When I walked into the living room, throw pillows were on the floor, furniture was overturned and an area rug was pulled up on one side.
Had it not been for my youngest kid sitting quietly in the next room, I’d have assumed we were being robbed.
Instead, a small curly-hair head peeked over the upended couch with a wry smile, “Oh, hi Dad.”
My soon-to-be 12-year-old daughter was on the hunt for what I assumed was something very precious: her smartphone.
I was right. But what she said next is what really surprised me.
“When did you lose it,” I asked.
“A few days ago, I think. I don’t remember,” she replied.
A few days ago?! How can you not remember?!
I didn’t say that out loud. Instead I joined in the hunt, half-smiling to myself that my pre-teen daughter could be without her phone for such a long period without going into some deep depression or panic.
I mean, don’t we all freak out a little when we lose our phones? They’re attached to our bodies on a near constant basis. I don’t even put mine in my pocket much anymore.
It’s part of my hand. To borrow a line from the great media philosopher Marshall McLuhan, my phone is, in many ways, an extension of my arm.
So, losing my phone should be akin to cutting off my hand. Now I realize how ridiculous that may sound to some of you. But I assure you there are others who read this and say, “Yep, that’s exactly how I would feel.”
For my daughter, losing her phone, “felt kind of good,” and being disconnected from the world was liberating. That disconnection she felt was an opportunity to be connected to something or someone else.
I went to Facebook a few weeks ago and asked my friends, “How many of you have lost your phones and, instead of going into a deep panic, said, ‘awww, [forget] it, I didn’t need it anyway?’”
Evenly split between those who said they would freak out and those who would welcome the break, one friend calmly messaged me to say, “I just read this on my laptop and panicked for a second. I had to check my purse to make sure I had my phone. LOL!”
Others were far less concerned. “I did that at work the other day,” my friend Jaietta noted in a post. “I figured it was at home. But it was really freeing to not be tethered to it.”
My daughter found her phone. Turns out our youngest daughter hid it in a mound of blankets as a (very lengthy and ineffective) prank. What I found is that my pre-teen daughter has a potentially lucrative future career in teaching tech-loss coping skills.
A new report from LinkedIn suggests that women and men have different job search experiences on the professional social media network.
LinkedIn analyzed billions of interactions between companies and job seekers to better understand how gender impacted the job-search process, from the moment the job was posted to the point it was filled.
“The results show that while women and men explore opportunities similarly, there’s a clear gap in how they apply to jobs – and in how companies recruit them,” the report stated.
Women and men were equally open to new job opportunities (88 percent and 90 percent, respectively), and, on average, viewed a similar number job opportunities (women viewed 44 postings; men viewed 48).
But the similarities ended there.
For example, women tended to be more selective when applying for these jobs.
“While [women and men] browse jobs similarly, they apply to them differently,” the report concluded. “In order to apply for a job, women feel they need to meet 100 percent of the criteria while men usually apply after meeting about 60 percent.”
LinkedIn was quick to point out that its behavioral data – pages we visit, profiles we view, links we create – backs this up. They would know. LinkedIn collects volumes of data on how we navigate their platform.
For example, women were more likely to screen themselves out of jobs based on the posting. Consequently, they ended up applying to fewer jobs than men.
To encourage more women to apply, LinkedIn says companies should be thoughtful about the requirements they list. Companies that do this self-reflection should ask “what’s truly a must-have” and “what’s merely a nice-to-have.”
Women were also 26 percent less likely than men to ask for a referral.
“Recruiters report that [referrals] are the top source of quality hires. However, women are far less likely than men to ask for a referral to a job they’re interested in, even when they have a connection at the company,” the report concluded.
“Make sure your pipeline is a healthy blend of referrals, active applicants and sourced candidates.”
LinkedIn also found that recruiters accessed men’s profiles more regularly, and they attribute this to the unconscious biases ingrained in the process. However, after examining member profiles, recruiters found women to be just as qualified as men.
Recruiters also tended to reach out to both genders with job opportunities at a similar rate.
