Friday, December 12, 2014

The Cautionary Study, 2014

They come around with regularity, so I offer up the recent edition of "I told you so" for colleagues related to social media policy and preparedness.  Good friend C.K. Syme makes The Chronicle of Higher Ed's newsletter this week with her summary of a CoSIDA study on best practices for college athletics in social media.  Check out the link here.

The question for you, dear readers, is which side of these numbers are you on?  Perhaps you've got administrative and/or legal constipation that prevents you from formalizing a policy?  Might be time to share some of these kind of surveys with them in hopes of loosening the log jam.

Cause it's not if, but when, the social media monster visits your campus.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

History Made by President

At lunch today, President Obama released a statement teasing his announcement regarding immigration.  Granted, the President can command the airtime from the networks, but he went to his Facebook page to make a video pitch.  OK, that's happened before -- classic be the media work.

CNN ran the video clip in its entirety.  And they didn't say a word.  No complaints about access.  No raising questions about the validity of the President going direct to the people.  No editing of the video or using it as b-roll.

THAT is a change that should be noted by all.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Auto Posting = This

I've railed to all of you about the bad policy, the downtrend impact, the just plain laziness of automatic social media -- whether it is cross platform posting or . . . . .


Oh, I give you both the link, and the full text of the link to read.

If this cannot convince you of the moronic nature of auto posting, I cannot help you.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Just Another Crimson Day

It shouldn't come as a great shock that a Harvard utilized photos of students in class as a part of a study on attendance.  After all, as this Chronicle of Higher Ed story notes, Harvard also sifted through resident dean email accounts trying to find a leaker.

Why no shock?  People, please.  The greatest personal data mining operation in the history of the world was invented there.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

What Were They Thinking?

A little more ominous than "experimenting" on sentiment and motion with Facebook users, this note from the Chronicle.  Stanford and Dartmouth apologizing for fake mailers sent by political science profs to see if they could alter the outcome of elections in Montana.

Not sure what part of this is the most disturbing.

We get enough manipulative mailers from corporations and dark money groups. How did these academics think it was OK to join in?

Two coastal private schools thought they'd just experiment in Montana? Because it was isolated? It was flyover country? It wasn't California or New Hampshire?

Read more:

A political-science study that involved a deceptive mailing to Montana voters raises questions about a new research trend.

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Sent from my iPad

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

News You Can Use

No less than the Grey Lady of Journalism opines:

About 30 percent of adults in the United States get their news on Facebook, according to a study from the Pew Research Center. The fortunes of a news site, in short, can rise or fall depending on how it performs in Facebook’s News Feed.

It comes from an article on the impact of social on the traditional news world.  (Tip of the hat to the daily PRSA Issues and Trends newsletter -- are you a member? You should be.)

By the way, the study link -- that's to a Pew Research piece we referenced a couple of weeks ago regarding the way we use social to get our news, but I was more focused on the items further down the page.  NYT was all about the very first graphic.

So if the NYT is concerned that the gateway to the public is social, why oh why are you not doing the same?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Gets Worse From Here

An interesting take and a use of a favorite analogy regarding the North Carolina scandal in this week's Chronicle of Higher Education.  The authors, from nearby South Carolina, bemoan the inevitable nature of cheating driven by the desire of boards of trustees, high paying donors and upper administrators to bask in the reflected glory of athletes at Good Ole U.  The trio of authors opine:

The real problem is that, as the days pass and this latest scandal fades, coaches, players, tutors, and administrators will most likely go back to business as usual, and college-sports fans across the country will tune in to ESPN’s College GameDay and savor the sweet smell and taste of their big-time college-sports sausage, all the while ignoring the discarded athletes, as well as higher education’s integrity, that have been ground up in the process.

Ah yes, welcome to the sausage factory.

I call Dr. BS on two parts of this.  First, it didn't take the Athletic-Entertainment Complex to cause this type of activity.  Anyone remember when Louisiana Gov. Huey Long dragooned trains into the service of transporting his Fighting Tigers of LSU around the South?  Didn't think so.  BTW, that was the 1930s for the kids these days.

Second, while Disney/ESPN didn't cause all this, the incredible amounts of money flowing are exacerbating it.

About a decade and a half ago when the first thoughts of a national championship in football begat the BCS and today's playoff, I turned to friends and said:

You thought the hundred thousand dollar free throw was something?  Try the million dollar game.

I think I was off by an order of magnitude.  Anyone who thinks whole administrations won't compromise themselves for the incredible piles of cash available is naive.

