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If you love your social media message, set it free – case study



Why this matters for social media

One of the most nauseating phrases ever uttered is “If you love something, set it free… If it comes back, it’s yours, if it doesn’t, it never was yours.” I am not sure to whom to attribute this, but I apologize in advance for even bringing it up.

But when it comes to social media, it matters. A lot. Set it free.

I am in the middle of AGBeat columnist Maddie Grant and Jamie Notter’s book, “Humanize” in which, early on, they make the case that upper-level management in organizations need to understand that participating meaningfully in social media – and being authentic and human – means letting go of the message. You can’t control it anymore, and if you are a large organization, the discussion is already taking place, like the U2 song, With or Without You.

It used to be that the way that large and medium-sized organizations got their messages out was through a one-to-many communications method, most of the time a press release. The intended effect was to create an inverted funnel in which the organization would control the message, the timing as well as the reaction. Gone, gone, gone.

Today’s communications environment

I like to compare today’s communications environment (heavily influenced by social media) as like being in the middle of a tornado. The discussions, debates, arguments and the like are swirling around you. They are taking place. Through being authentic and “human” (thanks Maddie and Jaime), organizations can hope to (at times) participate in the wind and sometimes even slightly redirect it, but you can’t stop a tornado.

When major corporations attempt to violate the spirit of social media – being authentic, listening and participating in conversations with customers or other stakeholders – bad things happen.

What bad things happen?

Last week, I was listening to my favorite podcast, “For Immediate Release” during which the hosts, Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson, discussed a Google+ comment by Scott Monty, the head of social media at Ford Motor Company. Scott’s Google+ post (which as I write this, is no longer available at its original link) read:

“Shel & Neville – not sure if you guys have covered this on the show, but what are your thoughts on companies posting their own Terms of Use on Facebook? I noticed this one because someone called out that National doesn’t allow UGC [user generated content] that criticizes them. Our own legal department is concerned, because FB’s TOS are designed to protect FB, not brands.”

Shel and Neville went on to discuss that purportedly, National Car Rental was deleting Facebook Wall posts that were negative towards the company. This is a serious social media infraction. It violates the spirit of creating conversation and ruins and opportunity to engage with customers and offer the 33,638 people that have “liked” the company a front-row view of an organization that is open, honest and willing to take on problems. Note: I have no third-party confirmation of National doing this, but I did find this in their terms of on the Facebook page:

You may not post any User Content that:

  • Infringes any person’s legal rights, including any right of privacy and publicity
  • Is defamatory, infringing, abusive, obscene, indecent, deceptive, threatening, harassing, misleading or unlawful;
  • Contains any code, application, software or material protected by intellectual property laws or any malicious code including any programs that may damage the operation of another person’s computer or which contains any other form of virus or malware;
  • Disparages, slanders, criticizes, or maligns National;
  • Is commercial in nature and advertises any product, service, or good other than National, unless you have obtained National’s prior consent.
  • You will not rely upon any claim or statement made, or anything contained in any User Content. This Facebook Fan Page is for entertainment only. It is not an authorized source of information about National or our brands, vehicles, or services. If you are looking for that type of information, please visit our website at

The bullet point “disparages, slanders, criticizes, or maligns National” is the one that caught my attention. What if you get a National car that is a clunker, you are on your way to an important meeting and the car dies? Does that mean that you cannot, in a public way on a platform set up by National, “criticize” the company?

If you can “like” them, why can’t you, publicly, “dislike” them? If this is the case, I am wondering why National even bothers having a Wall if it is pre-ordained that everything will be sunshine and chocolate, and if not, potentially removed.

The takeaway:

My final point: Scott Monty is well known and well respected as the head of social media at Ford. National Car Rental rents Ford cars. When I went to look for the original Google+ post (I found what I have posted above on the FIR Google+ account), the comment had been removed. It could well be a technical glitch. I hope so.

I believe that Scott truly gets social media, but I sincerely hope that his comment was not censored by National or Ford for “disparaging, slandering, criticizing, or maligning National.”

So if you love social media, if you expect to listen, participate, be authentic and human as well as respond to consumer complaints on a platform that your company set up, National Car Rental, if you love Facebook, set it free.

