A prefect's musings on digital and social media

Facebook knows what you did last summer

This month, Holly, our intern and recent graduate in Psychology from Warwick University takes a look at what Facebook knows about you…

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You may have recently read about Facebook’s controversial study on emotion which involved manipulating the content of nearly 700,00 users’ newsfeeds to include either more positive or more negative posts. US privacy pressure group, Epic, filed an official complaint demanding that the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigate Facebook’s actions. In some ways, it was the last straw for many of us who already feel an invasion of privacy from these social media giants.

Most of us are aware of the potential pitfalls when using social media; a lack of privacy, questions over content ownership, possible damage to your career…the list is endless. It gets confusing when we happily use these networks only to later discover the true extent to which some corporations collect and store our personal data.

Research from Skandia reveals only 7per cent of Britons read the terms and conditions of a service before registering. Comforting to know I’m not the only one but shocking nonetheless! Some may argue that this lack of attention to detail should automatically waiver our right to privacy but will this jolt you into pledging to read through hundreds of conditions?

Facebook may also have contradicted themselves: for years, users have asked for a ‘dislike’ button and for years Facebook has refused. They argue that “Facebook tends to focus on positive social interactions and ways to express positive sentiment.” Surely the nature of this study falls short of their previous positivity?

Having studied Psychology at university, I’ve had all the basic Psychological ethical issues drilled into me. All participants should give informed consent for their data to be collected and analysed. Although this may bias results, a lack of it goes against all ethical standards of Psychological practice. There are also growing fears that the data collected could be used for other unethical activities such as voter manipulation during political campaigns.

Perhaps we’ll never discover just how much Facebook knows about us. Will this study stop the 1.28 billion users that currently the site almost everyday? I don’t think so. I think our love for sharing, liking and communicating is sure to triumph any feelings of betrayal.

Inevitably, the furore over this topic will peter out into murmurs of disagreement and disgust. And where exactly will all this occur? Why, on Facebook of course.

To read more on this subject, and understand just what this snapshot of metrics from Buzzfeed means-  its data they collect about you! – check out this blog post http://barker.co.uk/buzzfeediswatching

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The Age of the Selfie

Are selfies the new Marmite? Some people love them and some people hate them but one thing is for sure – selfies are here to stay. There’s even been a song written in homage to them.

Warning: extremely catchy and there is a medium to high possibility of your eardrum breaking.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdemFfbS5H0

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Now, to truly understand the obsession and recent social acceptance of selfies we’ve got to rewind to where it all began…. 1839. Yes that’s right, selfies are not a 21st century discovery. In fact we actually owe our current obsession to Robert Cornelieus, an American pioneer of photography. Oh Robert, some would argue he started a surge in self-confidence whilst others would say self-obsession.

Despite the first official selfie being taken in 1839 the trend only really burst onto the viral stage in 2012. By the end of  the year, the Times Magazine had declared the term ‘selfie’ one of the top ten buzzwords.

Cornilieus

Shocking selfies

Many people have their doubts about selfies, with some even going as far to say that they can lead to severe problems such as anorexia and depression.  How can a simple selfie be capable of such damage? Recently, news broke of a teenager, Danny Bowman, from Newcastle upon Tyne, who attempted suicide after struggling with crippling body image and anorexia. On ITV’s ‘This Morning’, Bowman said his decline into body obsession originated with selfies. Here’s a video of Danny Bowman on ‘This Morning’ explaining how his obsession with selfies had major consequences…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNl-1Q0R9EI

Statistics from the National Children’s Bureau were incredible,  with seventy per cent of adult women and forty per cent of adult men feeling pressured from television and magazines to have a perfect body. Selfies and these statistics are contribute to this pressure and desire to look ‘socially acceptable’ in this new and obsessive culture.

http://www.ncb.org.uk/media/861233/appg_body_image_final.pdf

Impressive Impact

However, there is always a positive and selfies are no exception. These controversial photographs can be snapshots and memories just like normal pictures; selfies are just the modern 21st century update.