Remember, we -- the collective of fans, college athletics and university administrators -- have done this to ourselves by demanding the "ultimate" title game.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Free Speech Isn't Free

Let's add a direct athletics chapter to the "say it social, pay a penalty at work" book.  The Big 12 fined Baylor's SID, Heath Nielsen, for comments made on his Twitter account related to the BU-West Virginia game.

Very notable in this:  it was also what he retweeted.

I know many in the game who will forward a link or retweet and then claim, oh, I was just sending along someone else's comments.  No, by forwarding you just ENDORSED those comments.

Having vented myself on radio as a color analyst, I know there is a fine line between accurate reporting of questionable calls and "undermining" officials.

Kevin Trahan of SB Nation makes another key point.  Fining the Iowa State AD for his video comments was one thing, handing out a $1,000 fine to an SID . . . you might as well add another 0 to that so you could get a sense of what that means to the underpaid and overworked in that field.

Sure, Big 12 is trying to send a message.  Here's one: don't do it on the backs of the people who make your machine run.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Auto Post is the Deebil?

No surprise to this space, but always reassuring to see data that backs up the idea that automatic cross posting is a bad idea.  This info graphic, courtesy of today's PRSA email, talks about a dramatic negative impact upon your social media.

#4: Auto-posting to Facebook decreases likes and comments by 70%.

OK.  My cognitive dissonance meter went off.  How did they know that?  What's the source?  They cite a Hubspot study.

A little back tracking, and like many stats, this one is a little old.  A 2012 study from Digital Buzz Blog is the source.  In that infographic, Inside Facebook is the source.

Inside Facebook (we're now at Sept. 2011) cites a study by Applum that was really looking into what happen when you used Tweet Deck or Hoot Suite.  That study link is a 404 now, but an editor's note revealed a little more.  Seems this was focused on the mechanics of auto-posting as they noted that EdgeRank/Facebook had a whitelist of OK sources to auto-post from.

At the end of the string, the repeated stat was more about how it was reposted (from an aggregator program) than what was reposted automatically.

Certainly, point four above fits my view of the social world.  What started me down the chase was what happens when Facebook is very deliberately your secondary audience?  For example, football recruits live in Twitter.  That content is of interest to adults following the program who may be predominantly Facebook demo.  Do you really care at that point if the interaction drops?

This needs more current study.  In a world where our regular information from brands is routinely unseen without "boost", the real devil in these details lies within that Facebook issue.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Interaction The Best Boost

Getting your followers to see your content becomes more and more challenging.  After complaints, Facebook is changing the news feed algorithm again.  However, according to Poynter, there is something you can do:  encourage immediate like and interaction.

From the Poynter blog:

They say they’ll fix these problems and surface more relevant posts by emphasizing two factors: whether a topic is trending, and how soon people like and comment on a posts after they’re published. 

We see this on our own content.  When we have interaction in a "news" flow, we see greater spread.  It also leads to better spread on boosted items as well.

Comes back to an older concept -- your external social media teams who like and share everything and provide you a base become very important once again.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Sometimes, Grandma IS the Sentiment

In the Facebook Five, I talk about making sure you have sentiment in your social postings.  Don't get caught up in "Facebook" as a label -- it applies to a Vine, InstaGram or pithy tweet.  Here's a perfect example, that also IS grandma.  Born the same year as A-State (alumni hook), she's got on her red tee shirt for Pack Priday (another student promo connection) and she's trying to get her WOLVES UP gesture.

We got this through calls to action -- repeatedly asking our fans to send us their spirit photos for the Friday "Pack Priday" runs.

What are you doing to get this kind of Facebook Five impact?  Check the numbers in just two hours . . .

Friday, September 05, 2014

Take Them There

A capture at 30 minutes after a simple picture of the football team loading up for a road trip.  At 10:30 in the morning -- even on a Friday -- fans can't always get off to be a part of this.  But with some "Living Social" forethought, you can take them there.

Check a couple of the key engagement numbers here:  Served to about 1400 of our current 33K base, you have 142 like -- over 10%.  I'd anticipate the climb to continue through the lunch window (a nice double -- hitting one of those important "clock" moments).

Keep this thought in mind: it didn't take any extra effort.  The staffer was already there.  It just took awareness.

