Category Archives: Socially Made

Socially Made: Branding is about the Adjectives

Throughout 2011, Make Me Social will publish Socially Made, a review of social media’s continued evolution in both influence and commentary.

Good branding brings adjectives to the front of a person’s mind. Great branding gives new definition to already existing words (think anyone still thinks of a “tweet” as a sound a bird makes?).

This is what came to mind as I was driving through Delaware and passed a sign that said “Odessa”. Now, I’m not sure what type of place Odessa, Delaware really is, but when I passed that sign on Route 13, the first thing I thought of was: “Mo-Jo!!!!” (fans of the book Friday Night Lights know what I’m talking about). This is brand recognition at its best, and the type that businesses work hard to try to generate.

Branding is about successfully navigating that analogy section of the SATs and being able to be related to a thought, sentiment, description, opinion or even just a word either through phrases or images. However, branding happens even when no effort is made, and if you don’t take the effort to create the philosophy for your brand, perhaps that lack of enthusiasm IS your brand philosophy.

The concepts behind branding have all been discussed before, and have been put into hyperdrive due to techniques in utilizing new marketing forms like social media’s ability to reach and persuade:

  • Creativity – It has to be eye and ear catching (and if possible, try to catch the other senses as well)
  • Consistency – There is a reason the simple phrase, “Yes, we can!” is a associated with President Obama. It is because he made it a mantra amongst his base. Consistency is an example of  something that has become a lot easier due to social media (as far as mechanisms to share your message) but also a lot harder (one more channel to make sure your message is properly represented).
  • Authenticity – Saying or portraying you are about something usually only works if you are actually about that something. Many have felt the “Yes, we can!” line has not been lived up to, causing to be a punchline more than a mantra. So in the brainstorming session into creating your brand, and subsequent brainstorming sessions, make sure the messages you use actually fit (and aren’t being tossed around just cause they sound good).

Beyond adjectives, brands are also about connotation. Over the past week, we saw the connotation associated with several brands completely change,with Penn State and Texas Governor Rick Perry being the two most notable. Once that connotation changes, you either work towards fixing it (Penn State made major personnel changes and is investing in a public relations campaign to start the process of regaining their reputation)…

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIQjNbi0KQc?rel=0]

….or work within it (after failing to name the federal agencies he needed to in the Republican debate, Rick Perry goes on David Letterman and jokes about his public blunder).

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0rmHzBYHyc?rel=0]

In both these cases, despite the drastic differences in these situations, social media has been utilized in regaining the connotation both these brands want.

So, throughout the next couple days, don’t think about brands and what words come to mind (we already do that every day), think about words and what brands come to mind related to them. Those are the ones you will want to learn from.

______________________________________________________________

Greg Morgan is Communications and Content Director for Make Me Social, a social media agency that develops customized social media strategies for businesses. With experience in industries ranging from sports to state government, Greg focuses in crafting messages for all types of clients in an effort to perfect what he calls “versatile communications.” Born and raised in West Hartford, Connecticut, he remains a loyal UConn Husky fan, despite now residing in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Socially Made: Branding is about the Adjectives

Throughout 2011, Make Me Social will publish Socially Made, a review of social media’s continued evolution in both influence and commentary.

Good branding brings adjectives to the front of a person’s mind. Great branding gives new definition to already existing words (think anyone still thinks of a “tweet” as a sound a bird makes?).

This is what came to mind as I was driving through Delaware and passed a sign that said “Odessa”. Now, I’m not sure what type of place Odessa, Delaware really is, but when I passed that sign on Route 13, the first thing I thought of was: “Mo-Jo!!!!” (fans of the book Friday Night Lights know what I’m talking about). This is brand recognition at its best, and the type that businesses work hard to try to generate.

Branding is about successfully navigating that analogy section of the SATs and being able to be related to a thought, sentiment, description, opinion or even just a word either through phrases or images. However, branding happens even when no effort is made, and if you don’t take the effort to create the philosophy for your brand, perhaps that lack of enthusiasm IS your brand philosophy.

