Do Algorithms and Echo Chambers Make Us Nasty?

I’ve recently read an interesting book, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now. Written by Jaron Lanier who was only a decade ago regarded as the “Silicon Valley digital-guru rock star,” the book presents a number of powerful arguments for quitting social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. While most of Lanier’ arguments sound too familiar to raise many eyebrows, he offers a very novel and illuminating analysis of the heavy toll that social media is taking on political debate and political activism.

Jaron Lanier talks about his book, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now

Algorithms favour assholes

Lanier suggests that a strong trend towards negativity and polarization is hard-wired into the algorithms that make social media platforms so addictive. It is hard to disagree with this take if you follow political conversations on Twitter where particularly hateful and obnoxious posts tend to attract the most attention. As users flock to comment on and register their outrage about the nastiest posts, conversations gravitate towards the most extreme viewpoints.

Politicians and activists of all stripes adapt to the algorithm-dictated outrage-is-everything pattern by reframing their positions on controversial issues as Twitter-style statements in which there is no place for nuance. Bot and troll armies operated by malicious actors, then, drive the polarization even further by spreading misinformation. Social media users become increasingly confined to and influenced by opinions within their social media “echo chambers”. In the end, we end up losing our ability to see nuance and empathize with people outside our “echo chambers”. Or, in the words of Lanier, social media algorithms turn users into “assholes” and reward those who behave like ones.

Source: Giphy

Echo chambers?

But how exactly do otherwise nice individuals who greet their neighbours and support co-workers’ charity drives in their daily lives turn into “assholes” when discussing politics online? What Lanier’s otherwise very informative book leaves unclear is the mechanism that turns social media users into nasty human beings that troll other users and share offensive content.

The book offers only a partial explanation by suggesting that platform algorithms reward hateful and polarizing content. Many other authors, scholars and journalists have argued that the way social media platforms organize users into communities inevitably creates “echo chambers” which solidify and reproduce particular political opinions to the point where users become unwilling to give merit to or even tolerate opposing or more nuanced opinions. This is the view I used to gravitate towards, particularly after realizing that the list of people I followed on Twitter looked surprisingly similar to the list of people I agreed with.

Source: Giphy

The key assumption underlying the “echo chamber” argument is that long-lasting exposure to certain political views and insulation from opposing views drives political polarization. This assumption, however, has been questioned by a recent study conducted by a group of scholars of American politics. The authors surveyed a substantial group of Democrat and Republican Twitter users and had them follow accounts expressing opposing political views. When the respondents were re-surveyed after some time, the researchers found that instead of bringing the users closer to each other, exposure to opposing political views actually increased their polarization.

While this study refutes the core assumption behind the “echo chamber” argument, it does not leave me anywhere closer to understanding what exactly causes otherwise polite and well-behaved individuals to post and share insulting political content online.

Do you have an explanation? Have you read anything interesting that could help me find an explanation? If so, please let me know in the comments section below.

The Ghosts of Social Media Networking Sites Past

The Ghosts of Social Media Networking Sites Past

Of course, there are the usual suspects. The “Big Three” as I like to call them. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. But more often than not, social media sites seem to come and go almost as often as the seasons. One day, you’re hearing all about the newest and coolest social networking app or site, the next day it’s heading straight back to the Silicon Valley start-up it came from. I thought my blog post this week could be dedicated to a few major social media networking sites that are no longer around, but that still had a significant impact on the current social media landscape we now know.

First up, Google +. Google has consistently struggled with their attempt to create a rival for Facebook (looking at you Google Wave). They launched Google Plus in the summer of 2011. You could upload a profile photo, post status updates, include your work/family history, and follow your friends. Sounds familiar, right? Unlike Facebook, Google + proved to be not very user-friendly and provided nothing new and was met with limited interest from the general public. After it was announced that there was a serious software design flaw that put members private information at risk, the site saw a huge decline in their already dwindling members. Google + officially shut down on April 2, 2019.

Google + had such high hopes of being the rival to Facebook.