Friday, August 01, 2014

The Digital Trail

My oft repeated phrase

digital assets are extremely portable and easily disseminated

applies to all aspects of the work place.  Don't believe me?  Ask Jonathan Waters, former director of the Ohio State marching band.  He swore he didn't swear at band members among other things.  Turns out, there's a recording by one of his drum majors of a disciplinary meeting, and The Chronicle covered that last week.

Lois Lerner's ongoing email saga this week moved to her BlackBerry account.  In her back and forth with a friend, she called one political faction "assholes".  While the ability to locate her Outlook-based correspondence continues, the idea of locating things within her phone reminds me of another person, then Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino, and his question of "can they get my texts."

I'm left once again with the good ole Earl Long School of Communication.  The late Louisiana governor (and many other politicians in other regions -- I recall Uncle Earl because of regionalism -- the phrase isn't original to him) famously advised:

Don't write what you can say, don't say what you can't whisper, don't whisper what you can't wink

Sunday, July 13, 2014

EULA Strikes Again

Welcome to Matt's Cafe Internete, where . . . not unlike Rick's Cafe Americain . . . we are shocked, shocked, to learn that your personal data is being used and manipulated.

Please people -- the Zuck and Co. never make a move without having pre-planned (and planted) the change in the End User License Agreement, now known more as the "ToS" for Terms of Service.

Kudos to Forbes who discovered that once again, four months prior to the "manipulation" experiment in some folks newsfeeds that Facebook added that to your EULA.  Read more here.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

It's not Engagement Without Interaction

A follow-up thought for my colleagues who attended the Association of Louisiana Alumni Executives talk last week.  You can message all day long, but the interaction comes when you do two things.  The obvious one: enable and answer comments.  The second, sign your posts.  Here's a recent and somewhat random example.  I'm putting out the note about how friends and followers can do a little to beat the Facebook algorithm and see more from us by clicking to "Get Notifications" (BTW -- have you been promoting that to your Facebook followers?).

That's not what Susan Littleton wanted to know, and she used that opportunity to ask her question.  I didn't have the answer, but took the time to acknowledge her question and say when we might have an answer on honor roll lists.

And, see you liked the comment?  What do you think the chances are that we got one more dedicated follower?

Friday, June 13, 2014

More Reasons for Caution!

For some time I've encouraged the avoidance of ! in social media posts based both on research (see my image -- a staple in my social media presentations) and personal preference.  Today, a couple of new items supporting the sparing use of ! -- but also one meme that is promoting it.

Like the use of more than two hash tags, spam filters are looking for the use of ! to replace "i" in subject lines, and may catch your enthusiasm as well.  They are really looking for the multiples as this column on how to avoid the spam filter notes (irony: of the 10 bullet points, three of them used an exclamation point).

A little Australian flair to stress the downside of the multiple marks, and another on PR writing technique (see item four) that using them along with all caps undercuts credibility.

No less than the New York Times weighed in against the exclamation in emails back in 2011 -- no surprise for the stuffy Old Gray Lady -- but gives me a great new piece of ammunition courtesy of Mark Twain.  America's storyteller brings it all home:

One should never use exclamation points in writing. It is like laughing at your own joke.

The judicious use of the mark, however, may be something we have to consider.  Arguing a similar line of thought that I preach -- that digital communication strips off all the context, Drake Braer points out they can be useful to take the harsh off a cold read.  Then again, the friendly in this example gets to the point of sounding like you're yelling at me:

This infographic and it's back-up research tends to support the idea that adding them gets you retweets -- so is this a platform specific plus?  Reading into the article to me affirms the my original position.  For all the good an exclamation may bring in a retweet, it has the same deleterious effect on click through rate.  I want you to read something or see something -- and the ! has demonstrated negative impact.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Future from the Past

They promised me jet packs and robot housemaids.  So my vision of what a future should look like is framed by what childhood popular culture abounded.  Results in a primary colored pop world of the 80s and 90s.

Wondering out loud -- when so much of the vision of the future was presented as dystopian to Gen X and Y, is it no surprise that their graphics are dark and stoic?  My Batman wasn't nearly as goth as my kid's Dark Knight.

A roundabout way to this new nugget -- how much of today's networked world was foretold in some report from 1982.  My first cynical question is: how many other reports that said we'd see a blossoming of craft printing are forgotten.

Still, a lot of where we are is correct as the Pew Research folks point out.  How close?

“Electronic home information systems…create classes of people based on interests, skills, and even specialized languages. As it becomes easier to link with various others of these classes, to establish relationships with members of these classes, to identify with them, ties with traditional peer group members may break down.”