To combat selection bias, more companies are using a kind of “anonymous” search process, removing names and photos that could reveal gender. Recruiters can easily disable “view candidate photo” feature within the LinkedIn Recruiter platform.
While the report lays out a clear path forward for companies and job seekers, there’s still work to do. Thankfully the advice LinkedIn offers in this report should help recruiters create better job-search experiences, regardless of gender.
Twitter is one of the easiest social media platforms to use.
If you’ve never used Twitter, take five minutes to download the app and set-up an account.
In a few minutes you’ll be following accounts, liking and retweeting posts, posting your own content, gaining followers of your own, and diving deeper into the world of news, entertainment, opinions and more.
If you’re a seasoned Twitter user – posting news stories, engaging customers for a business, trolling political leaders – you’re well aware of the small number of features required for operating an account.
Even with this ease-of-use, people still ask some very important questions about how to use Twitter to reach the most fans, to gain new followers, and to get users to actually read and react to posts.
This was the case last week during our second social media essentials lunch session at YSU. Kati Hartwig, YSU’s coordinator of social media and digital marketing, led a 90-minute excursion through the basics of Twitter.
You’re probably asking yourself, “Wait, didn’t you say it only takes five minutes to figure it out?”
This is true, unless you want more from Twitter, to dive deeper into the abundant, sometimes “hidden” features offered for managing and analyzing tweets and other account activity.
This would also be true if it were not for the question that social media marketing gurus have grappled with since the platform’s birth (and with little consistency in the answer the give us):
“What’s the best time to post a tweet?”
During Hartwig’s talk, and during our side conversations, that question came up over and over again. Of course, it’s not the first time it’s been asked, and even with the simplistic nature of Twitter’s interface, it’s a question that still baffles most of us.
Google “best time to tweet” and you’ll find seemingly countless bloggers and experts who will tell you to tweet between 1 and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday to gain the most impressions.
From someone who has tested this time frame, I’m happy to report this is sound, albeit incomplete, advice.
Some additional factors to consider:
First, what’s the message, and what content are you using to convey that message (e.g., text, images, GIFs, videos)? Are you targeting a certain demographic? If so, remember that some groups are more apt to be on later at night than midday.
Second, the midday time frame is based on geographical location. But if your audience is in another part of the world, it might make more sense for you to adjust to their midday time frame.
Run a few tests of your own.
Post a series of tweets on different days and times, and check the analytics (click the three vertical lines, bottom right hand side of your tweets). Then you’ll know what times work best for you and your audience.
Twitter is promising more transparency in the political advertisements posted to their platform.
Of course, this isn’t the first time Twitter has promised more oversight and stricter policies regarding political tweets, including paid campaign ads. This enhanced policy is an attempt by Twitter to weed out even more fake accounts and misleading ads before the next big U.S. election takes shape.
“We continue to be committed to enforcing stricter policies for political advertisers and providing clear, transparent disclosure for ads,” Twitter posted in a news release last week. “This is part of our overall goal to protect the health of the public conversation on our service and to provide meaningful context around all political entities who use our advertising products.”
In May 2018, Twitter announced a new political campaigning policy aimed at policing content. The policy applies to content for political campaigns and candidates. It also applies to what Twitter calls “issue advocacy” advertising.
In other words, Twitter is policing ads that refer to an election, “clearly identified” candidates, and ads that advocate for some issue of national importance.
Identifying a candidate appears easy enough to do under this new policy – their policy simply reads “any candidate running for federal, state or local election.”
However, examples of issues of national importance aren’t as clear cut. Twitter’s examples included healthcare, gun control, climate change, immigration and taxes. Advertisers who promote these issues are required to use a “Paid for by” disclaimer, similar to what we see and hear in ads on TV and radio.
“We launched our political campaigning policy in the United States to provide clear insight into how we define political content and who is advertising political content,” Twitter reported. “In conjunction, we launched the Ads Transparency Center (ATC).”
This means Twitter users around the world can view political ads. We now get greater detail on political campaign ads (i.e., more transparency), including how much money was spent on an ad and for whom the ad was targeted (i.e., age, gender, location, etc.).
