Cautiously Optimistic

Social media for better communication and a better life

Posts Tagged ‘Twitter

Find Your Next Job Through Social Media

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Changing jobs or finding new work after a period of unemployment is never easy, even in the best economic times.

And as we all know, the last few years have not been the best. I have seen many bright, hardworking, talented people in my industry struggle to find work following layoffs or shutdowns.

I know it’s a hackneyed cliché, but just as no good gig lasts forever, neither does a bad one. And unemployment is among the worst gigs there is.

Social Job SearchThe good news is that social media, the great change agent of our day, is now having an impact on getting a job. There’s a great infographic on Mashable about how social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are booming as a way to connect candidates with job openings.

LinkedInI can see the difference myself, in the kinds of ads and job suggestions displayed on my LinkedIn profile. The site seems to be doing a good, careful job of mining my resume and connecting it to open jobs I might be interested in, some based on my work background and some apparently based on compatible careers that match my education.

I like how the job suggestions are acting as a kind of surrogate career coach, encouraging me to consider possibilities I may have never considered.

For all those looking for work, or for different work, it’s clear that social media networking is an investment of time and energy well worth making.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

April 7, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Social Media – Naughty or Nice?

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It’s a given that social media’s usage and influence have grown wildly beyond what anyone expected just a few years ago.

According to a report by Navneet Kaushal of PageTrafficBuzz, as of January 2012, Facebook by itself was the destination for nine percent of all online visits in the US, and twenty percent of all online page views.

That’s not counting Twitter, Google+, and the many other social media destinations available online.

What’s interesting to me, though, is not that social media is huge, but that’s it’s huge enough to have sparked a discussion of what it means to be social.

Blogger Steve Sonn writes that a growing number of individuals are using social media in an antisocial way, by brazenly self-promoting their business and their personal brand in a one-way direction, rather than being “open, transparent, helpful and engaging.”

I like this concept, because it says something about the aspirational nature of why we communicate in the first place, and why we all seek out communities in which we can grow and thrive.

On the other hand, just as the music world has room for punk rock, there are those who want to bring the same “smash ’em up” sensibility to social media.

This Chronicle of Higher Education story by Jeffrey R. Young highlights just such a rule-breaker: Dean Terry, the director of the emerging-media program at the University of Texas at Dallas, who is committing what he calls “social-media blasphemy” with his new Facebook plug-in, “EnemyGraph.”

The service lets Facebook users identify their “enemies,” which then appear in their profiles. The report states that Terry originally wanted to use the word “dislike,” but that word was specifically banned by Facebook, in order to maintain a positive atmosphere for its users.

This “blasphemy” may be a tongue-in-cheek rejection of the idea that being nice, kind, and positive is the best way to approach social media. But I think it has the potential to create a lot of damage. Practical jokes may seem funny in theory, but in reality, they’re just mean.

So while I’m generally in favor of a little rule-breaking now and then, when it comes to social media, I prefer playing nice.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

March 29, 2012 at 8:00 am

The Cost of Free Apps: A New Smartphone?

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Apple Store | Image via Creative CommonsI recently upgraded my iPhone, trading in a two-year-old 3GS for a new 4S. I didn’t do it to chase the coolness factor: call me old-fashioned, but I’m really not motivated to have the “latest and greatest.” What does motivate me, however, is that my tech devices actually work to my satisfaction.

And that’s why I traded in my phone: its battery life had gotten so bad that I couldn’t use it for more than an hour if it was not plugged in to the wall or to a computer.

Most days, that is not such a handicap. Usually I’m at my desk, in the car or at home, where I could easily charge my phone.

But the other day I was in the field, working with reporters covering a power outage on campus. I was on the scene, exchanging phone calls, e-mails and text messages while checking the university’s Facebook and Twitter feeds, when I suffered my own personal power outage: my phone died, right when I needed it the most.

So now I have a new phone with a brand-new battery, and I have dutifully imported all my important information, especially my apps. Problem solved, right?

Not so fast: maybe it was the apps all along. Especially the “free” ones that are filled with ads. This Lifehacker article by Adam Pash made me think about all the extra energy my battery has to burn to keep loading the next banner ad in the app I am using.

