We Are Communication Architects

Building brand awareness through content creation and community engagement.

June 15th, 2015

Facebook Adds “Time Spent” As a Ranking Metric

What Is It: Facebook announced last Friday that “time spent” would be included as one of the important metrics determining what people see in their Newsfeed. The logic from Facebook is that people may read stories that are interesting to them but don’t, for whatever reason, take one of the traditional engagement actions like commenting, liking and so on. So in the absence of those the amount of time people spend reading the story should, by their logic, play a role in what is surfaced to others.

What Does This Mean: On the surface this seems like Facebook moving the goal posts yet again to favor something from Facebook, in this case Instant Articles. The goal of those are to keep the reader within Facebook and not just be a pointer to an on-domain story, so naturally more time is going to be spent with them than something that’s quickly read and clicked on to read more.


Not only does this help that, though, it also is clearly meant to penalize those publishers who engage in what is sometimes derisively called “click bait.” When you think about so many of the new media players of the last few years you think of headlines that end with “…And You Won’t Believe What Happens Next” that encourage people to spend as little time as possible on Facebook or other networks and get to the site as quickly as possible to find out what, exactly, happens next.

While not all brand publishers have engaged in editorial tactics like that most have a similar goal, which is to make the conversion from social network to on-site as quickly as possible for any or all of a variety of reasons.

So what can those brand publishers do to tack and make sure they’re not amongst those taking a hit because people aren’t spending long periods of time on their stories? Learn how to tell concise stories.

There’s a bit of room – not a lot, but enough – between posting a teaser that is meant to be consumed quickly before generating a click and going all Instant Articles and completely abandoning the hub-and-spoke strategy we evangelize here. But that amount of space requires content producers to get really good at encapsulating the story in an engaging way and gets the point across while still leaving enough to the imagination that people want to read more. That’s an interesting trick to pull off, but it can be done.

Outside of all that, it’s also representative of the change that’s happening in the overall online media world, as traditional metrics like clicks, pageviews and so on lose their prominence – at least among forward-thinking sites – in favor of “time spent,” “quality views” and so on.

Overall this is a change that will, as just about every such change has, have some sort of impact on brand publishers. Organic reach has dropped like a stone in the last couple years and this will continue that trend. But, as stated above, there’s at least some way for publishers to do what they can to counteract that. Now they just need to do it.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Publishing Programs, Social Networks

June 12th, 2015

Twitter, Dick Costolo and the Myth of Perpetual Growth

The social media and business worlds were abuzz yesterday with the news that Twitter’s embattled CEO, Dick Costolo, is resigning, to be at least temporarily replaced by founder Jack Dorsey. Virtually every story about Costolo’s resignation cited the same factor — user growth struggles — as one of the major reasons for his departure, and for Wall Street’s dissatisfaction with his performance.


It’s impossible for outsiders to know what kind of person Costolo is, whether his personality is a good fit for the company, or whether he truly was a good CEO. But if the speculation is true about the main reason for his departure, then Twitter has been let down by unrealistic shareholder expectations — expectations that reflect one of the most commonly made mistakes in the social media industry. It’s possible that going public, at least in the short term, hurt Twitter more than it helped.

There is a myth prevalent in social media — or at least, believed by those who don’t understand social very well. It is the myth of perpetual growth, and that growth is always attainable. This myth postulates that growth curves are infinite, that ever-increasing numbers of consumers will be interested in your product or service, and that, to paraphrase Gordon Gekko, “growth… is good.”

Perpetual growth is not only not possible, it’s also not even necessarily good

This certainly seems to be the attitude of Twitter’s investor base and of Wall Street. A subscribed user base of “about a billion” and 302 million monthly active users is seen to pale against the giant on the block, Facebook, and its approximately 1.4 billion users. Twitter’s growth rates have certainly slowed. And after months of disquiet, the shareholders’ voices got loud enough, and Costolo resigned (almost certainly not of his own accord).

