Tag Archives: facebook

Twitter. Does your boss check you out?!

1 Apr

by Georgina Leggate @GeorginaLeggate

I went for an interview yesterday, for a work-experience placement at ITV. I was up to date with current affairs, the political situation in Libya and I had been watching ITV news all week. Enough, maybe, but I definitely would have prepared even more if I’d thought about the concept of my interviewer following me on Twitter?! One thing I hadn’t given any thought to was the state of my Twitter page. My profile, what does it say about me? Well I’ll tell you. The picture I have is of me lying on a bed in Beijing, waiting for a foot message. (From my traveling days.) There is nothing rude or inappropriate about the photo, just perhaps not the most professional photo I could have chosen. Also, I have a relatively low number of tweets (for a trainee journalist I suppose)…20 tweets to be precise. I am following 170 and am followed by 57….hardly 497,085 but a good start?!

Damn you Piers Morgan!

Anyway, it’s the first time I’ve ever felt sightly self conscious about any of my tweets, even though I don’t think I have ever ‘tweeted’ anything particularly offensive and/or controversial!  Quite the opposite in fact. In my opinion I use social media for what I believe to be all the right reasons. Journalistically I follow others who are in the know, I absorb the news feeds, I keep up to date with all the latest developments in current affairs and most importantly (in my view) I am able to find information and people, that I wouldn’t be able to, anywhere else. A good example of this was a recent package I produced for local TV station a month ago. For confidentiality reasons I won’t reveal the participants name, but he essentially gave me a lot of helpful and perhaps controversial pieces of information all through Twitter. What I am trying to say here is; just because I don’t use Twitter to report about my every moment, my every outing, my every meal (who would be interested anyway?) That doesn’t mean I am any less interested in social media. Perhaps I should tweet more. Perhaps I should spark up a debate with Lord Sugar…that should up my followers if nothing else!

Throughout all of my blogs, I have discussed the importance of social media in online journalism, AND, (you’ll be pleased to hear) I remain committed. I don’t see papers as ‘old news’ (excuse the pun) and I don’t want everyone to replace newspapers with twitter but what I do think is we have developed an amazing platform on which to transport information….to the world!

A website I visit regularly is www.mediahelpingmedia.com stresses the importance of social media in online journalism. One bit of advice I picked up on recently was the following statement.

‘Try to offer original, stimulating and compelling content’

Watch out for my new and improved tweets..!

Also, I got the placement, so either I managed to impress at interview, or perhaps he hadn’t seen my Twitter page ; )

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Remember when nostalgia was the key to social media? I’m not sure I do…

1 Apr

Josh Cheesman
@JoshCheesman

Do you remember TaleSpin? The cartoon with characters from The Jungle Book, except they were in a 1920s setting and Baloo flew one of those planes that could land on water? And do you remember the theme tune?

Awesome. Now that’s a great intro. What were your favourite cartoon opening themes? DuckTales? Bucky O’Hare? Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles? Ch-Ch-Chip and Dale, Rescue Rangers?

… It’s OK., I’ve not lost the plot. I was just making an effort to stir a bit of nostalgia in the likely demographic of the blog. Why, you might ask? Because according to a new article, nostalgia is one of the most important tools in a social medi-ite’s arsenal.

(You don’t get tools in an arsenal, do you? Well, I guess you might if you were some kind of slasher movie tool box killer. Hey, remember all the old slasher movie killers? Freddy, Jason, Mike Myers before he started doing comedies…)

Yeah, I’ll admit I was trying to do the nostalgia thing again.

“A New Goldmine in Social Media”

So like a said, an article published yesterday claims that nostalgia is “the new golden nugget of social media”.

Golden Nuggets

Pictured: nostalgia.

Using the suspciously made-up sounding example of Michael the baker and his Facebook page, the author talks about how even simple references and questions help foster warm feelings and fun conversation with the online community. It’s done from the point of view of a business getting itself out there, but the article is phrased in terms of community interaction, which is a crucial aspect of being a journalist on the web as opposed to on TV or in a newspaper.