Up next, Vine. Vine was launched in 2013 after it had been acquired from it’s original developed by Twitter. Vine enabled users to be able to upload and share 6-second video clips on a loop. At it’s peak, Vine was the most downloaded free app. However, its success didn’t last very long. With new competitors like Instagram video and, most notably, Snapchat, Vine declined in popularity. By 2016, Vine was no more, but it left behind plenty of funny videos for us to peruse when we’re bored or nostalgic. This proves that is essential for social media apps to stay on top of trends to be at the top of the heap.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHl7jMIFDpU

Last, but certainly not least, the social networking site that started it all. Myspace. Okay, okay. “Technically” speaking Myspace is still around and even has an office and employees and a mandate. However, it is not the Myspace we all once knew and loved. Who can forget streaming your favourite songs and picking your top 10 “best friends” for the week. What nostalgia.

Myspace brings back all the nostalgia for early 2000’s teens

What do you think makes a great social media networking site? What social media networking sites do you miss the most? What is your favourite one now? Leave your answers in the comments below!

What social media networking sites do you miss the most? Take a look at the “ghosts of social networking sites past” here: http://bit.ly/2JTsR7m

The ghosts of social networking sites past. Which ones do you miss the most? http://bit.ly/2JTsR7m #throwbackThursday #socialnetworking

Fear and Loathing in Las Blogas

Fear and Loathing in Las Blogas

For those of you, who like me, are new to the world of blogging, you might also feel like the only people you are blogging for are your mother and your best friend. I’m here to tell you that you are not alone. Far from it. In fact, many, many successful bloggers have written about how to persevere with your blog when you don’t have an audience. Below is the digest of my research and how I plan to overcome my frustration of writing for no one – YET.

Promotion, promotion, promotion!

I have learned in these last few weeks through a lot of reading and listening to experts, and also through this course the value of promoting your content. Sonia Simone from CopyBlogger writes “until you build an audience that’s interested in what you are doing, you have to promote your content.”

In other words, you shouldn’t just wait for people to find your content. You should invite them to see it.

A little further in Sonia’s article, she writes, “waiting for social sharing to ‘just happen’ is like waiting for search engines to ‘just rank you’. You may be waiting for a long, long time. Until you are well established, you’ll want to get in there and give your content a good push.”

She suggests that sites like Facebook and LinkedIn are a great start for content promotion. I’d like to throw Twitter into that mix.

The flip side of not having an audience

You may think “how could I possibly benefit from not having an audience?” After all, the point is to gather some steady followers who enjoy what you have to offer and engage with them as often as you can so you can stay psyched to keep on creating and publishing, right?

Kali Roberge from Creative Advisor Marketing serves up 4 fresh perspectives on how not having a strong following can benefit you here. I am especially fond of number 4!

“Don’t be discouraged by a slow start. It offers the time and testing you need to lay the right foundation for success.” – Michael Hyatt

A few words about fear

The fear of publishing is real. I’ve been there and I have the tee-shirt in a few colours and sizes. Whether it’s not knowing exactly what it is that you want to write about, the fear of failure or just plain social anxiety, Mike Brown from The Blogging Buddha has you covered here.

He touches a bit on those aforementioned issues and suggests a few strategies to overcome them in a very down-to-earth way.

These posts that I have listed above are definitely ones that I will be revisiting in the future to boost up my confidence level. I hope you will too.

Here are a couple of other noteworthy resources to visit if you are a blogging novice and feeling shaky or you simply want to learn more:

  • Medium (they have an app too!)

Hopefully after reading this blog post, you went from feeling like this:

Source: giphy.com

To feeling like this:

Source: giphy.com

If you had a magic wand that with one wave could solve your biggest social media woe, what would you wave it for?

Tired of blogging for an audience of your mother? Head down here for some pointers on alleviating some of the most common blogging woes.

https://bit.ly/2EsJx3Y

Got the blogging blues? You’re not alone. Pick yourself up here: https://bit.ly/2EsJx3Y

COM0015 – Blog #3 – Professional Networking… Is It Worth It??

