Thursday, November 05, 2015

Where For Art Thou, Dan Gillmor?

An essay in today's Chronicle email belaboring the lack of "journalism" training for the masses reminds me of the work of one of this blog's patron saints, Dan Gillmor.

Dan predicted the technology shift that would force closed door events like the Olympics to open up in the face of what would become social media.  His last book, We The Media, covered what Jennifer Brannock Cox found dismaying in 2015.  He did it in 2004.

Cox was dismayed at some of her social media classroom experiments led to very unintended consequences.  Her "commenters"  spent more time in snark than expanding the discussion.  She comes to this as one of her major points:

Unfortunately, social media is not the most reliable source of reporting, and our "journalists" are not trained. When anyone can post anything any time without restraint, the perpetuation of false and subjective information is inevitable.

Back in his transition from Cal to Arizona State, Gillmor made a huge point that one of the future cornerstone courses of media education should be just that:  a gen ed course on media that talked as much about how to consume it as how to generate it.

Cox's essay brings that right back to the forefront.  To which I ask the question of my media & comm colleagues: are you creating that course?

From the past is prologue school, another golden oldie from Dan.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Is Social Media Commentary Next?

In a ruling that should catch the attention of all employees of state agencies, a federal appeals court upheld a ruling that former Georgia State psychologists didn't have a case against their employer over a memo they wrote critical of a policy change and reorganization of their student services clinic.  Inside Higher Ed's story has this key passage:

A district court found, and the appeals court affirmed, that the memo the psychologists wrote was "employee speech" related to their duties and thus not protected by the First Amendment.

Keep in mind, this was a memo to the employer.  Point being, if they'd decided they weren't getting a hearing internally and took to social media, would they have had more - or less -- First Amendment standing?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Well Intentioned, but Dangerous

The Chronicle notes today the petition of over 70 groups to require colleges and universities to address the anonymous harassment from sites such as YikYak.

The key in the story:  failure to monitor anonymous social media and to pursue online harassers as a violation of federal civil-rights laws guaranteeing equal educational access.

YikYak in particular, and most social websites in general, do not provide the level of anonymity promised, particularly when the free speech crosses the line into terroristic threatening or other legal areas (fake bomb/violence threats).  Neighboring student at UCA becoming the latest to learn that lesson the handcuffs way.

However, to require universities -- or public agencies in general -- to be the police of the internet is at best futile and at worst draconian.

By no measure do I condone or lessen the real issue here -- I've seen it up close.  Does this extend to RateMyProfessor reviews?  Does it include message boards like Topix -- the ancestral cesspool of these mobile-enabled platforms like 4chan and YikYak?

We are asking our universities to become larger and larger police agencies.  I might add, an unfunded mandate of the first degree.

This is a "Dear Colleague" with the best of intentions, but it will be little more than the Internet Monitoring Full Employment Act if pushed to its conclusion.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Soak It In

One last bit of data from the Pew Research Center's report on where generations get and from whom they trust their political news.  The graphic says it all:

Trust Levels of News Sources by Generation

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Because That's Where the Recruits Are

So why do we strategically spend time placing our news in social media formats?  Because studies continue to show that millennials find their news in social media, and contrary to the Twitterati's over-attachment with their platform and news, more millennials find news in Facebook.

You can read the Pew Research Center report that is behind this and many traditional news stories recently at this link.  Something to keep in mind, this was by brand, not "social media".  Twitter, for example, had about the same usage across generations.  It was Facebook -- the one that "none of the kids" are on any more -- that had the generational shift.


My theory:  It's their internet.  The Gen X grew up with websites, and they live in the domain name world.  The Boomers tuned to a channel, either over the air or on cable.

But the Millennials?  Just like they wouldn't begin to know how to use an 8-track, they grew up inside social media.  Sure, they socialize more on the newer mobile platforms -- Snapchat, InstaGram, etc. -- but they get their information from their reference point.

I've argued for some time that websites are now used as almanacs, the Wikis of our enterprises, because no one uses a printed reference anymore.  News doesn't come in a paper, it arrives in email or social.

That's not to say we don't use all our operative platforms, but the old Willie Sutton meme reigns supreme here:  because that is where they are.

Limits of Academic Freedom

Regardless of where you land on the spectrum of what is protected speech, today's Chronicle article is a solid primer in the recent cases where professors got into trouble.  Pay special attention to the case of a student who recorded a classroom exchange.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

They Do Read News

Tip of the hat once again to PRSA's daily Issues email for this one, an interesting study reported in TIME about the news habits of millennials.  One could argue, that's a bit self-serving - a news organization that says counter to stereotype that millennials are into news.

In some ways, its generational biased, both ways.  Of course a minority of any group is keenly aware of the news -- a "surprising" finding by TIME.  But I can dig up stories from the 1940s where the current generation was worried about the lack of knowledge of the generation fighting the war.  Or the 1960s.  Or the 1990s.