Last week, Twitter expanded this enhanced transparency to include Australia, European Union member states and India – countries with high political campaign Twitter use.
Their plans call for an expansion of the policy to include other regions around the world throughout 2019.
“We strongly believe that meaningful transparency is the best path forward for all advertising products we offer, particularly those that are utilized in a political context,” Twitter said.
Enforcement of this new policy begins March 11. On that date, campaign advertisers will need to be certified if they want to post political campaign and issue ads.
Political campaign advertisers can apply now for certification and go through every step of the process.
To get certified as a candidate or issue advocacy advertiser, search business.twitter.com for more details on the process.
I asked a programmer how best to explain a computer algorithm.
For my sake, I asked him to explain it in simple terms.
“It’s not really a code,” he said. “Everyone thinks it’s a computer code. But don’t think of it like that. It’s actually the rule the code has to follow.”
The “everyone” he was referring to were readers of a column I’d written. It was about a Facebook algorithm change that rattled many users. Facebook’s new algorithm was altering the way we experienced the platform, what we saw first on our timelines, what ads popped up and what news we read first.
Facebook users were mad, and most of them didn’t have the first clue about algorithms or how they worked. “What’s an algorithm anyway,” one reader questioned in the comment section of my column.
It was a good question, and I’ll humbly admit, I wasn’t fully qualified to answer it with any level of expertise.
Like my programmer-friend explained, telling us what an algorithm is (and isn’t) and what it does (and doesn’t do) would have been a good first step for Facebook. The problem was that Facebook thought they were giving us what we wanted. They just did a really poor job of explaining algorithms to us in ways we’d understand.
In a report published last week, Aaron Smith, associate director for research at Pew Research Center, said “Nearly all the content an individual user might see on social media is chosen by computer programs attempting to deliver content that they might find relevant or engaging.”
That’s the algorithm, and it’s often the part of our social media user experience we don’t know or understand.
Who you follow, what you like, when you’re on, where you are when you’re on and how you use it all lead to the answer of why Facebook does what it does.
It’s why you see who and what you see in your news feed.
According to Smith, all of these algorithm changes might actually mess with our emotions.
When asked about the emotions they experience from content they see, 88 percent said they felt amused. And maybe that helps balance how it makes us feel the other times we use it. For example, 72 percent said the content sometimes made them feel angry.
If this is how the algorithm works, and we know how the content makes us feel, then why do we complain but keep coming back to social media?
Because we enjoy the feeling of connection, like the 71 percent of users in this study who said they like to see content on social media that makes them feel connected to others.
So, at the end of the day, we might not know precisely how an algorithm works, but we sure as heck know how the results make us feel.
I’m a recovering sharent.
No. That’s not a typo.
You’ve never heard of a “sharent?” It’s a portmanteau of the words “share” and “parent,” and it refers to those of us who post and share way too many pictures and videos of our kids on social media.
It’s the #TMI (i.e., too much information) version of parenting.
Of course, the act of sharenting is not new. Most of our parents were sharenting offenders long before social media came along.
My parents kept boxes and albums full of photographs and old 8mm films in the hall closet. Over the years, if we wanted to sift through childhood pictures, it required digging through shoes and blankets and holiday decorations to find those memories.
If I brought a girlfriend home to meet the family, Mom would drag out those albums to relive the early years of my life, from blurry baby photos to awkward, acne-pocked, pre-teen pics.
It was embarrassing. It was meant to be. But, in a strange way, it was also her way of showing love and care.
There’s a good chance that no one outside our family and former girlfriends will ever see these pictures now (at least not while I’m alive). There’s also a good chance no one on social media will ever see these pictures unless one of my siblings decides to publically reminisce about our childhood (please, not while I’m alive).
Like my mom, who was really good at preserving those memories, this was our way of chronicling and preserving family history.
But this was also pre-social media.
Unlike our parents who shared these moments with “friends” and family in face-to-face settings, we take current-day sharenting to a whole new level on social media.
