see some tightening up of requirements and wish lists. I think that companies will look to places like HubSpot for more standardization and certification. I feel that it will continue to become less and less of a free for all. As always, your comments are welcome.
This post is a riff on 10 Community Roundtable Member Predictions for 2011. If you don’t follow the Community Roundtable, you should — they are very knowledgeable about an aspect of social media that is very near and dear to me — the creation, nurturing and management of online communities. I only wish that my Friday Worcester schedule didn’t conflict with their biweekly lunches!
I am particularly interested in #2, #3 and #4 on their list.
#2. Managing international social initiatives. Language is only one complex dimension to this and it also includes tools, regulatory environments, and culture. The combination makes it very challenging for large corporations that operate in many countries around the world. Social structures may mature into more localized or regionalized entities. – I well recall, a good seven or so years ago, attempting to come up with a good list of words for the profanity filter on Able2know. First, you round up the usual suspects, such as George Karlin’s Seven Dirty Words You Can’t Say on Television. Then you move on, to abbreviations, synonyms and the like. Racial epithets, religious slurs, etc. But then it starts to get tricky, when you add in an international element. I don’t find the word “bloody” to be offensive at all, but British friends can find it to be downright awful. As a woman, and a Jew, did my own personal sensitivities color my perceptions? Was I laying into the list more heavily skewed as against slang terms for female anatomy, or terms that offended my religion but weren’t even being used anymore? Relatively recently, when Able2Know added a thumbs up/thumbs down voting system, plus the ability to ignore topics, posts and users, the profanity filter was dropped. Now that forum is more open (although the Moderating Team continues to eliminate spam and pornography and does watch out for comments that are beyond the pale), and there is a certain thing to be said for allowing consenting adults to let fly if they so desire. A contrast to that is Trek United, which continues to have a filter (they replace every naughty word with “Phlox”, the name of an alien character. That can make for some rather amusing exchanges). That forum is more genteel, to be sure. But are the restrictions better, worse or just different? Of course there are many, many words out there that are not offensive ones, and there are many more differences in language and culture, and not just with English speakers. But I think the point is illustrative — cultural differences matter, and they can matter in unexpected ways that can cause quite a ripple effect.
#3. Changing the 90-9-1 rule. It is no longer good enough to only have 1% of constituents actively participating so training and mainstreaming the use of social functionality will be a theme going forward. – Regular users often fret about a lack of response, and a skewed ratio. Often views versus responses are 10-1 or even 100-1. Here’s a topic where the ratio is more like 500-1. But I think that skips a bit of the point. It’s certainly less than an issue on a free site like Able2know, but converting lurkers to creators is not going to happen overnight. And, it might not happen at all. Creating good content is important, and vital, and it’s particularly important for the content to be created by a lot of different people with dissimilar perspectives. But you can lead your members (horses) to the topics (water). You can’t always make them post (drink).
#4. Creating a content supply chain and managing it with the same discipline as physical product supply chains. – This is of particular interest to me because it can often be a chore to come up with new things. For Neuron Robotics, it’s not so difficult because I can either comment on something we are doing or I can spin out a robotics news story. It is something of a hot topic and so people are posting about it all the time. But with Social Media, it’s trickier. Sure, there are news stories and blog postings, but these can often be posts about posts. There is still good, original content, but my riffing on it can eventually begin to resemble yet more embedded riffing. At a certain point in time, you can’t spin yet another nutritious meal out of leftovers. But creating original content isn’t easy. Inspiration doesn’t always strike, or it might not be appropriate or perfect or on time. The only suggestions I can provide in this area are to (a) repurpose if possible, (b) save content up for a rainy day and (c) continually keep yourself open to experiences, viewpoints and circumstances which will help you to gather and nurture ideas.
What does 2011 hold in store? As always, my crystal ball is cloudy. All I can tell you for certain is, there will be plenty of Social Media, and there will be people like the Community Roundtable, and like me, who spend our time trying to make sense of it all. Your comments, as always, are more than welcome.
Recently, The New York Times‘s writer, Noam Cohen wrote about how Wikileaks is making it harder and harder for governments to operate properly. This is, in part, due to diplomatic relations being imperiled.
Why are they being imperiled? It’s because of a lack of privacy. It’s the privacy needed to, essentially, establish trust between wary individuals. Governments need to be able to speak freely and privately without wondering if their negotiating fits and starts will end up on some website.
And, while I support that, some of it seems a tad disingenuous. After all, governments are deliberately online these days. So, to my mind (and perhaps I am totally wrong about this), isn’t all of the information out there stuff that these governments have placed online deliberately? After all, I’m not seeing anyone claiming that anything was stolen. Was it? Perhaps I’m missing that.
A lot of the exposed information appears to be cables. And cables aren’t necessarily the most secure means of chatting. And, to add to the fun, these cables seem to — at least for a part of the time — be kind of juvenile in their assessments. Comparing Putin and Medvedev to Batman and Robin is, well, it’s not even High School. It’s Junior High, fer goshsakes.
So, a less than perfectly secure means of communication was used. And a few embarrassing TMI-style statements were made, and in a snarky manner. And now the government is worried about that? Why didn’t they worry earlier?
Barn door, horse. You know the drill. And this is true whether you’re a government, or a company or an individual. Keep your mouth shut (or your fingers from typing) when it can be a future detriment to you! And you might want to be a bit liberal in your definition of detriment, e. g. be more miserly with your information than you might think, because it’s impossible to unring this bell.
Or, as my friend , Robert Gentel says (and I can’t find the quote, sorry Rob!), “If you’ve got something private, the Internet is an awfully stupid place in which to put it.”
I am more or less in charge of events so I am hopping. I put together tweets, I have a boatload of work blog posts going out, I’m updating LinkedIN and Facebook and adding the events to those calendars, I’m adding the events to other calendars I know about, and I’m sending emails.
I’m a little tired.
Maker Faire and Mass Inno Make Good Sense
Now, I don’t mind doing this. And the two events both make a lot of good sense for us. Maker Faire may have customers. And Mass Innovation will have people who will probably tweet about us.
My main source of anxiety right now is making sure that we get enough votes for Mass Innovation. See, we can come, and we’ll get a table. That part is no problem. But only the top four of the eleven nominees get to present. I know we can kill on a presentation. And I have plenty of confidence in the process. But it’s like your child running for Student Council President. You want it all to work out.