LinkedIn’s Terms and Conditions

linkedin-android-walks_0Social media terms and conditions is a subject area that is a little dry, so when asked to assess a network’s user agreement, I wasn’t sure which network to choose. In the hopes of being somewhat original, I focused my attention on LinkedIn. I can’t argue LinkedIn’s value, but much like terms and conditions, it’s not the most exciting social network. I was pleasantly surprised when I went to LinkedIn’s User Agreement page. I’m not saying that I’ll go to the page for pleasure reading, but after looking at Facebook and Twitter’s user agreements, I think LinkedIn may have the advantage.

Like Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn’s User Agreement is long and contains a lot of jargon. There’s really no way around it if they want to protect themselves. Unlike the other two networks, LinkedIn breaks down each section of the User Agreement into concise, easy to understand segments (below). Not only does this help ensure that users are reading the terms that they’re agreeing to, the organization and breakdown helps users to actually understand what they’re agreeing to, which is an ethical win for LinkedIn. No user can claim that they couldn’t make sense of the terms and conditions.

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Another great aspect of LinkedIn’s User Agreement is that there is a breakdown of what user responsibilities are, and then a section about what the company’s rights and obligations are to the users. On Facebook, the majority of responsibility is placed on the user. It’s nice that LinkedIn acknowledges that they have some accountability in the equation. This section also provides the network some security because if someone comes to the network with a complaint or problem, they can point to the User Agreement and show that they were up front about both the user’s and company’s obligations.

You hear about the implications of unethical behaviors on the “more social” social networks all the time. False representation or catfishing, has effected celebrities and professional athletes, and now there’s even a show dedicated to the unethical practice on MTV. As inconvenient as it may be to discover that someone else is using your photos or falsely representing you on Facebook or Twitter, can you imagine the negative implications of being falsely represented on LinkedIn? This is the network that is viewed as professional, so a fake profile could really ruin your career and your life.

While LinkedIn can’t force anyone to be an ethical person, the company’s User Agreement does take the necessary steps to protect users and the company itself. When LinkedIn users sign the User Agreement they agree that, “You promise to only provide us information and content that you have the right to give us and you promise that you LinkedIn profile will be truthful.” LinkedIn states that they have the right to suspend or terminate the profile of anyone who creates multiple or fake profiles. It seems as though LinkedIn has considered the major ethical implications, and they’ve done everything in their power to create a positive and secure user experience.

 

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Ethics usually aren’t black or white

Got ethics ?You can’t turn on the news without hearing about a company or an individual that has been impacted by social media. Just today, I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about whether or not companies should monitor their employees’ social networking accounts. Because social media is still a new means of communication, there are still a lot of questions about what practices are and are not ethical. Even with careful consideration, a company or individual can still get into trouble because social media ethics are rarely black and white.

This week we learned the three steps to making an ethical decision:

  1. What are my motivations?
  2. What are the likely effects and to whom?
  3. Where does my duty lie strongest?

If you’re struggling with an ethical social media issue, these questions are great places to start. When I deal with ethical concerns, I like to focus on the second question. If I’m not sure if I should post something, whether it be on my personal or professional sites (If you’re even questioning it, you probably shouldn’t), I try to think of what the possible outcomes might be.  I wouldn’t post the same content on my business page, that I would post on my personal page. When I’m posting professionally, I’m representing my company, so my duty lies with the brand and its reputation.

That theory sounds simple enough, but as the lecture proved, practically applying the theory can get a little more complicated, especially in the field of journalism. As a journalist, I have sought out information about someone I was writing about on social networking sites. I’ve used pictures from Facebook, researched who their friends were, pulled quotes from statuses, and used social networks to connect with potential sources. Some may consider it unethical, but it’s a method of survival in the reporting industry.

I’ve always considered using social sites as a tool as ethical, because the person is putting the information out there, so as a reporter, why wouldn’t you use that information? You have a duty to your company and to your profession to tell the whole story, and social media sites can help you do that.

In the case of adding the friend of a murder victim on Facebook without identifying yourself as a reporter, I would consider that ethical. Once you send the friend request, the person has the ability to see who you are, and they can make the decision of whether or not they want to add you. The ball is in their court. While I don’t think there’s anything unethical about it, I don’t know that it’s the kindest of things to do. The person has just gone through a major tragedy, so as a human being, you should respect that and not overstep your boundaries.

 

Journalism and Public Relations: Where does Social Media Fit?

As social media progresses and evolves, social media, journalism, public relationsmany professionals question its impact on public relations and journalism. Social media has helped each of the fields evolve and plays an essential role in each industry’s success.