I can still remember, all too clearly, sitting in a lecture during the first week of my Commerce degree, being told by one of my professors that the key to professional success is networking, and lots of it. Honestly, eighteen year old Courtney had never been more petrified.

At first, my desperate attempts to dodge these coveted networking opportunities and the feelings of awkwardness and embarrassment that I predicted would ensue, worked. I spent hours convincing myself I did not need the benefits I would derive from attending these events.

However, in the end, did I end up attending networking events during the course my degree? Of course I did. Was the experience awkward? At first, yes. Was it worth it? Completely.

Current Networking

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Source: DIYMarketers

Currently, the in-person professional networking I actively engage in occurs very organically through my employment environment. Working in a marketing capacity within the health food industry presents limitless opportunities to connect and engage  with brand representatives. These frequent and repeated interactions allow for relationships to develop, and topics to be explored — organic conversations around career related successes and challenges, and exciting industry trends.

Social media platforms have an incredibly powerful potential when used for professional networking. Social media allows for individuals to showcase all of one’s strengths, interests and passions in one place. For example, for me, social media serves as a place where I am able to showcase my interest in health, while simultaneously sharing my passion for personal finance.

At the moment in a professional context, I maintain a LinkedIn profile, that is neither completely up-to-date nor active. In addition, I maintain a professional Instagram account, and an Instagram account for my podcast. Finally, I maintain a blog on my podcast’s website. These platforms are not being truly optimized for professional networking purposes.

Future Focused: Commitment to In-person and Online Professional Networking

Looking forward, with the full understanding of the importance of developing both in-person and online professional relationships and networks, I am fully committed to expanding my professional networks in two capacities — through maintaining an increased social media presence, both as an individual and as the host of my personal finance podcast, along with attending professional development seminars, conferences, and events.

Professional Networking as an Individual and Podcast Host

Online

LinkedIn

In the next six to twelve months, I have aspirations to revise my LinkedIn profile, ensuring my Experience, Accomplishments, and Skills are accurate and current. I am going to actively add connections to my network who are both influencers in their industries and interested or employed within areas that pertain to my interests. In addition, I am going to actively share content related to my professional role within marketing, along with content pertaining to my passion for personal finance. These actions will result in creating a heavier presence within my LinkedIn network, leading to greater opportunities to begin discussions with those are interested and passionate about the same topics.

Twitter

Twitter, a powerful tool and one that I underutilize, is a platform I want to grow to have an active presence on within the next six to twelve months. Twitter, for myself, serves as an untapped source of valuable local-based connections that can work to further my personal finance podcast’s objectives and my own personal finance knowledge.

Instagram

The potential for both my professional and podcast Instagram accounts have not been fully maximized. In the next six to twelve months, my goal is to increase the frequency and quality of interactions with other users, while simultaneously developing a detailed set of objectives and overarching goals for both accounts in regards to how I intend to utilize these accounts moving forward, what type of content I hope to continue sharing, and how often I intend to post.

Website and Blog

With a corresponding personal finance website and blog for my podcast, I hope to publish content to this platform on a regular and ongoing basis and frequency while continuing to interact with readers and listeners through comments and contact form submissions. Encouraging dialogue on the podcast’s website is a valuable way to expand the podcast’s existing network.

In-person

In the next six to twelve months I intend to utilize Eventbrite to source out events to attend, which present opportunities to connect with individuals within the personal finance community and marketing environment. These valuable connections have the potential to translate into lasting relationships that can extend past the networking event itself.

In Conclusion…

Through reflection and time, I have come a long way since eighteen-year-old Courtney and her fear of networking and the awkwardness associated with it, and now realize the value and benefit of professional networking. In my opinion, the key to successfully networking both online and offline? Ensuring interactions feel genuine, authentic, and natural.

giphy2

Source: Reddit

You’re never too old for social media.

At what age do you stop playing games? Those games we loved as kids, such as jump rope, hopscotch and card games, may have gone by the wayside for some. But technology has resurrected many of these as apps. Games such as Solitaire, Yahtzee and Wii games are not only played by the younger generation but now by the older population.  Many older adults have jumped on the game app bandwagon with their tablets, IPads and IPods.

