Broadcasters Behaving Badly

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I’m always shocked when broadcasters and celebrities “behave badly” both on air and on social media. Not because of what is said or implied, but because they seem not to know any better (though they clearly should).
Public figures have to accountable for what they post online. They are their own brand, and making posts with specific political, racial, or any sort of implication reflects on the brand. Everyone monitors his or her posts; there is no privacy. Shouldn’t they know better?

The obvious example is Kanye West. West post what he wants, when he wants, making vast generalizations and accusations. However, his brand is stronger than ever. Has the novelty of the inappropriate celebrity worn off? Or is this just what we have come to expect from certain public figures?

Another example is Donald Trump, who uses Twitter to air grievances and basically talk smack about other celebrities. Is it even news anymore when he rants and raves? Or is it just enough publicity to keep him relevant when nothing else is going on in his career.

It surprises me that more celebrities aren’t locked into ethical contracts with their management, record label, TV station, etc. I would enforce such a contract with specific guidelines about what hot button topics can be discussed, and how to handle when asked about them. Social media should help build the individual brand, and add to the reach of the governing body (TV station, record label, etc.). Repeat abuse of the policy should result in suspension of airtime and pay, as it would with any other career.

I think we all learned this when we were young, but it rings true today: If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.

Graphic Images of The Boston Bombing

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I think our nature inherent curiosity as humans is what drives sensationalistic journalism, particularly after tragedies, such as the Boston Marathon bombings of April 15, 2013. It seems as though we were all connected to that day, whether we were there or knew someone who was, or just connected as concerned, scared people. However we were connected, the need to grieve and understand is strong in each of us.

For those of us who were not there, social media and newscasts provided the details of the day as they unfolded. I specifically remember using the hashtag #BostonStrong to monitor the events of the day and receive information as it was released. This hashtag was not only used by news outlets, but by concerned citizens and people who were actually in attendance. I think it goes without saying that many of the pictures shared after the bombings were horrific, startling, upsetting, and graphic.

Not only were individuals sharing images of the massacre, but national news outlets were also retweeting and sharing the images, both online, and on television. This, in my eyes, is unethical for various reasons. For one, it is sensitive material involving real people (who I am sure did not sign a waiver in their time of despair allowing their image to be streamed across the internet). What if the family of the injured only discovered it because they saw it on Twitter? These events are traumatic on so many levels, and in this case, citizen and organized journalism truly added to the trauma.

If you were severely injured after a tragic and horrendous incident, would you want your picture to go viral? Should the photographed person have a say before they are the “face” of a specific tragedy?

I personally would never want my image shared without my written consent – particularly in a situation like the aftermath of a bombing. The mistakes made in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing are plentiful, yet I worry that these are going to be real, constant issues in journalism as we move forward.

The Boston Bombings

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I remember clearly the curiosity and concern during my day at work after the Boston Marathon bombings. Without a television to watch, I turned to Twitter and CNN.com to provide the details and breaking news as it developed. I wasn’t alone; it seemed to be all anyone was talking about, whether it meant offering prayers, first hand accounts, or speculations about the event.

I also remember clearly the amount of confusion. There were so many inaccuracies in the reports, as news outlets were simply trying to delivery the story as it evolved, with no time to check facts and sources. To me, this event sums up the ethical concern and implications, as well as the general pros and cons of social media journalism. The benefits of fast, breaking news are met by the concerns of sharing falsities and inaccuracies.

The Boston Marathon bombings inspired such a pouring outreach of concern and love from people across the nation. But much of that concern was shared through viral stories that turned out to be false or fabricated. I think the ease of sharing content on social media removes the legwork of checking on the validity of the story. Sharing viral content can be heartfelt, caring, and even fun – but the credibility of the source is key to content sharing.

Using social media to capitalize on a tragedy is unethical. However, determining the motives and intentions behind these types of post is tricky. Is it unethical to for a company to make a post in support of the city of Boston during a time of trouble by using trending topics like #BostonStrong? No. It is unethical to make the same post while plugging their product (I’m looking at you, Ford)? Yes. I think the motive behind the post is key, but how can we determine that? Not everyone exercises the best judgment (or tact) on social media, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have good intentions. Again, this question of ethics falls into the gray area.

