Does Social Media Help or Hurt Minority Groups?

March 3, 2011

Social media can be both a positive and negative for any user. This is no different for diverse groups who can both benefit and be hurt by social media.  Do you think social media benefits diverse minority groups or hurts them?

Here are the positive and negatives I see.


  • Social media can bring together people from all walks of life that would have never connected otherwise. As social media is evolving it is becoming more niche oriented.  So, diverse groups can use their niche to let them connect with exactly who they want to.
  • Once these diverse groups have connected they can then discuss the issues they are encountering via social media. This gives the group chances to bounce ideas off their peers and come up with solutions to problems.
  • The last advantage is a single individual belonging to a diverse group may be the only member of their group in that area. This can leave the individual very feeling isolated and thinking they don’t fit in. With social media they can find comfort and safety with people like them.


  • Social Media for the most part is an open forum. So, just because diverse groups, for example homosexuals, are connecting via a facebook page doesn’t mean someone with hate for homosexuals can’t write hate speech all over the advocacy page.
  • There are also groups that come together over social media who create their own pages with the sole purpose of spreading hate for groups they do not like. These people sometimes are even more blatant in their hate when using the social media platform because they can hide behind the screen and feel protected that way.
  • Lastly, just like one of the advantages diverse groups have are they connect with people in their niche worldwide so can hate advocates. Since the internet is such a global thing today it makes it a lot easier for hate groups to spread their message and reach a large number of people.

Are there any other positives you see as social media users?


The Future of Facebook

February 24, 2011

As the phenomena we know as Facebook continues to evolve and dominate more of our internet lives we have to ask what is the next step for Facebook?

Recently, Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg answered this question in a blog post on Facebook. This social media giant will soon release a revamped messaging system. This messaging system will consist of three key features. First, Seamless Messaging, which means users can choose the medium (SMS, IMs, or E-Mail) they wish to use to communicate with their friends. The user sends out a message via whatever messaging platform they prefer and their friend receives that message via their preferred messaging tool. Second, Conversation History, allows you to see all past communication with an individual friend as a single conversation thread. Third, the Social Inbox will filter in only the messages that the user wants to see.

Check out this video for a full tour of Facebook’s new messaging service!


In his blog post Zuckerberg outlined seven characteristics that will define this new messaging system: seamless, informal, immediate, immediate, personal, simple, minimal, and short. As a person that has grown up during this social media revolution these are all traits that attract me to social media. I am on Facebook more than any other site and being able to eliminate having to go to another site like Gmail is always a plus for me. I also like that all my communications with each friend is organized into a single conversation. This gets rid of looking through an endless list of single messages when looking for information from a past communication.


I see two problems with this new messaging system. First, I do not see people giving up email very easily, we are all still going to have to use email to an extent. There are plenty of people that are not Facebook users so we will have to resort to more traditional methods to communicate with them. Secondly, and more importantly to me is that if Facebook is now basically my email provider is this going to lead to even more junk mail/spam. One of the major ways Facebook already makes money is by selling its users information and likes to advertisers. I see endless spam in the future if Facebook allows advertisers into users emailing loop.

What do you think the impact of the new messaging system will be? Good or Bad? What do you think the future of Facebook will be?


How can Social Media Help my Company?

February 17, 2011

When looking at how social media is going to help a company the first thing most would ask is how much money will it make my company? Social Media is not going to directly show you huge increases in sales, but its effects are shown much more indirectly.

Back to Basic Business

Social Media is going to help large companies connect and get to know their customers. This ability to connect has been something only small local businesses have been able to achieve in the past, but social media has changed this dramatically. Social media gets back to the core goals of what businesses want to do, connect to customers and gain their brand loyalty so they will continue to buy your product.


All social media comes down to is connections. It gives people a chance to connect that would never have been able to. Businesses have been trying to connect to prospective customers for years by doing things like trade shows and sponsoring community events. Social Media offers this same connection accept it is 24 hours a day 7 days a week. What business leaders need to realize is what an amazing opportunity social media is for them. People that engage with corporations through social media aren’t always current customers, but usually potential ones.


In 2006 CareOne Debt Relief opened a community based site in which people could write in questions they had about things like debt and budgeting and get a response. Today there are more than 1.4 million people signed up to interact with CareOne’s debt experts due to the ease and trust in this credible company. It was not CareOne’s goal at first to gain revenue from this site, but they quickly realized the people writing in to the site were not already customers these were all prospective customers that were seeking help. The company opened themselves up to a huge population of people they never would have reached before and showed them the services they can provide.

This brings us back to my original answer to how companies benefit from social media. They are not going to see direct revenue increases from social media, but are going to see it pay off in connecting to customers they never would have.

Do you think companies benefit from the use of social media? Are there any companies you know of that are connecting effectively to prospective customers through social media?


The Virtual Customer Service Department

February 17, 2011

We as consumers have always had some sort of brand loyalty based on how a company treats us as customers, but as our country faces a recession it has become more of a focus for corporations to hold on to customer loyalty.

While doing my second post I explored how companies are using twitter. In researching different companies I found that Southwest Airlines was using its twitter as a customer service tool. I thought this was a very interesting approach and its creative use of social media to increase its brand image intrigued me. This inspired me to see how else we could use social media in relation to customer service, and while doing that I found Groubal. Where Southwest was using twitter to show its customer service, Groubal does kind of the opposite and gives the customer a platform to voice it complaints.


Basically how Groubal works is customers can go on the site and file a complaint which they call a petition and that petition is shared via social media. Other Groubal users can then go on and do an electronic signature supporting or verifying that complaint. Company representatives are then informed of the complaint against their corporation and they can then respond to the customers. For more details on how Groubal works check out this article by Heather Rast.