Or, as the kids say, social cra-cra friends.

Another moment to plug my favorite single book and my favorite quote.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Kansas Follows Through with Policy

After backing away, the Kansas Board of Regents moved ahead with a strong social media policy for its faculty and staff.  Read from the local media.

From The Told-You-So Files

Remember back in the day when this space foretold and advocated for branded journalism?

Another reminder that the future is now.

Here is both the lede and the takeway from an article that you really should go ahead and click above to read fully:

One former USA Today editor says that he's jumping ship to the world of content marketing because editorial is dead. Is there any business model that can save the future of news?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Most Expensive Free Thing in the World is . . .

Social media.

Without a doubt.  Reminded of this fact listening to the pitch session for one of our design classes.  Our College of Fine Arts graciously asked if I'd serve as a "judge" for four branding designs, and one of the teams made social media their lead creative.  Outstanding, I'm thinking, until one of the presenters says:

"Because social media is free, and we know we won't have a large budget."

In the Q&A, I asked them, why did they think social media was free?  Cause it doesn't cost anything to sign up for Facebook, Twitter, etc., etc.

Dose of real-world now, kids.  What does your time as a design cost?  Um, not sure.  Is your creative time not billable?  Not valuable?

They got it pretty quick -- and today, here's a link off PRSA's daily digest of info that reinforces once again, the great myth that social is free.

And, the only free thing more expensive than social media?

Bad social media.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Want to Believe Facebook Can Do Better

Many recall my earlier questioning of the brilliance of the "related stories" tab.  Here's one from a friend in Natchitoches.  I wonder is this is driven by lack of base -- Northwestern State is a smaller school, they're doing some very bad regional demographic profiling and they can see "demon" is the mascot.  According to this story from Inc, Facebook is improving this area.

Example like this don't give us lots of hope.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Difference Between Being Digital Native and DigiSavvy

One wonders, and this from The Chronicle is an excellent overview of the belief that the rising generation of youth is so "in tune" with what it means to "be digital."

The title says it all: Confronting the Myth of the Digital Native.

The takeaway quote:

Siva Vaidhyanathan, chair of the media-studies department at the University of Virginia, describes Ms. Hargittai as a "pioneer of empirical Internet studies." It is "absolutely untrue" that young people understand how the Internet works when they enroll in college, he says. "That myth is in the direct interest of education-technology companies and Silicon Valley itself. If we all decide that young people have some sort of savantlike talent with digital technology, than we’re easily led to policies and buying decisions and pedagogical decisions that pander to Silicon Valley."

Just cause you're born with it, doesn't mean you really know it.  Kind of a digital nature versus nurture, wouldn't you say?

Having just conducted a mini-seminar for students here, I can confirm what Eszter Hargittai says in the story.

That a two-year-old can swipe and click on a tablet device is one thing; being DigiSavvy must be taught.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Hodgman's Moment

If you aren't following Alton Brown's podcast, you should take a moment to grab this week's episode which featured John Hodgman, he of Mac-PC commercials, collaborations with Johnathon Coulton, of fake trivia and fact books and his own podcast.

Today, however, I wish to pay homage to genius -- sheer genius -- in the elaboration of that moment when internet life changed for everyone associated with it.  Alton had asked John about the "special" relationship he must have had with Apple during those days, and Hodgman said not as much as you'd think, but he remembered very distinctly the day -- unannounced -- a first generation iPhone arrived at his house:

We all knew it the moment we held it, well, this is the future. Books will be written about how culture flipped at that moment. . . . What it did was put the internet, which until 2007 was still a relatively esoteric niche world of relatively affluent gear heads and nerds, and publishing and media types, and put it in the hand of everyone who had a phone and that meant it expanded demographics of who was using the internet dramatically.