The one constant:  Kids these days.  Get off my lawn.

And, here's a little something from Pew that speaks to that consistency . . .

Younger Adults Have Historically Followed National News Less Closely than Older Adults

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Crisis Social Must Read

The Chronicle has a nicely sourced story about the perils of when your school is in the cross hairs of national negativity.

This line echoed in my head as we approach the one-year anniversary of the great helmet cross event here at A-State.  The person quoted is from Kansas, during the Mark Roth NRA tweet episode:

"We had talking points," recalls Timothy C. Caboni, vice chancellor for public affairs. "But the majority of callers were so irate there wasn’t an opportunity to give a response."

Literally, that's what it was like.  They didn't want to hear reason, or talking points (well, most didn't; those that did, it was truly retail, one-on-one PR).  They wanted to scream and know you took it.

Similar experience previously at Northwestern State with a meltdown of the Banner system (excuse me, Elucian) that resulted in student refund checks being extremely delayed.  It was social media triage, but in the end, we gained some advocates to fought other complainers for us.

The key takeaway in this story also rings true to personal experience:

Ignore at Your Peril

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Illinois revelations

The double delete.  The gmail account.  The personal phone.  All methods used to keep discussions out of FOIA, and today we see a pretty graphic example of the results from the University of Illinois investigation.  To quote from Inside Higher Ed this AM . . .

In one email, Phyllis M. Wise, chancellor of the Urbana-Champaign campus, said she and others had been warned by Robin Kaler, associate chancellor for public affairs, “not to use email.” She added, “We are doing virtually nothing over our Illinois email addresses. I am even careful with this email address and deleting after sending.”

Read more here, but that one paragraph from one email says it all.  Your PR people warned you.  You did it anyway.

Following up on yesterday, it's the age old digital trail.  Remember when Ohio State's band director swore he never swore at students?

Let me channel my inner Kaler with good ole Uncle Earl's oft paraphrased political advice:

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

Monday, August 10, 2015

Private email not safe

The recent resignation of Illinois includes details about that university's policy that ALL email is subject to FOIA, state issued or private.  As you notice in the link, her holding back private emails may or may not have been a key in her departure.

It reminds me of the case years ago in Louisiana where private emails used by administrators to circumvent public discussion and disclosure were ruled "in bounds" for a FOIA request.  It's been used at the federal level as well, and certainly about to be part of the upcoming political campaign.

Kinda like the Brady comment that the phone company records didn't reveal anything in DeflateGate . . . hello Houston Nutt days and NSA-style meta data.  You've got to have the device to reveal what was sent.  Anyone remember that public vs private phone miscue by Bobby Petrino?

Yet another reminder -- if its digital, its discoverable.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Cue up R.E.M.

The rumblings of a "rights" bubble, ESPN's inability to sustain growth and other things that should shake university administrators to their core found in this speculative article in the WSJ.

The Mothership is considering direct to customer.

Bonus points if you get the blog title reference.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

You Are Not Anonymous

The Justice Department just took unsealing the details/IP addresses to another level by asking to give up who made comments that could be seen as threatening.

No surprise in the world of Oh-No-You're-Not-Anonymous YikYak.

What I do wonder about, however, is how this will align with the Supreme Court's ruling regarding the Anthony Elonis case?  If threatening bodily harm to your ex-wife can be taken as First Amendment free expression/parody . . . . then how can Justice ask for the info of jack asses making trolling comments?  Seems like the quick defense is Elonis' -- it was all a joke.

More to come, obviously . . .

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Social Media Customer Service

More on the growing desire of the public to receive customer service via social channels, and the continuing lack of activity by institutions.  This Northridge Group study via Bulldog Reporter says 1/3 of institutions still do not answer social inquiries.

And that is leading to this:  42% of corporate execs believe consumers are using social media to shame them into some type of reaction.

Well, you reckon?

Thursday, May 07, 2015

No Win Anonymity

YikYak strikes again, and this case should strike terror in the hearts of all institutional (K-12, higher ed or other governmentals) administrators.

The Chronicle tells us today of the case of Univ. of Mary Washington and a lawsuit against the school for not going after anonymous threats via YikYak.  Tragic circumstances here with the murder of a student.(UPDATE: A more detailed account from WaPo, with references to other university who successfully went after YikYak users.)

We've seen cases at University of Rochester where they have gone to YikYak for information, and most famously at Michigan State.  In this case, the threat of campus violence and an on-campus public safety based cyber investigative unit got real time results.

I have spoken with colleagues at other major universities regarding the chasing down of spurious rumors.  We've had calls from media where they are using YikYak as an early warning tipsheet.

This unfortunate situation was predicted by my good friend and former colleague Debby Jennings of Tennessee.  In 2005.

