Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Truth Really Is Stranger Than Fiction

A blog on the foibles of not paying attention to the digital media at one's own risk changed into an epic tale of classic deny the truth spin straight out of the West Wing 90s.

At the start of the day, I had one view of the latest adventure in social and participatory media as members of Michelle Bachmann's New Hampshire staff announced they were resigning en mass.

Apparently, the memo didn't reach national, who were pants by the traditional political media this morning.  Why no, nothing is wrong in New Hamphsire.

What about this statement?

We'll get back to you.

So AP ran the details today, but by tonight, the once employees became at best volunteers.  Funny thing about these kind of deals - they were voluntary organizations until you joined them.  Or, until you try to embarrass them.

This evening, Bachmann's national team now claimed the statement by the state level staff was an "unauthorized news release" from a person who "doesn't even work for the campaign and has never had authority to speak on behalf of the campaign."

That could be parcing one hell of a Catch-22: if you quit the campaign, OF COURSE you no longer speak for the campaign.

That may be a little hard to prove.  What is "work for the campaign" when the majority of staffers in the New Hampshire offices of any candidate are volunteers? You don't work for the campaign when the campaign want to disavow you.

The kicker really is the second half of the statement. The reality of networked communications is that EVERYONE speaks for the campaign.

"We are hiring new staff in New Hampshire," Bachmann said on Hannity. The host went back on her again, with the same answer followed by another political talking point.

"Quite honestly, nobody asked me about the staffing and what's going on," she said. "What they are asking me about is my real jobs right now plan."

Um. Congresswoman, didn't Sean just ask you about it.

And, if the AP is to be believed, she was asked about it on Friday.  In a broadcast radio interview.

Forget the extreme Adam Savage school of public relations approach ("I reject your reality, and substitute my own" of MythBusters fame), this is just flat out denial.  Not of what happened, but of reality.

No matter how many times, or with how much conviction it is is said, it is still a lie.  Pure and simple.  With the ease of Internet search, how do public figures reach this level without recognizing that it takes little effort to verify past statements.

Or is it that they just don't think we will care?

Usually, you have to get into a BCS football coach's post game press conference to get this level of chutzpah.

"No, I think out guys gave a real, real good effort out there, and I think they are improving every down," he'll say after a 50-point beat down.  The quarterback who threw four pics is always "a very, very special guy."

I once had a supervisor look me straight in the eye, and with a dead serious look say, "you know, your problem is you see things as black and white; right and wrong.". What he wanted me to do was look the other way when others broke protocol or violated rules.

Guess I just continue to have trouble with fiction.

So Let It Be Done

It was written here months ago -- if iOS integrates Twitter, watch it make another leap. The 2009-10 move in follower and usage numbers begat the "fill in the blank" Springs of social activism.

Nothing moves the needle like Apple, and just like the second stage booster, the new iOS 5.0's complete integration of Twitter will do just that.

Puts the timing of Facebook's new ADD inspired layout with it's Twitter-like sidebar into a new light: get people to real-time in Facebook before the trend of real-time inside your phone to Twitter takes over.

Monday, October 24, 2011

So Far The Best Guess is Working

When the new Facebook timeline came out, my guess to our people was that the key to being up the feed was interaction -- likes and comments. That was based on trying to figure out what Facebook would value -- they are social, so a bunch of posts or a bunch of a kind of content shouldn't matter (that sounds Twitter or YouTube-ish).

So my instructions to those who follow was make sure you are doing the asks in posts, getting your friend circles to like, share and comment.

PRNews today chimes in with a link to this quick Q&A with Priya Ramesh. Guess what she says her key to being high up in the feed?

It’s engagement that Facebook’s algorithm calculates.

Read more on PRNews.

Newspaper Fade Might Be More Than You Thought

Sitting in a meeting of university professors and administrators, I asked the question: how many of you take the local newspaper? The answer was shocking.

Let me set the scene.  One of the initiatives I've set up at Northwestern State to promote sharing of information and getting more people involved in the content creation process is a group I called "Campus Communicators." Hardly an original idea - many colleges and universities, large and small, use similar boards to get story ideas or more hands to help write stories.

Natchitoches is a smaller town, still with its own local paper.  Due to the location - almost equal distance down I-49 from Shreveport and Alexandria - there isn't a local television news outlet. While there are two local radio stations, there isn't a lot of locally generated news available.