In fact, selfies have achieved much more than previous crazes. In March 2014, Cancer Research launched the campaign ‘No make-up selfies’ on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. In six days women took selfies without makeup and uploaded them to social media sites and then donated to the charity via text. These quick, easy and simple selfies raised £8 million. The campaign went viral as women uploaded their selfie nominating others to continue the chain.  All of this was achieved through the medium of selfies. A rather impressive feat for ‘just’ another viral phenomenon.

no makeup selfies

Top: Michelle Heaton, Holly Willoughby and Kym Marsh in their no-makeup selfies. Below: how they usually appear

cancer research

Cancer Research Representative

Selfies are part of our viral existence and despite negative drawbacks, selfies have achieved a lot more than other previous crazes. I mean, even Oscar winning celebrities have gotten in on the act.  This is probably the most famous and record-breaking selfie  with an incredible 3, 404, 230 million retweets!

oscars

Selfies have made it. Made it through the one-hit wonder auditions. Made it into the semi-finals of up and coming trends. Finally, selfies exploded onto the final viral stage alongside hashtags and tweeps before taking home the grand prize of social acceptance.

Congratulations selfies –  you’ve made it.

 

Going Viral: How Social Media Changed Advertising

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Views, likes, shares and tweets – If your campaign is going to succeed these near sacred words are going to define it.  In a media climate in which everyone competes to carve out a digital presence, ‘going viral’ has become the foundation of many marketing strategies.

The essence of creating a viral campaign is the ability to make something shareable. This necessity for the content to be organically shared from person to person usually means it has to be amusing or shocking in some way.

Although this may sound obvious this simple fact has completely changed the style of mainstream advertising. Traditionally adverts were often based around a sense of aspiration, whether its scantily dressed supermodels parading around or coffee being served in the house of your dreams, products sat upon this glossy pedestal. Although this element of aspiration still underpins the messages of modern campaigns, increasingly adverts are tailored for virality by being controversial, funny and most importantly raw.

A good example to illustrate this change in style is delivered by the evolution of Pepsi adverts:

1992

2013

Here you can see the clear difference the Internet has made. Video hosting platforms, such as Youtube, are at the heart of this change not only in terms of how the advert can be shared but also the aesthetic style of the advert. Very often viral campaigns are centred around a first person or fly on the wall style, tapping into real life experience and ultimately allowing a much more intimate relationship to be made between the brand and the consumer.

As well as Youtube, social media platforms, such as Twitter, act as important catalysts in the modern viral process due to the hash tagging function. This is used to great effect by Pepsi as they deliver their homemade style advert coupled with the hash tag #gordontestdrive. Creating this allows your content to ‘trend’ which essentially means the content becomes popular within twitter, with the activity accumulating under this particular hash tag category. This functionality can be seen below where the ‘Trends’ column shows live updates of the most popular hashtags, whilst the search for #gordontestdrive shows how Twitter users have interacted and shared the content:

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Aside from the advantage of having your message and product rapidly shared across the world, viral PR campaigns are comparatively cheap to make whilst being far more engaging.

To summarise, the most important way to make your material viral is to make it engaging. We all share videos with our friends and family, think of the style of content this is usually comprised of; whether it’s a cute dog doing a trick or someone hilariously falling over, the content is usually relatable, shocking or believable. When it comes to creating your own promotional material the most important thing to remember is to be innovative and imaginative, the sheer scale of platforms such as Youtube means that material quickly becomes copied and indistinguishable, how are you going to make your message stand out?

The PR Show: through the eyes of a fledgling PR

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We sent our intern, Katy Roberts, currently studying PR at Sheffield Hallam Uni, to the PR Show 2013. Finally, (after handing in her dissertation) here’s her take on the trade show’s inaugural run as a fledgling PR professional:  

The first event of its kind for the UK public relations sector, The Public Relations Show was held on the 26th November 2013 at the Business Design Centre in London. The show brought together over 1,000 PR practitioners to share the latest tips and trends currently happening within the industry and was seen as something of a milestone, as an event like this has never taken place before, and yet shows that the PR industry is growing and that the demand for an event such as this is clearly there.