I think the best approach is simply warm, well wishes and support, without the blatant promo as well.

Privacy

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I always find these discussions regarding journalistic ethics extremely interesting. With so many of my classmates holding a degree or extensive work experience in journalism, I feel a little lost in the crowd (considering I have neither a degree nor any experience in journalism). What is most interesting to me is the difference in opinions regarding ethics between those who work in journalism, and those who do not.

To me (the non-journalist), a private social media should be off limits to journalists who are seeking information or a scoop. However, a person who shares information publicly online is essentially waiving their right to any argument on why that information should now be private. I think part of being a good journalist is knowing when to respect the privacy of the subjects and how to approach stories in a respectful way (as in the lecture example of a murder investigation).

I keep tabs on my privacy settings on social sites pretty regularly. I also take it a step further by not posting anything personal or information that I do not want public – regardless of the privacy settings. On certain social sites, like Facebook, I post almost nothing. Other sites, like Instagram, where I jointly post with my business brand, I never share anything that I would not want made public. For example, I never add a location to my photos or add them to my photo map. This is partly because I never think to do so, and also because I do not want people to know my location. I have many followers that are not people that I personally know, and that is a risk that I am not willing to take.

As a general rule of thumb for reporters, I believe that private social media profiles should remain private. However, all social media users should operate under the knowledge that nothing is private once it is online – and that accepting friend requests from strangers compromises the privacy of your accounts, regardless of the settings.

Do you accept friend requests from strangers on your personal social sites?

Do you adjust your privacy settings to control what strangers or acquaintances can see (i.e. limited profile settings)?

Do you have any examples (personal or not) of journalists blurring the ethical lines online in order to get a story?

Data Mining

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Data mining, though sort of creepy in a very Big Brother way, is an unavoidable reality. While the idea of having my personal information gathered and analyzed is slightly concerning, it comes with the territory of living life online. The bottom line is that if you want to live “off the grid”, then you have to be completely unplugged. However, I do not think data mining is completely negative. It has its own value and can, in many cases, gather very helpful and valuable data.

Companies should address data mining in their terms of service, so that each user knows what specific information is being gathered, and for what it will be used. I also think users should have the option to decline having their information gathered.

From a retail standpoint, data mining can be incredible valuable. By collecting information on purchase history, I can (though I don’t) track customer behavior, buying trends and patterns, and effectively market to those who specifically shop online. You see this often on websites that ask you to make an account in order to make a purchase. This allows the site to track all your purchases and specifically market to you through email and social media based on these purchases. I recently browsed through J. Crew online, simply clicking on items that struck my interest, and never putting any of them in my cart. The following day, several of the items that I clicked on showed up in J. Crew advertisements on my Facebook newsfeed and in banner ads on websites I frequent, suggesting the items as “things I might like.” Coincidence? I think not.

 

 

Accuracy

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One of my biggest pet peeves about the instantaneousness of social media is the lack of accuracy. News outlets are more interested in being the first to break the story than to be accurately reporting the information. As a greater audience, the majority of people are more tolerant of speed over accuracy, simply accepting that details of stories change with each moment. But isn’t reliability and accuracy what makes a news outlet trustworthy?

I, personally, find it exhausting to read a report on Twitter, and then have to seek out verification on another, more accurate site. However, I am used to hearing multiple reports, full of “witness accounts” and hearsay and accepting it as fact.. .until they tell me otherwise. I believe when news organizations are live tweeting events and happenings, the ethical thing to do is to delete the inaccurate information previously posted. By deleting the posts, they aren’t necessarily trying to cover their tracks, but more so trying to eliminate confusion to readers who are late to the conversation and latest updates.

Even citizen journalists should take caution in reporting, or re-reporting information. Perhaps by making sure people know that the information is not official, or is hearsay, or is still developing. I don’t have a personal example to relate to the issue of accuracy, but it does remind me of a current event. George Zimmerman filed suit (part of which was recently dismissed) against NBC for reporting a modified 911 call and other information during his trial involving the Trayvon Martin that portrayed him as racist. Though this was a very polarizing case, the accuracy (and inaccuracy) of the reporting during the trial was a huge contribution to increased publicity and tension.