Public Relations

Businesses should integrate social media and public relations to increase mentions, awareness and brand authority. It’s not all about creating buzz, it’s about delivering return.  Below are areas where social media can have an impact on public relations:

1. Media Relations: Social media allows businesses to build real relationships with members of the media. Public relations professionals can follow influential bloggers or reporters whose audiences are interested in their industry.

2. Consumer Outreach: Social media allows brands to talk directly to their audiences. As a consumer, I’d much prefer the personal touch of following a brand on Twitter, as opposed to reading about them in press releases. Social media allows brands to establish a real connection with brand enthusiasts.

3. Crisis Communication: Many crises are created or amplified by social media, so social media is the perfect way to respond to those crises. Public relations departments can also monitor what social media users are saying about their brand, so they can take almost immediate action, and nip the negativity in the bud.

4. Speaking Engagements and Events: Companies should let their social media followers know when an employee is speaking at an event or conference. Social media networks like SlideShare also allow speakers to post their presentations so those who were unable to attend, can keep engaged with what was said.

5. More Measurement: Social media analytics can help public relations professionals understand the value of conversations, placements that generate the most engagement and which writers have the strongest influence over readers.

Journalism

More and more people are turning to social media as their main source for news. Sixty percent of people use Facebook as a recurring news source. Social media allows users to get news in almost real time. As a newspaper editor, I’ve seen many “hardcore traditional journalist” dispute social media’s power. They appreciate the nostalgia of seeing newsprint on the page, and think of social media as a fad. While I also appreciate physically turning the pages of a newspaper, citizen journalists are shaping the news now, and the more traditional journalists resist social media, the more irrelevant they become.

Crowdsourcing is easier than ever for journalists using social media. Citizens are taking photos and videos every day, developing an endless archive of sourceable content. Journalists can find tipsters, sources and stories just by logging into their social media accounts.

As valuable as social media can be for journalism, it also has its pitfalls. Social media sometimes allows for the spreading of unchecked facts and site monitors don’t always stay on top of legal issues. After the Boston Marathon bombings occurred, I retweeted a photo that had gone viral of the chaos that ensued. The photo said that the man died as he prepared to propose to his girlfriend. Later I learned that this information was inaccurate. Social media helps stories and photos to go viral, but it’s important, especially as a journalist, that you’re verifying the content you post on social media. The Handbook of Journalism got it right when it said, “Journalism has many unsend buttons, but social media has none.”

Questions to consider:

1. In what way has social media helped your industry evolve?

2. What affect do you see social media having on journalism and public relations in the future?

3. What do you think are the biggest benefits and pitfalls of using social media in your profession?

Social Media and ROI

ROI, Social Media

The success of a business or a marketing campaign is often determined by how much revenue is generated. In this revenue-driven world, it’s difficult to determine a correlation between ROI and social media, but it’s not impossible. Chris Heuer suggests flows of attention, data, stories, labor and capital can provide a means for determining the value of social media. The flows can be identified, measured and converted into financial equivalents, enabling an organization to view returns in a more traditional manner.

Adam Popescu created a list for how businesses can use social media to increase their ROI:

  1. Engage – People want to have relationships with brands online.
  2. Be authentic – Your loyal followers will call you out if your putting out content that doesn’t reflect the brand. When in doubt, ask your followers what content they want.
  3. Provide quality content – Post consistently and make followers feel like their part of the brand.
  4. Integrate real-time apps – Incorporate social media into everything you do.
  5. Experiment – Text tone, style and content to see what works and what doesn’t.

I’ve never worked specifically with ROI, but I’ve already incorporated many of Popescu’s tactics into my social media strategy to increase followers and traffic, and improve my personal brand’s SEO.

For a brand that focusing on fundraising, social media can play a critical role. Social media enables businesses to drive awareness to their cause(s). Brands should use YouTube to create and share a video that shows their audience who and what will benefit from their donations. A good example of this is the “Kony 2012” video, (below). This video introduced social media users to Jacob, a man who survived the reign of Joseph Kony. The video went on to inform viewers of all the crimes Kony was committing, and at the very end it let viewers know how they’re donation could help make the world a better place. The video has been viewed over 98 million times.

Other ways brands can increase awareness for fundraising is creating identifiable hashtags and recruiting brand influencers to pass along your message.

Brands who ask social media followers to donate to a cause and promise to match a portion of the donations not only benefit from helping out a good cause, but they get free positive publicity. Brands that give to charity gain more exposure and have better connections with consumers.