The concepts behind branding have all been discussed before, and have been put into hyperdrive due to techniques in utilizing new marketing forms like social media’s ability to reach and persuade:

  • Creativity – It has to be eye and ear catching (and if possible, try to catch the other senses as well)
  • Consistency – There is a reason the simple phrase, “Yes, we can!” is a associated with President Obama. It is because he made it a mantra amongst his base. Consistency is an example of  something that has become a lot easier due to social media (as far as mechanisms to share your message) but also a lot harder (one more channel to make sure your message is properly represented).
  • Authenticity – Saying or portraying you are about something usually only works if you are actually about that something. Many have felt the “Yes, we can!” line has not been lived up to, causing to be a punchline more than a mantra. So in the brainstorming session into creating your brand, and subsequent brainstorming sessions, make sure the messages you use actually fit (and aren’t being tossed around just cause they sound good).

Beyond adjectives, brands are also about connotation. Over the past week, we saw the connotation associated with several brands completely change,with Penn State and Texas Governor Rick Perry being the two most notable. Once that connotation changes, you either work towards fixing it (Penn State made major personnel changes and is investing in a public relations campaign to start the process of regaining their reputation)…

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIQjNbi0KQc?rel=0]

….or work within it (after failing to name the federal agencies he needed to in the Republican debate, Rick Perry goes on David Letterman and jokes about his public blunder).

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0rmHzBYHyc?rel=0]

In both these cases, despite the drastic differences in these situations, social media has been utilized in regaining the connotation both these brands want.

So, throughout the next couple days, don’t think about brands and what words come to mind (we already do that every day), think about words and what brands come to mind related to them. Those are the ones you will want to learn from.

______________________________________________________________

Greg Morgan is Communications and Content Director for Make Me Social, a social media agency that develops customized social media strategies for businesses. With experience in industries ranging from sports to state government, Greg focuses in crafting messages for all types of clients in an effort to perfect what he calls “versatile communications.” Born and raised in West Hartford, Connecticut, he remains a loyal UConn Husky fan, despite now residing in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Socially Made: A Pitch for Surveys

Throughout 2011, Make Me Social will publish Socially Made, a review of social media’s continued evolution in both influence and commentary.

I don’t know about you, but when I see [INFOGRAPHIC] in the title or body of a post, it catches my eye and chances are, I am likely to click on the link no matter what the topic is (here is a less than scientific one for Halloween).

Infographs aren’t necessarily new, but they do continue to gain more and more traction as a way to quickly relay information beyond just a post or tweet. By combining interesting topics with creative designs, the developers of these graphics take advantage of the scientifically proven fact that people receive information quicker through visuals (don’t believe us? Check out the way some college football teams call their plays).

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0eXg4GUui4?rel=0]

Now, my parents would use this information to comment on the regression of the already feeble attention span the average social media users has , which I don’t necessarily disagree with (c’mon, is reading a normal bar graph or pie chart become too much work?), but that isn’t what today’s post is about.

Today’s topic is about what is behind the Infographs, which are survey results.

Infographs are a sexy way to disseminate information quickly and enjoyably, but what needs to be remembered is that the one page of visually appealing statistics often represents dozens of hours of work, including the surveying process, data collection, analysis, not to mention the actual development of the graphics.

In truth, surveys are the original form of social media. Through surveys and connecting with people to determine what they like and don’t like about a brand, accurate results can be determined, and plans and campaigns can be made. What social media did was take the survey process to the next level by giving individuals a greater opportunity to voice these opinions and measuring perceptions in near real time.

My point in saying this that I have one request for those that enjoy infographs as much as I: Participate in surveys. Sure, most of the surveys we typically get confronted with are more for internal usage and we may never see what the results (plus, it may end you up on an email list, but with the development of Spam filters these days, chances are you will not be hassled a great deal). But, for those organizations that are trying to get solid answers to cool and intriguing questions, sharing your honest opinion is going to help develop a more accurate response, and in turn, a more reliable infograph for me to click on.

______________________________________________________________

Greg Morgan is Communications and Content Director for Make Me Social, a social media agency that develops customized social media strategies for businesses. With experience in industries ranging from sports to state government, Greg focuses in crafting messages for all types of clients in an effort to perfect what he calls “versatile communications.” Born and raised in West Hartford, Connecticut, he remains a loyal UConn Husky fan, despite now residing in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Socially Made: The UFC as an Educational Tool?