At this second organizational meeting of the Campus Communicators this week, the question was posed to me: how do you intend to get more news out about the school. My answer was we need to use more of our own resources - website and social media - to get the news out, mostly because of shrinking news hole and media staff.

What comes next is the surprise.

Keep in mind the demographics of the room.  The youngest person was, by my guess, early 30s for the new faculty.  The median age was probably around my own 48.

Out of curiosity I ask, how many take the local newspaper.

Sheepishly, two people half raise their hands.

Really?  Not to beat a dead horse, but the image of the room would be of a bunch of newspaper readers.

OK, I think, I missed the target. How many take the Shreveport Times, one of the two larger daily papers that would be regional.  Surely that was the case.

Same answer: two.  Two different people, mind you.

Out of the room of 17 university administrators or professors, four still take a daily newspaper.

So where do you get your news?

Facebook.  Websites.  On-line.

Granted, I didn't follow up with "what are your on-line sources" which usually are newspapers, but the clear indication was none of the people really follow the local newspaper media.

Yes, it is anecdotal.  Yes, it is unscientific.

But it was eye opening that increasingly groups that we have ignored in the past as targets for social and digital media are leaving the traditional media, especially print, faster than we might believe.

Once again, resistance is futile.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Need to Digest, But Important Legal Case

While I'm away talking social media with the SAAC of the Great American Conference, this update from WOMMA about a New York state legal ruling against a company that sought to discipline staff in accordance to its social media policy. I will admit, haven't had time to read all the way through to soak in the implications.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

How Do You Score on This Top 10

From Social Times, the 10 qualities needed for success as a social media manager. I feel like a 10 (but I'm kinda bad on 6). Read more here.

Friday, October 21, 2011

News As Real-Time

This from Poynter, in particular the Jeff Jarvis point about the "news story" getting into the way of the news stream. This is one of those seems like old times moments as I think back to APSE seminars from the late 1990s about how the game story was dead because it was dated by live stats.

Maybe they are right, but I look back at something else Jarvis said, but on Leo Laporte's This Week in Tech. There Jarvis and John Dvorak made the argument, along with Leo, that the analysis, the educated opinion, the background and insight of the writer was the key. As Dvorak put it, the "book of knowledge" (half seriously meaning Wikipedia and other real-time sources) has the facts, what we need is interpretation.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Facebook Snapshot of Big 10

A quick note about this story sent out on the CFAA Elite Clips today for those that might not get it. The story is from the Medill School at Northwestern (no, the other Northwestern) and gives a snapshot of the Big 10 school's participation and highlights some of the top schools -- like LSU -- that engage with social media.

Sounds like a bad Next Gen line but folks -- resistance is futile.

Resistence is Futile

Today's note was a forward from one of our Northwestern State Social Media Team members to the group, and it speaks very clearly to the "science being settled" on the question of social media.http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif

That's not to say there won't be deniers, but it's a little harder for them to question the resources -- when properly planned and worked into overall public relations strategy -- that you may commit to social.

Brian Solis is well known as an advocate for social, and he provides the story from Fast Company that interprets the latest Nielsen report into a State of Social Media 2011.

Along with the provocative , Solis breaks down seven quick points (oh so SEO-ish), but one in particular for those attempting to reach the rising college student crowd:

60 percent of people who use three or more digital means of research for product purchases learned about a specific brand or retailer from a social networking site. And, 48% of these consumers responded to a retailer's offer posted on Facebook or Twitter.

Who, I might add, is the "college student crowd"? Keep in mind, not only is the 17-year-old involved, but also the parents. With more and more people engaging with smart phones and tablet devices, you achieve that "three or more digital means" in a greater sized audience than the stereotype "young people" or "early adopters".

Also, the college student is changing. Many are returning students and "non-traditional" older students.

Down in Solis' story, you get the reason why he was so bold earlier: the demographics are booming in all directions. Succinctly put, this isn't your kid's Facebook anymore. Solis calls out recent media coverage on the Pew study that shows a 100% increase in the 65 and older. Gee, if grandpa Boomer is getting on, that's right, everyone is getting on.

All trends that bear watching.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Southern Miss Approach to Social

Courtesy of one of my Northwestern State colleagues, here's a link to local coverage of Southern Miss' roll out of a campus-wide social media policy. Interesting additional angles of putting emphasis on "civility".

