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Social Media: being a user doesn’t mean you are a good practitioner

Two case studies outline the difference between a seasoned practitioner and a digital manager who fumbled a crisis, and these situations point out that social media is far more complex than tweeting, and hiring for a social media position is even more complicated.

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Businesses getting in on the trend

Even in a down economy, there are still growth areas in the job market. Some are obvious (unfortunately, like repo guys), but others may not seem so obvious, like those in the social media sector.

Our economy transitioned to a service-based market some time ago, but what some people may not realize is that the explosion of social media properties as communications platforms has “jumped the shark” from individuals to businesses. Business usually follows individuals in the use of social media, but they are catching up. Increasingly, business people are saying “I want some of that.” And by “that,” they meant traffic, awareness and exposure for their company, services or products.

Social Media Help Wanted

Your potential employers are creating jobs for you to fill. Seventy one percent of companies use Facebook, 59 percent use Twitter, 50 percent use blogs, 33 percent use YouTube, 33 percent use message boards and six percent use MySpace (which has fallen off the social media radar). Plus, an anticipated 43 percent of companies will employ a corporate blog in 2012.

Employers who are adopting these tools will need people not only to help them manage these efforts properly, but to use them to achieve communications or marketing objectives. They need seasoned advice from people who understand how social media impacts communications.

Calling All Grown Ups

Along with the desire of businesses to use social media for public relations, public affairs or most likely, marketing, it has created a parallel need for grown-ups: people who not only are familiar with the platforms, but also know enough about them to offer expert counsel to internal (within companies) or external clients (in an agency). In short, it’s one thing to know how to use Facebook, but how do you give advice on how a major brand can carry out B2B (business to business) communication?  It’s not just about status updates and Farmville. If you want to have a successful career as a social media consultant, you need to first be a solid communicator and second, know enough to understand how Facebook would be a good addition to an existing marketing plan or communications mix – including crisis communications.

The Good and the Bad

When people say to me “I have good news, and I have bad news,” I always ask for the bad news first.  I have two examples of how the use of social media both and hurt and helped major corporations. Let’s look at the bad example first.

The bad: Nestle

In March of 2012, Greenpeace turned up the social media heat on Nestle, a global candy manufacturer. It was a campaign against Nestle regarding the company’s use of palm oil in their products (background here in a CNET article). In a concerted effort, thousands of Greenpeace supporters began posting on the company’s Facebook page – over a weekend, when it was likely that an adult was not in charge. Greenpeace urged their supporters to change their profile pictures to something anti-Nestle and top it off with an anti-Nestle comment, posted to the Nestle Facebook wall. Whomever was in charge of the page that weekend did about the worst thing that you can do in that situation. He or she began deleting negative comments and engaged in back-and-forth snark that was, predictably, captured in screen shots by Nestle supporters who then accused the company of censorship. Sample responses from a Nestle rep included responses like “Oh please…it’s like we’re censoring everything to allow only positive comments” didn’t calm things down.

The end result? By putting someone in charge of the Nestle Facebook page over a weekend who didn’t have a clue about crisis communications, they brought a whole lot of publicity a) to Greenpeace’s campaign, and b) unwanted attention to their own company.

The good: JetBlue

In 2011, because of a snowstorm, a JetBlue plane was diverted from Newark to Hartford, Connecticut and sat on the tarmac for over seven hours as the pilots begged airport officials to find a way to get the plane towed to a gate so the passengers could get off. Seven hours. Following the precedent set in 2007 by the JetBlue Chief operating officer founder and CEO David Neeleman when he publicly apologized for another mishap via YouTube, company Chief Operating Officer Rob Maruster apologized via YouTube to the carrier’s customers after hundreds of passengers were stranded on six planes for several hours during a another weekend snowstorm.

Whomever was providing social media advice to JetBlue senior management “got it.”  It’s one thing to offer an apology is a press release, but by offering a senior executive – his face, his voice and his words via YouTube – both crises died down fairly quickly. JetBlue provides good examples of how using social media quickly and effectively can help diffuse a crisis.

