The Boston Marathon Bombing: What We Can Learn

I was part of the ¼ of people who learned about the Boston Bombing from social media. Until recently (I injured cartilage in my knee) I was a very avid runner. I follow Runner’s World on Facebook and Twitter and received a push notification from their posts about the bombing. I immediately felt a personal connection to this act of terror and became absorbed in its coverage. Throughout the coverage of the Boston Bombing there was much speculation and misinformation spread, the truth was somewhere in-between.images

I found it very interesting that CNN’s incorrect tweet about the arrest of the suspect was shared more than the correct post. I believe people thrive on the drama, especially in an instance such as the Boston Bombing. Spreading dramatizations is more “entertaining” than no new information. In the case of CNN I believe they should have promoted the correct information more. From an ethical standpoint I would love to see our social networks develop some sort of technology to retweet correct information whenever misinformation is put out first. With more and more people using social networks as a news source I believe this could be pivotal in both accuracy and ethics.

While the news only discussed the Boston Bombings for what seemed like months brands began to recognize opportunities for their businesses from all the coverage. I generally support Ford. I like their cars and many of my family members drive their cars. That being said I was not impressed with their “thank you” message after the bombing. In my opinion this was very distasteful. Many brands sponsored the Boston Marathon and I’m sure their logos were on people’s clothing or in some of the images yet we did not see them advertise a “Nike, official sponsor of first responders” ad. It just wasn’t appropriate in my opinion.

Thank-you-BostonOn Facebook I often see people post images of sick people undergoing treatments. Many of the captions on these images will ask people to like for support. I don’t see a problem with these posts. When the Boston Bombings occurred there were a few posts like this floating around on social media. My feelings on this content aren’t changed by the fact that there were victims from the bombing in these images, my issue is that a reporter posted the image. I don’t know the complete back story of this post. If the reporter got permission from the victim then I believe it is okay to share, if they did not receive consent then it is inappropriate.

When tragedies arise the desire for awareness does too. People become very involved in the story and developments. We can learn both journalism and ethical lessons from our past. The Boston Bombings can teach us how to respond properly during the incident and the weeks after.


The Ethical Dilemma: Social Media and News Reporting

I consistently check my privacy setting on social media (probably about once a month). People can learn a lot of information about you from social media. I want to protect myself and am selective about who I want to see my information. I believe this is important because of the situation discussed below…

In news reporting the phrase “no guts, no glory” holds a lot of value, at least in my personal opinion. There is a line in journalism that separates average journalists from devout journalists. Devout journalists are willing to go the extra mile and get information, to give their audience something different from other news outlets and to earn their trust.

I applaud these journalists. They put themselves in dangerous situations. They devote their whole lives to covering stories. Does utilizing social media make their stories better or is social media just a nuance in today’s culture that should be observed and not reported?

To me these seem like easy questions to answer. Of course I would use social media, I see it used in news stories all the time. The difference between these social posts and the one in question is that these posts are on public profiles. This is situation brings up a whole new arena of debate in social media. Mapplinks-Post-1

Seeing as the situation presented in this week’s lecture deals with murder I believe I would handle social media with extreme care. Like many mentioned in the debate I would investigate all possible resources before confronting the suspect on social media. I would see if we had mutual friends and try to attain as much information about this person from our “friends.” “Friending” this person and using their content would be the last thing I would do. It would not make me comfortable and I would let my bosses at my outlet know.

The great thing about social media and today’s culture is that we can learn from other’s “mistakes”. This is acutally a non-fiction incident that occurred back in 2009. The reporter of this story “friended” the suspect on Facebook, got leads, and then asked to interview the subject. The subject was upset and this made the reporter feel as though she used her new Facebook “friend.” She said she regretted using Facebook as a reporting tool.

What do you think? Is this reporter “soft?” Do feelings and ethics matter in reporting or is it all about the facts? What would you have done?

How can social media social media outlets help users control their content? I like that Facebook gives you the option to choose who you want to see published content. I believe they should make this feature more prevalent. I would also love to see them alert users more effectively when privacy setting are changes. For instance, make users look at privacy settings as the homescreen when changes are made and accept the changes before they are able to get to their newsfeed. This would force us to re-evaluate who sees what.

How can professionals learn how to use social media effectively but still respect privacy? I believe the murder story mentioned in this week’s lecture really put things in perspective to me. If someone has a public profile and willing posts content for all to see then by all means use it. If it’s private it remains private.

The Importance of Accuracy


I can defiantly see how journalists can feel threatened by social media. When you think about it, anyone can be a journalist these days. Social media allows anyone to break news but is their news factual? Journalists need to employ tools to combat all of the noise on social media and hold the journalism “pledge”: report the facts.