One of the take-aways in the story from the policy:

Reminding employees and students that there are no longer any geographical boundaries, therefore how an employee or student presents himself/herself in social media can have a positive or negative impact on his/her reputation

Aaaaaaannnnnnddd . . . . a positive or negative impact on the institution.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Facebook Numbers Say FB 1st

An amalgam of the anecdotal:

Aside from agreeing with me that the new Facebook GUI is terrible, youngsters 14-17 spend 90 minutes a day on the service. That's just a throwaway factoid in GrownupThinking.com's entry on how teens dislike the new front end.

Go back and chew on that. One and a half hours, on average, on Facebook.

You're spending time making new website pages why? If you are like me -- marketing a university and trying to recruit new students (don't kid yourselves: regardless to which side of that blood-brain barrier you are on campus, be ye athlete or academic THAT is your business) -- that tells you all you need to know about any and all efforts in the social media realm.

Good luck, however, convincing the older generation of that fact.

OK, how about this one. Leo Leporte notes the total population of on-line users roughly eight years ago was 850 million. Today, Facebook claims membership of 800 million.

You are not wasting your time in the social realm.

Maybe, you are wasting it elsewhere on-line.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Facebook Scam

I came close to clicking on the button. After all, might be nice to learn a little more about Facebook ads, and it would be even more fun to share the title "marketing expert" with a colleague.

But, I did what I teach: think twice and check at least once before hitting the button.

Turns out, it is a very elaborate, well built phish. Dave Taylor provides the details.

Nasty little virus injector.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Clear Message

If you haven't seen it, watch for the latest Vegas TV ad.

"There are consequences for breaking the code"

"Report friends and learn more"

Tweet out the party? Send pics you shouldn't have? See what happens.

Brilliant and accurate.

Read a little about the news associated with the ad, and the "truth" behind it. Local station Channel 8 has a nice package that include the video.

If you want to check out VisitLasVegas' website, you'll see it looks like they hired the folks who did John Hodgmann's web.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

More Shocking Social Media News

Not since Captain Renault turned to Rick and proclaimed he was shocked, shocked to learn there was gambling in Casablanca's top night spot has there been a more over-blown (and thus, more misunderstood) notion that companies are spying on each other through social media.

Reeeeeeeally? Why the same people who are going to vet your job candidacy by trolling through your Facebook posts, assess your Tweets and judge you by the parties you attend on Flickr . . . they'd never.

Douglas MacMillan writing for Bloomberg News last month gave a great snapshot into the brave new world of corporate espionage.

If you had any doubt, couple of weeks ago AP had a nice tech angle story on how companies are using social to learn what's up with both clients and opponents.

"Social media is a new data-abundant source that is here to stay," says one consultant.

"Twitter can give you a play-by-play about a person's activities," said another. "A log of those posts are time and date stamped."

The article goes into the usual flubs on letting go the occasional secret -- that's obvious -- but it gives away something else. Something you need to consider in your own social media strategy:

"You can actually feel yourself inside that company -- what's happening, what's the morale of the employees, how the business is doing, where top management go on vacation, did the CEO have a fight with somebody. It's a glass house."

So, things getting difficult at Enormous State University for Coach Jim Bob -- not the time for him to crawl back inside his shell OR to start oversharing to seem more personable.

C-level suite holders think they can hold in bad news or negative trends? Just watch the rank-and-file -- are they suddenly happy or sad across the board.

Back in the Cold War, they called it signals intelligence. Listening to everything the Ruskies did, and gleaning tone, direction and mood. Before the networking of the world, you needed lots of big satellite dishes, some mirror front mysterious office buildings, a few ominous three- and four-letter names and toss in a couple of orbiting eyes.

Today, a 4-figure a month subscription to a service and a handful of interns with tuned up dashboards and Tweet Decks, you're in the spy business. Reputation.com is just one of many -- frankly, by being public may just reveal themselves as the least effective. Worry more about the nameless agencies who specialize in "data mining."

In politics, it's opposition research. In college sports, it's getting recruiting advantage. In strategic communications, it's assessing the market.

And, I might add, anyone out there who tells you they don't have a dirt-bag file on rival schools filled with such items, that hasn't made lots of screen captures of unfortunate moments that may or may not have since been deleted, well, they are naive or lying.