Have you ever retweeted or posted inaccurate information? Did you later delete it or post a retraction?

Do you accept inaccuracies with a grain of salt, or do you think there should be greater regulation on sensationalism in journalism?

Responding in Moderation

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Ugh, the dreaded negative feedback response.  This week, as an exercise in moderation, I am responding to two fictional Facebook posts.  While the language and approach of the posters in not exactly how I would go about things, I think as a social media manager, a tempered response in necessary and appropriate in both instances.  Effort is important, and occasionally, a response is all the poster is looking for (though doubtful in this case!)

Comment 1:

I am disgusted about the state of your store on 1467 Justin Kings Way. The counter was smeared in what looked like grease and the tables were full of trash and remains of meals. It makes me wonder what the state of your kitchen is?!!! Gross.”

I apologize that your experience was anything less than perfect at our Justin Kings Way store.  We pride ourselves on cleanliness, efficiency, and customer service – and the conditions you reported are simply unacceptable.  Rest assured that this is under investigation.  Please direct message me the best way to get in contact with you directly so that we can handle this matter.  Thank you for your patronage and for bringing this issue to our attention.

I hope that the customer understands that this is not how we run our stores, and that the store involved will be reprimanded.  By asking for their contact information, the opinion is valued and we have the opportunity to privately make amends for the unpleasant experience.

Comment 2:

Your reporting on the Middle East is biased in the extreme. You gave almost all your air time to spokespeople for the Israelis last night and there was no right to reply for the Palestinians. The conflict upsets me so much and your reporting of it, saddens me even more and makes me f**king furious.

XXX News provides unbiased and accurate information in all of our reports, and we stand behind our reports on the Middle East.  Though this is a controversial issue, we make every effort to represent both sides of the story.  As the story and situation continues to develop and unfold, we will continue to interview and air footage from representatives of both sides.  Please feel free to engage in healthy debate and conversation on our message boards.  However, please be aware that inappropriate language will result in a loss of posting privileges.

Directing the poster to the message board to continue the conversation helps them not feel dismissed, but removes the negative comments from the Facebook page.  I feel I stood up for the integrity of the news outlet, while offering to continue the conversation in a productive manner.  Addressing the language etiquette standards of the message board addresses the foul language without scolding the poster.

 

Pure Barre app 4 life.

Previous Sememsters

FINALLY!  My work out addiction, Pure Barre, recently released an app available for free download in the App Store and Google Play.

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Pure Barre is a workout franchise that combines ballet and Pilates to target women’s tough to train areas (arms, thighs, seat, abs) through low impact, isometric movements.  It seems gentle, but it is tough!  As a former dancer, this is the best work out that I found to still train my body in the same way as regular dance classes. 

Previously, Pure Barre devotees used the main Pure Barre website to choose their home studio and then purchase, book, or cancel classes.  It wasn’t necessarily difficult before, but it just got a whole lot easier.

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The Pure Barre app saves your home location and provides a schedule of all available classes.  You can book, cancel, and purchase more all through the app.  You are also able to see who is teaching each class. 

While it does not offer any coupons, reviews, or global positioning, it does feature a “What’s Hot” tab.  This tab allows you to see current deals and happening at your home studio, from sales on apparel, to discounts on class packages. 

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I am not sure how useful this app is to anyone who doesn’t take daily (or regular) Pure Barre classes, but I find it incredibly useful.  Especially at 5AM on mornings when I decide I would rather sleep 2 extra hours than hit the Barre at 6:30AM!

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                        

topping the list with SEO

Previous Sememsters

Well, if I thought I was confused and behind when it came to analytics, I know have to face the ugly truth of my lack of knowledge of search engine optimization (SEO).  If the greater purpose of social media marketing is driving customers to my webpage to increase sales, then I must cover my bases.  With the first ranked listing on Google receiving 33% more search traffic than other listings (which drop exponentially), ranking higher on Google (and other search engines – let’s just refer to them all as Google for the sake of my sanity) is of great importance.