The bottom line

The bottom line? The explosion of social media as a business tool is creating job opportunities for seasoned professionals. But being an avid user does not mean that you are ready to start giving online communications advice on a very big stage.

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.

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50 Comments

50 Comments

  1. Steve Veltkamp

    March 6, 2012 at 11:49 am

    The two incidents are not relevant to each other. In one case there was a dedicated and coordinated campaign against a company who did nothing wrong. In the other was a clear reason for a CEO to apologize to a small group of people who were inconvenienced. It would be more helpful to discuss what a company should do when under large attack by social media special interest group.

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Social Media

Social media is being used for hiring, and no, we’re not talking just LinkedIn

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Social media has evolved from being only community-oriented to career-oriented. See how users are getting jobs by being creative.

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social media, like tiktok, is being used for hiring. here are some examples of tiktok resumes.

Gen Z and Millennials are no doubt the heaviest users of social media, and perhaps the internet in general. But it’s no longer just about catching up with friends and family, posting memes, and hailing yourself as hashtag king – they are using it to get jobs in creative ways.

Kahlil Greene was a student at Yale University hell-bent on educating others about African American social movements and culture. Known as “The Gen Z Historian” on Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn, he got to posting about the lesser-known facts and stories of history, amounting to 1.3 million views very quickly, catching the attention of employers. Now with over 500,000 followers across all major platforms, Greene is heading to work in consulting focusing on public education.

“I think that’s the thing that people don’t realize that social media is everywhere, and it’s congruent with every lifestyle you want,” says Greene.

Another TikToker, Emily Zugay, has over 2 million followers on the platform from hilariously redesigning brand logos. Her personality of shooting down brand choices with such a dry delivery is sure to make you giggle. She’s appeared on Ellen, and many brands changed their logos to her suggestions, including McDonald’s, the NFL, Tinder, Doritos, and Nascar. Just announced, Panera Bread is realizing limited holiday cups by Emily Zugay, taking a stab at Starbucks who typically creates the mad rush for holiday cups. Though she hasn’t publicly spoken about taking on a new role due to her wacky design endeavors, she has been approached for many partnership collaborations and markets herself as a content creator on the platform in order to rack in the dough.

Having the perfect one-page resume and perhaps, an inkling of personalization in the cover letter (which no one enjoys writing and barely anyone reads), is no longer the secret to landing jobs. 92% of companies use social media to hire.

“Creating a personal brand doesn’t have to be scary, hard, or time-consuming. You just have to be yourself. Consistent posts, a few follows and some direct messaging can go a long way to open doors.”

TikTok launched a pilot program of applying to the short-form video powerhouse by well, making a TikTok on the platform. Within 48 hours, 800 videos were submitted with #TikTokResumes in their captions. Expanding from internal hiring to external hiring, the program allowed job seekers to apply with their videos to Chipotle, Target, Shopify, and more.

Want to get in on the action but don’t know where to start? Unfortunately, the TikTok submissions have now closed, but you can always follow these tips to start getting creative for your next career move: Embrace the tools on the platform, do your research about the company you’re applying to, make connections on the platform and within the company, show off achievements as you would in a typical resume, and be yourself!

For more cool resume ideas, check out this article on the most creative techie resumes.

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Social Media

Reactions to Twitter Blue from real subscribers, p.s. its not worth it

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Twitter’s paid subscription service, Twitter Blue, gives more control over tweets and custom UI, but subscriber reception has been lukewarm.

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Twitter Blue Sign Up Page

Twitter Blue, a paid subscription service that gives users increased control over their tweets and the appearance of their interfaces, launched this summer. Subscriber reception has been lukewarm, foreshadowing some resistance to shifts away from advertising-based revenue models for social media platforms.

The allure of Twitter Blue isn’t immediately apparent; beyond a relatively low price tag and increased exclusivity on a platform that emphasizes individuality, the service doesn’t offer much to alter the Twitter experience. Twitter Blue’s main selling point – the ability to preview and alter tweets before sending them – may not be enough to convince users to shell out the requisite three dollars per month.

Other features include the option to change the theme color and icon appearances. Twitter Blue subscribers can also read some ad-supported news articles without having to view ads courtesy of Twitter’s acquisition of Scroll, a company that provides ad-free news browsing.

But even with this variety of small customization options and the promise of more to come, users are skeptical. Android Central’s Shruti Shekar is one such user, beginning her review with, “Right off the bat, this feature isn’t worth the money you’d be spending on it every month.”

Shekar posits that the majority of the features are wasted on long-term users. “I think a lot of my opinions come from a place of using Twitter for so long in a certain way that I’ve gotten used to it, and now I find it challenging to adapt to something that would theoretically make my life easier,” she explains.

One of those adaptations centers on Twitter Blue’s “Undo Tweet” feature – something that belies the notion of proofreading and using common sense before sending thoughts into the nether.

“For me, 95% of the time, I really do pay attention to my tweets before I send them out,” says Shekar.

Twitter Blue checking Tweets before sending.

Shekar does praise Twitter Blue’s “Reader Mode” feature that allows users to view threads as uninterrupted columns but argues that the feature would probably end up being underutilized despite being a cool concept.

The aforementioned color and theme customization was of little interest to Shekar. “I actually found it a bit challenging to get used to the other colors, not because they’re ugly, but again because I am just so used to the classic blue,” she says.

One problem here is that the options to change link and theme colors and put threads in reader mode seem more like accessibility features than premium content. Twitter might do well to make these available to all users, if for no other reason than to avoid criticism about locking quality of life updates behind a subscription paywall.

Shekar’s criticism hits on a crucial point for any social media company looking to emulate Twitter Blue’s subscription model: Even if the subscription price is low, companies have to be prepared to make actual meaningful changes to the user experience if they want satisfied subscribers. That includes building in options that don’t fundamentally alter the basic aspects (or appearance) of the platform.

For more on Twitter Blue, check out their blog post on it here.

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Social Media

Instagram flaunts new features, including a decked out desktop experience  

(SOCIAL MEDIA) It’s been a time of exciting product and feature announcements for Instagram with additions of Collabs, fundraisers, and desktop posts on deck

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Instagram displayed on a desktop

It’s been a time of exciting product and feature announcements for Instagram on both mobile and desktop.

Collabs Feature

“Collabs” allows up to 2 accounts to co-author a post or Reel, both sharing joint ownership of what is ultimately published. The post or Reel will show up equally on both users’ feeds with the same amount of engagement numbers, but combined, including comments, view numbers, and like counts. This is initiated through the tagging screen and the invited account will have to accept the offer before the collab can be complete.

Examples of adding a co-author in Instagram Collabs feature

Fundraiser & Reel Features

Instagram was quick to jump on the short-form content trends taking the social media world by storm. With the rise of TikTok, the Insta platform that was originally focused on static photos added Reels, along the same wavelength of short 15, 30, or 60-second videos, though the competitor has now expanded with the option of 3 minutes. Even so, Instagram is taking the time to improve music-related features within the Reels section of the app, adding “Superbeat” and “Dynamic.” The first adds effects to the video matching the beat of the chosen song, while the latter offers unique and interesting ways to display the song’s lyrics on screen. In addition, they are beginning to test the option to run fundraisers on a post by clicking the + button in the top right corner of the interface.

Examples of Dynamic for Reels feature

 Desktop Feature

FINALLY! Instagram is now realizing just how many users truly enjoy the desktop experience. If one were to compare the platform on the mobile app vs. desktop, they would see the slew of differences between the two with the desktop interface looking like the 1st year Instagram was even introduced. Functionality is no comparison; they only just added the ability to DM on desktop last year. As one can see, there is an extremely limited experience on desktop, but Instagram is now rolling out the ability for users to post from their browsers. Catch us enjoying posts on the big screen!

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