Throughout 2011, Make Me Social will publish Socially Made, a review of social media’s continued evolution in both influence and commentary.

I am a fan of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). For many, the sport of mixed martial arts is too crazy or too barbaric, but personally, I am a fan. I like the action, competition, techniques and personalities. However, I am also a fan because of the company’s business model and their practice of brand management. The company works hard to grow their fan base, and does so in a practical way that helps attract the type of fans they want to have.

Among their best practices is their method of marketing through the use of Twitter.

As we all know, Twitter has always been head and shoulders above their competition in their ability to help grow an individual’s fame. Ashton Kutcher is of course the original example, but as I wrote about in a previous post, there are a growing number of influential people on Twitter, a majority of which need an avenue like Twitter to share their thoughts, opinions or considerations. People like Conan O’Brien, Chad Ochocinco, Kim Kardashian and others supplement their time on television with tweets that share information with fans when they aren’t / can’t be in front of the camera.

In the UFC, the practice of using Twitter ramped up starting with the company’s President, Dana White. He quickly became notorious for posting from everywhere, including ringside during fights (in an interview with Sports Illustrated, he talks about when he knew Twitter was a powerful tool. It involved a weeknight in 2009, a frozen yogurt store in Manhattan and potential free UFC tickets). From there, the individual fighters quickly started using the medium in order to connect with fans, discuss their training regiment and taunt opponents, but their success was limited because, unlike Dana White, the average fighter would only have matches 2-3 times a year, and therefore didn’t have the means to consistently market themselves through the UFC’s main engine: Television.

However, recently, a small change was made by the company that addressed this problem and also strengthened their fan base and outreach. At live events, the UFC started listing the Twitter handles of each of the fighters when they were being introduced. It was as simple as adding an extra few words on the screen, but the return on investment has been great. Now, fans of particular fighters know how to connect to them, and in turn, these fans stay connected to the UFC everyday and not just on Fight Nights.

The strategy promotes the fighters. It promotes the UFC. Win-Win.

So what can we learn?

Too often, organizations view social media as a complete shift in marketing philosophy when the ideal methodology is to use social media as a supplement and catalyst with what is already working. Is your advertising campaign going strong? Does your eNewsletter have an above-average open rate? Keep going with these, and use social media to supplement, promote and fill in the gaps. Organizations like the UFC have learned to harness social media’s versatility, and combine it with their established techniques to give a richer experience to the fans.

In short, the UFC airs about 30 live events a year, but because of their activity on social media and the way they promote their fighters, fight fans have plenty to do the other 335 days.

______________________________________________________________

Greg Morgan is Communications and Content Director for Make Me Social, a social media agency that develops customized social media strategies for businesses. With experience in industries ranging from sports to state government, Greg focuses in crafting messages for all types of clients in an effort to perfect what he calls “versatile communications.” Born and raised in West Hartford, Connecticut, he remains a loyal UConn Husky fan, despite now residing in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Socially Made – Gauging Influence

Throughout 2011, Make Me Social will publish Socially Made, a review of social media’s continued evolution in both influence and commentary.

Influence. It is what everyone using social media for professional purposes is looking to exert, as well as measure for themselves and their competitors. But how can this statistic be obtained?

In March, the New York Times Magazine, in collaboration with Twitalyzer, wrote a piece on the differences between “being followed” and “being influential” while using the popular micro-blogging site. The Influence Index was developed to count the number of times somebody’s Twitter name is mentioned by other users (including retweets) with the idea being that influence isn’t merely about who is talking on Twitter, but who is affecting the conversation either directly or indirectly.

I admit, I was on board. MSNBC ran a segment promoting the article and describing the methodology. I was enthralled. I couldn’t wait to read it. They listed some of the names that made their list, some of which were obvious (President Obama was placed at 7) and others surprising (the only person higher on the Influence Index than veteran wide receiver Chad Ochocinco was Brazilian comedian Rafinha Bastos).

Then, a couple weeks later, I read a single tweet that made me rethink my opinion on this analytic:

“Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).”