Social media is no different.  What may have begun as a way to connect with family across the country has turned into daily occurrence for many seniors. As someone who is approaching this ‘generation’, I am finding more and more seniors (ages 55+) are connecting with technology. Keeping up with the grandkids and learning something new have become goals for many older adults and in all honesty, have become part of their daily activities. Many seniors’ centres are now offering a variety of computer related programs and courses, including the how to’s of social media.

Working for the Town of Aurora, I was fortunate to work in the Aurora Seniors’ Centre for a 12 month period and watched first hand, how many of its members, some of whom were in their early 80’s, were utilizing their electronic devices. The Aurora Seniors’ Centre in conjunction with the Aurora Seniors’ Association, for example, is a very active centre with a very engaged computer club; most of the instructors are over 65 years of age. The Club offers weekly courses on a variety of topics which have included social media, as well as monthly TED Talks. They even have their own Facebook page, which is very dynamic.

According to Seniors for Seniors, a company providing home care services for seniors by seniors, social media can provide older adults with entertainment, stimulation, maintaining independence and preventing the isolation that many seniors face today. Technology is important to everyone, no matter the age.

 

So the next time your grandmother, grandfather, aunt or uncle enquires about your Facebook status or checks out your Instagram pics, remember, you’re never too old for social media. Consider what you would do if your 80 year old mother or father asked for your help in getting connected on social media? They might surprise you with the wealth of knowledge they may already have.

 

  You’re never too old for Social Media. It’s more than keeping up with the grandkids.

#too old for social media?

Social Media’s Role in the Evolution of HR

Social media has changed our world, it has changed the way we communicate, the way we market and sell our products and the way we learn, with no surprise it has changed also the way organizations attract talent. According to survey done by SHRM with HR professionals ,  Recruiting via social media is growing with 84% of organizations using it currently and 9% planning to use it. In 2011 only 56% used social media for recruitment. For most organizations 81% in 2015, it was one out of many recruiting tool used.

 

Previously recruitment was challenging for recruiters, costly and less effective in attracting talented candidate, but now social media has changed the way the recruitment process is done in organizations and gave HR managers different roles to play.

HR professional report the top reasons for using social media are to recruit passive candidate, increase the organization brand and recognition, target specific candidates with a very specific set of skills, allow potential candidates to easily contact the organization for employment.  However there are reasons for not using social media, concern about legal risks discovering information like (Age, Gender, Religious..),not enough time for HR staff to use this method in addition to other methods and questions about veracity of the information that is contained on social media.

Most Popular Social media Tools for recruiting are Linked in, Facebook, Twitter. Survey showed in 2015 the percentage of organizations used Twitter (96%), followed by Facebook (66%) and Twitter (53%).

The survey results showed that two-thirds of the organizations took steps to target smart phone users .39% career website have been optimized for mobile users, followed by job posting and job application enabled by 36% of the organizations.

 

 

please share your experience, has anyone find a job through Twitter, LinkedIn…..?

 

 

Facebook Post:

https://www.facebook.com/search/str/Social+Media+Today+4+ways+to+attract/stories-keyword/stories-public?see_more_ref=eyJzaWQiOiIiLCJyZWYiOiJoZWFkZXJfc2VlX2FsbCJ9

Twitter Post:

 

 

 

References
https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/trends-and-forecasting/research-and-surveys/Pages/Social-Media-Recruiting-Screening-2015.aspx
https://www.peatworks.org/blog/2016/may/how-social-media-changing-talent-recruiting
 

 

COMM0015-Blog 2: KFC or Apple?

Impressive Social Media:

The organization that stands apart from others in their social media strategy is Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). This company is unlike many others in the fast food industry. KFC does not push their product or specials on you but creates stories with their iconic figure to draw consumers in.

Photo from KFC Twitter. 2017

Using short videos, single pictures, contests and so much more, this organization is social media gold. KFC has the ability to take social media viewers on a journey while using their products to help tell a story. With Kernel Sanders as their primary character, everything this organization does come back to him and their product. Such a simple idea, right? Just have a mascot.

