I work at Creighton University taking care of all things involving photography and graphic design for Fr. Don Doll. Outside of Creighton, I am a seeker of answers to questions about religion, art, history, literature, and the natural world.
I actually do think social media is a good idea and I am quite happy to have taken this class. Before this class, I didn’t realize the potential of linking all platforms together for business purposes, or for creating a unified message about branding or for personal messaging. Having said that, I am still not drawn to it enough to use it as a personal form of communication. But I am happy to have gained more information about the possibilities that I can now use in collaboration with the various projects I am working on.
I thought the class was great. The presentations were always varied and had good information. I especially appreciated hearing from Elizabeth Hilpipre at the Humane Society about their great success with using social media to help place animals. I think that was a turning point for me, and I began to see social media as a valuable tool rather than a frivolous waste of time. Well, except for tunameltsmyheart, but that’s not really wasting time. In fact, I’m almost inspired to start my own Instagram, itsallintheeyes.
This tweet is just one of the many reasons the United Airlines incident is such a disaster for the company. The tweet might or might not be accurate about the release of an app upgrade, but at this point in their PR disaster, it doesn’t really matter. Every aspect of their company is subject to social media shaming because of the passenger being drug off the plane. This apparently has helped to focus the CEO’s understanding that bad news multiplies dramatically on social media, and this shared outrage will effect his monetary bottom line. In this corporate case, I think public shaming serves a purpose, and hopefully helps to change policies in the corporation. Cleverness like this one tweet above, if not snarky and mean, has also been somewhat rewarded in the fact that the CEO has moved away from justifying the incident to giving a full public apology.
The CEO might be personally receiving a big dose of public shaming, but what does that public shaming do when it is heaped on individuals? And why do people take the time and energy to engage in mean, snarky posts. Many times to people they don’t even personally know? Not easy questions to answer, and probably many personality reasons why people do it. The darker side of human nature has always been with us. It appears in the mob mentality that drew crowds to the blood sports of the 2nd century. It appears in the blood-thirsty sense of superiority that brought thousands of people out in early Omaha to watch the brutal lynching of a young, black man, and more recently in crowds shouting to a suicidal person to jump. I think it is that dark side of human nature that comes out in social media attacks.
The wide net of anonymity in social media makes it that much easier to engage in bullying and mob mentality. I would like to think that people who engage in public shaming don’t expect tragic outcomes from what they say. But I wonder if they expect something more than self satisfaction from their posts? Did the cyber mob who attacked the referee, John Higgins, for his officiating at the Kentucky basketball game really want him to loose his business or fear for his life? Did the thousands who posted about Justine Sacco’s racist tweet expect her to loose her PR job at IAC. Maybe John Higgins isn’t the most skilled referee, and maybe Justine Sacco doesn’t really have the temperament to work in public relations, but is it up to a vitriolic, anonymous crowd to decide that? It probably isn’t, but social media is not going away, and neither is the dark side of human nature. Communication is now so interwoven with social media that people will probably never stop using it. So what to do?
As Monica Lewinsky, who was drug through the public muck when her affair with President Clinton was revealed, says, “public humiliation as a blood sport has to stop.” I think the only solution to cyberbullying is similar to the solutions used to deal with hate speech; never limit speech, but use specific hate speech or cyberbullying to sculpt a very detailed response, or at the least, a positive response. Something similar to TrollBusters could be used to counter any type of cyberbullying attack. If more clicks turned into advertising dollars for positive responses, as a balance to the description Lewinsky gives of the mechanism behind the monetization of humiliation and shame, we could possibly see a “cultural revolution” and return to our “long held value of compassion and empathy.” There is always the hope.
Elizabeth Hilpipre, Development and Communications
Specialist at the Nebraska Humane Society, has developed a dynamic social media presence using primarily Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. Last year, the Facebook page had a phenomenal nine million visits!
Hilpipre has found success using Facebook to tell compelling stories about the animals that are up for adoption. She also weaves into the stories specific asks, to share posts and to share specifics about other services the Humane Society offers. She also tries to find different angles to the stories to grab attention, or heart strings and then provides shareable content. Transparency and engagement are just as important as the posts of adoptable animals and according to the webpage, responses to messages are given within an hour.
With so many animals that need homes, the stories could start to be repetitive, but Hilpipre meets with her staff on a weekly basis to review what is working or not, and to plan ahead for posts to Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. They have found that Twitter is their biggest generator of news, and that Snapchat is the biggest generator of organic conversations on Twitter. They use Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics to gather their metrics.
I was one of the lucky 9 million visitors last year who followed the NHS Facebook, but in the end, found my sweet Sammy through their web page.
Instagram seemed frivolous to me, nothing that interested me, and nothing that I wanted to explore, until I met tunameltsmyheart . This site completely hooked me into following Tuna, the sweetest little, slightly deformed, chiweenie.
Tuna’s human has brilliantly used photos of the little guy to great advantage. The photos include Tuna’s daily routines of walks, car rides, and meals, and keeps things fresh with references to holidays and current events. Tuna has 2 million followers who adore him, and who embrace his human’s mission to raise awareness about animal rescue groups, and to promote a message of acceptance. The human developed a product line specific to Tuna, then developed further with @thetravelingtuna, creating a way to link into pet friendly destinations and traveling accessories by using hashtags.
