It seems clear now that social media is changing democracies around the world. When I was teaching social media courses in 2010 and 2011, there was a lot of discussion about the role of social media in the “Arab Spring.” The Arab uprisings started a debate over the role and influence of social media. Did Facebook and Twitter power the ousting of Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and the imminent overthrow of Mubarak.
My students, like many critiques, felt social media was a democratizing tool. But in the years since, opinions on social media and democracy seem to have turned the other way towards it as hurting democracy.
For example, Facebook has had to look at its impact it has on the democratic process after receiving much criticism for content on the platform during the Clinton/Trump campaigns. Facebook actually said it could no longer guarantee that social media is beneficial to democracy. That is a surprising admission.
For example, Facebook has had to look at its impact it has on the democratic process after receiving much criticism for content on the platform during the Clinton/Trump campaigns.
Facebook actually said it could no longer guarantee that social media is beneficial to democracy. That is a surprising admission.
One critique of social media is the ability to create echo chambers — online spaces that only surround users with like-minded people and ideas.
Soledad O’Brien examined how social media is impacting democracy on her program Matter of Fact.
Harvard professor Cass Sunstein studies this effect in his new book Republic: Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media. Sunstein talked with O’Brien to discuss the pros and cons of social media and why the ability to filter out opposing views is a threat to our democracy.
There’s another phenomenon at work: “group polarization” which says that when you are in an echo chamber, you can become more extreme and intolerant.
The Social Campus Report: 8 Opportunities for Higher Ed in 2018 is a free webinar offered by Hootsuite on Tuesday, October 3, 2017, 11:00AM PT / 2:00PM ET.
Based on surveys of hundreds of social media pros from schools around the world to understand where they are now—and where they’re going, the webinar will share the results for insights into the state of social media in higher ed – and to discover 8 strategic areas of opportunity.
If October 3, 2017 doesn’t work, register now and they will send you a link to the webinar archived recording once it’s ready.
In comedy, they saying that timing is everything. In social media, if not everything, it is something that needs serious consideration.
You can find many recommendations for when to post online, but the problem is that they are generalizations. The real answers about when to post need to be specific to your audience.
In real estate, they say location matters. That is also true for social media.
A restaurant in almost any city draws its customers from the local area. If you are in Washington D.C., posting for that time zone and around the times when people are apt to be looking for dining suggestions (Are you a breakfast or dinner place?) is optimal. A restaurant in San Francisco needs other posting times.
If your business has wider national or international reach, you may need a strategy that includes multiple accounts, such as Twitter handles, for each region.
How well do you know your audience? Questions to consider: What time are people waking up? Are they accessing your resources during work hours, evenings or weekends?
There are many free and pay tools to help you find the best time to post, such as Audiense, and using an auto-scheduler dashboard (such as Hootsuite) then allows you to schedule social media times based on when they have performed the best.
Facebook is interesting for timing. One thing you might not consider at first is that 75 percent of your Facebook post’s engagement will happen within the first five hours and 75 percent of your post’s lifetime impressions are reached after just two and a half hours. These posts do not have a long shelf life or “legs”
The “half-life” of a Tweet is said to be only 24 minutes and Tweets reach that 75 percent mark in less than three hours.
You will find online many recommendations for specific networks. For example, for The Huffington Post , the recommendations for maximum retweets is to post at 5 p.m. and 12 p.m., and the best days for business-to-business organizations is, not surprisingly, Monday through Friday, but for business-to-consumer it’s the weekends and Wednesdays.
Takeaway: Know your audience’s social media habits and customize to that profile for each network.
Infographic via Kissmetrics, a behavioral analytics and engagement platform
built for marketers and product teams.
I teach social media courses. They are graduate courses in a communications program and most of the students are working in some related field (technical writing, graphic and web design). Some older friends who are not educators have expressed surprise that there are courses in social media (SM). They view social media as something “all kids know about” these days and don’t think of SM as a very serious subject.
Of course, SM is very serious business in the marketing and advertising sense. I have written earlier about what some feel is a social media skills gap. That term, “skills gap,” is itself an important one for colleges. The Chronicle of Higher Education has called it “The Idea That Launched a Thousand Strategic Plans” (the article is unfortunately for subscriber access only) because trying to fill in gaps in skills that employers say they need has become a way to build programs and therefore colleges’ plans for the future.