The problem is that perpetual growth is not only not possible, it’s also not even necessarily good. Believing in that myth is one of the most simple mistakes a brand can make in its social media program — selecting fan growth and fan numbers as KPIs against which the program is measured, which leads them to spend lots of ad and promotion money trying to achieve those follower counts, whether on Twitter, Facebook, or any other platform.

Social media efforts are better focused on increasing the engagement rate

But as we’ve seen most evidently with Facebook’s algorithm changes, audience size doesn’t always matter. Your organic (read: non-paid) reach on Twitter dwarfs that of Facebook, and even then it’s only 30%. So accumulating 100,000 followers on Twitter doesn’t mean you’re actually reaching 100,000 people with your content or messages. At best, you can hope for about 30,000 of them, on average.

Social media efforts are better focused on increasing the engagement rate — how many fans are actually interacting with your content or your community manager — than blindly trying to increase fan counts for their own sake. It’s far better to have a smaller, more engaged community that actually interacts with you than a large, casual and disengaged community that may or may not see or care about your content or messaging.

This is understood by most social media marketing professionals, whether they’re on the agency side or the client side. It’s not always grasped by those with a peripheral understanding of the genre, however, and occasionally you still see brands spending time and money chasing followers in the misguided belief that growth automatically equals good.

Twitter wasn’t going to keep growing meteorically forever

Twitter’s shareholders appear to have made the same mistake and may be equally misguided. Many of them, I would venture, don’t have a full understanding of how social media marketing works; they just invested in something they’d heard lots of hype and buzz about. To them, user base growth equaled value and return, and they demanded it of Costolo and the rest of Twitter’s leadership. Even the more seasoned and knowledgeable of Twitter’s shareholders appear to have been looking at the platform’s user base as the most critical of the KPIs they measured leadership against.

But just like in social media strategy, the shareholders made the mistake of believing in the myth of perpetual growth rather than focusing on whether Twitter was providing actual value to its users. Twitter wasn’t going to keep growing meteorically forever. But the shareholders and Wall Street equated the slowing of user growth to failure.

Instead of tilting at that windmill, the shareholders were better off looking at Twitter’s functionality, its features, and whether its established users were deriving value from the tool and were using it regularly. Just as in social media strategy, a smaller, more engaged user base is better than a large, casual one. A user base of 300 million people who find Twitter vital, use it daily, or are even willing to pay for certain features or services, is far better than a community of 500 million of which more than half are casual, disengaged, and who frequently question its value. Quality over quantity should have been the mantra.

The next CEO should be judged on whether she or he has made the platform more friendly and valuable to users

Unfortunately for Twitter, going public meant from that point on its real, demonstrable value to shareholders and investors was going to be tied to its ability to sell advertising. And advertisers want – they need – scale. So if Twitter can’t continue to show substantial growth on a consistent basis then the advertisers aren’t going to spend the money because the sheer audience size they’re looking for isn’t there, at least not in their eyes. Twitter itself knows this, so you see their advertising innovations revolve around increasingly granular ways to target the existing user base even as they also roll out new features to try and figure out how to be more valuable to that base while attracting new ones. Whether these new features ultimately successfully appeal to users is yet to be seen, but those efforts, not user base growth, should have been the yardstick against which Costolo and his leadership team were measured.

When the history of Twitter is written, the book will most likely judge Dick Costolo as a failed CEO. That’s at least a little unfair. He was a victim of unrealistic shareholder expectations, based on outdated perceptions of what success looks like in social media. If Twitter’s shareholders don’t learn and correct their expectations, the next CEO is in many ways set up to fail. Twitter is not going to attain stratospheric growth again; that part of its history is already written. Instead, the next CEO should be judged on whether she or he has made the platform more friendly and valuable to users, whether they’re willing to pay for some of the new services the company has rolled out. Utility to the existing user base and growing revenue amongst that base are far better KPIs than user base growth.

Let’s hope for the new CEO’s sake that more Twitter investors figure that out.

About the Author
Christopher Barger is Senior Vice President of Global Digital at Voce/Porter Novelli. You can follow him on Twitter @cbarger.