There it is -- Hodgman's Moment.  Books to be written indeed.  Hey kids following this feed, there's your next media studies thesis statement.
The internet into your hand and literally changed the world. The internet penetrated your world and it has never gone away. It left the confines of a tethered world - physically attached to infrastructure, electric, LAN - and became mobile, a digital parasite and we became it's very willing hosts. We became like Chekov receiving his Ceti eel in Khan; or assimilated into the Borg. 
When I first heard this section, it really didn't sink in.  In fact, I thought, why John, please.  We were starting social media, we'd had websites since the mid to late 1990s.
And then on the second pass through while cycling (because I wanted to hear more about the specific BBQ places around Oxford, Miss.), it hit me.  He was right.  I indeed was one of those gearheads.  A media person.  A connected by affluence individual.
Mark it down -- Hodgman's Moment.
It also signaled the end of the elite of news decides, but a utopian democracy did not replace that void. We did not become better by some meritocracy of thought or message. Instead a new tyranny of the deliberately exploitative took control. By algorithm, by advertiser, by monied interest - the public discourse went from the control of the learned elite to the power of the systematic hustlers. (Oh now go find my other guru of these memes, Neil Postman.)
From controlling elite - who themselves beholden to paid special interest thru advertisers, but not always fully controlled by them - to the direct connection of those who could game the system or purchase it. It cannot be reversed. No matter the level of societal control, no amount of Mullah desire to reverse liberal progress or dictatorial power to command a society - once unleashed the society is forever itself lashed to the connectivity. 
The deliciously ironic conclusion of cutting the cords is the maniacal, absurdity of being wirelessly connected. The prison is without walls because the world now becomes the prison. The most Faustian of choices and fates. (Or as Alton admits in listening to John's Apple story -- he has days he carries only a non-SMS, non-data flip phone.  He has to be accessible, but it is without that oh-so-tempting internet in his pocket.)

Hodgman's Moment is diminishing, and in time may be forgotten by the general public. The particular technology - the iPhone - disappears, but no one is left who can remember a time in which everyone was not connected. Once it happens it can't be reversed.  A digital native will have it delayed, but anybody born into an area where Hodgman's Moment has already occurred has no real ability to escape. 
It's like a wildfire as it moves across societies and it can result in a moving definable line; a border defined by the 3G changeover between a pre-Internet network to the device in the hand. We are left with places like the remotest areas of certain countries and regions of the world, or a North Korea where a whole population is still in the pre-Hodgman's Moment by the sheer force of the old political guard, an elite who themselves are digitally connected but fearful of their ability to control their analog masses should the Hodgman's Moment flash across their borders.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Can Someone Explain the Logic?

Please Facebook.  Simple answers.  What relates to what content.  What we can do to tag that content so it makes sense to the end user.

In the classic sense -- I don't trust a media outlet when I know the kind of errors they make regarding me, my interests or my employer.

Facebook -- when you offer up random (and potentially offensive) related content -- you do the same.

Earlier today, I saw a story on the new women's basketball coach at Arkansas.  They served related content with a spoof expansion of football and a feature on craft beer.  Really?

But The Facebook -- like the Honey Badger -- don't care.

Stop more silliness like below (how does Junkyard Dog and King Herod relate . . . .)?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Secrets of the Related Story

As Facebook morphs again, the new feature of related stories after you click on a news item from a friend intrigues me.  Anyone figured out what drives it, and how we get our content into those hoppers?

Meanwhile, we return to a world in which the click interaction of our followers becomes the prime metric.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

UPDATE: The Judge Steps Out

Michael Maggio issued a statement that he indeed is "geauxjudge" on Tiger Droppings and exits his judicial race in Arkansas.

 “I take full responsibility for the comments that have been attributed to me. I apologize deeply for my lapse in personal judgment and for that, I have no excuse. The comments posted were not acceptable. These comments are not a reflection of who I am.”

Call it the disassociation effect in reverse.  Just because I used a pseudonym it really isn't me.

Some broader things to consider are how did Maggio end up in this place? Granted, a run though all of geauxjudge's posts made it fairly easy to conclude it was either Maggio or someone extremely close to him.  He opined on too many things that only he would know from his professional life (first rule of message board - no personal details).

Yet on a board the scale of TigerDroppings, seeing this forest for the trees . . . well you wouldn't just need a road map, you'd need Google Earth to back up that far.

Unless you were tipped.

And that is what Maggio hinted at in his statement. That Blue Dog Report, one of Arkansas' more notable political blogs, didn't just accidentally sift through the website.

Regardless, we are once again reminded of the permanence of the supposedly ephemeral digital trail we leave behind.

If you want a recap, Arkansas Times has one here.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Once Digital, Never Anonymous

Mike Maggio is learning an old school lesson today. You can give yourself a screen name, but that is no guarantee of anonymity.  The Arkansas judge, and his wide ranging opinions on the LSU message board Tiger Droppings, are now political fodder.

Rule number one of message boards: they have your IP addresses. If you work for a public entity, you  are toast. Just an FOIA away from having your desktop IP revealed. Triangulate that with what survive provider you use for mobile and home service and the "well, that may be my work computer but anyone could have accessed it" excuse is done.