But what can I do to increase my SEO so that The Pink Petticoat can become the next lingerie powerhouse?  I’ve broken down this week’s readings into a list of important considerations I have yet to… consider:

  1. Adding a site map:  providing Google structural information about my site can help bump my Google listing.  How do I add a site map?  No idea.  But I am working on it.
  2. Implementing geographical targeting:  by targeting searcher in the United States, I can focus in on my (likely) actual customers. (And hopefully cut back on a lot of the weird spam I get through my website).
  3. Posting good content that is updated regularly (if not daily):  since I am making my first steps into blogging (I plan on converting this WordPress blog into a fun and informative “The Pink Petticoat Blog” at the end of this semester), the type of content I post, and how often I am posting fresh content is imperative.  What do my customers want to read?  What is my voice?  These are all questions I need to answer so I can take the personal aspect of owning this store to good blogging use.
  4. Using the best keywords and phrases:  choosing the proper keywords and phrases are going to send the most traffic to my site.  Generic search words like “Tampa” and “lingerie” are easy, yet useful.  But finding a unique niche phrase with low competition proves to be more difficult.  Perhaps a play on our hashtag #getinmypantydrawer, but are people really searching for that?
  5. Styling text:  highlighting the important parts.
  6. Titling:  improving my title, and creating a title tag (meta tag) will improve my Google listing.  Example:  moving keywords closer to the front of my title.
  7. Optimizing images and videos with keywords.
  8. Sharing my posts on Google+ (the ultimate free tool).

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Using Google Analytics to its fullest with provide me a lot of information I need to accomplish these tasks.

But where do I start? 

Do I need to create a store blog first?

Can I apply these techniques to an informational website that does not currently have a blog or Internet sales?

facebook v. google+

Previous Sememsters

Does Facebook even know competition?  The evolution of the site has taken them from glorified yearbook to the main player in social networking.  Google is a powerhouse in its own respect, but can Google+ compete with Facebook?  Which is the better social media outlet for companies like mine to utilize?  Is it best to use a combination of both?

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The benefit of the Social Graph (above) on Facebook is interesting to me. The Social Graph  “draws an edge between you and the people, places, and things you interact with online.” Its interesting to know that the relationship between The Pink Petticoat and the Facebook fan, the quality (or weight) of the engagement between us, and how long ago it was that we interacted, all factors into an algorithm (image below) that can boost The Pink Petticoat’s visibility on Facebook.

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If only 20% of stories that are in your viewable network actually make it to your news feed, how can encourage engagement to increase the visibility of our content?  I frequently post visual content (photos, videos, links) to draw the eye of my Facebook fans.  However, I rarely ask for feedback on anything that I post.  In previous blogs and discussions, I asked how I could better engage my social media followers.  I received great feedback about question-based promotions, asking for votes on images I snap at market, and other ideas on how to create interaction based on questions.  My goal now is to drive that into my daily Facebook posts – asking for thoughts on new arrivals, color preferences, etc, as well as date night ideas, recipes, and locations.  In other words, “craft(ing) the perfect post that demands engagement.”

If Facebook specializes in everything regarding our relationships, then Google+ is the expert in knowing about our interest.

Similarly to Facebook, Google+ is maximized when posts are paired with images, uses a value based “liking (+1)” system, and allows you to connect and share with other users.  Google+, however, has the advantage of search engine optimization.  Posts in Google+ will show up in Google search, with a higher “visual profile” in search results.  With Google as THE search engine powerhouse, this is valuable.  There is also a benefit to every +1 that your posts get:  the links are viewed as more trustworthy and rewarded with a higher SEO.

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To be able to make my business more visible on Google simply by utilizing a free social media platform, provided by the email account I already use is, well, awesome!  I already and working on maximizing my presence on Google+, and therefore Google, by posting and sharing helpful articles, how-to pieces, and links back to The Pink Petticoat website and Facebook pages.  What other ways can I use Google+ to promote The Pink Petticoat?  Is it more beneficial to use soley use The Pink Petticoat Google+ page, or to combine it with articles from my personal Google+ page?