Filed in Social Networks

June 10th, 2015

One Headline Perfectly Sums Up the Shift from Search to Social

There have been countless stories written over the last few years about “click bait” headlines, most of them full of hand-wringing about devaluing the reader’s time and so on. But there’s another angle on this that doesn’t get the attention it deserves and which (and yes, I’m aware of the contradiction in saying this) is summed up by one perfect headline.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 3.23.08 PM

That headline – and many more like it – shows a bigger shift than just toward “click bait,” though that’s part of it. It shows an almost complete abandonment of search visibility in favor of headlines that work well on social, at least for the moment.

Contrast that, though, with the URL for the story, which is still very search-oriented:


These sorts of headline tactics have obviously moved out from publications like Buzzfeed, Mic and others into more…what do we even call them anymore? Is Time mainstream? Do we measure that by page views? Print versions? Perhaps “legacy sites” is a better nomenclature. Regardless, this is now commonplace across the web on sites of all shapes and sizes as everyone seeks to get the attention of the Facebook and other social audiences.

What’s lost, though, is the broader web. If we’re not creating stories that are findable via search (and as long as search on social networks ranges from merely bad to wholly unusable) then we’re quite literally losing our archives.

We used to fret over whether our headlines were packed with enough search keywords and that there was a date not only at the top of the page but also in the URL slug. Now we’re operating in a world where headlines should be as vague as possible to encourage clicking from Facebook and many publications are eschewing dates because they want their content to be evergreen. The latter is also fairly unfriendly to search since it makes it difficult to gauge the timeliness of what you’re reading.

This isn’t meant to sound nostalgic for some idyllic time that’s past, but this is definitely a time that is if not in the past at least not not in fashion at the moment.

It’s incumbent on content marketing strategists (you know, like the ones you find here at Voce) to walk the line between staying current with these trends and advising clients on long-term best practices. That can be a tough balance to achieve and, honestly, will require some experimentation as tactics are tested, reported on and adjusted as necessary.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Publishing Programs

June 9th, 2015

Voce Student Weekly Reading 6/9: Life After College, Budget-Friendly PR Tactics & More


Social Media

How to Use Private Twitter Lists to Deepen Coverage of Companies

“Twitter lists are my favorite way to filter information. A private Twitter list lets you follow anyone without them knowing you follow them, which basically undermines the whole idea of social media, but has its uses if you are a checking out a company, for instance, and don’t want to follow visibly.”

Voce Insight – Twitter can be a flood of information, quickly inundating you with too many updates to count, let alone read fully. Diverting this rushing river into smaller channels through Twitter lists can make the platform much more useful. Moreover, you can make private lists for yourself or use public lists to show your colleagues and friends who you like to follow most. They can also be useful as a way to follow a number of people centered around a single topic, increasing your knowledge on that topic and getting to know who the influencers are.

After deciding to charge for comments, Tablet’s conversation moves…to Facebook

“The post has been tweeted almost 200 times, but it’s really been a hit on Facebook where the original post has received more than 3,100 likes and the story has been shared more than 13,500 times. The Facebook post has also attracted dozens of comments as people shared their reactions to Salovey’s speech.”

Voce Insight – The tone of comment threads from readers and followers can range from positive and valuable to vitriolic. If you work on a publishing program, ask yourself what role your comment threads play in engagement and see how you can bring more value to the dialogue.

Public Relations

Should Journalists Know How Many People Read Their Stories?

“Soon, reporters at two of the country’s leading newspapers will have access to the most basic type of digital analytics: They will be able to see web-traffic data for their own stories. That is, they will at least know how many people clicked on them, where they came from, and how long they lingered.”

Voce Insight – The fixation of reporters on digital analytics varies from publication to publication, but knowing that this is an industry-wide pressure is very valuable as a PR professional. Asking yourself whether you would click on a story (and why) before pitching it to a reporter is a good exercise.

4 Budget-Friendly PR Strategies for Small Businesses

“Behind nearly every news feature, profile or review about any company is a great public relations strategy. Take it from a reporter: You might have a great story to tell, but getting the word out — and more importantly, getting the media interested — requires some real PR know-how.”

