The Private Turn

Is social media becoming less social?

In early 2018, Facebook users were stunned to learn that Cambridge Analytica had used a loophole in Facebook’s API to harvest data from millions of users who had not given free and informed consent for the use of their data. Prior to this reveal, people around the world were already growing concerned about the spread of fake news and misinformation on social media and how this information may influence elections. This event sent apprehensions into overdrive and even sparked a #DeleteFacebook online movement, of sorts.

Elon Musk backs #DeleteFacebook, and Tesla's and SpaceX's Facebook pages vanish
“Elon Musk backs #DeleteFacebook, and Tesla’s and SpaceX’s Facebook pages vanish” by marcoverch is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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The Private Turn

What can sustainability communicators learn from social media marketers?

Recently, Ann Dale, Jamie Clifton-Ross and I wrote an article for the Journal of Digital and Social Media Marketing. In it, we detailed a case study about Canada Research Connections (@CRCResearch) and how we applied social media marketing concepts, specifically content curation strategies, to more broadly engage a broad audience with academic research on sustainability.

An image showing arrows between two word bubbles and the phrase social media marketing
“Social Media Marketing” by Jerry Nihen is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Over two years, we took a deliberate approach grounded in best practices in social media strategy. We attempted to build a network of interested followers friends, we engaged in reciprocity, sharing the posts produced by others, and we deliberately used engaging visuals, narratives, and accessible language in our posting. Furthermore, we ensured that we were posting to social media platforms on a regular schedule, and posting according to the times that were most appropriate for each platform. Finally, we tailored our content to suit different platforms. Longer posts and videos for facebook, short bite-sized content and retweets with images on Twitter, Strong images and short videos on Instagram, and longer videos with animations on YouTube. Every approach we followed was well known in the social media marketing world, but interestingly was not broadly used in science or sustainability communication. Instead, these communication domains tend to rely primarily on a more just the facts style communication with an academic presentation and tone.

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What can sustainability communicators learn from social media marketers?

21st Century PR: When All Else Fails, Pretend You’re a Journalist

Despite all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about fake news, biased journalism, and journalists as “very bad people“, the very people complaining the loudest about the press seem to be those who are most adept at manipulating it. Take for example, the current President of the United States, who employs a combination of direct to consumer social media tactics, and also maintains strong relationships with non-professiona,l we-cannot-really-call-them (cough cough) news organizations like infowars, in order to perform the idea of news while supplanting the actual purpose entirely.

A yellow plastic fish caught in a net hangs against a grey cubicle wall
“Fake fish, fake lomo” by Patrick Fitzgerald. CC-BY 2.0. Available from Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/barelyfitz/34407290

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21st Century PR: When All Else Fails, Pretend You’re a Journalist

Is your content bot or not?

According to a recent report by the Pew Research Center that I, ironically enough learned about because it was shared on Twitter, “an estimated two-thirds of tweeted links to popular websites are posted by automated accounts” also known as bots.

Automated accounts post the majority of tweeted links to popular websites across a range of domains

Two thirds.

To me, this means three things:

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Is your content bot or not?

On Social Media, A Whisper is Louder than a Megaphone

What good is 300,000 facebook friends, or a viral video viewed by 3 billion people if only a fraction of those people are actually interested in what you have to share with them or sell to them? The answer is, not much. Rather than aiming for a large broadcast audience, rather than taking a broadcast approach to participatory media, those of us without the money or other resources to spread our message far and wide need to be more strategic than that. Those brands that have grown a movement have tapped into just these principles. For this reason, smaller organizations, artists, or individuals probably don’t gain much by focusing on dramatically increasin follower counts over a short amount of time. This type of activity takes too much time, energy and money that could be  better spent on actually growing a small business. Instead, for most of us, it’s better to have 3000 of the right followers- people who are most likely to convert.

an image of a megaphone with the words "speak up"
Speak up, make your voice heard by Howard Lake. Available from Flickr: https://flic.kr/p/9rAjnQ
License CC-BY-SA 2.0

 

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On Social Media, A Whisper is Louder than a Megaphone

Have Publishers Left the Building?

I learned it on Instagram today: The Chive has officially left Facebook.

Ok, well they haven’t fully left. But they will no longer be posting their articles, videos and other content directly to their Facebook page. Instead, they will be sharing links only in Facebook, and the links will take people back to their webpage. The way God Herself intended.

An instagram post announcing the Chive is cutting ties to Facebook
Chive’s Feb 28th post on my Instagram Feed

 

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Have Publishers Left the Building?

Chasing Meaningful Interaction: Facebook’s Declining Value

Have we reached peak Facebook?

 

A facebook error message
Facebook error by Beth Kanter on Flickr (CC by 2.0). Available from https://flic.kr/p/5iEcGp

A recent article in the Guardian reports that while people over 55 are still flocking to the social network in droves, a key demographic: teens and young adults, are leaving Facebook or even failing to join in the first place. Teens and young adults, according to the Guardian, are “defecting to snapchat”, and while Facebook initially managed to hang on to this group by buying up Instagram, it hasn’t been able to buy snapchat, and copying the popular features of snapchat on Instagram and the Facebook platform have not served to engage younger users.

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Chasing Meaningful Interaction: Facebook’s Declining Value

Online Influencers: An Old Idea in a New Medium

This post is some thoughts pulled from a talk that I gave this week at Ryerson’s Start Up School. For more great resources for entrepreneurs, and to see the slide presentation that I gave, check out ryersonstartupschool.com

Since the dawn of PR, influencers have been an important tool for those people and organizations who want to reach others with their message. This is not an exaggeration. The practice of public relations was basically invented when Edward Bernays, the nephew of Sigmund Freud, hired women to march in the 1929 Easter Sunday Parade smoking cigarettes that they called their “torches of freedom“. Why did Bernays do this? Before this moment, smoking for women was considered taboo, dirty. Bernays effectively linked the act of smoking with the women’s equality movement, and changed public perception for decades to come.

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Online Influencers: An Old Idea in a New Medium