Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Social Media Use Rises During Times Of Crisis

Social media is perhaps the most powerful communication tool ever created by humans. On par with the invention of the printing press, social media has impacted our world in ways we are only just now beginning to understand. Even as we use social media to stay in touch with family members and old friends, stay up-to-date with current events a half a world away and stay informed about things happening right in our own communities, we are devising even more ingenuous uses for it.
Namely, crisis communication.
Following the devastating tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri earlier this year school teachers used Facebook to reach out to students, doing a quick head count to make certain everyone was alright and find out who needed help.
After the earthquake shook states up from New York to Illinois and as far north as southern Canada, social media sites lit up with people checking in and checking out what had happened. Photos of damage to monuments in Washington D.C. were posted on Twitter within minutes of the quake.
This unplanned use of social media to keep people informed during a crisis is what has prompted agencies such as the American Red Cross, National Weather Service and Department of Health and Human Services to espouse the benefits of social media and encourage anyone in the business of disaster preparedness or emergency response to make full use of them.

When asked by participants who sent in questions about whether the Red Cross has been able to meet the demands of responding within an hour, Riggen said that's not happening — yet. He said that while the agency is using a variety of platforms, it's an "enormous challenge" to monitor the volume of social media traffic out there. But Riggen did advocate for being prepared ahead of time by downloading useful apps before they're needed. Both the Red Cross and National Weather Service have such apps.
He also shared how the Red Cross is working on developing open-source street mapping with partners like Ushahidi, which had a powerful effect in Haiti by harnessing the strength of crowdsourcing there for information, he said.
Riggen mentioned a free mobile application that provides shelter locations (available through the Apple App store). There is another, the "American Red Cross SOS" app, that teaches First Aid and CPR (available in Android Market).
The Safe and Well site is another Riggen mentioned for the public to know. It's a site where people can register information about whether they're safe and update their social media status.
Joining Riggen was Laura K. Furgione, National Weather Service deputy director. A meteorologist, she left most of the social media questions to Riggen and Stacy Elmer, of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Furgione perked up when talking about how the National Weather Service, which has a little over 72,000 "likes," picked up 15,000 additional "likes" on Tuesday for the Hurricane Center on Facebook. She said 122 of the agency's forecast offices have Facebook pages. And she encouraged folks to keep sending information as the agency's eyes and ears on the ground, as that helps in developing forecasts.
Not that it should surprise, but all three guests laid on the Facebook adulation, and no mention was made really beyond Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. (Sorry, G+!) Facebook does have a Global Disaster Relief page that aims to consolidate emergency resources.
Elmer spent most of her time talking about a contest by her agency that will award up to $10,000 to a developer who comes up with an app to plan and set up an emergency network with "lifelines" with designated posting and checking in duties ahead of the need. Ideally, the app would help " decompress communications people who really need phonelines can use."

Click here to read the entire article.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Social Media In The Classroom: The New Free Speech

A Missouri law designed to prevent improper contact between educators and students, specifically on Facebook and other social networking sites, is being challenged in court.

Politicians had hoped the legislation would lead to fewer problems arising from student-teacher contact outside the classroom. Instead, it has people saying the state is trying to limit free speech and abridge the rights of teachers and pupils.

I suppose it might have helped if the politicians had taken note of the way social media was used by educators following the tornado strike in Joplin (which happens to be located in Missouri) before deciding to take the stance that social media was bad.

A hammer can be (and has been on more than one occasion) used to crush a human skull mercilessly. That doesn't mean hammers should be made illegal. That would be a blatant case of blaming the tool when the user was at fault.

Social media is, ultimately, simply a tool for communication. It seems unlikely that it will lead to improper relations between teachers and students, especially when you consider they see each other every day in school. If the teacher is a predator there are myriad other ways for them to pursue students without social media.
After all, that happened plenty of times long before social media existed.

Free speech concerns have prompted the Missouri State Teachers Association (MSTA) to take to court a new state law that limits social networking between educators and students.

The association is seeking an injunction against a section of the law that prevents teachers from interacting with students on nonwork-related social media sites unless the conversation is entirely public.