Voce Insight – If you find yourself working for an agency that does PR for small businesses, be sure to read this article and take these tips with you. Your boutique agency will be pleased with these budget-friendly tactics. For example, suggest the agency to try a distribution service that will send your news release to many national and local journalists who might be interested to reach a large number of news outlets at once.


7 Ways to Make the Most Out of Your Summer Interns

“It’s summer time again, which means summer interns–the workforce boost many startups rely on. Most interns are ready and willing to learn, but we’ve all heard the horror stories about the interns that don’t work, try, or even care. But it does not have to be that way. Good management and approach can make a real difference.”

Voce Insight – While this post applies more to companies on how they should handle an internship program, it’s a good way to see what kind of things you should look for at a potential internship. You want to intern for an office that makes you feel welcome, but still keeps you challenged with the work.

A Fast-Forwarding Strategy for 2015 College Graduates

“Whether justified or not, employers are reluctant to hire those who have been jobless for more the six months — commonly referred to as the long-term unemployed. Your goal, if you haven’t found employment yet, is to avoid falling into that classification.”

Voce Insight – Everyone wants the “perfect job” immediately after graduation, but the reality of the current job market often makes that extremely difficult or even impossible. Rather than give up and spend the next few months sitting at home, expand your job search to include things that may not necessarily be the perfect fit for your major. You may be surprised at what other skills you learn, and you’re gaining valuable, real-world experience that will make you a more valid candidate for your dream job.

Filed in Career Development, Weekly Reading

June 8th, 2015

Recent Media Shifts Make Owned Channels Even More Important

Vox Media bought Re/code, which stars Walt Mossberg, Kara Swisher and a host of others and which spun off from All Things D, a Wall Street Journal-hosted blog.

GigaOm might be coming back after Knowingly recently purchased the domain name and archives of the site, though since its writers have scattered (most of them to Fortune), it’s unclear who’s going to writing new stuff.

Verizon recently bought Aol, including the latter’s portfolio of news and editorial sites, though the future of Huffington Post is reportedly up in the air as everyone figures out what they want to do and where they are or aren’t comfortable.

In short, the online media world is up for grabs and more than a little unstable. If you’re in PR, the journalist you’ve worked with for years may be gone tomorrow, either off to a new publication or completely out of a job. And, as we’ve seen, the site that has previously covered your client’s news regularly may disappear altogether with little notice.

Instability is nothing new for media. The difference these days is there’s an alternative: Owned channels.

If the constant stream of site closures, journalist changes and related activities has you unsure of how your earned media efforts are going to work it may be time to instead evaluate if what you’re doing on-domain and on managed channels is working and how you can use those to more effectively reach the audience you’re looking for.

This is not to knock in any way practices like press outreach. Even in a world of owned media channels there’s still an essential role for the outside press. But we’re moving deeper and deeper into a world where companies are getting their message out to both press and consumers directly. Our list of past and present clients is filled with examples of both.

If you want to learn how to best mix earned and owned media (along with paid and shared, of course), drop us a line.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Publishing Programs

June 4th, 2015

Be Human and Change Your Social Business

Abbracci Gratis

Via Flickr user iz4aks https://www.flickr.com/photos/iz4aks/15209190168/

Be human, have an opinion and search smart all sound like dating tips. Gotta have a game plan, right?

I know back in my dating years I was always honest whether my date liked it or not. Probably the reason why I didn’t date that much. Fast-forward to today; I’m a happily married husband with two beautiful kids, working at Voce Communications and those tips still apply to my job. When I work with clients on their content and communication strategy, I remind myself the reasons why I interact with brands. It’s not about whether they have a good offer but instead about the ability to develop a real relationship with them. Will they respond to my tweet? And if they respond, is it a robotic response or one that actually has some effort put into it? Read the below three guiding principles that I believe can change the way you run your social business:

