Social Media Day is Tuesday.
Also known by the hashtag #SMDay, Social Media Day was launched in 2010 by Mashable, a leading news and entertainment media site. But unlike “Hallmark” holidays like Sweetest Day or Boss’s Day, the focus isn’t on greeting cards and flowers.
According to Mashable, #SMDay was created “as a way to recognize and celebrate social media’s impact on global communication.”
Last year, groups gathered around the world to celebrate the day, and not just online. Several groups hosted social get-togethers (or meet-ups) to interact and network, and to celebrate all the good things the world has accomplished with social media.
How Will You Celebrate #SMDay?
If you’re interesting in exploring all the good social media has done for the world, here are some ways you might considering joining in on the celebration:
1. Use the #SMDay hashtag. When you’re on Twitter, Instagram or other social networks, use the #SMDay hashtag to find information about the day.
You might be surprised to find other people planning meet-ups and other social events in your neighborhood. At the very least, you can mingle with millions of other people celebrating the day, via social media of course.
2. Make A Proclamation. Mashable’s goal is to get others to continue to promote the day in every city and state (much like yours truly is attempting to do with this column). In fact, they offer tips on how to get your elected leaders to make an official proclamation for Social Media Day.
While it might be a little late to push your local official to proclaim June 30th as “Social Media Day” in your city, you can always start working on next year’s #SMDay. If your local leaders are reluctant to make the proclamation, ask them to consider a commemorative message to acknowledge the importance of #SMDay.
3. Check Your Passwords and Privacy. Celebrate social media by changing your passwords. It might not be what Mashable had in mind, but Tuesday is a good day to check privacy settings and passwords. This isn’t to suggest we should only check our privacy settings and change our passwords once a year. But it makes sense that we might use #SMDay to review these settings.
Reflect On Social Media. It’s always fun to look back over social media posts from the last year, and take stock of all the new connections we’ve made. In many ways, social media is the new scrapbook for important moments.
Start by reviewing your social media timeline for cool pictures, events and milestones, and share your thoughts with others (hint: the TimeHop app is great for this).
However you plan to celebrate, remember that #SMDay is about reflecting on the positive aspects of social media and the connections we’ve made.
- See more at: http://www.vindy.com/news/2015/jun/28/celebrating-social-media-day/#sthash.3h2PA2Wr.dpuf
Apple. Coke. Nike.
Most large, well-known companies have established policies protecting their brands and trade secrets from employee social media blunders.
But what about small businesses and local governments? Surprisingly, very few have developed meaningful, enforceable policies. And many of those who created technology-use policies haven’t updated them to include emerging social media platforms.
The city of Youngstown recently adopted a new technology policy, which includes language about the use of social media during work hours and on city-owned machines.
Drafting and introducing these policies is much easier than you might think.
Build Your Own Social Media Policy
The great news is you don’t have to look far to find good examples of social media policies for your industry. Whether you own a local doughnut shop or direct the local sewage-treatment plant, there are many templates for social media policies online. Just do a quick Google search to find one that fits your needs.
Good social media policies have a few basic tenets in common:
1. Policies are “living” documents, which means they should be reviewed and updated on a timely basis.
What’s timely? Most social media experts suggest reviewing and updating your policy on an annual basis. The Youngstown technology policy was last updated almost 10 years ago – right around the time Facebook and Twitter were becoming household names.
Plus, social media options are changing so fast that without regular reviews of your policy, it’s very likely that you’re missing important language about some new technology. For example, if your policy is referencing MySpace as a major social media platform, it might be time for an update.
2. Be fair and flexible. Remember that social media use is all about sharing and collaborating. Workplace policies that limit those abilities may harm product and employee growth, and stifle customer engagement.
In fact, it might be useful to include language that actually encourages social media use for those very reasons – to share and collaborate – especially when it’s work-related.
Technology retailer Best Buy has a well-recognized, often duplicated, corporate social media policy. Their policy title reads, “Be smart. Be respectful. Be human.”