Rule number two: too cute by half screen names.  Geauxjudge. Really?

For these and many other reasons, I've operated under a very simple guideline on the sports message boards: be yourself.  As a public spokesperson, any and everything is on the record, so you've always found me as "BillSmith" where I have gone.

Not everyone can get away with being Ranger77. Maggio sure didn't.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Another Job Ended by Social

The cautionary tales become routine.  Today's edition involves the sharing of a Facebook link, ostensibly inside "friends" security, that was quickly shared out and to the wider world.  As a result, Craig Featherston is now former assistant AD at TCU.

The content isn't that important -- you can read here from the Ft Worth Star-Telegram -- what precipitated Featherston's decision to leave the Horned Frogs.

What does separate this event from other famous job-ending faux pas (by tweet | by drunken tweet | by photo | by posting | by video) -- this was sharing a link, not creating it.  Although, Featherston told the S-T[he] posted a message he said he didn’t write “but could have.”

Read more here:

The main takeaway:  in spite of best efforts by media consultants like Danah Boyd's attempt to create "context collapse", you will be taken at face for your comments.  And, in this case, the ones you share.

I segue to Boyd, who was interviewed today on NPR related to her new research book, It's Complicated.  The key to understanding the use of social by various groups is the context.  Based on the story, I don't think I am stretching to say that Featherston falls into "context collapse."  (Granted, Boyd is studying teenagers.)

As a former UT student during the time of the TAMU bonfire tragedy, he said he was sharing a comment among friends.  He talks directly to the Star-Telegram about the impact, and you have sympathy for the situation.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Is 65 the new 140?

I've said for some time, just because you get 140 characters on Twitter doesn't mean you should use them.  And that it's no good to prattle on with "extensions."  You need to leave space for the retweet and comments, so keep it around 100 if you can.

Now this: 65 characters.

Why?  Found first as it relates to writing good headlines for media releases that will work well in Google's search.  Because the Google truncates heads past 65 characters.

But here's some compelling additional info on 65.  For email subject lines.  For SEO tagging. More and more items are wanting you to say it in less and less space.

Once upon a time, I wrote for the bible of preseason basketball: Street & Smith's.  Those stories had hard word counts that were inviolable.  You quickly learned to drop modifiers, bloat and words like inviolable.

Writing short, tight, meaningful prose is much harder than bloviating.

Forced Transparency (Not Yet)

Friends point out what I overlooked -- the new Facebook annotation of who actually posted on brands is for admins view only.


So when was the last time that a Facebook feature that reveals more about your data stayed private.

Betcha what I took the policy change to be comes to pass before it's all said and done.

For all the folks who want to keep their branded social shielded, consider my age old advice:  Digital assets are extremely portable and once posted are always available.

Can you say . . . screen captures?  Wanna know who really is doing Brand X's work for them?  Everyone an Edward Snowden.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Of FOIA and folly

Every public institution runs into the digital age dilemma: what should we archive and what are we required to archive?

One solid rule of thumb is making sure you can produce documents if asked that pertain to your business activity.  And doing that on Gmail to avoid the state's servers . . . . well, that is proven to not stand up in court.

Two recent FOIA-related articles via PRSA's daily email bring this balancing act into focus.  The first details the SNAFU by the U.S. Navy in sending its strategy memo of how to cut down on a FOIA request to the requester.

Ah, there are some old time favorites:  "encourage the sender to 'narrow the scope'" to avoid "fishing expeditions."  The tweet with the screen cap is here.

The other is this new product: Confide.  Marketing hype says it's "snapchat for the corner office."  In other words, a way to have erasable communications to avoid those pesky FOIA fishing expeditions.

As many have learned the hard way, Snapchat isn't as secure, and surely the same will be for Confide.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Forced Transparency

Starting Feb. 20, Facebook will take the veil off "brand" pages by revealing who is posting what.  I think it's a great move, and something that for the most part I've followed at all three stops along this social media way.

I did endorse the school speaking on the first announcement, but thereafter, you had to identify yourself at the end of the post.

Now, all posts will be annotated, and it will be a good thing.

Well, unless you are the mystery MSNBC tweeter that got fired a week ago for the comment about conservatives and the Cheerios commercial.  Can't get away with that anonymous post and departure on Facebook soon.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Thanks, Interaction and Bringing It

Jan. 25 we got into a twitter war with UALR.  Ah, not really, but the very fact that two university social feeds decided to go back and forth on the gameday of a pair of rivals drew attention.