Whether your trying to measure your brand’s ROI, or your fundraising via social media, there are many measurable business goals that social media can help a brand to achieve. These include:

  • Increase brand exposure
  • Increase traffic to website
  • Receive better marketplace insights
  • Development of brand advocates
  • Improved organic search traffic
  • New business partnerships
  • Reduced marketing expenses
  • Increased sales

Social media has changed the way consumers interact with each other and brands. Make sure your brand is a part of the conversation!

Questions to consider:

1. How does your brand measure your social media’s ROI?

2. What techniques have you used to increase your social media’s ROI?

3. Is a monetary value even important when measuring the value of social media?

Tracking Your Social Media Success

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Part of any successful social media marketing campaign, is evaluating how much of an impact your social media networks are making. If you don’t track your social media analytics, you won’t have a clear understanding of what your target audience is responding to. According to an infographic created by Araceli Perez, over 50 percent of businesses are unsure how to measure the value of their LinkedIn, Twitter or blogs.

If you work for a marketing company, it’s important to use social media analytics to gain new clients. When you’re trying to win over a potential client use social media analytics to answer these important questions:

  • Who’s buying the product and why?
  • What are the latest trends in the industry?
  • What topics are potential customers talking about and who is the most influential?
  • What marketing channels and messages are resonating with their consumers?
  • What triggers are causing customers to act?

By answering these questions, you’ll be able to track industry trends, appear as an expert and land the client!

If you’re unsure of how to track your social media metrics, have no fear, there are plenty of programs that can help you measure your successes. Francisco Meza and Ian Barker have both come up with lists of the best social media analytics tools to use. I’ve compiled and compacted their lists into one super list of social analytic tools: 

  1. Hootsuite – Hootsuite is the leading social media dashboard, and it enhances yoursocial media management. You can send messages from HootSuite to Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn. The program allows you to measure campaign results, but it doesn’t provide robust analytics.
  2. Sprout Social – Sprout Social is a tool that helps businesses find new customers and grow their social media presence. Sprout Social integrates with Google Analytics, making it one of the best tools for tracking social media analytics.
  3. Klout – Klout measures your social media influence across a wide range of networks,and it’s based on how many people interact with your posts. Klout is my favorite tool for monitoring my personal brand because it’s easy to use, and it tracks all of the social networks that I use on a regular basis (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, LinkedIn).
  4. Viralheat – Viralheat aggregates all of your social media traffic into a single stream so it’s easy to maintain. The tool allows you to schedule posts, and there’s a dashboard to track analytics.
  5. Social Crawlytics – Identify your competitor’s most shared social media content and find out who is sharing their content with Social Crawlytics. 

If you’re looking to track how the links on social media are performing, try using Oktopost Integration with Bit.Ly and Google Analytics. I’ve always used Bit.Ly to shorten my URL links on Twitter, but the free site also shows you who has shared your links. 

Nils Mork Ulnes argues that brands need to go beyond using analytics to increase likes, comments and followers. He suggests that more brands should be using analytics to get into the minds of consumers. Ulnes makes a valid point. The more you know about your consumers and what messages they respond to and share, the more targeted you can make your social media content, which will ultimately lead to more sales. 

Questions to consider:

What social media analytic tools does your brand use, or do you use for your personal brand? What do you like about that tool?

Does your company use analytics to track engagement or to get into the minds of the customers? Which do you think is more important?

Going beyond Facebook and Twitter

Is your Imagebusiness getting the most out of social media? If you’re only using Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus you’re missing out on a lot of traffic and potential customers, and you may want to consider integrating other networks into your social media strategy.

YouTube

According to a survey conducted by Technorati, 80 percent of social media users are utilizing YouTube, making it the most used social media network. YouTube allows consumers to see the products being used, and consumers trust what they can see. Earning consumers’ trust is essential in business, and 29 percent of consumers say they trust YouTube more than any other social media network.

Social Media Director Julie Perry emphasizes the importance of businesses maintaining YouTube channels in order to boost their SEO. YouTube is not just a site for watching hours upon hours of cute babies and puppies. The video-sharing network is the second top search engine because people trust the network and it’s accessible from nearly every mobile device. Tag your YouTube videos with keywords so potential customers can discover you.

In order for a brand to be successful on Twitter or Facebook, it’s important that they’re sharing valuable information, not just pushing sales. On YouTube, how can a brand go beyond posting commercials for their products and keep consumers entertained? Is it even necessary to go beyond push marketing on YouTube?