There are educators that question that kind of planning because it makes assumptions about the role and purpose of a college education. Is college meant to train employees in skills and job-specific areas, or is the mission something much larger?
Some social media consultants have said that 90% of workers don’t have the skills to leverage social media as a business tool, so it would seem logical that there would be a “market” and interest in higher education to fill in that gap.
Yes, more social media courses are being offered at colleges – generally in marketing and communications programs. But for just-in-time training, current employees are also looking to online courses, MOOC offerings and free on-demand resources.
Hootsuite is one of those providers, but it also offers a Student Program that provides educators and their classrooms free access to social media tools and resources. They have a Hootsuite Academy, which obviously uses their own Hootsuite dashboard which is a widely used platform for social media management. They also offer free certification for students who complete the program.
Social media is just one part of this larger gap, but the “meteoric rise” of social in U.S. over the past decade to more than 2.3 billion active social media users worldwide can’t be ignored.
Some of the materials in the Hootsuite program were topics that I have always included in my curriculum for designing social media. For example, having students conduct an online reputation audit on a real local gives students a better idea of creating a strategy for a brand versus their personal accounts. Students do research and present an analysis in order to create a strategy to improve their client’s social marketing. They research target audience, popular content channels and types, competitor social media use, and make recommendations for future social media marketing activities.
I have students create a social media campaign with objectives, target audience, and metrics. It no longer surprises me that my students often make very little sophisticated use of social media themselves, and have a very limited understanding of how organizations are using it.
One gap I have been attempting to bridge this past year is the lack of knowledge (and interest) in social media ethics and law. That gap is not only in students but in those currently working in social media.
I also see frequent mentions online about a broader “digital skills gap” with employees who don’t know how to use, or are not aware of, the technology available to them. According to a Harris poll survey in Entrepreneur, only one in 10 American workers have mastered their employers’ tools and this gap “Bleeds $1.3 Trillion a Year From US Businesses.” I believe that this learning process in my social media courses has value beyond making students just being able to do marketing via social media. Activities like creating a social strategy through research, analysis and application, and doing it in a digital world can help bridge a number of skills gaps.
By definition, a niche is a smaller specialized subset of a larger set. People who do nude yoga would be a niche community compared to those who do any type of yoga. There are plenty of niche social networks that target a select segment of the general population. Every marketing person knows that being to target a more specific audience for your products that matches your desired user is essential. In social media, using niche social networks is one way to do that.
Anyone on the Internet knows there are plenty of dog and cat lovers posting to Facebook, Instagram etc. But those owners may also use Dogster , a social network for the dog lover and Catster for the kitty crowd.
Why should we as social media designers know about these niche networks? Because you or your clients definitely fit into some niches. Certainly, a pet store should be active in niche pet networks. This can be a place to share your expertise and drive readers to your own site.
I use Goodreads which is a well established site that connects readers. It’s a great place to have a profile if you’re a bookstore, author or publisher.
Dribbble is one of many niche sites for designers.
Interested in knitting and crocheting? Ravelry and other online network for knitters and crocheters would also be a good place for fashion designers who work within these mediums.
Letterboxd is for the film buff and people have film diaries and share lists and connect with other movie lovers.
Restaurants, bars and clubs all have niche networks, such as Fubar which has over 9 million registered members. That seems like a big niche. Fubar claims it is the world’s largest online bar – an odd concept in itself.
The DIY audience is so big that it has many niches. Curbly is a broader DIY social network, and Instructables is a place to share what you make, whether that’s music, games, robots, woodworking or whatever.
The point is that whatever your particular interest or business focuses on, there are viable smaller networks than Facebook or Facebook groups to connect with people. You should broaden your own business “keywords” too. You’re promoting a neighborhood restaurant? Sure, you should check out Yelp and any area networks, but you could also consider posting some of your favorite dishes to a place like All Recipes. That is a very large recipe sharing network that DIY chefs will use, but is also a place for foodies. More than half of the people watching cooking shows will never cook the recipes. But they will look for those dishes the next time they are dining out.
Niche social networks make their money the same way the big networks do – advertising. But what they can offer is a very defined audience, rather than an ad broadcast to an audience containing many people who are not interested. yes, Google, Facebook and all the others do work on better understanding users’ tastes, but a niche network already knows its audience. A network such as Black Planet has music, jobs, forums, chat, photos, dating personals and groups all targeted to the specific interests of the Black community. If that is part of your demographic reach for your business or a particular campaign, that’s a good place to use.