I didn’t read this tweet in real-time because I’m not connected to the IT Consultant that posted it, nor are a majority of the 175 million Twitter pages that exist. It offered no trending topics (at the time) and didn’t have a hashtag in it. Yet, this note is the first known public report of one of the most important pieces of news of the decade.

Now, this tweet alone shouldn’t be considered influential (newsworthy, but not influential). However, it was the spark that made me ask questions. I define influential as providing, sharing or being something that has lasting, real world relevance. I don’t define it as a statement that is thought about and perhaps forwarded, but then quickly forgotten about and replaced with the next statement (the difference between the two is similar to arguments Chris Rock makes in his bit about the difference between wealth and just being rich).

My mainstream benchmark for influence is the Oprah Book Club. She turned writers into authors with a simple nod of approval. She made careers. But can influence over social media be measured like this? Not everyone is selling or recommending something, so how can those be properly matched against those that are? Some are able to say something funny that is retweeted, but can laughing at something be considered on the same plane of influence as opinions on a controversial issue?

Among the problems I have with what I know of the Influence Index formula are:

  • The inherent bias that exists towards celebrities. Those with some of the highest marks use Twitter as a supplement to their mainstream communications strategy, which provides them with an existing baseline of influence. A regular individual can’t compete with that, despite being unknowingly privy to Seal Team Six’s next mission. This leads to my next point, which is….
  • Shouldn’t there be a longer timeline to determine influence properly? Influence can’t be determined in the present. I read posts on social media all day, but if asked to recite what I remember of posts from a month ago, only a few come to mind. Aren’t those the truly influential ones? Information shared vs. potential or useful practice of that information: That is a statistic much harder to calculate.
  • All of the individuals mentioned on the list are, in fact, individuals. Organizations also exist on Twitter and have large followings. Also, I would also argue that “Twitter” as an influencer should be ranked with this group.

The Influence Index is a very relevant statistic. It does calculate an individual or group’s ability to find the right mix of saturation and resonance, and this can be useful knowledge to have and develop a strategy around. However, attaining true influence includes both shaping thoughts and changing opinions, which many of these individuals do not achieve or even necessarily aim for. For this reason the New York Times Magazine / Twitalyzer statistic should be recognized, but it should also be renamed.

______________________________________________________________

Greg Morgan is Communications and Content Director for Make Me Social, a social media agency that develops customized social media strategies for businesses. With experience in industries ranging from sports to state government, Greg focuses in crafting messages for all types of clients in an effort to perfect what he calls “versatile communications.” Born and raised in West Hartford, Connecticut, he remains a loyal UConn Husky fan, despite now residing in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Socially Made – March 2011

Throughout 2011, Make Me Social will publish Socially Made, a review of social media’s continued evolution in both influence and commentary.

“Come. We live under the subways, with the CEO of Friendster.”

-A Travel Agent (along with an American Autoworker and a Rock Saxophonist), telling television writer Liz Lemon to join them because their positions are no longer relevant, on 30 Rock.

The line is the latest in a slew of quick jabs at the social networking site that has now fallen to #980 in global traffic, according to Alexa. However this one should hurt a bit more because if a renowned, mainstream comedy show feels that referencing you won’t fly over the heads of the average network viewer, you truly have become a pop culture punchline.

Misery loves company though, and Friendster has plenty of both, the most famous being MySpace, who recently lost 10 million unique users in a month. News Corp (MySpace’s owner) has tried an array of tricks to keep and add more users, going as far as having CEO Mike Jones say, “MySpace is a not a social network anymore. It is now a social entertainment destination,” in order to differentiate themselves from Facebook.

As a full-service marketing agency with proven results in social media, Make Me Social prides itself on being able to find the right package of social media sites for any organization to better brand and promote their capabilities. We research & analyze different ideas and platforms to stay on top or ahead of the curve, but Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have been industry standards for awhile now because they have an absurdly large audience that is a competent marketer’s dream (which is why Make Me Social has been able to be successful in a short time).

But these sites do not have a monopoly on innovation and are not beyond reproach. As an example, if each social networking site had the same number of users, would the “industry standards” still be be the favorites? Most likely not, but because that is where everyone is, that is where everyone else flocks to.