  1. Be human – People follow brands because they are looking for that one to one engagement with a brand that they might not get otherwise. The content you publish and engage with needs to have a personality and human touch.  I always recommend that brand publishers, through social media profiles, interact with prospects and customers in a conversational way. Imagine you are talking with them at Starbucks. Are you going to jam a product offering in their face right in the beginning or get to know them a bit first? The best way to be – or at least act – human is understand your audience and what motivates them within the framework of the customer buying cycle. Once you have a good understanding, work to spark an emotional connection. One post that I do at least once a week is ask my followers how can I help. It’s not about selling my product but about how I can introduce them to a contact, help them brainstorm on a problem, or give them a call just to talk. You’d be surprised at the those that want to engage with you and see the real human behind the corporate social account.
  2. Have an opinion – The best way people can get to know you is by understanding how you make decisions and what your opinions are about certain trending topics. Take a risk and write a blog post on LinkedIn or your own corporate blog and post a link to it via your social channels. Or the next time you RT a status update add your opinion to it. People value the latest news but even more if they can make an emotional connection with that person that is giving them the news. That starts with an opinion which yields in time will yield trust.
  3. Search smart – 25 years ago consumer opinions weren’t public and searchable because the web hadn’t gone social yet. You no idea what was trending in public conversation and relied upon surveys that were limited in actionable results and timeliness. Now with everyone posting their opinions, activities and immediate reviews publicly, brands have a better understanding of their audience in real-time by searching thru the public social data. If you are a social media manager you have two options: 1) Use Twitter search  2) Use a 3rd party vendor (I use Union Metrics (aka Tweetreach), SimplyMeasured or LittleBird depending on the project) to comb thru the data and find actionable insights. Like with any tool you use, it will take time to analyze and produce recommendations. If you have the budget, hire an analyst at your company that not only knows how to sift thru data but understands your audience and can turn that data into something actionable.

How are you being human in your social strategy?

  • Are you engaging with your community in real-time?
  • Have you approached your thought leadership in a new way?
  • What thought leadership content sparked a real conversation?
  • Have you a success story of hiring a business analyst?

Comment below or tweet @djksar #behuman.

About the Author
Randy Ksar works on the social media team at Voce. You can follow him at @djksar on Twitter.

Filed in Publishing Programs

June 4th, 2015

Social Media Lessons from Baseball

One of the great loves and passions of my life is baseball. I played when I was young, and I still follow the game with an evangelical zeal. I’m so into baseball that it invades my everyday thinking; in many situations, I’ll use baseball terminology to describe a situation, or draw a baseball analogy to explain my perspective.

It struck me recently that my personal passion of baseball can often apply itself to professional passion – social media marketing. There are parallels that can be drawn – elements necessary for success in baseball are also needed to win in social media marketing. Without further ado, here are the reasons why social media is a lot like baseball.

Vintage Baseball

Image via https://flic.kr/p/xZRdA


[1] Matchups are critical. In baseball, managers are always trying to play the players with the most favorable matchups. Which hitters have had the most success against the other team’s pitcher? Is it time to do a lefty-righty switch and bring in a left-handed reliever to face a left-handed batter? Should he bring in a defensive replacement in the late innings of a close game? In so many ways, creating favorable matchups can be the difference between winning and losing.

In social media marketing, matchups are just as critical. Which of your audiences will respond most favorably to which kinds of content? What networks or platforms are most appropriate for what types of content? If you’re simply throwing content onto your Facebook page in hopes of reaching your 10,000 followers without thinking about whether Facebook is the right platform for the content you have; if you haven’t thought about which platforms your audiences tend to favor; if you haven’t considered whether your timing is right for a particular message… you’re probably not creating the right matchups for success. Social media isn’t just about having a presence or creating content; winning takes strategic thought about your audience, your content, and your platform.

[2] You don’t have to hit home runs in order to win the game. While fans may appreciate the spectacle of a big home run, good baseball managers know that you don’t always need a home run to win. String together three or four singles in a row, and you’ve got a run. Get 12 or 15 hits or walks in a game, you’re probably going to win even if none of those hits was a homer. Playing small ball is just as effective a way to win a game.

In social media, we all appreciate the spectacle of a viral home run. Many brands live in endless pursuit of that viral smash over the wall – a video that scores millions of views, a tweet that gets retweeted hundreds of times, a Facebook post that draws thousands of likes and shares — that gets everyone’s attention and wins in dramatic fashion.