This was particularly exciting for my fellow course-mates and I, because, as fledgling practitioners ourselves, we were excited to have the chance to network with experienced PR professionals and experience the wide range of different areas that the public relations industry has to offer.

The event was hugely popular and the atmosphere was both exciting and slightly overwhelming. Surrounded by various stalls from a range of PR agencies and suppliers, I didn’t really know where to start! The conference was really useful for harnessing my networking skills, chucking me in at the deep end.

Once I’d gotten into the swing of things, I felt a lot more confident. I found myself engaging in conversations with senior PR professionals, and I picked up loads of really useful tips about being a fledgling PR professional, almost ready to go out into the industry. I also learnt about a wide range of different services that the PR industry uses, such as media monitoring and social media management and their importance within the world of PR. I’d heard of some of these, such as Gorkana, but the conference really helped open my eyes to just how broad the PR industry is.

A really great aspect of the PR Show was the wide range of really interesting talks, from a number of leading practitioners and PR agencies about a huge range of different topics. Some of the leading speakers included people such as Alan Aiken, the Executive Director of Communications for the UK government, Peter Bowles, the Creative MD at Dynamo PR and Rob Cartwright, the Global Corporate Practice Director at Ketchum PR.

The talks themselves ranged from “Aligning PR with corporate strategy”, held by Alistair Smith, the managing director of corporate communications for the Barclays group, to “How technology is changing internal communication” held by Malcolm Cotterell and Kate Barnes, Development and Engagement Manager and Employee Engagement Advisor, respectively, at CrossCountry Trains.

Other talks focused on the challenges of healthcare PR, successful creative campaigning on a low budget and quantifying success by monitoring social media measurement, to name but a few. I feel like the talks on creative campaigning on a low budget and on social media management would have been especially useful for a fledgling practitioner like myself just starting out in the industry.

My only wish is that some of these talks were made more accessible for students of the PR industry, maybe by providing a season ticket or concession rate for some talks would have been incredibly useful. There is also far more scope for engaging students, break out sessions or fringe events covering topics such as graduate schemes, professional membership and talks from specific PR areas, would be widely welcomed.

All in all, I really enjoyed the day – it was incredibly interesting and provided me with a useful insight into the industry that I’d not had before. Did you attend the PR Show 2013? What did you think?

#TEAMNIGELLA: A lesson in crisis media handling

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As the 6 ‘o’ clock news bulletin ran across the TV screen back one rainy day in December with the latest update on the Grillo sisters fraud case, I felt a congratulatory punch in the air was needed in solidarity to #TeamNigella, as the domestic goddess walked head high, well-heeled into court to give evidence.

Now, I hasten to add, that this is not a piece that condones illegal drug taking in any shape or form, and indeed, Nigella is being investigated for her substance usage and I shall leave any necessary punishment up to the legal system and the Metropolitan police; yet for her media handling, I feel Nigella should be applauded.

As the Grillo sisters were being tried for their crime, media focus switched to Nigella’s drug habits, creating an environment as, she would later be quoted, being ‘maliciously vilified without the right to respond’.

Her success remains in the detail, even down to her courtroom makeover as dubbed by the Daily Mail.  Her understated, nude makeup shades, the sombre well-cut suit treaded the line between the domestic-goddess we all know and love and the more recently exposed mistreated wife. The entire image giving her an appropriately serious yet confident manner.

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Even before the trial at the time of the divorce, Nigella’s composure has stood at odds against Saatchi’s own erratic behaviour, which brought an intensely personal period into the public eye.  Although some reported Nigella’s lack of response to Saatchi public accusations as a mere admission of guilt, it also rings true to my mother’s playground mantra – ‘if you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all’. Avoiding a public mud slinging match, dwindled the Paul McCartney/Heather Mills effect.