I suspect this happens for several reasons:
I learned to stop posting “in the moment.” I still capture these precious moments on my phone, but I take a beat and think about whether or not to share the content on social media.
Here’s why: aside from the privacy we give up, we don’t often consider the long-term consequences of sharenting on our children. We don’t even fully know the consequences. That scares me.
So, the next time you take amazing pictures of your kids doing something adorable, save them, print them, and put them in a box.
It’ll be nice to have a few memories to share when the boyfriends and girlfriends come to meet you.
Last week, the Department of Communication at YSU hosted the first of four “social media essentials” workshops for those interested in learning the basics of the big platforms.
This first session focused on Instagram, but most of what our 50 workshop attendees heard could easily be applied to any social media platform.
Workshop leaders included Jamie Jamison, an Instagram influencer and consultant, and Lori McGlone of McGlone Media LLC. Jamison and McGlone have directed some of the most iconic Mahoning Valley brands, including White House Fruit Farms and Handel’s Ice Cream.
Although it was clear people came to hear about Instagram, what they left with were tips on how to make meaningful, engaging and lasting connections with audiences.
“It’s important for people to understand how they can succeed on Instagram by being consistent, posting quality content and engaging with their followers with good communication,” Jamison said.
Some audience members wanted to know how to get followers. Jamison noted that when it comes to finding Instagram followers, quality is better than quantity.
“We want your brand to strive for good quality followers, who you interact with frequently, and who share your posts with their followers,” Jamison added. “That’s far more important than having a high quantity of followers with little engagement.”
Jamison also added that when posting good quality photos and videos, be sure to follow your brand’s social media mission statement.
“Instagram is about community and communication,” Jamison said. “Let your customers and fans and friends see your gallery of posts and engage you there.”
Whether your brand is a business or personal, Jamison and McGlone say that being consistent on Instagram is crucial, and while begin consistent sounds difficult, it’s really easy to do if you follow some basic tips.
McGlone noted that consistency with content is key to building any brand on Instagram, or any other social media platform, and it’s not important for you to be “everywhere.”
“It’s not necessary to put your business or brand on every social media outlet,” McGlone said. “Choosing one of three platforms, doing them really well, is more effective than being in every space.”
If you missed last week’s workshop and want to attend one or all of the next three dates, send an RSVP email to email@example.com and we’ll save you a seat. Each session is free, open to the public and begins at noon in the Kilcawley Student Center’s Ohio Room.
Upcoming events include:
March 5: Twitter. Kati Hartwig, coordinator of social media and digital marketing at YSU, is an expert on all-things Twitter.
March 26: Facebook Live. Dennis Schiraldi, founder of DOYO Live, has produced an endless stream of valuable FB Live videos on social media marketing.
April 30: Snapchat. Ryan McNicholas, assistant director of marketing for fitness and wellness in YSU’s campus recreation program, will teach branding basics using Snapchat
As our Uber driver turned toward the Las Vegas strip last year, we were greeted with a massive advertisement for a new eSports Arena.
If you’ve been to Vegas, you might be familiar with the Luxor Hotel and Casino. It’s in the shape of a giant pyramid. This particular eSports Arena ad covered an entire side of Luxor’s 30-story structure.
“Who knew gaming would be such big business in Vegas,” I joked.
No one laughed.
I suspect this is because it seems the entire world is in on the joke. Those who have invested money (in game development) and time (in playing) are laughing all the way to the bank.
I’m not much of a gamer. My last big win with a video game was with Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out for Nintendo 64.
But I do follow gamers on social media, for no other reason that my kids are interested in gaming, and I like to sound relevant when we talk about the newest, hottest games.
Game players and developers interact during online play, at tournaments and conventions, but it’s the chatting they do on social media that tells us so much more about the hottest games, who the best gamers are and where they’re located.
Rishi Chadha, Twitter’s head of gaming content partnerships, noted the widespread use of Twitter for all sorts of gaming conversations.
“Twitter is where game publishers, the gaming media, popular game streamers and entertainers, esports leagues, teams, players and commentators interact with their most engaged fans and with one another,” Chadha said.