Got the media's comment and student's attention.  "Did you see that?" one asked me.  Grinning, why yes, yes I did.  An incredulous look from another administrative functionary.  "Why I've never seen that before, you know, between two university accounts."

Good-natured ribbing over who was going to win the first meeting of the two basketball teams.  Why not?  It was great fun.  It mobilized both fan groups who retweeted and added to the back and forth.  We kept is civil (and so did the fans for the most part).

The goal of social media is interaction.  When "institutions" are too concerned with being formal all the time, people will not relate.

What makes Old Main so important to Arkansas grads?  The Columns a sentimental heart tug to Northwestern State alums?  The Arch at A-State?

It's not the freaking architecture, people.  It's like Soylent Green -- it's peeeeeople.

Betcha remember that line.

Thus my point.  A helpful instructor.  A mentoring adviser.  A band of brothers or sisters who ran together.  Sporting events.  Social events.  Milestone events.  A catchy turn of a phrase.

These are the emotional connections we ascribe to our alma maters and then to the brick and mortar.

So let's act like people rather than architecture.

I want to give a shout out to our colleagues at UALR for making it fun, and showing us this new little weblette tool,  Someone's GIF'd up movie clips, no sound.  Let's hope the studios don't take them down soon (it's still in beta).

Sometime, no matter how cleaver you are, a picture tells the story better but video can evoke the motion best.

As we said back . . . .

Bring it.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Social Media You May Not Monitor

Reading before the holidays a pair of references in the PRSA newsletter about the difficulties of brands dealing with errors on Wikipedia, I was aware of the twisted path I'd find myself on in early December.
As noted in the PRSA email, I do recognize there is a considerable amount of "Astroturfing" going on -- not just on the Wikis but all around the digital realm.

And in reading the accompanying column about the damage that inaccurate or maliciously false information on Wikipedia can do to brands, it got me watching a little closer.

Who knew I'd find myself inside Escher-like world of WikiProofing so soon after?
We talk at length about monitoring our social media and what our active folks in our organizations may be doing.  There's another social media you need to actively monitor.  The Wikis and similar born digital reference guides.

I want to make a quick preface to say, I use Wikipedia.  A lot.  But I also double check anything I personally don't know from my experience or my own historical background -- remember, the Dr in DrBS is a PhD in American history.  Teaching, no one was allowed to use WikiPedia as a primary source.  Why?

Our story begins with a passing mention in our media monitoring that our former Indian mascot made a list of eight insensitive Native American references.  Looking at the story on Indian Country Today Media Network, the author, Vincent Schilling, talked about the "Trail of Tears Classic" between Arkansas State and University of Louisiana at Monroe.

As a native of Monroe, graduate and former employee at the then Northeast Louisiana, I had never, ever heard the series with A-State called . . . well . . . anything.  Sure, these two Indian teams had that in common, but NLU's rival was Louisiana Tech; A-State far more interested in games with Memphis.

Both teams were mandated into mascot changes, so certainly there would not be any recent year Native American references.  With one exception -- the inside jokes passed among fans still upset about the change on message boards.  After a double check with both A-State and ULM officials, a note to Vincent with Indian Country Today Media Network to let him know his information was incorrect.

And that began the WikiOdessey.

Here are a series of links from the internet that prove the series is true, most of all, a Wikipedia entry by a poster I came to know by his screen name of Ejgreen77.  Ejgreen77 cited an online work from 2007 and a single news article which was not online.  I decided to make the correction myself.

This was my big mistake.

Truth did not matter.  What mattered to Ejgreen77 and the entirety of the WikiWorld was I was a WP:NO.  

"Based on this edit, it appears that you are a paid public-relations professional, employed by Arkansas State University. As such, please read WP:NO..."

Because I worked for A-State, I must have an agenda.  Because I knew the truth and dared to correct it, I was quickly labeled as a "hostile poster" and Ejgreen77 set about to have my account suspended.

This becomes the heart of the problem I have with Wikipedia, both as a public relations professional and as a professional historian.  Anyone can post things.  To paraphrase an old cliche, once it's on the internet, its the God's honest truth.  And under the rules of engagement from Wikipedia, only those without an interest can fix the internet.
(As you might expect, there is a Wikipedia page for the history of conflict of interest.  It's not really encouraging with the unrealistic line in the sand about "if you are paid by".  Guess if you get paid to teach or write American history, you shouldn't edit it on Wikipedia -- you have an interest in being right . . . )

Meanwhile, the media continued to not correct its story, but the editor sent a note to say that it didn't seem quite right and they would revise their story to say that certainly since the two schools changed their mascots during the early 2000s, the label wasn't currently being used.  But, because the Wikipedia entry persisted, they would not retract the story as based on inaccurate information.