Only recently has Nigella spoken publicly about the trial, after a respectful-yet-not-too distant time period, the celebrity chef spoke to Good Morning America as part of her publicity tour for her new show, the Taste.  Under this gentle grilling, her considered answers demonstrated her own humour, ‘I’ve eaten a lot of chocolate’, whilst recognising the distress caused to her family as well as showcasing a humble sense of self perspective:

‘To be honest, to have not only your private life but distortions of your private life put on display is mortifying but, you know, there are people going through an awful lot worse…to dwell on any of it would be self pity and I don’t like to do that.’

I feel that Nigella’s composed and ‘attention-to-detail’ handling of the media furore surrounding her over the last few months has only added to her strength of character; fans rushed to buy the royal blue Diva frock she wore on the opening show of the taste. As David Cameron was so publicly rebuked for stating, I’m still ‘a massive fan’.

Five Social Media Measurement Questions I Hope (NOT) To See in 2014

jess_friend:

A great summary on social media measurement!

Originally posted on :

I get asked lots of great questions about social media measurement. Following are five not so great ones I hope not to hear in 2014. 

How do you measure social media?

I get this question quite often and I enjoy it each time because if provides me the opportunity to make an important point about measurement and be a little snarky at the same time. Good stuff! When I get this question, my answer is always the same; “I don’t measure ‘social media’, I measure what you are trying to accomplish with social media.” This may seem like I’m playing semantic games, but the distinction is very important. Measurement is fundamentally about performance against objectives. So, we measure our performance against the objectives established in the social media plan. A lot of what passes for measurement in social media is really data collection – tracking Followers or Likes, blog traffic…

View original 874 more words

Facebook Privacy & Social Media Etiquette

FACEBOOK PRIVACY SETTINGS

“And so it’s goodbye from Graph Search.” The newest privacy shift from Facebook involves the site doing away with the setting that allowed people to be able to choose who could see their profile when they type their name into Graph Search (search your timeline by name).

SCREENSHOT OF FB PRIVACY SETTINGS

However, even though it can be frustrating when Facebook makes changes to privacy settings, it’s actually incredibly easy to get things back to normal – so don’t panic. Here’s a really useful blog post on how to make sure your Facebook privacy settings are exactly how you want them.

Of course, one way of making sure you don’t have to do a mad scramble to reset your privacy settings after every change is to always be aware of what you’re posting on Facebook in the first place. It may sound obvious, but with our world becoming more and more digital and employers increasingly using social media to check out candidates ahead of interviews, we need to be more aware than ever of the persona we’re putting across online.

One of the best ways to figure out whether something is appropriate to post online is to ask yourself, “Would I want my Gran to see this picture of me plastered at V Festival?” And if the answer to that question is no, then don’t put it on Facebook! Oh, and the same goes for status updates – if you’re angry, upset, intoxicated (or all three at once!), it’s probably not a good idea to use Facebook as your venting platform, because someone will see it before you manage to take it down, and you never know who that person might be.

TOP 3 TIPS FOR MANAGING YOUR FACEBOOK PRIVACY SETTINGS

1) To access your privacy settings, click on the small cog-shaped button at the very top of the Facebook screen, on the right-hand side. From there, you should be able to see a section labelled “Privacy Settings”.

2) A Restricted list is for people you’ve added as a friend on Facebook, but whom you just don’t want to share with, like your boss, for example. When you add someone to your Restricted list, they’ll only be able to see your Public content or posts that you specifically tag them in.

3) To add people to specific lists, scroll down to the Friends section on your Facebook home page, then click on the name of the list you want to edit, such as Restricted, or Close Friends, etc. Then, in the top right corner, click on “Manage List” then select “Edit List”. Then simply enter the names of friends you want to add to this list in the “Add friends to this list” box.

What do you think of Facebook’s privacy settings? Do you have any other tips for improving social media etiquette?


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