Consider this: In 2018, there were 1 billion global tweets about gaming-related activities.
The regions that tweet most about gaming include (in order of most tweets) Japan, the U.S., the U.K., France and Korea.
“Fans of gaming around the globe came to Twitter throughout the year to discuss the most anticipated game titles, cheer on their favorite esports teams and to join a community of passionate, like-minded fanatics all year long,” Chadha added.
The most tweeted about games included Fate/Grand Order (@fgoproject), Fortnite (@FortniteGame), Monster Strike (@MStrikeOfficial), Splatoon (@SplatoonJP), and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (@PUBG).
Truth be told, I was only familiar with Fortnite and Splatoon, and when I mentioned the other names to my kids, they were more concerned about why their favorite titles such as Overwatch and Super Smash Bros. weren’t on the list.
“Fans also made sure to keep tabs on their favorite athletes on the platform,” Chadha noted.
The most tweeted about esports athletes included Seth Abner (@OpTi Scumper), F lix Lengyel (@xQc), and Juan DeBiedma (@LiquidHbox). No one comes close to Abner’s numbers on Twitter. He boasts an impressive 2.1 million followers. The next closest, Lengyel and DeBiedma, have about 200,000 followers each.
If you want up-to-date information on gaming, check out the tweets from @TwitterGaming for more creators and players conversations.
I have a secret.
Facebook collects your data – valuable information about your interests and traits – and share it with advertisers.
No, that’s not really a secret.
Everyone knows that Facebook is collecting this data and how advertisers use this data to target you with ads, right?
According to a new study released by the Pew Research Center, the answers to that question is, unequivocally, “no.” In fact, it appears, most people don’t know.
If you find it hard to believe people are still alarmed to hear Facebook collects and shares our personal information, you’re not alone. What might not be so surprising, however, it that most people are unaware they’re being categorized.
Findings from a new Pew study show that most people don’t know how Facebook uses personal data to classify them based on interests, demographics, political leaning and so on.
They also found that most Facebook users don’t like being categorized.
If you’re a frequent Facebook user, you probably know what targeted ads look like.
While perusing my Facebook feed last week, I “liked” a page related to omelet recipes. Voila, I started seeing ads the next day for eggs, and for a local restaurant with an extensive omelet menu.
Here is (apparently) the real secret: you (not Facebook) control ad preferences.
Most Facebook users don’t know they have this control.
“Overall ... 74 percent of Facebook users say they did not know that this list of their traits and interests existed until they were directed to their page as part of this study,” said report authors Paul Hitlin and Lee Rainie.
“When directed to the ‘ad preferences’ page, the large majority of Facebook users [88 percent] found that the site had generated some material for them.
A majority of users [59 percent] say these categories reflect their real-life interests, while 27 percent say they are not very or not at all accurate.”
It’s easy to find and edit your “ad preferences” page.
When you see an ad, click on the three dots in the upper right hand corner of the post. You’ll see options for “Hide Ad,” “Report Ad,” “Save Link,” and “Why am I seeing this?”
If you “Hide Ad” or “Report Ad,” you’ll be asked why you are hiding it (e.g., irrelevant) or reporting it (e.g., offensive). If you “Save Link” you can revisit the information later.
When you click on “Why am I seeing this,” you’ll see the data that led this advertiser to you, and a link to “Manage your ad preferences.”
You can also find you ad preferences at www.facebook.com/ads/preferences.
Take some time to review your preferences. For a deeper dive, scroll to the bottom of the ad preferences page and click on “How Facebook ads work.”
To read the full Pew Research Center report, go to at www.pewinternet.org.
Branding anything on social media with humor “steaks” time, and it’s “rare” to find a brand that can “cook up” a “meaty” Twitter campaign with jokes and puns while appealing to a loyal customer base.
I’m not great with puns, but this is exactly what Steak-umm does every day on social media.
Ironically, it was a vegan who turned me on to @steak-umm tweets. He DMed, “You know, I don’t eat meat, but these Steak-umm tweets are ‘well done’.”