Mark Story is the Director of New Media for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, DC. He has worked in the social media space for more than 15 years for global public relations firms, most recently, Fleishman-Hillard. Mark has also served as adjunct faculty at Georgetown University and the University of Maryland. Mark is currently writing a book, "Starting a Career in Social Media" due to be published in 2012.

Social Media

How this influencer gained 26k followers during the pandemic

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Becoming an influencer on social media can seem appealing, but it’s not easy. Check out this influencer’s journey and her rise during the pandemic.



Influencer planning her social media posts.

Meet Carey McDermott – a 28-year-old Boston native – more widely known by her Instagram handle @subjectively_hot. Within a few months, since March, McDermott has accrued a whopping 26k following, and has successfully built her brand around activism, cheeky observations of day-to-day bullshit, and her evident hotness.

“It mostly started as a quarantine project.” Said McDermott, who was furloughed from her job at the start of shelter-in-place. “I had a lot of free time and I wanted to do an Instagram for a while so I thought, ‘I might as well take some pictures of myself.’”

To get started McDermott, used a lot of hashtags relevant to her particular niche to get noticed, and would follow other influencers that used similar hashtags.

“I definitely built a little online community of women, and we all still talk to each other a lot.”

Like many popular influencers, McDermott engages with her audience as much as possible. She is sure to like or reply to positive comments on her pictures, which makes followers feel special and seen, and subsequently more likely to follow and continue following her account. She also relies heavily on some of Instagram’s more interactive features.

When asked why she thinks she has been able to build and retain such a large base in just a few months, McDermott explained: “I think people like my [Instagram] Stories because I do a lot of polls and ask fun questions for people to answer, and then I repost them”.

But it’s not just fun and games for @subjectively_hot – Carey wants to use her account to make some substantial bread.

“I’ve gotten a bunch of products gifted to me in exchange for unpaid ads and I’m hoping to expand that so I can get paid ads and sponsorships. But free products are nice!”

Additionally, McDermott was recently signed with the talent agency the btwn – a monumental achievement which she attributes to her influencer status.

“Having a large Instagram following gave me the confidence to reach out to a modeling brand. After they looked at my Instagram, they signed me without asking for any other pictures.”

To aspiring influencers, McDermott offers this advice:

“Find your niche. Find your brand. Find what makes you unique and be yourself – don’t act like what you think an influencer should act like. People respond to you being authentic and sharing your real life. And definitely find other people in similar niches as you and build connections with them.”

But McDermott also warns against diving too unilaterally into your niche, and stresses the importance of a unique, multi-dimensional online persona.

“[@subjectively_hot] is inherently a plus size account. But a lot of plus size Instagrams are just about being plus size, and are only like, “I’m confident and here’s my body”. I don’t want to post only about body positively all day, I want it to be about me and being hot.”

And you definitely can’t paint this girl in broad strokes. I personally find her online personality hilarious, self-aware, and brutally anti-patriarchal (she explicitly caters to all walks of life minus the straight cis men who, to her dismay, frequent her DMs with unsolicited advice, comments, and pictures). Her meme and TikTok curations are typically some of the silliest, most honest content I see that day and, as her handle suggests, her pictures never fail in their hotness value.

For McDermott, right now is about enjoying her newfound COVID-era celebrityhood. Her next steps for @subjectively_hot include getting paid ads and sponsorships, and figuring out the most effective way to monetize her brand. The recent spike in COVID-19 cases threaten her chances of returning to the place of her former employment in the hospitality industry.

With so many influencers on Instagram and other platforms, some might find it hard to cash in on their internet fame. But with a loyal fanbase addicted to her golden, inspiring personality, I think Carey will do just fine.

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Social Media

This LinkedIn graphic shows you where your profile is lacking

(SOCIAL MEDIA) LinkedIn has the ability to insure your visibility, and this new infographic breaks down where you should put the most effort.




LinkedIn is a must-have in the professional world. However, this social media platform can be incredibly overwhelming as there are a lot of moving pieces.

Luckily, there is a fancy graphic that details everything you need to know to create the perfect LinkedIn profile. Let’s dive in!