MSTA argues in its petition to the Circuit Court of Cole County in Missouri that nonpublic communication between students and teachers is an important tool and the law will have a “chilling effect” on the Constitutional rights of school district employees.
Todd Fuller, the MSTA’s communications director, said his organization started fielding questions from its members several weeks ago, as teachers realized the language of the law — called the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act — went beyond the scope they thought it would in regard to teacher-student communication.

Sponsored by Missouri State Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, the law primarily deals with making sure that a Missouri school district that fires an employee for sexual misconduct is liable for similar activity if the person is hired at another school district in the state and engages in similar behavior.

The provision of the law in question, Section 162.069, mandates that school districts need to have a written policy in place by Jan. 1, 2012 that outlines teacher-student communication and employee-student communication. It also stipulates that the policy must include what oral and nonverbal personal communication is appropriate and the proper use of social media.

Click here to read the entire article.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Google+ Anxiety: What's The Rush?

Like lemmings being driven off a cliff by unscrupulous camera guys, it seems many of us are in a desperate hurry to join Google+, but I'm not exactly sure why.

Google+ (in case you've been living under a rock) is the latest social media offering from the company which brought us Google Wave and Google Buzz. It uses a system that is at once similar to, yet completely different from, the system used by Facebook.

With 750 million users, Facebook is clearly the dominant social media network, but Google hopes it's alternative will help narrow the gap. In less than two months Google+ has amassed something close to 50 million users. A far cry from the 3/4 of a BILLION users on Facebook, but a significant number nonetheless.

It should be pointed out that Google is uniting everyone who currently uses Gmail, Picassa, Blogger and YouTube under the Google+ umbrella. This means they are more likely to acquire users faster than Facebook did.

Also, given they are THE dominant search engine on the Internet, they have some capital to spend on self-promotion.

Despite all this, I still have to ask: What's the rush?

Why is everyone clamoring to get on board Google+? It's not as if there is only room for just so many people. The network will expand large enough to accommodate the entire population of the planet if the need ever comes, so why not sit back and let the network flesh itself out.

Don't get me wrong, Google+ has the potential to be a game-changer when it comes to social media marketing. But it's not there yet. Anyone who rushes to join the bandwagon riding into Google+ is going to be sorely disappointed when they discover the severe limitations to be found there.

If you are serious about social media marketing and have free time on your hands what you should be doing right now is maximizing your efforts on the properties you are already using.

When was the last time you updated your Facebook Fan Page? Changed your Twitter background? Put up a new profile picture? I'll bet you haven't done any of these things in quite some time.

Instead of rushing to join the land grab at Google+ I recommend you focus on your existing social media network; give it a new coat of paint, so to speak.

The time to expand your social media marketing network into Google+ will come, but it's not here yet. When it does, if the rest of your network is functioning correctly, it will be a simple enough task to merge Google+ into it.

In the comments section below, tell me why (or why not) you are in a rush to join Google+.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Google+ No Pseudonyms Please!

Social networking site Google+ will be requiring members to use their real names on their profiles. No problem for those using the network for business reasons, but some people are ticked off. A video has been released on YouTube announcing the rule and it's specifications by Google+. All good - unless you need to mysteriously hide your identity...or you have a really bizarre name that Google+ admin cannot believe is real, then we forsee some consumer frustration.

Web users who go by bogus names will be booted off the new Google+ social network.

The company has recently launched the network as a rival to Facebook.

But If Google learns the name you're using on the network is not your real name, you have just four days to clean up your act. If you don't your profile will be removed.

Saurabh Sharma, product manager on the Google+ team, announced the new rule in a video shared on YouTube and on Google+.

The company said it tried to make connecting with people on the web more like connecting with people in the real world, so those signing up for the service are required to use the name they commonly go by in the real world.
Click here to read more

YouTube Link

Friday, August 12, 2011

How To Play Nice - Corporate Social Media

Advice on how to play nice in the social media sandbox for corporations. Number seven in the Forbes series 'The 10 Dont's Of Corporate Social Media - Don't be Indiscreet Or Illegal' includes tales of reputations destroyed in minutes as the immediacy and reach of social media is underestimated over and over again with disastrous consequences.