I’m a little sceptical of whether nostalgia is that persuasive a factor in gaining social capital. I mean, there’s only so long you get by on the good will of pop culture history, especially in journalism. Our business is telling people what’s new, not asking them to remember things that are old.

Besides, the internet is drowning in nostalgia, especially for the children of the 80s and 90s (case in point: the fact that I was able to get video clips of all those theme tunes with a minimum of searching online).

On the other hand though, a bit of nostalgia every once in a while can be a powerful tool. In this day and age, with so many websites providing news content, you need to make yours stand out. And if you reference Thunderbirds in a story about the International Rescue Corps, or use a picture of the Emperor from Star Wars to talk about the “dark side” of social media, maybe that’s just the hook you need to get people into your story.

So, let’s finish up with the obligatory question  – do you remember a news article that you read primarily because there was something fun or nostalgic about it?

Lou Kerner: The First Wall Street Social Media Analyst

1 Apr

Josh Cheesman
@JoshCheesman

First off, when I was writing this title (the most straightforward one I could think of – it helps search engines find your material), my mind immediately went to the new film version of Marvel’s patriotic peacekeeper, which is titled Captain America: The First Avenger. I’m pretty sure though that no one is planning on making a blockbuster film called The Wall Street Social Media Analysts. Pretty sure.

But anyway, enough of hypothetical financial superhero crossovers, let’s get to the meat of the article. Last week, Private Equity Hub sent out a press release about Lou Kerner, who they say is – yep, you guessed it – the first Wall Street social media analyst. (The press release is blocked by a pay wall, but you can get the gist of it here.)

I’m going to interrupt the flow a bit here just to clear up an ambiguity – when I first read “Wall Street social media analyst”, I was unclear as to what it meant. Were they saying that Kerner was the first person on Wall Street to analyse social media companies, or that he was the first person to analyse Wall Street via social media? It turns out, they meant the former – Kerner speculates on the stock prices of Twitter and Facebook and whatnot. However, he does post financial comments on Twitter (@loukerner), so technically both are true.

But anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, so Lou is apparently the first social media analyst on Wall Street. I have to admit, this struck me as a bit odd. Why? Well…

It’s Been a Long Time Coming

I guess the thing that most took me by surprise is the fact this has only just happened. I mean, Facebook’s been around since 2004. I first became aware of it in my first year of university (late 2009), and by the end of the academic year it was massive in the UK (Compete.com had already ranked it the most popular social media website in the world in January 2009).

The point I’m making is, why did it take so long for the business world to notice that there might be something in this social media malarkey? That maybe it was something worth reporting on? That maybe there was some money to be made form it? I mean, Mark Zuckerberg (creator of Facebook, for those of you like me who couldn’t be bothered to see The Social Network) became the world’s youngest billionaire in 2008. You’d think that’s the kind of thing Wall Street would hear about.

The Social Network

I mean, I know I didn't see it, but come on, the film of his life won three Oscars.

And it’s not like Lou Kerner stumbled across this stuff over night. He definitely knew about Facebook – he offered to buy a stake in it when Zuckerberg was still at Harvard (Will Wall Street’s social media analyst roll eyes or turn heads?). He’s been talking to the press about the importance of social media since 2003. And yet when he said two years ago that Facebook would one day be worth $100bn he was laughed at.

It seems to me that the world of business – and business journalism – needs to get with the programme. (Or should that be program? Sorry, grammar joke.) I’m not saying social media is the be all and end all of economics, but Facebook is now worth $85bn. Lou Kerner is going to do very well for himself if he stays as Wall Street’s only social media analyst.

Are we entering the age of the Social Media Election?

28 Mar

Caroline James @CarolineJames1

While we’re all excited about the Royal Wedding on the 29th April, it’s the 5th May I’m looking forward to.  While there’s perhaps a little less anticipation in the lead up to the AV referendum in comparison to the hysteria surrounding Kate Middleton’s dress, it marks an exciting moment for anyone looking at how journalists turn to social media to cover news stories these days.