But just like in baseball, you don’t need that home run to win. Focus on the fundamentals – bunts and singles – and you’re just as likely to win in the long run. Develop good content that’s relevant and timely for your audience, and be smart about how you target them on various platforms. You may not get that viral hit, but if you just focus on executing your basic communications well and doing that over and over, you’ll have the equivalent of four or five singles in a row; you’ll be scoring with your audience and making yourself a winner.

[3] If you try too hard to hit a home run, you’re likely going to whiff. Remember when you were in Little League and you’d swing for the fences? Didn’t it seem that the harder you swung, the more likely you were to miss the ball? Professional hitters still can suffer from the same thing; most of today’s power hitters will tell you that they go to the plate just looking to make good contact, not trying to hit a home run.

The same principle applies in social media marketing. It’s possible to try too hard; trying to go viral, trying to be too cute or clever, trying to draw even the most tenuous connections between your brand and some popular meme or cultural touchpoint can lead to poor efforts that don’t provide any value to your audience and get easily ignored or dismissed. Try too hard to hit a home run, and you can easily swing and miss. Just go into your content development looking to make solid contact with your audience, and you’ll do just fine.

[4] Defense wins games. In baseball, a team that fields well and plays good defense can save itself several runs by preventing the other team from scoring. The really good defensive teams win several more games every year than they otherwise would have because they are able to keep opponents from scoring on them.

In social media, too, defense can help you win by preventing opponents from scoring against you. Do you have a plan as to how you would handle an online attack on your product or brand reputation? Do you regularly monitor social networks for mentions of your brand, products, and services? Do you address customer issues quickly and respectfully online, before discontent can spread and negative stories can spread about your company or organization? Remember, your presence online isn’t just about pumping out your own content, it’s got to include knowing what others are saying about you and being able to defend against attacks.

[5] One of the most crucial skills is knowing how to hit a curveball. Lots of guys can hit a fastball. Even when a pitcher’s throwing gas and approaching 100 miles per hour on the radar gun, hitting a fastball’s still just a matter of timing. But when a pitcher starts throwing stuff that moves on the hitter… that’s when the real skill comes in. When the ball doesn’t come straight at you, but takes unexpected darts and breaks on its way to the plate, the best hitters can react well and still hit, while less talented hitters are fooled and strike out.

In social media, the one thing that’s certain is that nothing will go exactly planned or expected. Audiences react in unexpected ways to one of your campaigns. An unanticipated external news event happens just as you’re starting a Twitter chat. A angry customer will reach out with a customer service issue in response to the video you just posted. The social media world is full of curveballs like that – things that aren’t as straightforward or simple as you’d like. How do you respond when things aren’t going as planned? How do you react when your surefire idea accidentally offends someone? What if one of the major platforms changes its terms of engagement or one of its algorithms? Can you react quickly to the curveball and still make contact? You’d better be able to; hitting the curveball can mean the difference between major league stardom and minor league anonymity.

NL-only bonus: Pitchers have to hit. In the National League, unlike the American League, the pitcher bats. While it’s debatable how many of those pitchers can actually hit, there’s still an element of accountability in the fact that the guy throwing to your hitters has to take his turn in the batter’s box.

In social media, so many of us have experienced it: An agency has a big name “social media influencer” or thought leader who comes in leading the pitch to a brand and wowing them with his or her notoriety and knowledge. But when the contract’s won, suddenly the big thinker who pitched you is nowhere to be seen, and the execution of your program is left to some under-experienced 22 year old whose experience is limited to posting to their own Instagram feed. No need to name names, but we all know agencies that do this.

This of course is unfair to the client. There needs to be accountability; the guys (or gals) who pitch should be there taking their turn in the batter’s box for you. One major question you should be asking any agency in the social sphere: are the people in the room pitching your business the same ones who will be responsible for executing your program?

Like baseball, social media marketing is a long season marked by twists, turns, unexpected heroes and plenty of passion. Remembering your fundamentals is a good way to succeed in either sport.

Play ball.

