Facebook Profiles: Public or Private?

Data security, privacy, and ethical issues of collecting data online are the themes of this week’s class session. I think this is a pretty salient topic for our class whose participants all have several social media profiles. I think it’s even safe to say that we probably have more than the average person given our affinity for online communication (the focus of our master’s program) and the fact that classmates regularly share new social networking platforms (glossi.com and flavors.me ring a bell?).

While we are all eager to post the latest photo of party shenanigans or a status update on what we thought about a political debate, we don’t often think about the repercussions. That’s because, for the most part, our social media profiles are limited to the people we share information with. However, according to this week’s readings, found here and here, employers are actually asking applicants for their Facebook account passwords or requesting that they open their profiles there on the spot. I’ve never been in this type of situation but would not even know how to respond if I was asked to share my social networking profiles to strangers who might actually employ me. Not to say that my profiles’ content is alarming, but it’s certainly not something I’d like to share with an HR recruiter.

On the other hand, what about mobile applications that mine data of users surreptitiously? Some of the apps I’ve downloaded actually have asked me to “agree to” certain conditions. They can be apps that can determine my location, mine data from my social networks, and track my online behavior—all while I’m using the application’s function. Our reading on mobile privacy sensing took a closer look at this emerging technology and its implications. The authors of the study pointed out that developing a lay public understanding of mobile sensing privacy, security and risk is critical to a vision of participatory privacy regulation. But casual technology users often underestimate or misunderstand data sharing and security risks, which I believe affects many of us users.

Questions to readers:

-Have you ever had to share your social networking profiles to an employer or potential employer?

-What measures have you taken if any to protect your reputation online?

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Virtual Image: A Closer Look

Reputation management is something that every person can gain from. In today’s world where everyone’s information is online, managing one’s reputation and image is crucial. Employers who Google their recruits or locate them on social media networks are not unheard of. In some cases employers ask applicants for the credentials to their social network profiles so they can take a closer look at their potential new hire—which is illegal, I’m quite sure. Nonetheless, it is safe to say that researching an applicant’s background online is standard procedure in many HR departments both in the U.S. and abroad where I have been subjected to it.

What about in the business world? How does the ubiquity of the Internet affect corporate communications? Does it enhance a brand’s image or hinder it? This week’s reading included research on the topic. In “Drowned Out? Rethinking corporate reputation management for the Internet” published in the Journal of Communication Management, I gained a better understanding of the world of corporate reputation management. Essentially, as someone who has worked in the corporate communications field for a few years now, I am playing a role in helping to manage the reputation of the company I work for. However, like the study points out, the challenges of the Internet reinforce the value of effective corporate reputation management and the Internet has made good PR more important, not less. Basically, if companies want to make the most impact, they need to leverage the Internet as much as possible, and embrace it as a valuable new communications and reputation-building tool.

Questions to readers:

-As many of you work within the communications realm, are any of you taking part in corporate communication management? In what ways do you do this?

-How are you managing your own personal reputation online? Have you used www.beenverified.com? Have information online ever presented a problem in your life? 

A Changing World: The Importance of Tracking Social Media

Once I had immediate family members above 60 years of age constantly sending me friend requests on Facebook I knew things were changing. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and all the other social media platforms are no longer for a small segment of the population as it once was. Today, everyone from your neighbor’s kids to the president of the United States has a few social media accounts. With the popularity of social media, coupled with the growing access to the Internet and smartphones, there are more channels for marketers to consider. Essentially, today marketers must not only track their website’s analytics but also their social media efforts.

While social media does not equal a conversion outright, it can assist conversions. Meaning, someone may have come to your website to buy something because it of something they saw posted on Facebook or Twitter. Thus, assisted conversions are important. So how does a company go about tracking their social media efforts? Google Analytics, HootSuite analytic tools, Adobe, and a range of other social media tracking mechanisms can help.

What marketers need to understand is why social media analytics is crucial to their business. Sure, they already know that their fans and foes are posting reviews, praise, and backlash about their products, services, and operations, as well as “liking” and “following” content, but they need to analyze this data further in order to get anything out of it.

There is a lot that marketing executives can gain through social media analytics, namely rich consumer opinion. Here are the top benefits:

-Discover new opinions, which are often more sincere than what you might receive in a survey questionnaire.

 -Receive instant feedback on your marketing efforts.

 -Track what people think about your company as well as your competitors

 -Gain more understanding on your assisted conversions and what is working and what needs improvement.

 I look forward to hearing your comments on any of the above but also have two questions on this topic:

 -Should companies pay big bucks to track their social media analytics or stick with the basic free programs out there?  

 -How much mining of social media is necessary and not considered too intrusive on a customer (i.e. do you really need to know their activity on Facebook, Pinterest, Amazon wish list, Twitter, etc. to understand their opinion?)?