Take a moment or two to consider how your social media profile may telegraph your next move. Not in the obvious way like Scott McClellan, the subject of MacMillan's story did. What did it say when at two critical peak points of the 2010 football season that the usually busy Twitter feeds of two notable SEC schools got very, very quiet. They weren't just hunting for wabbits -- they were scared to talk. In it's own way, doesn't that tell the world what they want to know -- or at least you are giving the impression that whatever worst thought the world may have of your organization.

Whistle through the graveyard. Hide in plain sight. Act as if.

Choose the cute little cliche of your liking -- and live it.

Those who are watching, reading and listening, are going to infer. Give them one less thing.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Once Again, Stunning News on News

Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project discovered that when it comes to local news, people used people as their No. 2 source, reinforcing previous points about who people tend to trust for information.

On The Media gives us another outstanding coverage of a vital media story with one of the co-directors. I commend it to you to listen.

What does it mean, again? Well, shocking, Pew found that newspaper staffs were the backbone of most information in local markets -- TV, radio and internet feed off it. But in areas lacking newspaper, or understaffed newspapers, direct to the public is the way.

Lee Rainie, the co-director, provides the nut quote:

Seventy-four percent said on a weekly basis, they used local TV to get some local news. Fifty-five percent, the second-highest ranking went to word of mouth. And that's when people said, “I rely on my friends. I go to my neighbors. I go to trusted colleagues.”

Maybe It's Because It's OK to be Mean

MTV teams up with the Associated Press to issue another study about the impact of the networked world on the age-old problem of bullying (I am loath to give into the pseudo-hip "cyber-bullying").

MTV does have a very serious phrase for this: "youth digital abuse". It goes with their A Thin Line program to address same.

Let me pause a moment to consider, the network that probably exploits more personal situations for it's own reality programing is worried about the impact of insults hurled around the internet. I'm not quite sure whether to call that self-aware or self-deluded.

The findings are "shocking": "It's worse online because everybody sees it," one 24-year-old said. "And once anything gets online, you can't get rid of it."

Sound familiar?

Perhaps I'm being a bit cynical, but isn't the entire point of this media generation the self-exploitation of personal trauma? From "real world" series to psychological interventions ranging from drugs to food to hording, we spend so much time watching reality TV that hardly anyone has time to experience reality. Or more to the point, reality isn't quite as exciting as the heightened reality of network shows.

What's at the heart of a lot of that? Hurting people. Oh, the Bachelor/Bachelorette didn't mean to break their hearts. The color analyst didn't mean to insult the college athlete by calling out a failure. The debate moderator didn't intend to hurt a candidate by asking about their personal lives.

If we are honest with each other, a lot of what goes for entertainment is Greek tragedy, and the person that dies in the end might lot lose their life, but the likely lost their dignity.

Here's the catch -- social media tools not only give us the power to self publish and be a part of the thought leadership formerly known as the media, they also give us the ability to be as nasty, catty, insulting as the meanest of mean girls.

With the added bonus of a screen name behind which to hide, or at least the distance of a computer screen. A lot of the discourse pointed out by the survey got a punch in the nose or a slap across the face; a good drink thrown at the least.

To quote the AP story on the report:

Plus, 75 percent of young people think people do or say things online that they wouldn't do or say face to face.


I can be a simple man at times, and occasionally the most complex problems really have easy solutions.

Do onto others online as you would have others do onto you.

Please, don't get me wrong. This is serious. I've had family members attacked on-line. I've been the subject of some light-weight bashing myself.

But maybe, just maybe, the media outlet famous for The Real Life could take a moment to consider what their role is in fostering a climate in which it's OK to trash acquaintances in public.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Privacy Becomes Premium

Over and over the point made here is you are never, ever in a private place on the internet. No more so than you would be in the uber-watched England of the 21st century, where you are almost always on a security camera, once one joins the internet and begins to post -- you are traced, tracked, recorded and analyzed.

Thus with some interest I read the technology piece a few weeks ago in The Chronicle about the move of many on campus to begin to build an alternate internet. Fears that the United States government would invoke "the kill switch" if a true Arab Spring began to grow here (Occupy Wall Street? Please, America was more violent and effective in the 60s with the SDS or the Hoovervilles of the 1930s).