I had never heard of geocodes before this week’s lecture and I have to say, they are so cool! Think of how many more sources journalists could if they used this tool. Better yet, think of how many sources they could check! With limited Twitter users enabling geocodes in their tweets I realize the limitations this tool presents. Hopefully more emphasis is placed on geocodes and it is utilized more in the future!

Another new concept presented in this week’s lecture: reverse search. The giant squid example proves just how important it is to check the validity of imagery on social media. I was unaware this was even possible. During the Boston Marathon bombing I saw so many images with extreme captions on social media. Seeing as this situation was a very extreme one the captions on these images seemed feasible. As more information came out the more I learned some of the images were just not true. When situations like these happen news outlets should take the time to investigate images so false reporting does not occur.

To answer the question posed in the lecture accuracy should be the most important priority for journalists. When news is breaking and journalists want to use social media to report it I think the best practices to still ensure accuracy are to use verified accounts and geocodes. Bottom line: if you can’t confirm a story don’t post about it. As our “Verifying Tweets When News Breaks” article states, it’s more important to get it right than to post it first. Trust is such a hard thing to gain with news viewers, why risk breaking it with a story that can’t be verified?

Sometimes mistakes happen…if a news organization accidently reports something that is not accurate I believe it is extremely important to address it, not delete it. Every once in a while when watching the news I will hear reporters correct themselves if they reported something that later proved to be incorrect. The same should be practiced on social media. Journalists should say sorry, report the correct facts, and post a link with a source verifying this information.

Bottom line: always verify and always be accurate.

If I Could Turn Back Time…The Importance of Reputation Management on Social Media

Have you ever had a really BAD experience with a company and took to a social network to post your rant? Have you gone as far as Dave Carroll and create a viral YouTube video?

It’s easy to forget the power of social media until instances like this occur. Dave’s video got him more than 200 interviews on talk shows and inspired other customers to create sequels (United Breaks Guitars 2 & 3) that garnered more than a million likes as well. Taylor Guitars also created a YouTube video explaining their repair services in response to Dave’s video. They even gave Dave a new guitar. It seems everyone but United acknowledged Dave…

From a social media perspective if I were an Online Reputation Manager and saw this video I would have gone into immediate damage control. I would have responded to Dave and asked him to write me a message explaining his situation, what damages he is seeking, and thank him for his time and for choosing United. I would have then addressed this with my human resources department and done everything I could to find out where the disconnect was and how the issue escalated to this.

Once I had all of the facts I would release a statement apologizing and explaining what we are doing to make it right for Dave. I would go on a press tour and explain to the media that we understand Dave’s frustration and are doing our best to make sure this instance never happens again. I would also take to social media and express our gratitude for their loyalty and explain how we are ensuring we are making the effort to handle every item in on our airplanes with care. Of course there will be negative comments surrounding our efforts. It is important to not make the same mistake twice and listen and respond to these comments appropriately.

While United Airlines may not have done it right in this situation I am happy that they used Dave’s video as a learning tool. If I were an Online Reputation Manager I would add the following practices to our social media practices:

  • Post our “hours of operation” in our “About Me” sections.
  • Make responding to customer comments within 24 hours a standard.
  • Make our responses personal by saying “thank you” at the beginning of every post and signing each post with out name at the end of each post.
  •  Most importantly if a situation seems very tense to make a supervisor aware. If a situation like Dave’s arises we would discuss on a more micro level and ensure all parties involved are happy with the resolution.
  • Keep “follow up” files for followers we should check in on.

While all of this seems so easy social media is fast and immediate. Most posts don’t show up on other’s social media feeds for very long, but people don’t forget. Taking the time to go the extra mile on social media can save you time, money, and most importantly the trust of your customers.

Trusting Chalene Johnson

It takes a lot for me to trust people on social media. One woman who has earned my trust over the years is Chalene Johnson. Chalene is a fitness expert that truly practices what she preaches and has transformed people lives. So just how did Chalene Johnson earn my hard-to-get trust?

531672_167268066760123_1409816113_nChalene is not only an individual but also a corporation. She has created the workout systems TurboJam, TurboKick, TurboFire, and Hip Hop Hustle (all created under Beachbody). She has sold over four million workout videos. Her reputation and authority as a fitness expert speaks for itself but her social media activity reinforces it.