I try to encourage small businesses to stay away from absolute rules when possible. But I also understand there are some cases in which using terms such as “must” and “always” are necessary. Balance is key.
3. Identify consequences for violating the policy. Best Buy’s policy, although flexible, also includes language about what could happen if you violate the policy.
According to the Best Buy social media policy, if you break a rule, you could “Get fired ... get Best Buy in legal trouble with customers or investors. Cost [Best Buy] the ability to get and keep customers.”
Also, be sure to include language about due process. If an employee stumbles and posts something that could potentially damage your business, have procedures in place for reviewing the social media mishap, even if it leads to firing that employee.
Your employees will learn something from it, and you will, too.
I’m a bit of a sports junkie. I consume all sorts of sports media, but my favorite midday fix is listening to “The Herd” on ESPN Radio.
Like most talk-radio hosts, I disagree with most of what host Colin Cowherd says (even when he’s right), but last week I was hooked by his discussion of something somewhat unrelated to sports: the new social media app – Periscope.
Periscope is the equivalent of social media TV. You can watch live “scopes” from different parts of the world, or you can live-stream your own content. And you can share your scopes from any location (so long as you have good network connection), at any time, doing just about anything.
Followers can view your broadcast and text comments in real time, and you can read the comments as they’re sent. Quick note: It’s probably not a good idea to read those comments if you’re live-streaming while driving.
Some of the first scopes I watched included a live stream of someone’s commute through San Francisco and a live shot from the set of a morning TV talk show in Bolivia.
Followers also can let you know how much they enjoy your content with a “heart,” the equivalent of “favoriting” a tweet on Twitter.
Cowherd was just catching on to Periscope, and lamented over why it’s become the next big “must have” app in the social media world. “Who in the world watches this garbage?” he asked.
During his Scope, Cowherd complained about how uninteresting this must be for his listeners, only to be shocked a few seconds later when people started watching and commenting on the live feed from his studio.
I first heard about Periscope during the annual #SMTULSA conference in Oklahoma, but I didn’t immediately check it out (which is really out-of-character for an early adopter like me). But it was initially only available on Apple devices. I make it a point to try to cover only social media apps available on both Apple and Android platforms for fear of alienating half of my audience.
It’s now available on Android, and the user interface is a close match to the Apple version.
My First Scope
I set up my first live stream while I typed this column. Crazy, I know. Who in their right mind would be interested in watching me type this column?
Turns out, about 40 people. In the 21 minutes I had the live stream running, 42 people checked it out. One person watched for over nine minutes while I typed. The camera was fixed on my computer and not my face because, well, I thought that would be strange.
Sadly, no one commented. So I think my next scope will be a live stream of breakfast. Let’s see what the Periscope world thinks of my hot peppers and egg recipe.
Try it out. You can quickly download the app from iTunes or Google Play and connect in seconds via a Twitter account.
A version of the post appeared in the June 14, 2015 "Connected" section of The Vindicator newspaper.
Do a quick Google or Yahoo search of any historical figure, event, or geographical location.
The top search results for topics such as Ronald Reagan, the Olympics and Machu Picchu will include a link to a Wikipedia entry. Those results provide a door to a seemingly endless stream of information and links.
“I’ve always liked the Wikipedia rabbit-hole concept,” said Lamar Salter, a freelance journalist. “A simple search on a TV character or popular song can somehow lead you through pages and pages of content, and before you know it you’re looking up background information about the tomb of an Egyptian pharaoh.”
Wikipedia, the leading online encyclopedia, is updated by a network of millions of contributors.
A “wiki” is nothing more than a website that allows users to collaboratively create, edit and structure content. It’s the best example of information crowdsourcing. Experts and others with general interest in certain topics come together to update entries and draft new ones.
Wikipedia isn’t the only “wiki” out there, although it’s clearly the most popular. Check out WikiTravel, WikiHow, or WikiBooks for good examples.
In the college classroom, Wikipedia is panned as a hack source of information. College professors return papers with big red lines through any reference to Wikipedia entries.