In fact, Paul Waugh from PoliticsHome even makes a nifty comparison between past elections and the upcoming nuptials on Charlie Beckett’s POLIS blog: “It’s going to be a very social media Royal Wedding. Like the election debates, it will be TV that gets the big audiences but it will be the online networks that feel the buzz…Everyone will get a chance to have their say, regardless of the official or mass media coverage.”

So, how will coverage of the voting on the 5th May differ to what we saw last May in the General Election? We’ve already seen the BBC live blogging its election coverage and The Telegraph had an interactive election map, to name just two tools journalists have used in their past coverage.

With the arrival of the latest app – an iPhone canvassing app – this election will be what Peter Murrell, chief executive of the SNP, calls in a Caledonian Mercury article: “the first social media election”.  He claims: “the Tories spent a lot of money on social media last year but the country wasn’t quite ready. This year it is.”

And if MPs are using iPhone apps to canvas and Twitter and Facebook to connect with the electorate, you can bet your bottom dollar, the journalists won’t be far behind.  Take for example, how much discussion’s been stimulated by the referendum and, more to the point, the platforms being used on which to discuss the issues: there’s a Google groups AV debate and even a Facebook app that lets you try out AV, using polls and trivial examples:

Fun examples help the young (and typically apathetic) engage with what the referendum’s all about!

And for the journalists? Well the struggle to engage young people with politics is a subject about which the journalist typically finds much to write – even the BBC’s at it! So FB apps like this one get their own fair share of news coverage, for instance on this LSE blog post.  Social media is increasing the demographic who can follow, participate in and enjoy the upcoming election (referendum).  And the journalists have picked up on that: it’s not just straight results coverage with statistics and analysis anymore.

Integrating TV and social networks.

26 Mar

by Georgina Leggate @GeorginaLeggate

Multi tasking, multi media, multiple screens…..No longer does our generation sit down and watch a program from start to finish without tweeting our friends, or updating our Facebook status’. We actively switch our eyes from one screen to another, whenever we sit down to ‘watch’ a television program ! A recent study from marketing agency Digital Clarity found that 80% of under-25s used a second screen to communicate with friends while watching the TV and 72% used Twitter, Facebook or a mobile app to comment on shows. It’s just the norm. Facebooking and Tweeting whilst watching the telly is something we all do. It is how we communicate our ideas and it gives the viewers a chance to give their opinion on something, or let the organisers or broadcasters know what their audiences are thinking. More importantly than that though is social media enables TV executives to engage with their existing audience.

Some would argue (me included) that the resposes from these sites are sources of journalism in themselves. However informal they may seem to a person sitting at home, they are confirmed reports on an issue, a person, a program and they shape the way broadcasters consider output. It also enables the broadcasters to act on what their viewers’ responses are. These comments and the feedback which is collected  is data journalism in its rawest form.

So let’s say it’s a parallel; social networks working along side television. Our generation of TV watchers have been the first to see social networks intergrated into TV. Regularly now, we are asked to tweet about a program or to send our responses to the program in via Twitter. Texting or calling chat shows, is most defintely old news. What we’re watching out for now is not only social networking in TV,(we see that regularly on ‘@Question Time, @BBC Breakfast, @Daybreak, @Channel4news or Sky’s famous @AdamBoulton &co!) but how the likes of Facebook and Twitter can be integrated to create an interactive show. However this is something very big and it has its complications. On 28th Febraury 2011 the ban on TV product placement, in the UK, was lifted. Thus allowing advertiserers to pay for their goods to be seen on British TV for the first time ever..but what happens if social media complicates matters more?!

Say, for example, Colgate toothpaste is used in a popular soap opera such as Coronation Street (strange example I know, but bare with me!) Given that products can’t be given undue prominence during the show, and may only be given a fleeting moment on screen to avoid programmes becoming ‘brand vehicles’, could the association be further highlighted through social media? Could Colgate use social media in a way that utilises its connection with Coronation Street to help increase consumer recall?