Lets be clear, a site like Facebook is doing a ton of stuff right. A TON!!! Why? Because they are smart enough to not become complacent with their position, whether it is in philanthropy or development of new projects. There are meetings I attend in which people don’t differentiate between Facebook and “social media.”

As someone that wants the progression of social media to get stronger, I have a couple ideas for what the potential up-and-comers need to do:

1. Don’t focus on the next step!! Think 5 steps ahead and work backward:

  • This goes against most of the things we learn in school, but for there to be new additions to the big names in social media, new and existing sites have to stop trying to keep pace and leap frog to the end and work backwards. Think of the answer, then create the question.

2. Try to Ledom!!

  • Unsure what it means to Ledom? Try spelling the word backwards. Too many new sites are taking what they see in existence and developing their Model after it (even those that don’t believe they are, are probably doing it subconsciously). So, if you think of an idea, flip it around and use that as the base.

3. Combine with existing technologies to educate, entertain and supplement!!

4. There is no “I” in social media (trust me, there isn’t).

  • The problem new social sites have is that for them to work, it isn’t good enough to think of people as individuals. Users have to be captured in groups. Some sites are good at capturing niche groups, but they then need to focus on multiple niche groups, which will lead to a transition from niche to mainstream.

MySpace losing users at the clip that they are, and their willingness to take a step back away in their brand reputation, should serve as the latest chapter in a cautionary tale on launching a mainstream social media site. However, the other thought is that perhaps the ship has sailed (for now) on successfully launching mainstream social media sites. A good barometer is determining whether a site like Facebook is really on the cutting edge of knowing what the public wants, or is Facebook to the point of creating a new advancement, and telling the public that they want it. If it is the latter, then stories here and there about privacy issues aside, a site like Facebook can do no wrong.

It is my hopes that the trend changes. There needs to be  more diversity – both in niche and mainstream social sites – which will benefit the public as a whole. Ironically, it is up to the public to drive this change, so someone has to pass this blog on to those people living under the subway.

______________________________________________________________

Greg Morgan is Communications and Content Director for Make Me Social, a social media agency that develops customized social media strategies for businesses. With experience in industries ranging from sports to state government, Greg focuses in crafting messages for all types of clients in an effort to perfect what he calls “versatile communications.” Born and raised in West Hartford, Connecticut, he remains a loyal UConn Husky fan, despite now residing in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Socially Made – March 2011

Throughout 2011, Make Me Social will publish Socially Made, a review of social media’s continued evolution in both influence and commentary.

“Come. We live under the subways, with the CEO of Friendster.”

-A Travel Agent (along with an American Autoworker and a Rock Saxophonist), telling television writer Liz Lemon to join them because their positions are no longer relevant, on 30 Rock.

The line is the latest in a slew of quick jabs at the social networking site that has now fallen to #980 in global traffic, according to Alexa. However this one should hurt a bit more because if a renowned, mainstream comedy show feels that referencing you won’t fly over the heads of the average network viewer, you truly have become a pop culture punchline.

Misery loves company though, and Friendster has plenty of both, the most famous being MySpace, who recently lost 10 million unique users in a month. News Corp (MySpace’s owner) has tried an array of tricks to keep and add more users, going as far as having CEO Mike Jones say, “MySpace is a not a social network anymore. It is now a social entertainment destination,” in order to differentiate themselves from Facebook.

As a full-service marketing agency with proven results in social media, Make Me Social prides itself on being able to find the right package of social media sites for any organization to better brand and promote their capabilities. We research & analyze different ideas and platforms to stay on top or ahead of the curve, but Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have been industry standards for awhile now because they have an absurdly large audience that is a competent marketer’s dream (which is why Make Me Social has been able to be successful in a short time).

But these sites do not have a monopoly on innovation and are not beyond reproach. As an example, if each social networking site had the same number of users, would the “industry standards” still be be the favorites? Most likely not, but because that is where everyone is, that is where everyone else flocks to.

Lets be clear, a site like Facebook is doing a ton of stuff right. A TON!!! Why? Because they are smart enough to not become complacent with their position, whether it is in philanthropy or development of new projects. There are meetings I attend in which people don’t differentiate between Facebook and “social media.”