The real-time nature of social media is a double-edged sword.

On one hand, the immediacy makes social media continually relevant, powerful, and of-the-moment. Just look at how it is being used this week to create flashmobs in the London riots. It is redefining politics, and life — not only life on the web, but life off the web as well.

On the other hand, social media’s combination of immediacy and indelibility can allow some tremendous gaffes – that could haunt you, your company and your brand for a long time to come. If you can write it the moment you think it, you can write some pretty dumb or hurtful things. Ready, fire, aim has never been a particularly good strategy for building organizations’ reputations!
click here to read more

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mind Your (Criminal) Tweets

So, we have all seen footage of the Worlds Dumbest Criminals and snickered at the sheer stupidity of the hapless criminal. Apparently, lessons have not been learned and there are still those who just cannot resist boasting of their criminal activities on social media. Enter NYPD, who are on the case trawling the popular social networking sites for such discussions. Should be like shooting fish in a barrel.

If you're going to commit petty larceny and you want to get away with it, you probably shouldn't create a Facebook event to mark the occasion. And unless you're referring to a Tupac song, you probably shouldn't hashtag a tweet #gangsterparty. The NYPD has formed a new social media unit to nab crooks who talk about their crimes, including gang activity on Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace.

The New York Daily News reports that the new juvenile justice unit will "mine social media, looking for info about troublesome house parties, gang showdowns, and other potential mayhem."
Click here to read more

Monday, August 8, 2011

Social Media Lights The Fuse...Again.

There have not been many news stories published in the last two days regarding the London riots without the word 'Blackberry' mentioned as the tool being used by rioters to organize. The reader envisions the masked mobster, petrol bomb in hand, lighting the fuse media?! In balance, society is communicating and mobilizing faster than ever before, using social media in the efforts towards good and bad. As crowds gather to perform criminal acts, so too do they organize and inspire revolutions.

In the wake of a controversial police shooting, Britain’s capital city has been rocked by two straight days of widespread rioting and looting. As with previous riots—such as those in Vancouver, B.C., following the Stanley Cup finals—everyone seems to be looking for a culprit, with some blaming Twitter and Facebook, and others pinning the violence on BlackBerry (RIMM) and its instant messaging abilities.
But that’s a little like blaming individual trees for the forest fire. As we’ve pointed out before with respect to the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, these are just aspects of our increasingly real-time, mobile, and connected lives, and they can be an incredibly powerful force for both good and bad.
Click here to read more

Friday, August 5, 2011

Google+ Still The New Kid On The Block

Thirty-one percent of Google+ users say they have yet to use their new accounts. Like kids with a shiny new toy, yes! We want to play, but, what do we do with it? Give just a little time for everyone to get settled in and comfortable, and Google+ may be vying with Facebook for the number one social networking spot.

Google+ has signed up 13% of U.S. adults so far and could hit 22%, in a year, passing Twitter and LinkedIn as the number two social media network, according to a new study.

The report, based on a Bloomberg and YouGov poll of 1,003 U.S. adults from July 29 to August 2, revealed that 71% percent of U.S. adults use Facebook, but that number will drop to 69% a year from now. Among people who use both services, 30% say they plan to cut the time they spend on Facebook. However, 31% of Google+ users say they’ve abandoned their Google+ accounts or never posted anything on them.
Click here to read more

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Snoopy Goes Social

The Peanuts Brand is hurtling full speed into the 21st century with Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the Gang branching out into social media. The current Facebook page for Peanuts Worldwide has 800,000 followers - a terrific platform to spring the 61 year old cartoon characters into the digital age.

You’re a Good Brand, Charlie Brown.

And starting today, thanks to major news from Peanuts Worldwide, you’re a globally growing digital brand, as well.

Charles Schulz’s entire cartoon gang is expanding into mobile gaming, e-books, Facebook and digital apps, Peanuts Worldwide and its owner, the Iconix Brand Group, have just announced Wednesday.

The growth into new platforms and formats is all part of a massive push to “make ‘Peanuts’ relevant to younger fans,” Iconix chairman and CEO Neil Cole told Comic Riffs on Tuesday.
Click here to read more