It’s an issue which both concerns and exites me. On the one hand I think that it is an exciting development in the world of social networking! On the other it hasn’t yet been proved to be a success. In America NBC (The National Broadcasting Company) has created a brand new network loyalty program in which social media plays a starring role. ‘Fan It’ is a social media platform that rewards users who promote and discuss NBC shows. (on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace etc.) The endeavour is a network-wide initiative designed to leverage the presence of show fans on social networks and incentivise them with points for engaging with content eg. watching and ‘liking’ shows, chatting and recruiting friends. All in a bid to get their viewers interacting with the TV networks and subsequently getting more publicity and becoming more popular.

The Dark Side of Social Media: How the Internet Can Hurt Revolutionaries

24 Mar
Josh Cheesman

@JoshCheesman

Much as revolution has spread from Tunisia to Egypt to Libya, the topic of social media and the revolutions in the Middle East has spread from Georgie to Ian to Caroline, and now to me. As the title suggests, I’m going to look at the third view on how social media has affected the revolutions – in other words, the dark side of the phenomenon.

Emperor Palpatine

"Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen it. Well, except Libya. I expected that to be over a week ago."

 So, what do I mean by the “dark side”?

In her post Social Networks: Demographics and Democracy, Georgie talked about how the role sites like Twitter and Facebook have played in the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, giving the angry youth a place to voice their concerns, and to organise themselves more meaningfully.

The day after, Ian countered that the role of social media had been overplayed by the Western press, and that few people in the rebelling countries even had Facebook accounts (Are we giving Social Media too much credit for the Middle East uprising?).

I’m not going to dispute either of those arguments, but there is another angle to consider here. Namely, that when you’re planning insurgency, the last thing you want is all your personal information readily available to anyone interested in looking.

“The World’s Greatest Spying Machine

Just a few days ago, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gave a talk at Cambridge University in which he said that the internet was a great help to totalitarian regimes, allowing them to keep track of dissidents with ease.

“While the Internet has in some ways an ability to let us know to an unprecedented level what government is doing… it is also the greatest spying machine the world has ever seen.”

Julian Assange

"The internet can be used to uncover all sorts of private information. I should know, it's how I made a name for myself."

Assange referenced a failed attempt at a revolution in Cairo a few years ago that was organised on Facebook.

Unfortunately, it was precisely because it was organised on Facebook that Hosni Mubarak’s forces were easily able to round up the protesters after the fact.

It’s kind of like posting some pictures of yourself drunk on Facebook and then realising that you have your boss added as a friend. Except instead of a warning, the consequence is being beaten, imprisoned and tortured.

“It is not a technology that favours freedom of speech. It is not a technology that favours human rights. Rather it is a technology that can be used to set up a totalitarian spying regime, the likes of which we have never seen.” – Julian Assange

Beyond Egypt

The Cairo example Assange gave is not an isolated case. While most of the Western media has been trumpeting the achievements of social media in the Middle East, a few reporters have been looking at the negative effects in other authoritarian states.

Evengy Morozov, author of The Net Delusion: How Not to Liberate the World, wrote an article for The Globe and Mail called The dark side of internet for Egyptian and Tunisian protesters (obviously I wasn’t the only one who immediately thought of Star Wars allusions when faced with this topic). The article starts by talking about two Iranians hung for posting video online of the country’s “Twitter Revolution”, largely ignored by a media focused on Tunisia and Egypt at the time.

While Morozov goes on to give a balanced account of how the internet can both help and hinder revolution (it’s interesting to note that she cites Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s access to an internet “kill switch” as a must for all dictators – a sign that they do fear the internet), she nicely outlines the reasons why the internet can be such a danger:

“The secret police can now learn more about those opposing the state by looking up their profiles – and their friends’ profiles – on social-media sites. The state ideologues can now bolster the legitimacy of the regime by creating suave new media propaganda and claim that it represents ‘the voice of the people’. Young people can be distracted away from politics by the new i-opium of the masses that is never in short supply online.”

