Social Media: Professional vs Personal

If there’s one thing I have learned at Marquette, it has been the process of maturing and growing up. Not only in the literal sense, but also figuratively: becoming more responsible with my online presence in the ever-increasingly online society we live in. Throughout the topics we have covered in PURE 3600 this semester, I wanted to have my last blog post be about the importance of keeping a clear line between your personal and professional presence online.

There are social media outlets, and then there are networking and social media outlets in one. What may be acceptable on one outlet, may not be acceptable in the other. I think it’s important for juniors and seniors who will be entering the workforce soon to be aware of this, as this could be something either helping you get a job, or a barrier preventing you from getting your ideal entry level job.

Legal Implications of Social Media in the Workplace

There are both ethical and legal implications of social media use in the workplace. Whether it is concerns about the employee leaking private or sensitive information, or literally getting paid to tweet or post and not get paid to do what they are supposed to be doing.

I want to work in public service and politics in the future, and the legal implications seem to outweigh the ethical implications in this setting. While both are very important, I feel it’s more important to cover the legal implications if someone in politics was tweeting or using social media on public/taxpayer time. While some offices or agencies may have different practices, I think it’s still best to at least have some guidelines (whether strict and mandatory or just suggested) in place.

After looking at the Social Media Governance website, my feeling and understanding is mixed. I think that there should be social media policies in workplace settings (either disallowing it completely, or allowing certain abilities to use it). However, it is important to note that this solution is not one-size fits all. Some rules may be written to help employees and guide them into right and wrong action, while others may seem too restrictive of employees’ online communication use.

One primary example I looked at was the City of Seattle’s social media rules and policy. They laid out the rules clearly about use not only internally, but for public consumption as well. Especially in a public workplace where tax revenue is partially or fully used, I feel there’s more of a responsibility of workers to not use social media when they are on the clock. It may not use much resources besides time, but time is an important asset that cannot be overlooked.

Social Media Lessons from NCAA Basketball Teams

While I was unable to attend the Digital Advertising Summit this past week, something I wanted to reflect upon was a recent article I read on Ragan’s PR Daily. This article focused on the NCAA’s top teams, and what their behavior was off the court, especially through a social media presence.

The article looked at top teams entering the 2015 NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Tournament, including Gonzaga, Duke, Kentucky, and Wisconsin. Unfortunately, Marquette was not on the list (or in the tournament this year), but there’s always next year.

I wasn’t really surprised that these teams were all active on several social media platforms. March Madness is a popular time for fans of the sport, and in general, college basketball is a sport with a wide array of fans, including younger fans who are active on social media.

One critique that I found most interesting was the lack of consistent naming and branding between the teams and their social media profiles. There were variations in names and operations of the platforms between schools, and I just thought about how if this were to happen at the next level in professional sports, it could be perceived as unprofessional or lacking involvement with fans.

However, while the naming and branding may be a sore spot for these teams, the amount of social media activity and engagement they received, was definitely a highlight and something to build on. As a sports fan myself who follows various teams, both collegiate and professional, engagement and activity is important. As a follower, I don’t want to see posts more infrequent than not; I’d rather see posts more often.

We are right in the thick of the madness, and there are still dozens of games to be played. Sometimes it can be nice to take a break and watch some games during down time, but it is equally enjoyable when your interests are relevant in the classroom.

Accidental Tweets and the Appropriate Solution

When I first looked at this blog entry assignment, I knew right away which inappropriate social media post I wanted to cover. In October 2012 before the Presidential Election the following November, the KitchenAid twitter account posted (and quickly deleted and apologized for) a message about President Obama and his grandmother.

The tweet read “Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! ‘She died 3 days b4 he became president’.”

This tweet implied a distrust of the President, and that he, quite frankly, was not doing a sufficient job in his first term as Commander-in-Chief.

I think what happened to KitchenAid, and how the company responded, is a great example of how an organization should respond following an inappropriate tweet sent out by someone (presumably an employee) who had access to the KitchenAid twitter account.

Regardless of political affiliation of the company and its employees, tweeting information from the company account about politicians and political opinion is sure to get both employee and company in hot water. Whether or not the folks at KitchenAid like or approve of the job President Obama was doing, the KitchenAid twitter handle should have been the last place that it was shared. My guess is that this tweet was mistakenly sent out from a communications staffer. On the twitter app, one can easily switch between accounts with the touch of a screen, and while this does not justify the tweet getting sent out in the first place, this is a possible explanation.

Shortly after the tweet was sent out, KitchenAid and its then-Senior Director, Cynthia Soledad, issued messages and tweets apologizing and expressing apologies for an “irresponsible tweet that is in no way a representation of the brand’s opinion.”

This article from NPR does a great job of summarizing what happened, and KitchenAid’s response. Overall, I think that KitchenAid set the tone for how to respond when someone accidentally sends out a tweet from the company’s account.

KitchenAid Apologizes For ‘Offensive Tweet’ About Obama’s Grandmother

Visual Storytelling

This trend can sometimes be overlooked, but I find that visual storytelling is a key public relations trend. I find organizations engage in visual storytelling across all platforms. This isn’t just a Facebook or Twitter trend, but rather a trend that can be used across an organization’s social media platforms.

Visual storytelling interests me, because in some ways it takes the product/service that a company offers, and expand it to new horizons to help increase consumer engagement, and can ultimately drive purchasing. An example I see quite often on my Instagram timeline is from Stance, a relatively new and increasingly popular sock company. Stance sells socks of many varieties: athletic socks, dress socks, or casual socks with patterns and styles that include NBA players, sports teams, and holiday themes. While socks may not be the most interesting example, Stance engages in visual narratives that really make the consumer feel that they can go above and beyond while wearing their socks. To viewers, Stance socks are much more than just socks.

Stance commonly re-posts pictures on Instagram that fans send in and post using the hashtag “TheUncommonThread”. This in itself is an example of the visual storytelling, because it may be one pair of socks, but people can tell their own stories by one picture. The phrase, “a picture is worth a thousand words” has never been more true.

My opinion of visual storytelling is positive. Not only do I personally enjoy it, but it can be a smart business strategy. By posting stories that visualize use of a company’s products, consumers can imagine what they can do with the product, and how they can tell their own stories. Using Stance as an example again, they do not just tweet or Instagram pictures of socks hanging on a rack at a store, but they oftentimes post socks that help tell part of a larger story. “Unravel the spool of convention and celebrate bold expression with this free-thinking fabric. Send a crystal clear mixed message that’s silently loud and quietly bold. Designed in San Clemente, worn everywhere.” (Stance.com)

I also think that visual storytelling is not a uniquely public relations strategy. Visual storytelling can, and has been seen as effective in terms of marketing and advertising as well. I find that we will only see an increase in visual storytelling from a marketing perspective.