I actually have a more difficult time seeing how Instagram is used effectively with the non-profit examples. I chose Roots and Shoots, in part because I was fortunate a few years back to meet Jane Goodall, and was introduced to her organization, Roots and Shoots. Scrolling through the photos in this Instagram example though, doesn’t tell me at all what Roots and Shoots is about. This example seems to be all over the map, from micro greens to tampax!? What’s the message? It’s a convoluted mess, as is causevox explanation of:
What They’re Doing Right:
Feature the visionary Jane Goodall and highlight her strong involvement
Promote fashion partnerships to garner attention e.g. sweater collaboration with a major brand label
Highlight branded merchandise e.g. Roots and Shoots slogan t-shirts
Create images with quotes e.g. nonprofit’s motto “Grow Something”
Grow Something? What? They could have used strong photos of kids planting a garden
Branded merchandise? Where? If there is any merchandise it’s buried somewhere that I can’t find it.
Fashion partnership promotion? What is that, the teacher with the banana dress?
Fortunately, there is at least one photo of Jane Goodall.
Maybe I am missing something, but I think this Instagram would be far more effective by using a well defined, visual statement of purpose. It could use photographs showing kids actively involved with the environment, along with more people-centered photographs, alternating with strong quotes and mottos, with relevant use of hashtags.
That is a slightly different spin than the assignment ‘What Is My Sentence.’ The 20 somethings in the Social Media class, where this assignment originated, are asked to identify their top 3 strengths, top 3 talents, and describe their core area of expertise, along with what their target audience needs and wants.
At twenty something, it seems to me, strengths, talents, and expertise, are still moving targets. At twenty something, there is a fresh boldness and freedom in defining who you are. It is a challenge to sort through that boldness and freedom, and distill it all out with self-reflection, including all of the hopes and expectations of life to come, and then present it in one sentence.
My answer to ‘What is My Life’s Sentence’ comes through the lens of looking back over several decades. The morning I woke up on the official day of my 6 decades on the planet, I decided to stay in bed until I looked back over each decade and formed a sentence to define each of those decades. It took awhile to do that, much longer than I would have normally stayed in bed. I looked back over each decade, trying to be as honest with myself as I could. I looked at the twists and turns, paths taken and not taken, and the forks in the road when I should have gone right, but turned left. Some things were painful to remember, but some things were exhilarating to remember, like the summer I drove my Volkswagen Bus like a madwoman from Louisiana to California.
The answer to my Life Sentence does not come from a sculpted, academic, background. My answer comes from my life experiences, of creating the freedom to make plenty of mistakes as a twenty something, of a decade of working with children who were mentally retarded, and then of making the bold decision to buy a business and run an art gallery.
Now, using this question, “What is My Life’s Sentence?” to reflect and distill my experiences, I can say that my top 3 strengths are:
I am curious
I am open to accepting new challenges
I am persistant
My top 3 talents are:
I have an ability to visualize organization out of chaos
I engage in active listening
I am methodical in solving problems
So my answer, up to this point in life is, “She is a seriously, seasoned seeker.”
Because I am taking a class in social media, I need to ponder what exactly social media is, why I do or don’t use it, and how it impacts my life. I don’t think email or Googling news sites necessarily counts as social media, but that, other than a very minimal, somewhat lame use of Facebook is the extent to which I use it. I think I have a generational disconnect from the desire, need, or reason to use many of the tools associated with social media. But, I could learn to appreciate the usefulness of it when it comes to finding my way through our new political reality.
If I had children and grandchildren, I most likely would not be so out of the loop. But I am, along with the majority of my ‘boomer’ friends. Which is another situation that impacts my use of social media. We just don’t connect that way, or so I thought until I read this article from 2014 which presents an interesting review of the generational use of social media.
But I do question many of the conclusions stated in this article. For one reason, the majority of this article presents small, confined boxes describing large swathes of the population and could present questionable conclusions. I did find it interesting that according to this article, Boomers, those of us born from 1946-1964, tweet more times a day than Millennials (born after 1981) and GenX’ers (1965-1980). News to me!
That is definitely not my experience, and gives reason to explore more about generational use of social media, and what advantages there could be in using it.
I honestly think my current use of digital ways of gathering news and info about popular culture has had a negative impact on my attention span, and willingness to follow through with a long read on-line. I use to regularly buy the weekly news magazines, Time, Newsweek, USA Today, and usually read cover to cover. Scrolling around on line, I now find myself getting the initial gist of a subject and then scanning on for more. I can’t say that with my method, I am any better informed than I was in the past. And maybe I am less informed because of the ‘bubble’ I chose to inhabit.
I also sense a disconnect in my willingness to settle in with a book. It is easier just to scroll through the plethora of news to get nothing more than that initial gist. And the book stacks next to my easy chair and bed, have steadily declined. This, for me, is a problem. I’m very curious about how the Millennials or GenXers have adapted. That is something I would like to understand more thoroughly through this Social Media class.