I was already a Steak-umm customer. Now I’m a loyal follower on Twitter.
Curious to learn more about the team behind the account, I reached out to Nathan Allebach, social media manager for Steak-umm, to ask a few questions about the Steak-umm team, viral tweets, and cool collaborations:
Q: What does the Steak-Umm social media team look like?
A: One person manages the day-to-day Twitter account as far as community management, content creation, ideation, but our whole creative team at Allebach Communications collaborates on campaign ideas, design, digital, and so on. Slinging steaks and taking names.
From there we work with the marketing department at Quaker Maid, which owns a few brands, including Steak-umm, Mama Lucia Meatballs, Philly Gourmet Burgers, and Heritage Premium Sliced Steaks, all of which we work on together.
Q: There have to be some Steak-umm tweets or campaigns that made you proud. Was there a point with the Steak-umm account when you thought, "wow, that got a lot more RTs and likes than I expected"?
A: The viral rant about young people on social media from September was the highlight of the year as far as messaging and general media attention (https://twitter.com/steak_umm/status/1045038141978169344). That was by far the biggest tweet(s) we had done and we weren't expecting it to resonate with so many people.
Everyone is always confused when a frozen meat company is insightful. So that’s always funny and surreal.
Q: Did you have any tweets or campaigns that kind of fell flat?
A: Well, if we send out 20 different tweets, some will perform a little better, some a little worse, with a couple being bad, then maybe one hitting the mark. There was this hilarious “Hey Arnold" meme we posted, but it flopped. Those just aren't quite in yet with the “fellow” kids.
Q: I envision your team sitting in a Twitter war room, designing a master strategy for funny, engaging tweets while you consume an endless buffet of Steak-Umm sandwiches. How far off am I?
A: Way off, but that sounds so much cooler than the reality, so lets just go with that.
You know how they say the best ideas come in the shower? That’s what it's like crafting tweets. If you try to sit in a room strategizing the best tweets, they often just become stale marketing efforts. Tweets are like a stream of consciousness, so in most cases we just jot ideas down throughout the day, and then refine them at later points.
Sometimes (ideas will) get bounced off a coworker or we’ll spend some time as a team talking through further implementation, but day-to-day it’s just living life and tweeting about frozen meat sheets as the thoughts pass through.
Q: I loved the whole Steak-Umm flavored Pop Tarts bit. What’s your dream cross-promotion that would rock the Steak-Umm Twitter account?
A: That's tough. There are so many. We’ve interacted with all our favorite brands, such as MoonPie, Pluckers, Flex Seal, and a bunch of others, even celebrities like William Shatner and Tommy Wiseau. So, at this point it would be fun to mix it up with more niche celebrities like Joe Rogan or Lana Del Rey, or with a superstar like Demi Lovato.
Just the absurdity of it would be hilarious.
Some brands try to go for “cool” collaborations either because of what they are or what they want to think they are, but most of our content falls into meme culture, so the more absurd the better.
Q: You're winning a lot of new followers on Twitter. What’s the Steak-Umm rule on engaging with customers on social media?
A: Treat people online like people IRL (in real life). Tweet what you would say in person. About 95-percent of the daily interactions we have are positive, so we try to engage with as many people as we can. Some are just one-off, trivial comments, while others are more in depth and interesting.
With jerks, we’ll offer up some sass at times, but we try to keep it light (e.g., Steak-umm bless). With trolls, we play along until it goes too far, then we just disengage.
There isn’t a cemented set of rules for proper Internet etiquette, so most of it is discretionary and common sense as we’ve come to understand it over time. People aren’t robots, so it’s good to let the range of human emotions flow sometimes, as long as it’s tethered to the brand.
Q: Anything else you'd like to add?
-Steak-umm is a family owned company
-Demi Lovato if you're out there please @ us
-VerifySteakumm on Instagram
-be wary of charlatans online
-Steak-umm bless us, everyone
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is professor and chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA. He researches and writes about communication and relationships, parenting and sports. He writes a weekly column for The Vindicator newspaper on social media and society.