About the Author
Christopher Barger is Senior Vice President of Global Digital at Voce/Porter Novelli. You can follow him on Twitter @cbarger.

Filed in Social Networks

June 3rd, 2015

Pew: Most Millennials Get Their News From Facebook

pew millennials politicsWhat Is It: The Pew Research Center is out with a new study showing 61% of Millennials – broadly defined as anyone born after 1980 – get political news primarily from Facebook, almost exactly the opposite proportion of those in the Baby Boom generation, for whom local TV news still dominates.

What Does This Mean: There are all sorts of interesting data finds in the study that are well worth reading, particularly those that deal with how trusting members of the various demographic groups are of media. But the question that should cause the most discussion isn’t raised until the end and it’s roughly this: What does it mean that so many people are getting their news through social media?

The answer is incredibly complex and requires consideration of a multitude of factors, but at the core it comes down to how some social networks, particularly Facebook, are filtering the user experience in ways that sometimes can’t be controlled and are invisible to the audience, who often aren’t even aware there are filters being applied which a vast swath of people aren’t.

Facebook recently released a study where they essentially washed their hands of responsibility and said people themselves for whatever diversity they were or weren’t seeing in their Newsfeeds. While that may be true (to an extent…Facebook is still ultimately the one that governs the algorithm that creates the Newsfeed), the results of getting your news from a system that’s almost uniquely designed to reinforce your own point of view and limit outside opinions is felt well outside of Facebook and informs people’s behavior on a local, state and federal level.

Facebook plays a unique role in today’s information ecosystem, as this new study shows starkly. But the impact of that role is, I’d wager, only beginning to be felt.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Media, Social Networks

June 2nd, 2015

Voce Student Weekly Reading 6/2: Where Millenials Get Their Political News, Facebook GIF Support & More


Social Media

Rejoice: Facebook Gets GIF Support. Here’s Everything You Need to Know.

The first thing to keep in mind is that the feature works with GIF links, not GIF uploads. At least for now, attempting to upload your favorite GIF will not result in a usable, playable GIF on Facebook.

Voce Insight – Facebook’s decision to provide GIF support has been long coming. Since GIFs are currently only available for personal pages, there is not a lot of impact on brands… yet. It may only be a matter of time before GIFs come to brand pages, allowing brands to benefit from these popular forms of content.

Facebook Now the Number One Source for Political News – Study

“A new study by Pew Research has found that Facebook is ‘far and away the most common source for news about government and politics’ among Millennials in the U.S. The study compared the top media news sources for Millennials (aged 18-33), Generation X’ers (34-49) and Baby Boomers (50-68), finding that Facebook leads among both Millennials and Gen X, in terms of being a political and government news source.”

Voce Insight – When it comes to where younger Americans get news about politics and government, social media look to be the local TV of the Millennial generation.

Public Relations

The Etiquette of Following Up a Pitch

“Wait two or three days before contacting the journalist, as they are most likely working on other stories. Allowing a few days will provide the journalist time to review their emails, and gives you an opportunity to perfect your follow-up, which is another pitch in itself. Try contacting the journalist by phone first as it is more personable, and then contact by email if you cannot get in touch over the phone.”

Voce Insight- There’s nothing worse for a journalist than a pushy PR person. Make sure you’re persistent without crossing the line into annoying. Follow up after a few days, but if you still receive no response, count it as a loss and move on.

Report: Journalists are the largest, most active verified group on Twitter

“When taking a closer look at who is most active on Twitter, things are suddenly making more sense again — It makes sense that media properties (blogs, big news organisations, etc) and journalists tweet a lot about content they’ve created and breaking news.”

Voce Insight – Journalists are the most active verified users on Twitter, which means PR professionals should be there as well. Monitoring Twitter streams from journalists in your field and familiarizing yourself with what they are interested in will make outreach much easier.


10 Hardest Interview Questions

“It would be to your advantage to go to your interview prepared. The more you get prepared, the more you can succeed and get an offer. Remember you may have only one chance to show them that you are the right candidate for your dream job. Use the below questions and tips in order to prepare for the big day!”