As the article says, maybe I really am “getting what I paid for”: free apps but at the cost of rapidly declining battery capacity. At that rate, paying $.99 for an ad-free app seems like a bargain.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

March 27, 2012 at 9:00 am

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Demanding Employee Social Media Logins May Create Big PR Problems

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Companies who force their current and potential employees to divulge their private social media logins and passwords may be setting themselves up for big public relations problems.

Several news stories in recent days and weeks have explored the increasing numbers of employees and job seekers reporting that their bosses are demanding access to their Facebook user names and passwords, so they can check up on what they are doing online.

Now HiringA story by MSNBC’s Bob Sullivan describes how applicants for jobs as corrections officers in Maryland were forced to log in to their Facebook accounts during the job interview, so that the employer could search the applicant’s photos for signs of gang affiliation.

The same story also described how the North Carolina state government asked applicants for clerical jobs to provide their Facebook usernames and passwords.

Now there seems to be some pushback against these kinds of demands. Mashable’s Sarah Kessler reports that Facebook may go so far as to initiate legal action against employers who demand their employees give up their login information to the social media site.

Meanwhile, politicians are getting involved as well. Politico’s Tony Romm reports that Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut is writing legislation to prohibit the practice of demanding access to the social media sites of their current or potential employees.

I think employers certainly have a right to expect professional behavior from their workers. It’s also a prudent move for companies to check out a job seeker’s public Facebook page or Twitter feed. But the kind of heavy-handed intrusiveness discussed here, however, betrays a fundamental mistrust of their employees. And it brings them a whole lot of negative publicity that could have been avoided.

Companies who feel compelled to spy on the people they hire may find their best workers heading for the door. Once they’re gone, of course, the former employees are then free to use social media to cause all manner of public relations problems for their old companies.

If I were advising companies on their social media and hiring policies, I would strongly recommend they stay away from forcing people to open up their private lives. It’s much easier to leave the door shut than to open it and then regret the negative publicity that may result.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

March 25, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Customer Service is Critical

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Customer service is growing in importance as a path to a company’s financial and cultural success. Blogger Steve Sohn of Momentum writes that excellent customer service is a great way for a company to differentiate itself from its competitors. However, businesses that sell to individual consumers (B2C) are doing a better job than businesses that sell to other businesses (B2B).

When is a customer not a customer? The answer, I think, is “never.” Businesses have a responsibility to give the best possible service to everyone, whether they are individual consumers or other businesses, because even if you are selling to a business, you are still dealing with a live human on the other side of the screen or the phone.

More large corporations have come to the same conclusion that Sohn did, and are maximizing their return-on-investment for good customer service. Witness the great word-of-mouth for companies such as Comcast and Zappos.

Neither of these are perfect companies, but they have developed well-earned reputations over time for their quickness in addressing customer concerns and solving problems. In particular, they have become adept at using social media to solve problems.

Frank Eliason, the former manager of Comcast’s “social customer care” division, became famous (or at least Internet famous) for using the @comcastcares Twitter account to respond to customer service problems or issues. Brendan Brown of SocialTurbine writes that Zappos has enlisted its employees as its social media ambassadors, who Tweet and blog in a way that helps drive the company’s credibility to new heights.

My favorite suggestion from a Mashable article by Rohit Bhargava, “9 Ways Top Brands Use Social Media for Better Customer Service,” is number 3: “Help your customer service people feel like rock stars.”

If the employees on the front lines feel good about their company, and especially feel that their customer-centered efforts are valued and appreciated, they will go the extra distance.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

March 13, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Social Shaming in the Era of Social Media

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Morality is defined as the distinction between right and wrong, between good and bad behavior, and how these distinctions affect behavior.

Humans are moral beings, with highly-honed senses of right and wrong and an inclination to enforce good behavior while punishing bad behavior. A Slate article on a new book by Jonathan Haidt of the University of Virginia, “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion,” explores how a sense of morality is one of the ways to understand political behavior and how people choose their political party affiliation.

Haidt’s book proposes that both Republicans and Democrats are interested in equality. Republicans are more motivated by equality of opportunity, while Democrats are more motivated by equality of outcomes. And since all of us think of ourselves as moral, those in the other political party, by default, are “immoral,” thus much easier for us to demonize.