As someone that wants the progression of social media to get stronger, I have a couple ideas for what the potential up-and-comers need to do:

1. Don’t focus on the next step!! Think 5 steps ahead and work backward:

  • This goes against most of the things we learn in school, but for there to be new additions to the big names in social media, new and existing sites have to stop trying to keep pace and leap frog to the end and work backwards. Think of the answer, then create the question.

2. Try to Ledom!!

  • Unsure what it means to Ledom? Try spelling the word backwards. Too many new sites are taking what they see in existence and developing their Model after it (even those that don’t believe they are, are probably doing it subconsciously). So, if you think of an idea, flip it around and use that as the base.

3. Combine with existing technologies to educate, entertain and supplement!!

4. There is no “I” in social media (trust me, there isn’t).

  • The problem new social sites have is that for them to work, it isn’t good enough to think of people as individuals. Users have to be captured in groups. Some sites are good at capturing niche groups, but they then need to focus on multiple niche groups, which will lead to a transition from niche to mainstream.

MySpace losing users at the clip that they are, and their willingness to take a step back away in their brand reputation, should serve as the latest chapter in a cautionary tale on launching a mainstream social media site. However, the other thought is that perhaps the ship has sailed (for now) on successfully launching mainstream social media sites. A good barometer is determining whether a site like Facebook is really on the cutting edge of knowing what the public wants, or is Facebook to the point of creating a new advancement, and telling the public that they want it. If it is the latter, then stories here and there about privacy issues aside, a site like Facebook can do no wrong.

It is my hopes that the trend changes. There needs to be  more diversity – both in niche and mainstream social sites – which will benefit the public as a whole. Ironically, it is up to the public to drive this change, so someone has to pass this blog on to those people living under the subway.

______________________________________________________________

Greg Morgan is Communications and Content Director for Make Me Social, a social media agency that develops customized social media strategies for businesses. With experience in industries ranging from sports to state government, Greg focuses in crafting messages for all types of clients in an effort to perfect what he calls “versatile communications.” Born and raised in West Hartford, Connecticut, he remains a loyal UConn Husky fan, despite now residing in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Socially Made – February 2011

Throughout 2011, Make Me Social will publish Socially Made, a review of social media’s continued evolution in both influence and commentary.

The first edition of Socially Made was very well received, and in determining how to follow it up, I wanted to separate myself by not writing about what everyone else has been writing about (sorry, no Charlie Sheen commentary….yet).

This post’s theme is determining the line between what you can write about on social media when it comes to your professional life (don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a training seminar by any means).

In most circumstances, organizations and the individuals that make up them up know of the existence of social media (whether they understand its capabilities as a business tool, well, that is up for interpretation). However, while only a handful of organizations are utilizing it to connect to the public, the truth is that a large percentage of its personnel are using it personally, and the gray area comes when those worlds meet. Two recent events represent examples of how this issue has come to a head, and should raise concerns for any organization (or at least any organization that expects to hire anyone younger than 30).

The Mississippi State mens basketball team has had a difficult season, with a gamut of suspensions and internal conflicts. Adding to the barrage of problems, MSU guard Ravern Johnson posted the following on Twitter after a 14-point loss to conference foe Alabama.

“Starting to see why people Transfer you can play the minutes but not getting your talents shown because u watching someone else wit the ball the whole game shooters need to move not watch why other coaches get that do not make sense to me”

This was interpreted (rightfully so) as a direct shot at the coaching staff, which drew a flood of criticism from fans towards Johnson and teammate Ronaldo Sidney (who retweeted the post and has had problems of his own) to the point where both deleted their Twitter accounts. This incident forced head coach Rick Stansbury to ban his players from using the social networking site, stating, “In the heat of the moment, some young men just don’t understand once they put something out there for everyone to see, there is no taking it back. That’s why I’m banning the use of Twitter at this point.”

It was a newsworthy event, but Mississippi State was not the first team to have to deal with a situation like this. The Minnesota Golden Gophers basketball team is an interesting case. They have had a number of social media users, including Al Nolen (who is injured and posted about his hopes to be back playing soon); Trevor Mbakwe (who sent a Facebook message to a woman who has a restraining order against him, which resulted in jail time, and upon being released, offered a commentary on Twitter, which resulted in a suspension of his account); Rodney Williams (who has said he stopped using Twitter to avoid saying the wrong thing); and Royce White (announced his transfer via a multi-channel, social media campaign). All of this activity caused head coach Tubby Smith to have to address this issue with his team.