A long but informative read, particularly referencing the efforts to make self-cloud internets and local mesh networks. Reminds me a bit of the old tinkering that once was the proud domain of amateur radio operators.

The story talks about Eben Moglen, a law professor at Columbia, and what motivated him: William Cronon. The Wisconsin professor had his email FOI'd by political opponents, looking for violations of the Wisconsin state law that prohibited use of state university accounts for political speech. I find that a fascinating law -- and reinforcing to one of my great cautions.

Moglen is a key face for the Freedom Box, a project to make plug servers to scramble and anonymize simple and appliance-like for the public.

Don't do anything on a state computer -- or a state network -- that you don't want to see public or dragged into court.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

They Were Their Own Genius

Rough week for the Bay Area as two legends passed. First being Steve Jobs and today Al Davis. (Remember Al's career through the WashPo's lengthy story/obit)

Um. Al Davis and Steve Jobs in the same reference?

Yes, if anyone embodied the "think different" mantra of Jobs in the world of professional sports, it was Davis. One could argue as to whether his radical moves were the best for everyone at times -- the Oakland to Los Angeles to Oakland Raiders -- and the way the franchise went into a bit of decline in his dotage.

Don't forget, present-focused people, Al Davis was the commissioner of the AFL before the merger. Davis forced many of the advances in the league with his rebel attitude. And before Jobs thumbed his nose at corporate attire, it was Al in the turtleneck (no mock turtles in the 1960s).

Just Win Baby was his motto, the precursor to another business icon's way (hello, Phil Knight).

Davis hired the first black, the first Latino, the first female CEO in the NFL. His franchise was the anti-NFL at times, but they were the few and the proud -- and like the Marines, you were a Raider for life. Darren McFadden, native Arkansan, is the face of that franchise now at tailback and with his 501 tats loyal to his home town yet full of 'tude, perhaps the past and future of the Raiders in one package.

Maybe, just maybe, what the world need now is a little less together and a little more Al.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Release Now Or Pay Later

Another West Coast hoop legend, Bill Russell, joins Ed O'Bannon in suing the NCAA over the unauthorized use of likeness. This puts old school with new school and just reinforces that if your school is not getting blanket model's release on it's athletes - well, you deserve the judgment you are going to have made against you. Especially if you once did the releases, then stopped them.

Frankly, my friends with Iron Pixel who did shooting recently here for our Campus Tours project said the new trend was whole school's getting that release from incoming freshmen.

I'll be advising our school to do that starting next year, we'll see how far that gets,

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Matters of Style are Just That

Just because Associated Press stylebook says so, doesn't make it right for all instances. Thus the need for institutional style guides.

For example, I know in my heart all-American is the correct generic usage. I've maintained it for years. And if you pay attention, so does AP.

That doesn't keep hundreds of universities from making that mistake.

An area that AP has been woefully behind -- digital media. From citations of sources to Web site, AP doesn't work well.

Case in point: expressing a brand's email address. I am a firm believer that:

A) http:// went out with Napster.

B) www has gone the way of MySpace.

The need to add the "hypertext terminal protocol" faded when the alternative means of calling data from servers (file transfer protocol, or FTP for example) lost favor. No one has to type that into a browser anymore, nor do most people need to see those extra seven characters to understand we're talking about a website.

Even AP can get on board with that.

The vast majority of web addresses no longer need the second piece of anarchistic addressing -- the www. It was a two step process -- hey computer at IP address, look in the folder labeled "WWW" and send me the files in there via the hypertext terminal protocol.

I take it as a key indicator of web savvy, dare I say maturity, when brands know they can just say: Facebook.com, GoDaddy.com.

Why, oh why, do so many academics fight and insist on http://www.myuniversity.edu?

We have changed here to simply nsula.edu. Many other schools have as well, and a cursory look at a recent edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education revealed the majority of display ads -- most placed by universities and colleges -- did the same. There's a montage of them in the image.

Along with the savvy angle, there is a practical advertising one: nsula.edu can be typeset a heck of a lot bigger than http://www.nsula.edu. In our case, we've more than cut in half the length of the address (count 'em, 11 characters before the key information, 10 characters after).

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Facing the Comment Section

Saturday Night Light hits the dissociation effect square in the eyes with the Internet Comments Talk Show.

"There's no consequences because you'll never meet these people," says the host.

I highly recommend.