Voce Insight – The good thing about the unstructured interview model that currently dominates most companies’ hiring processes is that a lot of the same questions will be asked. Preparing beforehand is a great idea, perhaps even by writing out your answers. This will give you the confidence to answer the unanticipated questions when they arrive.

3 Ways to Turn Your Internship Into a Full-Time Job

“The best interns are bright, naturally curious, and quickly able to build on the skills we teach them, ultimately delivering real value for our company. In short, they’re exactly the type of entry-level people we want to hire.”

Voce Insight – Consider an internship like a trial period for your future job. If you treat every day like an interview, you’re more likely to get hired full-time. However, if after a week you start getting complacent and lazy at your internship, don’t expect to get hired on to full-time at the end of the internship period. Be your best every single day in order to prove you have what it takes to be a valuable employee.

Filed in Career Development, Weekly Reading

June 2nd, 2015

SCOTUS’s Ruling: Good for Free Speech, Bad for Victims of Abuse

Yesterday the Supreme Court of the United States issued a decision that outwardly seems to affect individual users of Facebook and other social networks, but may well impact brands as well. In a 7-2 ruling, the Court held that rants and even threats issued on Facebook may not be prosecuted solely on the basis of how they were perceived. In short, law enforcement has to take into account the intent of the person posting the messages rather than just how someone perceives the messages.

image via wikimedia

Image via Wikimedia: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d8/USSupremeCourtWestFacade.JPG

The test, the court said, is what the sender means, not whether the recipient considers it a threat. Not only has this issue made its way to the Supreme Court but it’s been hotly debated in the last year or so as more and more people speak out about the threats they’ve received, usually because of their race, gender or sexuality. “Doxxing” along with threatening Tweets, Facebook posts and more were among the favorite tactics by anyone who dared speak out against the “Gamergate” crowd, though that’s just one example of what some people deal with on a daily basis.

There were immediate reactions to the decision. The ACLU and other free speech advocates hailed the decision, saying that deciding otherwise could have had a chill effect on free expression, including music and art. Advocates had also argued that “a statute that limits speech “without regard to the speaker’s intended meaning” runs the risk of punishing protected First Amendment expression simply because it is “crudely or zealously expressed.”

Domestic violence advocates, on the other hand, decried the ruling, saying that the court had, in effect, licensed abusers to use social media to terrorize their victims while claiming innocent intent. “Threats cause devastating harm to victims, including fear, anxiety, loss of sleep, and disruption, regardless of whether the abuser intended to threaten or only intended to vent or to make a joke,” said Kim Gandy, president of the National Network to End Domestic Violence.

It’s a slippery slope, trying to prosecute based on how words are perceived – such prosecutions open the door to potential abuse by those in power, whether in government or law enforcement. On the other hand, it seems inconceivable that someone threatening to kill someone else on Facebook could be considered legal and protected speech. The Court also did not define or narrow what the standard of deciding intent would be, so this issue could well be revisited in future cases.

How does this impact businesses and brands? Ultimately, this decision is a victory for advocates of free expression online – which unfortunately also means a victory for trolls and agitators online. Most brands have faced “haters” online or consumers who are decidedly not fans of their brand. This case implies that all online conversations are protected speech, and even the most vile or seemingly threatening posts can only be prosecuted if law enforcement determines that the commenter actually intended harm.

So if a brand finds itself confronted on its Facebook page or on Twitter by an agitator who seems threatening or to be suggesting a physical threat to employees, a call to law enforcement alerting them to the perceived threat may not instigate any action by authorities, unless the authorities decide the person actually meant to carry out their threat and wasn’t just spouting online because they could.

(Again, how the authorities are supposed to make that determination, the Court left unspecified.)

Brands active on social networks or who frequently encounter trolls online should be aware of this decision as they develop their response strategies. It’s for situations like this that we work with clients to develop strong comment policies, so everyone knows where the lines of appropriate behavior are and threatening or similar comments can be dealt with appropriately.

About the Author
Christopher Barger is Senior Vice President of Global Digital at Voce/Porter Novelli. You can follow him on Twitter @cbarger.

Filed in Publishing Programs

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