As we know, it is important to use your real name and an appropriate headshot. A banner photo that fits your personal brand (e.g. fits the theme of your profession/industry) is a good idea to add.

Adding your location and a detailed list of work-related projects are both underutilized, yet key pieces of information that people will look for. Other key pieces come in the form of recommendations; connections aren’t just about numbers, endorse them and hopefully they will return the favor!

Fill in every and all sections that you can, and re-read for any errors (get a second set of eyes if there’s one available). Use the profile strength meter to get a second option on your profile and find out what sections could use a little more help.

There are some settings you can enable to get the most out of LinkedIn. Turn on “career interests” to let recruiters know that you are open to job offers, turn on “career advice” to participate in an advice platform that helps you connect with other leaders in your field, turn your profile privacy off from private in order to see who is viewing your profile.

The infographic also offers some stats and words to avoid. Let’s start with stats: 65% of employers want to see relevant work experience, 91 percent of employers prefer that candidates have work experience, and 68% of LinkedIn members use the site to reconnect with past colleagues.

Now, let’s talk vocab. The infographic urges users to avoid the following words: specialized, experienced, skilled, leadership, passionate, expert, motivated, creative, strategic, focused.

That was educational, huh? Speaking of education – be sure to list your highest level of academia. People who list their education appear in searches up to 17 times more often than those who do not. And, much like when you applied to college, your past education wasn’t all that you should have included – certificates (and licenses) and volunteer work help set you apart from the rest.

Don’t be afraid to ask your connections, colleagues, etc. for recommendations. And, don’t be afraid to list your accomplishments.

Finally, users with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn. You’re already using the site, right? Use it to your advantage! Finish your profile by completing the all-star rating checklist: industry and location, skills (minimum of three), profile photo, at least 50 connections, current position (with description), two past positions, and education.

When all of this is complete, continue using LinkedIn on a daily basis. Update your profile when necessary, share content, and keep your name popping up on peoples’ timelines. (And, be sure to check out the rest of Leisure Jobs’ super helpful infographic that details other bits, like how to properly size photos!)

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Social Media

This Twitter tool hopes to fight misinformation, but how effective is it?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Birdwatch is a new tool from Twitter in the fight against misinformation… in theory. But it could be overkill.



Twitter welcome screen open on large phone with stylus.

Social media has proven to be a blanket breeding ground for misinformation, and Twitter is most certainly not exempt from this rule. While we’ve seen hit-or-miss attempts from the notorious bird app to quell the spread of misinformation, their latest effort seems more streamlined—albeit a little overboard.

Birdwatch is a forthcoming feature from Twitter that will allegedly help users report misleading content. According to The Verge, Twitter has yet to release definitive details about the service. However, from leaked information, Birdwatch will serve the purpose of reporting misinformation, voting on whether or not it is truly misleading, and attaching notes to pertinent tweets.

Such a feature is still months away, so it appears that the upcoming election will take place before Birdwatch is officially rolled out.

There are a lot of positive sides to welcoming community feedback in a retaliation against false information, be it political in nature or otherwise. Fostering a sense of community responsibility, giving community members the option to report at their discretion, and including an option for a detailed response rather than a preset list of problems are all proactive ideas to implement, in theory.

Of course, that theory goes out the window the second you mention Twitter’s name.

The glaring issue with applying a community feedback patch to the rampant issue of misinformation on social media is simple: The misinformation comes from the community. A far cry from Twitter’s fact-checking warnings that appeared on relevant tweets earlier this year, Birdwatch—given what we know now—has every excuse to be more biased than any prior efforts.

Furthermore, the pure existence of misinformation on Twitter often results from the knee-jerk, short response format that tweets take. As such, expecting a lengthy form and vote application to fix the problem seems misguided. Simply reporting a tweet for being inaccurate or fostering harassment is already more of an involved process than most people are likely to partake in, so Birdwatch might be overdoing it.

As always, any effort from Twitter—or any social media company, for that matter—to crack down on the spread of misinformation is largely appreciated. Birdwatch, for all of its potential issues, is certainly a step in the right direction. Let’s just hope it’s an accessible step.

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