I was thinking about this sense of morality when I read a Lifehacker article by Adam Dachis on “How to Deal With People Who Cut In Line.” I suspect that, for most of us, witnessing someone cut in line is the kind of moral transgression we’re more likely to see over the course of a day.

Social Shaming, Social Media | Image via Slate.comAnd as more of us use our smartphones to “check in” on Foursquare while waiting in line for our morning latte, I have to wonder: are we more likely or less likely to notice line-cutters?

Even though our phones are a source of distraction as much as information, I suspect that the “fairness” switch in our heads stays on, and we would still be likely to catch on if someone cuts in front of us in line.

Which asks the question: if we witness someone cutting line, what are we going to do about it?

More of us, it seems, are taking the opportunity to enforce social norms with a bit of “social shaming.” Blogger Chirag Mehta shares the story of Joshua Kaufman, whose MacBook was stolen one day. The laptop already had tracking software installed, just in case it was stolen, so Kaufman was able to track the laptop’s location and use the software to take webcam pictures of the thief. He shared the story, along with the pictures, via his Twitter feed and Facebook page, and the thief was caught.

So the next time I’m standing line, smartphone at the hip, and someone cuts in line, should I quickdraw, Tweeting pics and text about the immoral line-cutter? Adam Dachis would say “not so fast.”

His advice for when this happens:

1) Analyze the line.

Maybe the line-cutter just got confused and thought it was a rugby scrum instead of a polite queue, or maybe the instructions are confusing. Maybe there is no line at all.

2) Resist the urge to get angry.

If you show off your bad manners and scream at them, it makes you look like a loser.

3) Ask someone else if they saw what you saw, and if they agree, that’s the moment to politely confront the cutter and motion them to the back of the line.

Social shaming can be a very big hammer, so try not to use it if you’re confronted with a very small nail. Once you tweet and post a rant, it cannot easily be taken back. Besides, like all good moral beings, your friends may be motivated to punish your bad behavior with a little social shaming of their own.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

March 11, 2012 at 3:21 pm

A New Definition of Public Relations

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The Public Relations Society of America recently announced on its “PRSAY” blog that it had updated its official definition of “public relations.”

PRSA didn’t make this decision by executive fiat; it put the issue to a public vote. The top three definitions were posted to the PRSA website and votes were tallied over a two-week period.

The winning definition:

“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

As I have discussed before, there has been a struggle among PR professors as to what public relations is “really all about.” Some believe that the core of PR is rhetoric, the classical exchange of persuasive arguments, while others believe the fundamental organizing principle is the cultivation and management of relationships.

Each side of this argument can take heart from the newly-announced modern definition of PR. Rhetoricians can point to the phrase “strategic communication process” to make their case, since rhetoric is something that never stops. It’s an ongoing process of persuasion and counter-persuasion in the public square.

Meanwhile, relationship proponents can cheer because the word “relationships” is front and center in the new definition. And for those who know their PR scholarship, professor James Grunig of the University of Maryland has to be smiling at the inclusion of the words “mutually beneficial,” echoing his groundbreaking work on the two-way symmetrical model of PR.

Social media has a crucial role to play in the future development of both persuasive communication and the management of relationships. As Shel Holtz recently wrote in PR Daily, social media is changing the way that PR practitioners persuade their organization’s publics. For example, the tried-and-true news release is fading in importance, replaced by the well-timed Tweet or Facebook post. And social media itself is bringing together organizations and their publics in a human, one-on-one way as never before.

The old definition of PR had stood since 1982. With each year bringing new ways to connect and communicate, I suspect it won’t take thirty years to do this all over again. We will have no choice.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

March 6, 2012 at 7:49 pm

The British are Tweeting! The British are Tweeting!

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For many years, America has been the dominant international source of media and entertainment for countries throughout the world.

Movies, television shows, magazines and newspapers created in the United States have certainly had a major impact, sharing the American point of view and this country’s way of life to people who might never otherwise meet an American.

But that dominance may be about to end, thanks to social media. And the big winner seems to be Britain.