What Groubal Means for the Future

If Groubal continues to grow it could become the meeting ground between large corporations and customers, a virtual customer service department. Customers would come to the site to let their voice be heard when they have been mistreated by companies as well as use the site to compare corporations and make more educated consumer decisions with tools like the customer satisfaction index. Corporations will come to the site to see what the consumer opinions of them are and try to reply to customer’s complaints. These responses could become a key to companies maintaining a brand image as well as retaining customers because customer service would be in such a public forum. Everyone can read and see how companies handle a bad customer relation.

Do you as consumers think something like Groubal will catch on and grow in popularity? As future social media professionals how do you think public forums like this will affect us working for these companies being complained about?

Check out this interview with the founders of Groubal about what Groubal is and what they think it could become!


Blogger Code of Ethics

February 17, 2011

Should Bloggers follow a professional code of ethics?

Since its beginning the internet has been a place with few regulations. Anyone could put any content they pleased for the most part. This is the allure of the internet. Instead of having to go to media outlets to get content I, the citizen, can now be the publisher of the content and today especially I can publish my content with the greatest of ease.

With more and more people publishing content via the internet, I think we have no choice but to set a code of ethics for social media professionals as well as define who is a professional. Many would think this will lead to censorship, but I believe it will lead to a higher credibility for bloggers that do follow certain ethical practices. Part of the reason we as consumers view a publication like the New York Times as being so reliable is that there is an established code of ethics that professional journalists follow and we know the information in that newspaper is being given to us following these ethics. If we as bloggers and social media practitioners want to look at ourselves as professionals shouldn’t we have a code we follow as well?

Blogging Professionals

Many well known bloggers today are moving toward some sort of set rules and standards. In an article from the New York Times called, “A Call for Manners in the World of Nasty Blogs” reporter Brad Stone discusses this issue with author Tim O’Reilly, credited with coining the term Web 2.0, and Jimmy Wales creator of Wikipedia.  Both agree that there needs to be a move towards regulation and standards for the blog world. They have proposed a system of “badges” that would correspond to a certain set of ethics. Posting the badge on your blog would let the reader know what code of ethics that blogger follows.


The problem I see occurring is the lack of unity between bloggers. Bloggers aren’t as united under the term blogger as journalists are under the term journalist. There a millions of people blogging now and blogs cover an extremely wide range of topics. To come up with a set of ethics that the majority would agree upon seems highly difficult. Despite the fact that I do not think it will be easy to draft ethics that all professional bloggers follow, I do think their needs to start being discussion on the topic.

Do you think there should be a defined code of ethics for professional bloggers? What do you think should be included in this code?

Click here to join the discussion with Tim O’Reilly and Jimmy Wales!


Twitter as a Corporate Tool

February 10, 2011

Twitter page for Southwest Airline

As future social media professionals our goal is to find ways to improve our companies via the various social media platforms. Southwest Airlines, who is known by its consumers for its excellent customer service is using twitter to continue to expand and improve this service.  Jennifer Laycock describes in her article entitled, “Great Examples of Corporate Twitter Use”, the different ways this company is using twitter and social media in general to improve and maintain customer relations.

In our capitalist society where companies try to make as much profit as they can, I think most of us would expect when interacting with a corporation via social media, to be bombarded by endless advertisements. Southwest on the other hand chooses to use social media to build its relations with consumers instead of trying to merely build consumers.  On Southwest’s twitter page every post is either a mention of some sort of community event they are sponsoring, or a direct response to anyone who mentions Southwest in their tweet, good or bad. I think it is very refreshing to see a company, especially one that prides itself on service, take this route to using twitter.

Another very cool and innovative way Southwest connects with their customers is by their corporate blog. Southwest is known as having one of the most engaging blogs of any corporation and uses it to directly have conversations with their core customers. They are in fact so dedicated to this that they will at times take their new business ideas to the blog and let customers comment on them before implementing them. I think this is social media at its finest. Businesses have always wanted feedback from customers, but where social media comes in is finding new and creative ways to get this information from customers. Businesses in today’s world need to find these ways to interact with customers to remain successful.

We as future social media professionals need to remember social media, in a corporate sense, is not always about increasing profits but a lot of the time is about improving the brand’s image. Are there any companies you see using this tactic or ones you think could benefit from this tactic?

Check out this video for more do’s and don’ts for corporate twitter!


Blogging 101: What Makes a Good Blog

February 7, 2011


When given the assignment of creating a blog, the first question that pops into my head as a first time blogger is, “What makes a good blog?”. I found some answers to this question in a great article by Grant Cardone who is an international speaker and author of NY Times bestselling book If You’re Not First, You’re Last.  The article is called Blogging for Rookies and it gives anyone starting to blog six helpful tips on how to get started. The first tip is to pick a topic that you are both familiar with and has to do with your field of expertise. Having background on the topic being discussed is key to gaining audience credibility. Readers are not going to care what you as a blogger have to say if you are not credible. The next tip is to key your blog opinionated. This lets your readers agree or disagree with you as well as evaluate your content. The next two tips somewhat go together which are to keep the posts short and put the most important information first. In the world of the internet if you do not grab the audience’s attention right away they are going to click on to the next page. You must get your point across fast. The last tip Cardone offers is to blog as much and as consistent as you can. The more you blog the quicker you can build up a readership.

Now that we know how to make a good blog I think it is important to see a really good example of a blog that executes these tips very well. With my interest in the world of social media I found the blog Social Media Explorer to be a great example for an inexperienced blogger to follow and learn from. The blog is run by Jason Falls, who owns a media consulting firm, and focuses on providing information and opinions about social media marketing, public relations, and internet communication. Check it out.

Do you all have any tips for first time bloggers or good blogs about social media marketing?