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Why Schools Should Allow Social Networking…(Follow Up)

I blogged yesterday stating the merits of schools and school districts to allow students to access social media sites while in school. In doing my usual news search this morning, I found this and thought it was interesting to write about. Very timely.

The headline reads from,

Facebook sparks fights at Union County high school, discussion on networking site’s risks

Oh man, just as I suspected. Controversy! The article goes on to say, “Administrators at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School want to hold sessions for parents and students to talk about social networking websites after two lunchtime fights — sparked by disputes on Facebook — broke out in the school cafeteria.

“This goes further than bullying 30 or 40 years ago when you would get a bloody nose on the playground,” said Norman Whitehouse, president of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood school board. “A community is a family of sorts, and you want to look out for each other and make sure kids don’t feel harmed.”

The article goes on to say, “Jack Aiello, a psychology professor at Rutgers University who has studied the effects of social media, said problems arise online because messages can spread quickly and to a large group of people.

“It makes children even more vulnerable, because they are so concerned about what people think,” he said.

The clashes at the Union County high school came on the heels of an incident at the Terrill Middle School in Scotch Plains last month, when several students were given in-school suspensions for making fun of another student on Facebook, Superintendent Margaret Hayes said.

“Learning to get along with one another is part of growing up,” Hayes said. “This is something children work through and get past.”

While I think we would all agree that bullying is not a good thing, I still believe using social media in a controlled environment can be a powerful learning experience for a young person. I’m a firm believer in being where the students are, in this case online and social media, makes learning much more fun and interactive.


December 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How Hackers and Spam Ruined Social Media…

Over the last month or so I remember hearing how Facebook and Twitter were hacked in to and disrupted for a period of time. Does this concern anyone else? Is it like when an insurance company or medical outlet misplaced your personal information or loses a lap top that had your information on it? Hackers and spammers are killing social media by getting in the way and disrupting the process.

From Mike Schaffner of Forbes magazine, “The reason for this isn’t just the novelty of it all wearing off. It’s more that it’s become less pleasant due to the amount of spam that is permeating the social media space, coupled with the overbearing commercialization that is taking place. Layer on top of this the erosion of privacy and it doesn’t look good. Even my college-age daughter, a prime demographic for social media, complains about these same issues.

Many of the people that I get as followers on Twitter seem to offer nothing more than a continual stream of advertisements. It seems that a growing number of “Internet marketers” are taking over Twitter, trying to get business in teaching people how to grow their follower counts and sell advertising.

It’s not that business doesn’t have a place on Twitter; it is possible to project a corporate presence in social media without it simply being a way to advertise. A good example is Scott Monty who heads up social media for Ford. Monty is very effective in getting Ford’s message out by talking with customers rather than just talking to customers.”

I completely agree with Mike. Once companies realized they could turn a profit from social media, they were all ears. Unfortunately a lot of spam has gotten in the way of things.

December 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I lost my job because of Facebook…

Every work environment is different. While I don’t spend hours on Facebook while I’m at work, I have logged on during a typical work day. Some employers frown on using social media at work citing that it jeopardizes company security and decreases productivity across the board. That very well may be true but not in all cases, right? I guess it depends on the environment within which the employee works.

For example, LeClaire contends, “Public-relations and marketing firms — or PR and marketing divisions within larger enterprises — are among those who believe employees should be able to update their Facebook status at work.

As a PR firm, social media is a way of life for HMA Public Relations. Abbie Fink, vice president and general manager of the firm, said social networking is a critical component of how the company does business. In fact, she added, clients expect the firm to know and understand social media.

“More important to me than whether or not employees are using or viewing social media during work hours is remembering that although they may maintain personal Facebook and Twitter accounts, there is a very fine line between personal and professional in the online space,” Fink said. “You need to be careful what you post [keeping in mind that] your boss, your clients, your future boss, your grandmother… may all be on there, too.”

I don’t think a company will ever be able to completely police social media usage while at work. I think it comes down to two things. One, embracing social media to help the brand. Two, monitor usage and give employees a reasonable amount of time on social media.

December 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Trust Me

I’ve heard a few colleagues say email is on its way out and Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are here to stay. We probably said that about email when it first arrived, right? Social media works because of trust from the person on the other end. We screen who our “friends” are on Facebook, we pick and choose who we want to “follow” on Twitter, etc. There is a certain amount of trust with the message.

From Stephen Nold, “Because we trust the people accepted into our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn groups. Not that we know all these people. But we have full control of who belongs in this group and we can remove them if this trust is abused. The sender is accountable to the messages sent. Not so with email.”