Appealing to reviewers, a three-week process of near daily checking and updating information to plead the case began.  Throughout it all, the fact I had a PhD in history, that I had intimate knowledge of both programs, that I had grown up in the region, that I had worked in the sports media and could also speak to the inaccuracy -- all that mattered was I worked for A-State.

My level of frustration was high.  Now the mascot issue was on the other foot.  I had been labeled.  And I was not to be believed because of my associations.  I was being judged on the surface.
Eventually, allies came to my side, and several of them came to the same conclusion: none of this seemed to exist prior to the mascot changes.  I also found and supplied scans of books on college and regional sports history -- since the media guides of either school were not considered viable "truth".  After all, they were the product of WP:NO.

I also made the argument, if this series was real, where was the trophy like the Arkansas-LSU or Northwestern State-Stephen F. Austin series.  These also had Wiki entries, and photos of the trophies -- the Golden Boot and the giant cigar store Indian Chief Caddo.

Two days before Christmas, the Wiki court ruled in our favor, and changed the entry "permanently" to the Arkansas State-ULM Series.  Ejgreen77 went to the end believing in his story, and as far as I know, believing I had done some eeeeeeevil PR work.

To the full credit of Indian Country, once they saw the evidence and that Wikipedia had stricken the entry, they were more than gracious in removing their story.

And this is the heart of the story.  If this was a more visible, more contentious matter of brand reputation in which the media source was Wikipedia, what damage would result due to Wikipedia's policy to not take the word of those of us who happen to work for a group?

Is the takeaway of the story that we all have to buddy-up with someone we can call on to correct our inaccuracies that is not "connected" by a paycheck to our schools?

This seems like a poor way to run an encyclopedia.  It certainly isn't the Associated Press or any other reasonable media or governmental standard.  If the institution can prove an error, it gets corrected.
This all comes back around to the key points in the PRSA's survey: takes too long to respond, factual errors not addressed.

But the moral of both the article and our story:

Some Viewed Making Changes as Near Impossible: 23% of respondents felt that making changes to Wikipedia articles for their company or client was “near impossible” in 2012 and 2013.

Monday, January 20, 2014

You Wanted Inside the Game

What do Madonna and Richard Sherman have in common? We just heard the voices inside their head.

Both find themselves the subject of our clucking disdain today for what they said out loud.  Madonna in social media and Sherman on the regular.

Madonna's Instagram message to her son using the N word that she pulled back saying she was not racist and that it was what goes for an inside joke is pretty straightforward social media faux pas.

But what of Sherman? His outburst at the close of the AFC Championship game set social media ablaze with recriminations for his corse behavior and turned the country against the Seattle Seahawks.

The shock and borderline horror in Erin Andrews eyes as he erupted in pure angry emotion during the post game interview tells you everything you need to know.

The network finally went too far.

The cameras on sidelines, in the sidelines, in the faces of injured or emotional players.  The in-game interviews with coaches.

All of it designed to "take you inside the game."

Well, you just got to go there, America. How do you like it now?

Should he have composed himself? Absolutely. Does he need some media training? Maybe.

There is a reason why there is a cooling off period after games before players and coaches are allowed to talk to the media.

The warrior mentality required of young men to stand alone out there on the island that is cornerback was revealed for all to see.

Did I not react to Sherman's self-absorbed outburst? Oh no, I thought it was terrible for the team and really soiled the joy of victory for the fans.

Was I surprised? Not really. Young players haven't had the years of experience controlling that raw emotional and taking it back to the locker room.

Will that happen again? Sure, but the league and the network will have some strong discussions about avoiding it.

That's the key - walking right up to the line but not crossing over.  Knowing how far you can go and pushing that limit.

Kinda like a quarterback lobbing for the back corner of the end zone, trying a cornerback's skill.

Sometimes, you get the ball slapped right back in your face.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Not So Happy New Year

Regrets for the lack of activity.  The combination of a bowl game with a trip to CASE national in DC followed by a serious shot of winter cold/walking pneumonia . . . . well, I'll catch you up with some new entries this week.