I used to struggle with allowing my students to use Wikipedia for research. Do I deny requests to use Wikipedia when doing research, or do I leave open the door to 4.8 million encyclopedia entries?
Truth is, I allow my students to use Wikipedia, but there’s a catch. I don’t let students cite Wikipedia, and I still red-pen references to Wikipedia. But about five years ago, I started encouraging my students to use Wikipedia to kick-start research projects.
1. They’re using it anyway. Students might not be citing Wikipedia entries, but that won’t stop them from reading and paraphrasing entries. We know students use it as a tool for learning more about subjects. Better that I teach them how to critically analyze Wikipedia as an information source than repeating the “Wikipedia is evil” mantra.
I teach my students “C-R-A-P detection” skills, developed by social media critic Howard Rheingold. These skills include asking questions about currency (is the information up-to-date), reliability (are references and sources included), authority (who are the creators and are they reputable), and purpose (is the information biased).
2. Most of the information on Wikipedia is accurate. The entries are usually more current than other sources. Wikipedia makes a concentrated effort on checking the accuracy of entries and credibility of contributors. “I’ve grown to respect [Wikipedia’s] focused efforts on user accountability and accuracy, even going as far as banning ISPs that add misleading or dubious content,” Salter added.
3. Wikipedia entries use references and external links. A student was in my office and mentioned a theory I didn’t recognize. Without skipping a beat, I found the Wikipedia entry, read the first two sentences, and scrolled to the bottom to find links to other entries,and links and references to original studies. With just a few clicks, my student found a dozen credible and current sources.
A version of this blog entry appear in the Sunday, June 7, 2015 "Connected" section of the Youngstown Vindicator newspaper.
Social media rule No. 1: If you want to make friends (and keep them) on social media, avoid excessive posts about politics, religion or race.
This piece of advice is based on the old-fashioned rule: Don’t talk about politics or religion at the dinner table.
In some ways, social media has become the new dinner table.
Sharing a cat picture won’t (usually) cost you friends. Your friends will like it, favorite it, share it, ignore it and possibly comment about it, even if they are annoyed.
Why? People want to connect with others. Social media provide quick and easy ways to make connections. It’s geographically convenient, and it does not require a lot of time.
Posts that focus on our friends and family give others insights into our personal lives that we may choose to hide from others. We are predisposed to want to know more, to have stronger connections to those around us – even if those around us are many miles away.
It is this human need for social connection that drives development of social media. It helps to connect people who know each other, who used to know each other or who have friends in common.
But there is nothing like a hot political climate to show us that we can just as easily disconnect from others. Posts that contain a strong political message may damage relationships – and you might never know. If our friends read a post with which they disagree, they may just ignore it, while other posts may damage our friendships.
Here are some classic examples of polarizing social media messages:
1. The topical rant. In these posts, one of our “friends” will go on a tirade about the hot issue of the day (e.g., elections, gun control). Why does it bother us? Rants are not fun. It’s one thing to link to a well-argued editorial, but a rant about a controversial issue just adds fuel to the fire. Not all rants are bad. We can all get behind good rants about bad drivers or slow service.
2. The gotcha quote. These posts focus on pulling a quote by a political leader or celebrity out of context to prove a point. We also refer to these kinds of posts as “contextomy.” Aside from challenging our critical thinking skills, these posts confuse the context of the situation. Life and relationships are too complex as it is. Most people go to social media to post and read about life and relationships, and these quote-mining posts get in the way.
3. The guilt inducer. This type of post is meant to make us feel guilty for not being more active about certain political or social issues. Why does this bother us? We often use social media as a momentary escape from the world, and these posts make some people feel guilty for not being more involved in that world. This isn’t to suggest that ice-bucket challenges or pet-adoption posts are bad. As with everything we post on social media, moderation is important (and probably rule No. 2).
A version of this column appeared in the "Connected" section of The Vindicator newspaper on May 31, 2015.
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.