We're sitting in Destin, Fla., at the annual SEC meetings, and I'm discussing the future potential for social media and streaming data and audio/video on our futures.  In bringing up "the Facebook" as we all knew it then, Debby surprised me and others by saying UT was not monitoring it.  Why?  Prophetically she responded, because our lawyers advised if we do, we'll be liable and have to take action on everything that is there.

Fast forward a decade.  Now we are told we cannot monitor students, particularly student-athletes, as that is an invasion of their privacy -- even though they represent our institutions by legal statue in may states.

Frankly, like Topix before it, YikYak is a digi-bully's dream.  All the ease of social media and none of that messy responsibility.  Not knowing all of UMW's circumstances, but what are we to do?  To effectively respond will require knowing who made the accusation.  YikYak won't like that -- eventually it will break down their model because they will comply in life-safety situations.

What happens when the next YikYak goes off-shore, lets say to Iceland, where privacy trumps public safety?

What the UMW and Michigan State cases should tell you once again, in a digital landscape, there really are no secrets.  If you make dangerous, terroristic or libelous statements, the chance of you getting discovered rests less with you and more with how bad the state wants to discover.  (Remember, Facebook is now the first subpoena for many divorce cases.)

Have no answers for you today . . . just food for thought.

Friday, May 01, 2015

PGA Fights the Future

In a cut your media off to spite them move, a Sports Illustrated contributor had her PGA credentials revoked for using Periscope.

So let me see . . . . a key influencer of public opinion about your sport gets banned for using new technology.

Fans may continue.

And golf's overall demo continues to fade.  (But not on Fade, no, never, not some digital thingamajig)

Not smart.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Championing the Fab Four

File it under "duh", but the Chronicle discovers today that social media (Facebook in particular) is important to student well-being and retention.

Opportunity to repeat the "Fab Four" developed at Northwestern State to help students gain footholds.  We actively encouraged them to . . .

Follow the university main feed (for news and annoucements)
Follow the athletic department (for entertainment and activities)
Follow their academic area
Follow their social group

Of these, getting the academic areas to understand the need for good content and consistent interaction with students was important for both recruiting and retention was the greatest challenge.  For the non-digitally inclined, it became "why" and "you're not paying me to be their friend."  Uncompensated work, some added.

Look, our jobs revolve around getting and keeping students.  This is just another tool.

Interestingly, the social group was the one that was the toughest for the students.  Sure, if they were greek, that was easy.  But for general student body, what was that -- the rec center?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Luddites with Lumber

So the NHL gets the Gillmor Prize for attempting to fight the future this week.  Teams are banning Periscope and Meerkat as violating their broadcast rights.

Good luck.  Like the Olympics tone-deaf work to try and stop social media in 2012 and 2008,

CBS figured this out several Final Fours ago.  No one is going to choose to use someone's Meerkat stream when they can see the NBC broadcast.  Well, unless the broadcast isn't available.  The days of restricting access are gone.

The value added nature of media is what sells, and will continue to draw subscribers, viewers and advertisers.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Potpourri of Changes

A series of links to things you need to check.  Facebook changes the algorithm again, and it's bad news for institutions.

Personal vent here: if I want to get info from companies, teams or colleges - damn it Facebook, stop jacking around with that.  We all have something we are passionate about, and I don't want you continuing to make it harder for me to see that.

Frankly, I want to see LESS from some of my inane friends (sorry, hugs, but for reals).  And don't tell me, go to Twitter.  Doesn't work well for other reasons.

(Bill steps off the soap box)

Here's the key takeaway:

users who actually want to see content from their friends: "content posted by the friends you care about" will be "higher up in the News Feed." Also, if a friend interacts with a post from a brand or publisher page, it will be less likely to show up in your News Feed.

Read more from the Verge.

The latest Pew usage by teens -- ever so important to those who recruit them -- is out.  Once again, their Facebook usage is down, but it is still such a large number participating that it still keeps it the best place to reach them.

Pew's annual bellwether in this area – and that 71% usage combined with the raw number being so tremendous – confirms where we are as a university:  Facebook is a vital part of the strategy for potential recruits despite continued “buzz” that it’s done.

The key takeaways:  multiple platforms for the message, Instagram continues to rise, and in this survey, Twitter is now down around Google+ (a finding that seems a bit off).  You will want to drill down into this one through all the pages.

Huff Po added more to the teens on Facebook


Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Social Media Customer Service, Advanced Course

Coming home from Washington DC and the American Association of State Universities and College's Communicator Conference, I noticed former Lady'Back legend, youth author and - dare I say - activist for good Celia Anderson was at it again.

Celia was helping someone out. Gasp.

I'm putting the backstory on as an image - courtesy of Celia - so you can understand where this went in social.