Yet, KFC’s promotion is so much more than just a mascot. It is the effective ways this organization allows social media users to engage and participate in their marketing campaigns. For example, on November 1st, 2017 KFC did a Periscope video that reached over 76 thousand viewers in its 20 minutes live. The video’s purpose? A ‘KFC Auction’ where Twitter users could ‘bet’ by commenting on prizes being given away. Engaging and promoting their product – Genius!

Check out their video here: https://twitter.com/kfc/status/925890311401828355 (KFC, 2017).

Adopting a Social Media Strategy:

I am going to critique the choices of one of the most known brands, Apple, but hear me out before you stop reading this. I would bet more than half of the people reading this post have an Apple product, I am even typing on one right now. However, the lack of social media interaction from one of the technology conglomerates baffles me.

Photo from Apple Twitter. (2017).

Bring up Apples Twitter page. NOTHING. No tweets at all. Slide over to Instagram. It is better with 62 posts to date. I understand the product sells for itself, so why waste the extra time and money on social media?

I believe Apple needs to consider interacting with consumers on social media to ensure they are brand loyal. Often, when someone has a negative experience they turn to social media to share that information. With Apple’s lack of social media engagement, I believe they are missing risky situations like this that could be solved.

Finally, Apple’s marketing is AMAZING! They always have innovated ideas for presenting new products, signage and so much more. It is a shame that they are missing out on social media platforms to further express that creativity. I believe, like KFC, they could engage consumers on a new level through creative social media campaigns if they give it a shot.

Check it out for yourself!

Apple Twitter: https://twitter.com/apple?lang=en

KFC Twitter: https://twitter.com/kfc?lang=en

COMM0015 – BLOG 1: The Social Media Realm

Tools:

Social media can be a complicated process. When someone says social media tools I am thinking of the applications that make my jobs easier. How do you know if your hard work is benefiting the business? Thankfully, the use of social media tools can provide answers to this question.

Image found from http://www.ohgizmo.com.

First, I turn to Hootsuite for accurate statistics about my social media postings. Hootsuite is an online application that provides the user with an interface to be able to schedule posts. As this feature is just scratching the surface, Hootsuite also provides users with a backhouse of statistics regarding their posts. My favourite function allows a marketing team to track clicks on any link posted through the Hootsuite application. For the retail world, this is very important so we can work towards improving our online sales.

Although Hootsuite is great for analyzing statistics in terms of social media posts, it does not take into consideration what the consumer on the other end is thinking. Luckily for our organization, we have the funds to produce a semi-annual survey. Using Survey Monkey, our marketing team searches to find out the consumers thoughts about our social media and website. This tool allows us to create custom questions that we would like to ask the participates. This customization element of Survey Monkey makes the online tool versatile for any organization. This product is great to use so that companies can ensure they are listening to their consumers.

Best sources for news:

Years ago, the 6 o’clock news used to be a must watch for all modern families, however as times are changing most individuals are straying away from this tradition. As a student with night classes and two jobs, watching the news on television is no longer an option for me. Luckily, social media platforms allow me to get this same news, at the touch of my fingertips.

Many say that Twitter is dying, however, this is still my go-to platform for news. Whether it be sports, politics or international affairs, Twitter seems to have it all when I need it. One must keep in mind that anyone can tweet in real-time, therefore all information may not be credible. However, I believe this outlet is the fastest way to get an idea of what is going on in the world.

Additionally, I believe that Facebook is great for short clip video content. In comparison to 40-minute newscasts, Facebook gives you the ability to watch a short video about the news that interests the viewer. Overall, this expands the digital ages ability to cater to unique audiences.

Overall, these social media platforms not only help with day-to-day news but can help a business reach consumers. For me, it is important to look at how versatile these social media platforms can be. As an organization, this makes it important to have unique social media content that is fun and playful. You want to capture your audience’s attention, however, do not want to come off as you are pushing a product on them.

What are some of the best social media campaigns you have ever seen?

References:

Facebook. (2017). https://www.facebook.com/.