These examples, and others like it, have necessitated other basketball coaches to go on record on their opinions of players using social media, including Notre Dame’s Mike Brey (who doesn’t let his players use Twitter during the season, but hasn’t banned Facebook) and his Big East colleague Jim Boeheim (who refuses to police the medium and instead relies on the players to make sound decisions when they are online). This problem isn’t specific to basketball. Nearly every college and professional sports teams has individuals using social media to report their thoughts as a way to get their thoughts out unfiltered. However, the controversy arises when these comments conflict with that of the organization.

Media relations and sports information staffs exist for a reason. They are there to put everything in the most positive – but also most accurate – light from the team perspective. When individual team members circumvent that process, journalists and the public may love it, but there are other considerations. For example, an 18 year old making a statement in the heat of the moment that they would like to retract later will have a difficult time walking something back, especially if it is controversial.

Make Me Social doesn’t recommend restricting social media use, but education is key. Head coaches and their staffs are also teachers, and when they aren’t covering X’s and O’s, these teachers should be covering ways that their students can represent themselves, their teammates and their organization better.

A more mainstream example is the case of Natalie Munroe, the Pennsylvania teacher who used her blog to comment on her students and colleagues, which led to her suspension. This story has received national attention, not just for the issue, but Ms. Munroe’s insistence that she is in the right (when others would have simply apologized and taken the punishment).

Her defense includes writing under an assumed name (although, whether “Natalie M” is a cryptic enough pseudonym is up for debate. Plus, she did have a photograph of herself on her page); the fact that she didn’t cite any student’s name or even the school that employed her; that she had been blogging for over a year – primarily for family and friends – and of the 84 posts, 60 of them had absolutely nothing to do with school or work; and that the post that got her suspended was over a year old.

However, her shock about the ramifications her blog has caused is a bit disingenuous because, in an ironic twist, she had told her students about being cautious when posting on the Internet because, “it could get to the wrong people.” It should be noted that she also wrote positive things about her students and employer, but those have gone unnoticed (I hope it isn’t because she is expected to do that, and therefore it isn’t news).

I am not going to debate the accuracy of her opinions on her students (but will say that if I spent five days a week with people over nine months, I would claim to know them pretty well). Did she exercise bad judgment? Yes. I mean, was she expecting to get a comedy special out of this rant? The question remains though, if this was published via a letter to her local paper or in an interview (both which would have been fact-checked), would she have been suspended? What about sharing these thoughts with friend at a coffee shop and a parent overheard? Where does Natalie Munroe the teacher end and Natalie Munroe, the 30-year old women that has problems like everyone else begin?

I have worked in communications my entire career, so the process of thinking, rethinking, then re-rethinking all public statements is inherent in me, especially when representing clients. As social media has become a greater part of my personal life, I have, by default, found myself taking my professional training into my personal communications. However, not all people are of the same thinking, and because social media exists as a rapid response to life, it has the potential to generate unique perspectives. The solution is simple though. Many organizations provide media training to their employees, so why not provide social media training that includes everything from how to frame your point to the type of people using different platforms? This effort would at least plant the seed in people that there can be professional repercussions to your personal statements, even if you think no one else is listening.

Social media is the online equivalent of a free megaphone: It gives you a more prevalent voice. But that voice doesn’t get to come at a cost to others. The internet is written in ink, not pencil, so before you publish something, I ask you to consider this: The Library of Congress announced last year it plans to archive every tweet sent via Twitter since its inception in March 2006. Are you prepared to have what you are writing be read 5, 10, 15 years from now? If so, I look forward to reading it.

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Greg Morgan is Communications and Content Director for Make Me Social, a social media agency that develops customized social media strategies for businesses. With experience in industries ranging from sports to state government, Greg focuses in crafting messages for all types of clients in an effort to perfect what he calls “versatile communications.” Born and raised in West Hartford, Connecticut, he remains a loyal UConn Husky fan, despite now residing in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.