After doing the decent thing to assist Iona, she then decided to let American Airlines know about it on Twitter. Quickly, the script was broken . . . what is the team going to do when we can't contact the original person?

Interesting that one of my major teaching points at AASCU was we as institutions can no longer think that responding in social is an option - because folks like Celia (the 82% of those online according the the latest surveys, BTW) EXPECT an answer.

Notice the hour gap between Celia's last comment and AA's last response.

What would you have done? Serious social customer service food for thought.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Two Apps, Two Screens, Two Somethings

Ah the joys of social media and separating one's personal life from professional.  More than a few will say it can't be done, but I'll recommend at least making a physical separation on those social accounts you can.

Facebook's native environment is bad for this -- and I can't tell you how many times something for the institution came out on my personal by accident.

By the grace of God, I'm not in the shape of these two folks.  Twitter tends to be where this happens most, and you can do what I do (and many other pros): use two apps.  I know folks who go so far as to separate those two apps onto different screens on their mobile devices -- a work screen and a personal screen.

The Washington Post famously told the world about one of their social media team's feeling about the upcoming March Madness.  More directly in the sports world, one of UTEP's SIDs mistakenly gave his opinion about a player intended for his personal account.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

If It's Digital, It's Not Anonymous

Here is a truism of online life:

"I love [SERVICE] because I can say what I want."

Guess what?  Fill in that sentence with anything -- and it simply is not true.

SnapChat? Nope, they were caching all along.  Screen names? Ask GeauxJudge about that.  Text messages?  Check in with B. Petrino.

Today, the latest epic security fail:  the conviction of a Michigan State student for his bad behavior on the supposedly anonymous YikYak.

Here is the important note from the Lansing State Journal:

He is among at least a dozen college students across the country who since September have been charged with using Yik Yak to post threats, according to news reports.

I do enjoy these I told you so moments -- digital assets are easily copied and extremely transportable.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Send This Link to Every Student-Athlete You Know Now

"This is not Twitter’s fault or the Internet. That’s like blaming Ford for someone being run over. This is people."

Truth spoke by enraged father Curt Schilling in USA TODAY talking about his online revenge campaign against the unwarranted assault on his daughter's commitment to play softball for an East Coast private college.

If you want to see the unexpurgated worse Tweets, of course, Deadspin has them all.

So far, cost the jobs of a part-time Yankees ticket taker and a part-time sports talk host who was a community college student suspended from school.

But the mind-blowing part of this isn't that guys say cruel, misogynistic, heinous things about famous (or in this case, the children of the famous) women.

No, it's that at least a couple of the haters are strongly rumored to be future fellow student-athletes at the college where Schilling's daughter was about to attend.

Let that sink in.

As the former BoSox pitcher himself said:

“It’s idiotic on their part. I know how hard they had to work to get there. They’re going to use 140 characters and let it cost a $140,000 scholarship.”

What was a minor Twitter-Meme among athletic departments late last year, just became real life.

Go.  Go now.  Grab your athletic directors, your coaches, your student-athlete support staffs.

Put this story in their face and dare them to think it couldn't happen here.

Because it can.

To my fellow blogger and father of a high school senior at 38 Pitches, kudos.  Take a moment to read Schilling's dad-rant.  It is angry.  It is in the face of anyone who doubts his point of view.  And on
many, many points -- especially how this kind of digital wilding can lead to teenagers doing physical harm to themselves -- he is spot on.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Storytellers

The Brothers Grimm captured the concept centuries ago: a truth told through story.

This is a timeless principle.  But since we find ourselves in a world in constant need of reinvention, here's two links to articles that relate the social to the storyteller.

Edelman's quick read on Storytelling in the Age of Social is a great starting point.  Social Times adds some tactics to the strategy with 8 Ways to Become a Better Storyteller.

And as always, you can just apply the Facebook Five to any platform.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Shocking News: People Like to Interact

It's good to have your notions confirmed by research.  You'd think it was obvious, but this article provides some numbers to back the belief that companies and organizations that interact with their fans and followers fair better than those that don't.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Long Time, No Rant; Well That Changes Today

2015 belated greetings, my friends.  What is the one of the longest standing lessons from this space when talking social?

Know the platform, don't automate.

From the "I Told You So" File today, a slice of advice on how to get your inner Taylor rolling.  The highlight quote from this DigiDay story (courtesy of our good friends with the daily PRSA email).

#EachSocialNetworkIsDifferent, or, learn the difference between platforms
The audience on Twitter is different than the audience on Tumblr, which is different than the audience on Facebook. This truism is regurgitated over and over in countless articles on how to achieve social media success for your brand, and yet we continually see the same content cross-promoted on brands’ social networks. If your social team isn’t creative enough to take one piece of content and craft that story differently on each platform, then you need a new social team.

OK, my bold and under at the end.