Hootsuite Media, Inc. (2016). http://signup.hootsuite.com.

Survey Monkey. (2017). https://www.surveymonkey.com/.

Twitter. (2017). https://twitter.com/.

COM0014: Blog #4 – Come on, everyone. Let’s movie!

It seems a little out of place that a television channel dedicated to the past is so adept at using technology to engage with their audience. But Turner Classic Movies – or TCM, for people in the know – has done an incredibly effective job of using social media to create and connect a community of classic movie buffs.

#LetsMovie

On their main Twitter account, @TCM uses this hashtag as a rallying cry to its followers – who are also the viewing audience. People come together to tweet their excitement about that night’s primetime showing or an ongoing event (Audrey Hepburn Mondays in May, anyone?).

Thanks for the memories…I mean retweet

The @TCM account is also very active in liking and retweeting posts from their followers and other accounts using their hashtags. By making their audience feel valued and appreciated, TCM is ensuring that they will keep tuning in to their channel…instead of just turning on Netflix.

Grab the popcorn and let the live-tweeting begin!

Overall TCM has done a great job of engaging a younger, more youthful audience than you might except the channel to attract. Often it’s young, on-air hosts will live-tweet a movie so that it feels like you’re watching the classic with a group of your friends. As someone who’s friends don’t understand the appeal of black-and-white films, I definitely appreciate the feeling of community this provides.

I love classic movies and have loved them for more than a decade. But to be able to share that love and talk about it with a group of people has not always been easy. TCM uses its social media channels to create spaces on their various platforms where this is possible. Because the best thing after watching a great classic movie is being able to gush with someone about why it was so great.

But just a heads up: you always have to supply your own popcorn.

StockSnap_885S4Q0UVA

 

Who Am I?

Personal Branding Within Social Media

Personal branding within social media is an essential yet confusing term.  It can be defined as “[t]he ongoing process of establishing a prescribed image or impression in the mind of others about an individual, group, or organization” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_branding.  It has become as ubiquitous as social media itself and some of the most famous celebrity for the sake of celebrity’s have mastered this – simply think of the Kardashians (@KimKardashian or @khloekardashian).  Others have used it so effectively it has created whole new careers for them.  A perfect example of this is Donald Trump.  Before social media hit its stride he used his name to develop a real estate brand that spoke of luxury and expense.  Trump’s personal twitter feed @realDonaldTrump is now used to further define his personal beliefs while simultaneously promoting them as the beliefs or aims of the entire United States of America as he frequently uses the same tweets from his official Twitter account @POTUS.   One could argue that without his Twitter feed he would not have gained the popularity he did in the two year run up the US election last November.

The confusion for me lies with where to separate the personal from the professional.  With so much choice for virtually everything now and with relying less and less on personal interaction it seems that personal branding has taken the place of customer service.  I am happy with that when I am shopping, but if I am trying to sell a service (recruitment) through a professional Facebook page how much personal information should I be using?  I know I’m certainly not comfortable with displaying too much of my personal appearance like the Kardashians, or the political like Donald Trump!  Surely though, there is a happy middle ground where I can show through social media that I am a real human but this is my workplace and therefore a dress code of privacy must apply.

Perhaps the answer to this middle ground of personal branding lies in the aim.  There are numerous individuals who have used personal branding to create a career that is essentially personal branding, or beauty vlogging to give it it’s official name.  The three most popular in the United States in 2015 according to Pixability were Michelle Phan, Bethany Mota, and Carli Bybel who had followers standing at 8, 833, 779; 10, 339, 824; and 5, 303, 898 respectively (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beauty_Youtubers). After developing huge followers that pre-social media would be unimaginable these individuals are using their own personal branding to contribute to the success of big companies while the big companies are able to adapt personal branding to their corporate branding.  This has become a completely symbiotic and hugely successful relationship.

          

I will continue to struggle with the issue of personal branding whenever I post on my work Facebook or Twitter accounts – I don’t worry about crossing any boundaries but rather being so impersonal so as to not have an impact!  Nonetheless it is clear that personal branding is essential and to be successful using social media one must adapt.

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