A new infographic published by Mashable on the “most viral news sources in the world” indicates that British media outlets BBC and the Guardian are numbers 1 and 2 on the list of media sources whose stories are getting more than 100 mentions on Twitter. On Facebook, the BBC, the Guardian and the Daily Mail are numbers 2, 3 and 4 on the list of media outlets whose stories are getting more than 100 “shares,” with the US-based Huffington Post in first place.

Is this a new “British Invasion” in the making? It certainly seems so.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

March 1, 2012 at 7:37 pm

The “It” Social Network of 2012

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Pinterest logo

That’s what PR Daily’s Arik Hanson is calling Pinterest. Hanson’s recent post on “17 Pinterest stats to show your boss or client” include these fun facts:

  • Pinterest is driving more Web traffic than Google+, LinkedIn and MySpace combined.
  • In the US, 97 percent of Pinterest users are women. In the UK, 56 percent of users are men.
  • Tennesseans are among the top users of Pinterest in the US.
  • Pinterest’s user engagement rate is between twice and three times as much as the same point in Twitter’s development.

The (very interesting) list goes on, but you get the point. Pinterest has staked a claim to the imaginations and online hours of millions of people, and is growing at a phenomenal rate.

The addictive nature of the social media site has, perhaps inevitably, spawned “junkie” stories like this one from the Washington Post’s Petula Dvorak:

“I’ve made 17 attempts at writing this column in the past three days. The pattern is always the same: turn on the computer, log in to Pinterest and lose myself in the site’s churning cycle of interest, hope, inspiration, jealousy, desperation, despair and depression. Pinterest is the hottest new social-networking tool. And it’s digital crack for women.”

Since I am writing this on Mardi Gras, it might be fitting to note that, just as the New Orleans cops break up the Bourbon Street revelries at midnight on Fat Tuesday, Pinterest is in effect doing the same thing, taking away the punchbowl right when the party is getting good.

In this story from Mashable’s Joann Pan, Pinterest has released code that lets companies block their online content from being pinned to Pinterest users’ personal pinboards. The story notes that perhaps 99 percent of all pins on Pinterest violate its own terms of service, so in order to prevent being sued into bankruptcy, the company had to shut down the party somewhat, if it wants to stay in business in the future.

We’re only two months into 2012, but unless another social media site gets this big, this quickly, Pinterest gets my vote for the “it” network of the year.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

February 21, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Time is Money, and Vice Versa

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Among the many catchphrases attributed to inventor, publisher, diplomat and Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, one of my favorites is “time is money.”

The basic idea is that even though time is an abstract concept, it still has a real, concrete value. Usually, so the thinking goes, the more time you have, the better off you are.

Whole industries have arisen around time-saving products. The Franklin Planner time management system was reportedly based on Benjamin Franklin’s own personal system of keeping track of his days and his to-do lists. Smartphones now have time-management “apps,” and bloggers discuss topics such as the “5 simple web apps for saving time at work” and the “top 7 ways to save time on Twitter.”

Since humans do not (as of yet) have the power to lengthen the day, we all have the same 24 hours. So can we really “save” time? No. We are just shifting things around, doing less of one thing so that we can do more of another thing.

This is actually a wonderful development, because some actions are worth taking, while it is really, really nice to not have to do other things.

There is a great op-ed piece by Jon Barocas on Mashable.com that discusses the end of QR codes, the little black squares that you can scan with a smartphone and automatically navigate to a website or download other information.

The best part of the article is a YouTube video demonstration of Google Goggles, a potential successor to QR codes. Google Goggles is the search engine’s method of looking for information by taking pictures of something.

The reason I like the video is not so much because of the product demonstration, but because it illustrates how much of a time-saver the ubiquitous Web has become. Walking the streets of San Francisco, the narrator is able to access information that would have required the nearby presence of street maps, printed telephone books, library card catalogues, and old copies of Wine Speculator magazine. Yet he was able to get all of the relevant information streamed to his smartphone in time to have lunch.

So if “time is money,” the reverse is also true: “money is time.” If you have the money to afford a smartphone, you can use it to “buy” time that is then spent on lunch at some out-of-the-way Italian restaurant, rather than at the nearest library.

I am cautiously optimistic that Benjamin Franklin would approve.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

February 16, 2012 at 7:10 pm