Morozov has also been quoted in an article by al-Jazeera, The dangers of social media revolt. There, Azerbaijan, Morocco and Tunisia are mentioned as examples of countries where dissidents have been caught as a result of their Facebook or Gmail accounts.

The author, writer and blogger Jillian York, posits that this is not even necessarily a case of the government hacking in, but could be the result of undercover agents creating fake online profiles.

Even if this isn’t true, the possibility alone will make potential insurgents that little bit more hesitant to spout revolutionary rhetoric.

And moving beyond the Middle East, how could we forget our old friend China? Well known for its government’s iron grip on internet access, Chinese authorities last month foiled a planned simultaneous protest simply by putting under house arrest everyone who searched the word “Jasmine” (the failed protests were nicknamed the “Jasmine Revolution”) on Twitter or similar sites.

Again, if you’re afraid to even make a search, what’s the likelihood of you actually saying anything to challenge the state?

Final Thoughts

At a Question-Time-style debate at City University last Friday, Times columnist David Aaronovitch responded to Julian Assange’s claim that the internet was the world’s “greatest spying machine” by saying that it was a tool, completely neutral in and of itself, that could be used for both good and evil.

This is the point I think we should take away from all this. Yes, social media may have had a positive effect in the Middle East, but it can prop up totalitarian regimes as easily as it can bring them down. Maybe we shouldn’t be lauding Twitter as the herald of the revolution just yet.

Social media and fake stories: how the journalist is reasserting control

22 Mar

Caroline James @CarolineJames1

One of the most significant aspects of using social media to generate online journalistic content is the speed with which stories break, spread and go viral.

But citizen journalists, unlike their official counterparts, don’t have the need to go to quite the same lengths to verify their sources and corroborate their stories. And the anonymity of the Internet makes it all that much harder.  The result? Hoaxes and false stories become trends faster than the mainstream media can pick up the phone to check the facts.

How do you trace a story you’ve heard from someone else, when that person heard it from someone else before and so on? Paul Bradshaw discusses a three-pronged approach to the issue: through content, context and code, he argues we can verify how true those unbelievable stories being disseminated over the Internet really are.  The chances are, they’re just that: unbelievable.

But, I would argue the non-story BECOMES a story by virtue of the speed at which it spreads and the reaction it engenders.  Doesn’t it say something of the nature of people consuming the news that the stories that get the biggest reader reaction – that is, the ones that make you go: “How funny/interesting/ridiculous! I best send that link on to X,Y and Z” – are rarely the big movers and shakers in terms of international importance.

Examples of these hoaxes can be found in their hundreds.  Take the latest story to do the rounds on FB: that Marck Zuckerberg would be shutting down FB on 15th March because of “stress”.

The one that sticks in my mind is the World Cup hysteria surrounding the alleged ban by the police on the St. George’s flag.  Now if ever there was a subject more perfectly poised to engender reaction it was this one.  Friends of mine, outraged, changed their FB statuses ad infinitum and we all decried the PC brigade for their anti-nationalist feeling.

Except it was a hoax.

FB posts like this one capitalised on World Cup fever and spread faster than England left the tournament

So while the outrage spread within minutes on social media, the traditional journalists didn’t see it.  Take the above post from one of my FB network; he posted this on 19th May 2010.  It was two days later that the BBC covered the story, revealing it to be a hoax.  It does not take two days to ring the police and confirm the story, an intern can do it in 10 minutes!

And when we had Charlie Sheen’s death announced on Twitter just weeks ago – twice – NowPublic began reporting it was more than just an innocuous, false story: it was a virus.  Hoaxes spread quickly and viruses are masquerading as them for this very reason.

So where do they come from? Scambusters.org argue that the rise in hoax stories is symptomatic of our obsession with celebrity culture.  And these false stories are self-perpetuating because many celebrities who crave publicity are happy to profit from the attention.

These stories are false.  Reporting a false story is not journalism, reporting ON a false story is.  A case in point is the excellent Starsuckers documentary from 2009 – check out the YouTube video of it:

Once again, social media is helping to forge new inroads into online journalism – and the hoax stories are providing the raw materials to do this.