I follow Chalene on Twitter and Instagram. Whether it’s exercising, eating habits, social media usage, how-to videos, or family advice her posts are all about helping people. Helpfulness is one of the essential elements in trust on social media and her posts exude this. While training for a marathon last year I developed “runner’s knee.” This injury has prevented me from doing some of my favorite exercises (i.e. running, lunges, squats, etc.). It’s very frustrating for me to go to the gym and be tied to the elliptical machine. The other day Chalene posted a short Instagram video about how to do certain exercises like lunges and squats that have a low impact on hurt knees. After watching this video I felt so excited! She showed me how to do a revised version of an exercise I love and miss. I can’t wait to try it!


Chalene's Bad Knees how-to video. Can't wait to try it!

Chalene’s Bad Knees how-to video. Can’t wait to try it!

Chalene also takes the time to respond to people’s comments and motivate them. At age 45 she has a rock hard body and she loves showing it off. I admire her for this. She works very hard for her body and follows a system she has developed to a T. These images serve as a reminder for people that if they follow the system they can have similar results. She practices what she preaches and she has the body to back it up. I am half her age and  wish I had half of her self-confidence.

As you can see Chalene practices the trust formula Steve Rayson has developed. She is very present on social media and she is passionate about her message. She has earned my trust by having a distinguished reputation in the fitness community and by continually posting helpful content, motivating me, and making each post personal. I love following her and love what she stands for!

Screen shot 2014-05-28 at 7.39.41 PM

T’s & C’s of LinkedIn

In my last blog post I talked about Twitter and Facebook’s terms and conditions. After seeing some pretty interesting “rules” I decided to investigate other networks I frequent. With that said, let’s take a look at LinkedIn.

I love LinkedIn! Its great network that allows people to connect with each other based on professional interests. The possibilities the network presents its users are priceless! I’ve heard of people landing their dream jobs because of LinkedIn. But is this all too good to be true? Do the terms and conditions (T’s & C’s) negate this seemingly wonderful social media site?

I actually liked reading LinkedIn’s terms of service. It is outlined in sections, each featuring a summary on the side. These summaries make it easy for the user to clearly define what each section discusses. As I was reading the T’s & C’s I noticed a lot of similar qualities between LinkedIn and other social networks like Facebook and Twitter, especially in terms of content. Users own their content on LinkedIn but by posting on the network users give LinkedIn license to use their content. On other networks (i.e. Instagram) this has angered people. When we use these social networks we have to remember they are a business. They were created to make money!

The more I’ve investigated the “rules” of these social networks the more I’ve asked myself why people aren’t taking greater in action against the social networks. The truth: LinkedIn does not really care. According to the T’s & C’s: “You waive your rights to try to stop LinkedIn, but we don’t waive our rights to ask a court to stop your actions.” In their opinion you are a guest on the network. They can ask you to leave and won’t miss you!


What I really found interesting in LinkedIn’s T’s & C’s were the do’s and don’ts. Maybe it’s because LinkedIn is used for more professional purposes but the “rules” didn’t seem too restrictive. There was the usual “don’t post fraudulent content,” “don’t use a fake name,” etc. If users suspect they are a “victim” of any fraudulent activity a way to contact LinkedIn in the T’s & C’s is available. This was reassuring to see.

CaptureOverall, I believe LinkedIn does a great job of preventing harmful or “risky” type of material to be posted to the site. If you request to connect with someone in the request you have to say how you know the person. LinkedIn also promotes the use of professional images and behavior. From my experience on the network that’s just what occurs. LinkedIn has done a great job of promoting themselves as a professional place and the behavior that occurs on the network illustrates this.

Round 3


This is the start of my third semester in UF’s Social Media program. It’s so great to “see” some of my classmates again! For those of you who do not know me my name is Alexis Willey. I am an Associate Producer of Beauty and Skincare at HSN in St Petersburg, FL. I am in charge of all content that goes to air and help develop presentation order and sales strategies for all items associated with the skincare and beauty category. I love my job and love learning new ways to help my partners succeed and develop their business/audience.

I decided to pursue this degree program to learn how to utilize social media to help build brands and sales. So far I can honestly say I’ve used everything I’ve learned in this program thus far in my current role. I can’t wait to see how much more I can learn over the summer!

A little bit more about me…I am the oldest of three children. My two younger brothers also attend UF, we are truly a Gator family! I graduated from the University of Florida in 2011 with a degree in Telecommunications with a minor in Sports Management. I thought I wanted to be a sports reporter but after freelancing for a little while I realized I like to talk and play sports more than work in the field. In my spare time that’s pretty much what I do! Whether I’m at the gym, playing with my dog at the park, or toting shopping bags I love to be active!

I also love to travel and plan to do so this summer! Be on the look out for talk of social media and new places!

I look forward to continuing to learn more about social media and my peers! Here’s to another great semester!

