COM0011–521 Blog Post #3: Using Social Media in my Journalism

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We hear every day that social media has changed the way we do things.  We hear it often enough that the saying has lost some meaning to most of us.  Journalists are keenly aware of this.  Social media has in fact become one of their primary tools. Journalists now rely on social media to get on top of a story before anyone else is even aware of it.  We’ve heard the story of how the people of New York received tweets about the earthquake seconds before they felt it.  In a similar vein, professional journalists are using twitter to scoop one another on current events

Aaron Lazenby, DJ for Pirate Cat Radio, was scanning Twitter one night last year when he noticed #iranelection trending. Curious, he clicked on the hashtag, and started poring over the flood of tweets about the “stolen” election. Lazenby became fascinated with the situation, and stayed up all night talking with people in Iran and reading up on the subject. The next day, he was hanging out with a Pulitzer Prize-winning AP reporter who was completely unaware of what was going on in Iran — news of the protests had not reached the mainstream news. Lazenby seized the opportunity to tell the story. He contacted one of his Twitter sources, who agreed to do an interview over Skype for Lazenby’s radio show. The interview, in turn, was picked up by CNN’s iReport, a citizen journalism portal.”


Social media had alerted the mainstream press to an event faster than their traditional means of finding information. It can amplify voices and events that they would not have otherwise been aware about.


However, the introduction of social media hasn’t been all roses for journalists either.  Being human, they are prone to mistakes.  We often see retractions in newspapers or corrections through a news broadcast.  Mistakes happen.  The problem is that social media can amplify those mistakes as well.

Possibly the worst example of this was the school shooting in Connecticut earlier this year.  Journalists, in a rush to identify the shooter, posted the Facebook profile of one Ryan Lanza.  It was a shame when it was found out to be his brother Adam Lanza.  The amount of harassment Ryan received was nothing short of tragic.  What must have felt like the entire world came crashing down on him in anger and rage.  That journalistic error was made worse due to the very nature of social media.

So the take away is this.  Social media is a fantastic research tool for journalists.  You can often find out information faster than any other means available to you.  The problem with it is that you need to be extremely accurate.  Mistakes travel quickly and can reach just as wide an audience.

Raffaele Furgiuele

COM 0011-521: Blog Post 2 – Listening to Online Communities

If there is one thing I learned from listening to online communities, it’s that the old saying “know your audience” still applies to the online world.

In most situations, brands will try to bend over backwards to their audience. Seldom will they engage in fights with their audience. With every post being visible to the internet at large, a negative tweet can quickly blow up and become an example of what not to do in a marketing class.

However, this rule doesn’t always apply if you’re talking about personal branding. I’ve followed a lot of video game reviewers and the one thing I found is that they will readily reply back to nasty tweets with their own level of snark. Interestingly, they won’t lose followers. In fact, they even have their defenders.

As an example, I follow Arthur Gies on Twitter. If you look at his most popular tweets in terms of retweets and the number of times it’s marked as a favourite, you’ll see that he doesn’t hold back. A choice example is “oh noooo all the dudes with anime avatars are commenting”. That’s a tweet that directly attacked a segment of his readership and yet he still manages to be fairly popular.

So what allows a game reviewer to respond to snark where a company cannot? Well it might be the fact that their job description requires them to be opinionated. We somewhat expect a certain amount of snark from film reviewers with regards to terrible films. Fashion commentators are well known for heaving insults on the poorly dressed. So those that follow game reviewers might have come to expect that the reviewers can be insulting.

If your audience expects you to be someone who is highly critical and snarky, they will follow you. This is even true if you end up insulting a portion of them. Companies, and especially those focused on customer service, are never afforded those luxuries. No one expects insults in return for a customer complaint. In fact, your customer base may leave you en masse as a result. So, in the end, if you know who your audience is, you can more easily figure out what is the best way to interact with them.

Raffaele Furgiuele

COM0011 – 521 Blog Post #1 – My Favourite Social Media Tools

Welcome to my first blog post.  Hope you enjoy it!

What is my favourite social media tool? What’s your favourite? How does one chose? What a challenge! Perhaps the most appropriate basis for deciding is one’s experience and familiarity with a particular tool. I have “tinkered” with Twitter recently, specifically re-tweeting corporate tweets, and connecting it to my LinkedIn account. When I post on LinkedIn, be it a newly created post or sharing a corporate post, a shorter version gets tweeting. I have a Google+ account and see the potential of a more integrated networking platform, considering gmail, Google search engine, etc., although it’s still a bit early to rate it over LinkedIn, despite Goggle+’s success (500 million registered users as of May 2013). Until this week, I’ve not had a Facebook account, so it’s a TBD. From my perspective, it comes down to two social media tools – LinkedIn and YouTube.

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I’ve used LinkedIn for many years, have in excess of 600 contacts (1800 in Outlook) and find it a useful tool for connecting, nurturing relationships and disseminating content of interest to contacts. It is a valuable business development tool. Some have mentioned that LinkedIn is the business “equivalent” of Facebook. With respect to the above-mentioned applications I agree, however, I have not seen the multitude of photos and videos.  Instead, it’s more posts and links. We’ll see if this holds true going forward as I have recently created a Facebook account.

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YouTube is another favourite for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it is unique in that is it all videos.  With respect to the saying “…a picture’s worth a 1000 words…”, I find it much easier to digest the multitude of content, especially since in my case, it’s mostly a one-way scenario – I don’t post video content, especially as it relates to a non-business application. While there is definitely an “entertainment” factor, I value YouTube for its educational content, specifically it’s “How to…” video tutorials. For example, I am renovating a bathroom and wanted a refresher on how to tile a floor. There are more “How to tile a floor” videos than you can digest.  This would be a typical application for me.

Until next time…

Bob Giddings