Pinterest

In order for a business’ social media strategy to be successful, they have to reach their target audience on the social networks where they’re spending their time. Social media users are spending an average of 98 minutes per month on Pinterest, which is more time than Google Plus, Twitter and LinkedIn combined. Part of Pinterest’s success is due to the visual nature of the site. Images generate more engagement on social media, so use Pinterest to drive traffic to your website.

Roye Okupe provides the benefits a company can receive by using Pinterest:

  1. Drive massive quality traffic to your website
  2. Platform allows you to build relationships with customers and establishes your credibility
  3. Share content with followers without having to write lengthy content
  4. Better for sharing product images and videos than Facebook or Twitter

Because of the visual nature of Pinterest, it’s critical that your products or services are displayed in the best light, which may mean hiring a professional photographer. C.C. Chapman says that with tools like smart phones and Instagram, anyone can take quality pictures, but photography remains a skill. Your products and services are the livelihood of your business, so hire a professional to ensure that people click on your pins, and ultimately buy your products.

In order to have my personal content reach more people, I’ll pin images from blog posts. I have a lot more traffic on my Pinterest page than my blog, so by connecting the two, I benefit from the increased traffic and improve my integrated marketing strategy. 

Vine

Vine is a site that allows you to post six seconds of video to your Twitter account. The site garnered 13 million users in only six months, and five vines are tweeted every second. Like Twitter, Vine is acting as a news-breaking network. A record 19,667 Vines were recorded and shared on the day of the Boston Marathon bombings. Consumers want to see pictures and videos, and this is another network where you can extend your company’s reach and expand your audience. 

Vine allows individuals to showcase their personal brand. I follow United States gymnast McKayla Maroney on Twitter, and she uses Vine to show her fans different gymnastic maneuvers and what’s going on in training. The outlet allows her to inform while also showing off her personality, which will only engage more fans. What companies are using Vine effectively in their marketing strategies?

 

 

Making LinkedIn Work for You

ImageMost employees and businesses understand that it’s crucial to have a social media presence, especially in a competitive job market. In 2012, one out of every six job seekers landed a position with the help of social media, and 93 percent of recruiters were utilizing LinkedIn. LinkedIn is no longer just a network where job seekers copy and paste their resumes. Kristi Hines suggests updating your profile regularly to show employers that you’re engaged and the right fit for their company. 

With so much emphasis placed on LinkedIn profiles, and because the network is rapidly expanding, it’s important that you make your page stand out from the crowd. Here are four basic tips for getting your page noticed, and in a good way!

1. Create a headline with keywords that you want to be discovered by

Lewis Howes says your headline should say who you are, who you help, and how you help them

2. Upload a head shot of yourself 

Your profile is seven times more likely to get viewed if you have a photo. Remember that LinkedIn is about professionalism, so don’t post a picture of your baby or dog. According to Libby Kane,  19 percent of recruiters look only at your profile picture on LinkedIn. Are you surprised that so much emphasis is put on the profile picture? Shouldn’t your credentials be more important?

3. Create a summary about yourself

A summary is the place where you can tell companies about your goals, passions and accomplishments. Even though the site is a business tool, the summary section allows you to make a human connection, so you’re not just another job seeker.

4. Make sure previous experience and contact information are up-to-date

You never know what type of experience may attract an employer. Even if a previous job was unrelated to the industry you’re pursuing, a recruiter may have had a similar experience, and will understand the benefits of that experience. If an employer is interested in you, they’ll need to have up-to-date contact information. Link your other social media accounts to your LinkedIn profile so employers can connect with you in multiple places. 

If you want to go beyond the basic steps, add work projects to your page, join industry groups, get endorsements for your skills, and cater your connection requests to the person you want to connect with. I’ve discovered that if you want your connections to endorse your skills, try endorsing their skills. Anytime someone endorses me, I usually go to their page to reciprocate. Endorsements are a great way to showoff your skills. How have you made your LinkedIn page stand out?

With more and more people utilizing LinkedIn, some people believe that the site is a target for hackers and scammers. Viveka von Rosen wrote an article about how to secure your LinkedIn account. While some of Rosen’s tips, like adding all of your emails addresses and scoping out competition anonymously seem helpful, others seem to defeat the purpose of the network. Rosen suggests turning off your broadcast feed and hiding your groups and connections. LinkedIn is a place to network and sell your brand, so why would you want to hide your activities and professional groups? It’s connections and transparency that get you hired, so I think it’s best to forgo Ronsen’s advice.