-Alexis Willey

Is Social Media Really the Answer?

True or False: Every company needs to be on social media?

Seems like a dumb question right? After all social media is a way to connect with your audience, reinforce branding, and monitor your competition. Can you prove that your company has benefited from it?

Many question why we need to be on social media if there is no way to measure ROI? Many companies struggle with this. Why be consumed on these social platforms if there are no measurable results?

I tend to disagree with this outlook. While companies may not be able to accurately measure the monetary benefits of being on social media, as is with many aspects in life, setting a goal and taking the steps to achieve them can have a significant impact on your business. The folks at Raven agree with me, “Having a business goal — your brand’s own personal, non-cookie-cutter business goal that may be different from everyone else’s — to attach social media to is the only way to measure it.” My advice to brands: aside from monetary benefits, identify why are you on social media and how can you be unique on your chosen platforms.

Think of why Facebook started. This social network wasn’t invented so brands could advertise to consumers…it was made  to improve human connectivity as people converse in ways that were once not possible. How can you really connect with your audience?

Fundraising on Social mediaSome brands have accepted this challenge and began utilizing social media as a way to illustrate their philanthropic efforts. While Livestrong has come under fire with the controversy surrounding Lance Armstrong there is no question this company has taken fundraising to levels unheard of, and it’s more than just a yellow bracelet. When Brian Rose came to them looking for help they told him to just tell his story and raise awareness for melanoma. And Brian did just that…

What started out as a small blog for Brian to write his story turned into the ultimate fundraising campaign. Livestrong encouraged to post a short, 2 minute video detailing his cancer struggles and within 24 hours his $70,000 medical bills were covered…twice! How did this happen?

Brian Rose-LivestrongBrian was authentic. He was real. He shared his struggles. He didn’t ask for money or pity, he just wanted to raise awareness. People who face a similar battle like Brian often look for others who can identify with to help understand their circumstances. Social media is the answer for these individuals and can be life changing for many.

While your company may not have the same stage that Livestrong has, utilizing social media to do more than advertise can have a positive impact, and in my opinion more rewarding benefits. You can create a community where your audience helps you achieve goals and you move forward together.

Now that you’ve heard my perspective, what do you think? Is it really impossible to measure ROI on social media? Knowing this information would you change your outlook on your company’s social strategy (i.e. instead of solely advertising do you plan to incorporate philanthropic or community oriented posts)?

How Many Views are Your Posts Really Getting?

It is important to have goals when it comes to social media. Defining your message, adding value to your viewers lives, and creating engagement are key elements to success on any social network, but how do we measure this success? Is it by comments, shares, or likes? What about those who view your material but choose not to respond to it? In my opinion, defining success on social media is more in-depth than visible engagement.

imagesCAM2D3MAFor one of our social media assignments last week we were asked to post material using concepts associated with viral content. I chose to post links by using One link I posted on Google+ only received one +1 but received the most clicks/views out of any of my other posts. In my assignment I classified this as the most successful piece of material for the week; however, I would not have known this if I was not able to monitor engagement through Seeing these results showed me how beneficial analytics sites can be when determining success and planning my next social media post.

This revelation made me think more about the material I post. What is it that made this link very “clickable” but didn’t correlate into shares or likes? This is where listening, learning, and revising my strategy begins.

Listening to what people discuss in relation to material I post should be the heart of my content strategy. I love the Gatorade example provided in “Beyond Social Media Analytics.” When Gatorade listened to their consumers and found out coaches did not know the product hydrated better than water they changed their message to convey this. Instead of continually pushing a message across to my audience listening and understanding what they don’t know and addressing it could potentially lead to improved engagement.

bitly-analyticsLearning and identifying trends and understanding how my audience uses different social media outlets are aspects I plan on incorporating into my posting routine. I had never really thought about how important these concepts are until I was involved in a conversation with a coworker who asked me how I identify trends on social media. Wake up call: I haven’t really been identifying trends! I have been so consumed with posting material and creating interactions that I haven’t examined trends with the material I post. I’ve been thinking humorous content get’s my viewer’s attention, but my link about Google+ somehow received more clicks? It’s time to reevaluate my strategy.

In social media numbers don’t lie, they just need to be examined closely to get the truth. Identifying what your goals are and choosing the appropriate analytics site that helps you track social media goals will help you measure your success and improve your plan. This may seem overwhelming but it is necessary to be the best we can be on social media!

Your Turn

Have you been using analytics sites this semester to track your audience engagement? If so, what conclusions have you determined through the results?

How do you plan to use these services to improve your posts and gain success on social media?