He goes on to say, “Well if these tools start cannot protect the integrity created through the trust factor, they will lose their value.  Just recently both Twitter and Facebook suffered some serious viruses that diminished the ability to confirm the sender.  If in the future I cannot rely on the security and trust established by these tools, they quickly lose value.  The value created by establishing a trusted source is huge.  Lose this trust and social media will quickly become the ‘fad’ of 2009.

So for now, Social Media is the great connector.  Lose the trust and the connection deteriorates. “

December 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Why Schools Should Allow Social Networking…

With my current job, I do a lot of visits and outreach to high schools throughout the state of West Virginia and beyond. One issue I encounter frequently is the inability for students to use Facebook or Twitter while at school. I’m going to side with the students on this one. The ways and means we are using to teach our students have not adapted to how students teach each other and learn. It comes down to changing with the times.

I found this in my research, “Educators should stop thinking about how to repress the huge amounts of intellectual and social energy kids devote to social media and start thinking about how to channel that energy away from causing trouble and toward getting more out of their classes. After all, it’s not as if most kids are investing commensurate energy into, say, their math homework. Why not try to start bridging the worlds of Facebook, YouTube, and the classroom (Bramble, 2009).” I wholeheartedly agree.

The article goes on to say, “How can teachers bring social networking into the classroom? For starters, students could talk about what they’re doing on Facebook and company, map out the ways they’re making connections with one another, and share videos and software they’ve created. Once the conversation gets going, teachers could figure out whether some kids were being left out and find ways to increase those students’ media literacy and bring them into the fold. Teachers can manage the project by selecting the best content and conversations, and incorporating it into other parts of the curriculum. If a student created an entry on Wikipedia for a local band or sports team, other students could work on revising the entry and building it into a larger local history project. The audience for school projects need no longer be one hurried teacher (Bramble, 2009).”

Education needs reform in the country badly, I wonder if social media can help lead the charge?

December 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Verizon versus AT&T

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably seen the dualing ads between Verizon and AT&T regarding their respective coverage maps. I would compare it to two high school boys fighting over the same girl. Here are the facts to bring you up to speed. Just in case you missed it…

“It all started with Verizon’s iDon’t campaign. The ad promoted Verizon’s new Droid smartphone from Motorola (NYSE: MOT) by comparing features the Droid had and Apple’s (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone lacked. While most of the claims from the commercial were technically true, several were nit-picky differences that didn’t truly offer points of distinction between the Droid and iPhone.

After the iDon’t campaign Verizon started running a series of commercials promoting their superior network. While the commercials were correct when comparing 3G networks, they ignored AT&T’s wide ranging “2.75G”EDGE network. Essentially, while AT&T’s EDGE network is slower than 3G networks, it’s still largely serviceable (though not impressive) in providing data coverage.

AT&T felt as though Verizon was distorting their coverage area in the ads and filed suit. After a series of spitballs and hair pulling between the companies, AT&T dropped its suit and directly responded in its own series of ads.

The ads essentially amounted to Luke Wilson trying to charm the audience while promoting AT&T’s superior features. These features being … basically a list of iPhone selling points that Verizon phones lacked. Of course, these claims were once again debatable. AT&T claimed only they could let you talk and surf the web. Funny thing is, I personally have Verizon’s Droid and use it to talk and surf on a daily basis (Bleeker, 2009).”

Like any good controversy, the respective sides should solve their differences like all good human beings do. I call for a dance off. Ok, so I digress but doesn’t this seem juvenile? I think of one of only a handful of people that look at cell phones as a necessary evil.

December 15, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Do this, not that…

A colleague of mine sent this to me recently regarding what some brands are doing with their efforts in social media.

“This post started to be written in my mind some weeks ago when Susan (@buzzedition) told the world that she was giving up on her HP for a Apple Macintosh. Incredibly, as far as I know, no computer brand or even Apple jumped on this business opportunity to offer Susan the best deal. She was ready to buy. She publicly announced that intention. She had credit card in hand. And no one came forward to say “Hey, I’ll sell you one and here’s why you should buy from me.” A few days later, I was exchanging a few tweets with UK’s PC Advisor editor that was preparing to write a review on smartphones. When I asked her if she had the new Nokia N900 on the list, she told me that she had contacted Nokia, they had promised to send her one N900 and never got back to her. I was (again) very surprised that no Nokia representative immediately jumped on this opportunity to make it right via Twitter. For those who aren’t familiar, “PC Advisor” ranks as the global number three tech media site for UK traffic.