Studies show that images and video increase retweets by 35 percent, and Facebook posts with photos get both more Likes and more comments.
You write a post on a blog or any social network and you find a good image online – BUT do you have the right to use it?
I did a presentation recently on social media ethics and law in higher education, and the area that seemed to get the most interest and questions concerned the ethical and legal use of images. Ethical use might include not hotlinking to a site’s servers to use an image, but ethics often crosses the line into law.
You certainly want to respect copyright laws and intellectual property and those issues increase as the size of your organization increases in size and resources – and make you a more desirable lawsuit target. .
Copyright protects all creative works. Those copyright laws protect photographers, videomakers and artists images. They also protect you when you create your own images that you share online. In fact, my first recommendation for image use would be to create you own original images. You own your creations and are protected even if you never registered it with a copyright office or other official body.
The U.S. section 106 of the Copyright Law states that only the copyright holder can reproduce the work, make derivative works based on the work, distribute the work to the public, and display the work publicly. That seems pretty clear and restrictive.
Having worked in education my entire life, I know that the concept of “fair use” is often used as an exception to copyright. That is a rather gray area in many ways. Copyrighted works can be used without permission for specific “transformative” purposes that serve the public good.
The questions that apply to these cases are:
Is it for commercial, non-profit, or educational use? (Commercial use presents the most problems)
Is the copyrighted work highly creative, or more fact-based? (Creative works are harder to justify for fair use)
How much of the work is reproduced? (There are no magic percentages, though I have often seen statements such as “as long as you only use less than 2 minutes of a film…” though they have no legal weight.)
How does the use affect the potential market for the original work? (Hurting the commercial value of the original is highly important.)
Fair use is often used in parody and criticism. If I write about a movie and my criticism includes several mages from the film to illustrate points made in the review, that meets the 4 criteria above. But adding a copyrighted photo on any post because it is attractive and eye-catching has no chance of being a legitimate use.
The myths I most often hear used as justification for using an image are 1) “But it’s on the Internet” 2) “I didn’t download it. I only hotlinked to it.” 3) “I found it on Flickr (or Wikipedia or…).” None of those are permissions to use an image.
So, where can someone get images to safely use besides creating them?
Creative Commons is one of the first sources usually mentioned. This system allows creators to make their work available for certain purposes using a Creative Commons (or CC) license and therefore not requiring express permission from the creator. You probably have seen their logo on Flickr, Wikipedia, or YouTube.
There are several Creative Commons licenses that allow or disallow including attribution, commercial purposes, and making derivatives from the original. See https://creativecommons.org/licenses/
You can search for images on Google, but unless you narrow your search using their “usage right” tool setting in the search, you are very likely going to end up using copyrighted images.
There are sites that offer only images that require no permissions and are royalty-free. One of my favorites is Pixabay. As their site states: “On Pixabay you may find and share images free of copyrights. All pictures are released under Creative Commons CC0 into the public domain. You can copy, modify, distribute, and use the images, even for commercial purposes, all without asking for permission or giving credits to the artist. ” However, they do caution that the “depicted content may still be protected by trademarks, publicity or privacy rights.” That might be true of an identifiable person, logo or private property.
Pixabay and other sites often rely on user-generated content being submitted to the site and the creator offering the images for use. That is true for some images on Flickr, most on Wikimedia, and sites like Gratisography. Be sure to read any site’s copyright and usage information, such as the one for Gratisography.com.
Unsplash is a collection of images licensed under Creative Commons Zero, meaning you can use them for any purpose without attribution.
My favorite recommendation is to use a search engine that can search multiple free image sources, such as the Creative Commons search at search.creativecommons.org. From there, you can search for safe images via Google, Pixabay, Open Clip Art, Wikimedia and others. (It also allows searches for music, video and other media.)
If you have a budget for images, you should consider buying the rights to stock photography from sites like shutterstock.com and istockphoto.com They offer large professional libraries of photos with licensing fees based on the size of image and intended use.
Do a search on something like “free images for your website” and you will find plenty of articles and sites with information on sources. Read carefully and be sure of the rights that are allowed.