Another example relates to the Flip camera.  My good friend, Shelly (@shellykramer) has complained, on a number of occasions that her beloved Flip camera unexpectedly quit working. She’s been a huge brand advocate for the Flip during the course of the past year, especially on Twitter. She’s talked about her love for the Flip cam and what a terrific addition it is for the “tool set” that  small business owners should have and should be using in their marketing efforts. The fact that Flip hasn’t been paying attention simply amazes me.  Kodak is paying attention. At the recent 140Conference in Los Angeles, they made sure to put one of their new Zi8 cameras squarely in Shelly’s hands.  Funny thing, she tweets about the Zi8 camera and publicly laments that it’s not as user friendly as her beloved Flip.

Both of these examples are clear cut cases of brands just not paying attention.  These women are both considered fairly influential, are thought-leaders and tremendously well-respected in the Twitterverse.  Their collective “reach” is huge. Yet neither of these brands are, apparently, doing much to monitor this space for brand mentions and are, most assuredly, missing opportunities to do just that.

In the meantime, Dell reported yesterday that it made $6.5 million that is directly attributable to Twitter promotions and operations alone. I’ll admit that $6.5 million is, for many companies, a drop in the bucket. But I know many companies who would gladly take that $6.5 million and laugh all the way to the bank – especially in light of the state of the global economy today (Fonseca, 2009).”

Brands forget that consumers a lot of the time have an emotional attachment to them. Social media allows consumers to voice that attachment. Good or bad. Also, social media can increase the accountability and responsibility of a brand. Not that brands have to listen to every word that consumers say but it’s important for them to learn from what they’re not doing, lacking, or failing at. Change isn’t the worst thing in the world.

December 13, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Facebook’s new privacy

Facebook users were recently greeted with a note that asked them to update their privacy settings. The idea behind this move was to give users more control of their personal information. This move was met with some skepticism and controversy.

“Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced last week in a company blog post that the social networking giant was undergoing a privacy policy overhaul, with the elimination of regional networks and revamped user privacy settings. Facebook began implementing sweeping privacy changes at the beginning of 2009, and began beta testing its updated privacy settings in July. “We’ve worked hard to build controls that we think will be better for you, but we also understand that everyone’s needs are different,” Zuckerberg said in a blog. “We’ll suggest settings for you based on your current level of privacy, but the best way for you to find the right settings is to read through all your options and customize them for yourself. I encourage you to do this and consider who you’re sharing with online.”

However, what wasn’t made immediately clear is what exactly the ‘everyone’ setting means. In actuality, “everyone” could mean the entirety of the Internet. The “everyone’ setting makes users’ Facebook information and possibly status updates fair game for Google and other search engine pages, as well as some third-party Facebook-enhanced apps, which are not subjected to the site’s privacy policy.”

Seems somewhat confusing, right? Hopefully in the near future we get some clarification from Mr. Zuckerberg regarding what Facebook means by “everyone”.

December 13, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

There’s an App for that…

As we get ready to put the wraps on 2009, Apple has rolled out their list of most popular iPhone apps for 2009. As a Blackberry user, I have always been intrigued by the ease of the iPhone apps. Something Blackberry has tried to get better at. Still not there, though. What do iPhone users think of the variety of apps available?

The Top Rated Apps of 2009

The Top Selling Apps of 2009

The Top Rated Games of 2009

The Top Selling Games of 2009

December 11, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Social Media Made me do it

I’ve heard a lot recently regarding what purchases Americans are making for the holiday’s this year. Back the bus up for a moment and did you ever wonder what drives a consumer to make a particular purchase? I know I have. Why do I only buy Nike running shoes? Why do I drive a Volkswagen? etc.

Well, social media has done it’s part to help drive consumers to making a purchase. From Information Week, “Social media is beginning to have a strong influence on purchases made by online shoppers, according to the latest comScore poll on online holiday spending.

The online measuring firm found that 28% of the responding online shoppers in its latest poll said social media influenced their shopping decisions. comScore said that holiday spending hit $16 billion for the first 36 days of the November-December shopping season. The figure represented a 3% gain over the similar period in 2008.”

The article goes on to say, “Social media really appears to be emerging as an important marketing channel this holiday season,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni in a statement. “Its emergence is being driven by increased consumer adoption of these technologies and the exponential growth in digital world-of-mouth that is occurring over this medium.”

Digital word of mouth for companies and brands is so important. Since we’ve become less communicative person to person, it comes down to finding ways to grow and promote a message. Social media has allowed this to happen.

December 10, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment