The Social Media Collision


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This brief presentation looks at the differences between traditional and new/social media and how these disparities can result in online "collisions" of culture, meaning and understanding.

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  • The values and priorities of old media and new media are often at odds, creating conflicts that baffle communicators. This presentation, like my book, is about what happens when these two opposing forces collide, and what can be done to harness the power released instead of getting killed by it. Social media is the story of old and new communications, old and new values, in collision. The result is unpredictable and often confusing. The social media marketing and communications world is beginning to settle down as corporations and communications professionals establish standards and practices, and as regulators and industry associations step in and fill the gaps created by people who are sometimes well meaning, and are, at other times, completely lacking in integrity.
  • It was not that long ago that communications was highly prescriptive – academics created rules, such as dictionaries and other reference books, that defined language, and people who spoke the language “properly” followed the rules. The people in this picture did not have to worry about hearing a word or phrase they did not understand. There was no mixing here of personal and professional life, young and old, formal and informal, etc. There was one lexicon for every situation. Etiquette, custom, rules and laws prescribed it.My friend Garr Reynolds, who wrote Presentation Zen, and has an excellent blog on the subject, told me about TPO -- Time, Place and Occasion – a concept popular among the Japanese, which simply says that communications should be tailored to time, place and occasion.On the electronic commons of the internet, time, place and occasion have been forgotten. We exist alongside our friends, parents, children, co-workers, employees, supervisors, judges, juries, customer, clients, competitors, etc. In the past, we moved between physical spaces -- the car, the classroom, the office -- which gave us cues that our terminology, style of language, and even pronunciation needed to be adjusted for each new audience and situation. These physical spaces are gone now, and as we move effortlessly between roles and circles of acquaintances, we sometimes forget to change our communications style.Language is also descriptive, that is, it is dictated not entirely by books and rules but also by daily usage. What is happening on social networks is that new words and expressions are coming into use too quickly, disrupting established orders and causing confusion. The student speaks one language. The teacher speaks another. Yet they exist in the same time and space, a social network for instance, communicating in two partially incompatible languages.
  • One example of a social media collision is the video resume, which is both social and media, and favors media over social. The attractive, young, well spoken candidate will be favored over the less attractive candidate who might be better qualified. In this case, the media aspect of social media can carry too much weight and result in prejudicial and inaccurate communications and results.
  • It’s easy to say “I speak like everyone else I know. If some people can’t get used to it, that’s their problem.” Unfortunately, a failure to adapt communications to TPO can be costly. I was interviewed by Canadian Press on the subject of the deterioration of language skills among college students caused by social networking. While I couldn’t see a direct cause and effect, I do see problems. Recruiters for example do not like emoticons (smiley faces) and may reject potential candidates who use them.Professors are seeing text abbreviations like L8R and emoticons in term papers, thesis papers and other places they don’t belong. Hiring managers are seeing them in resumes and cover letters. It is only a matter of time before they appear in legal briefs and medical procedures. Without debating whether it should be OK to use these informal communications methods, it is a fact that doing so can be a disadvantage in our career and academic lives.
  • FINRA, which is similar to the SEC, but regulates financial professionals with fund holdings of under $30M, has told its members to stop using social networks “at home” because their use is too hard to distinguish from business use, and investors/consumers may be confused by what they hear from financial advisors in various forums. Many professionals are now trying to understand the invisible and often indiscernible borders between their professional communications and their personal ones. If a financial planner is at home using her personal Facebook account, and she posts something related to an investment, is she held to the same standards as she would be when emailing a client from the office? At what point does an attorney chatting on an online forum enter into attorney/client privilege? Or does he? People have lost context, and time, place and occasion are meaningless as all places are one.
  • Privacy is an issue that overlaps the language issue. Not only do we have language incompatibilities, but our language is now highly visible to people who might judge us because of it. As McLuhan says, publication, on a social network, is self-invasion of privacy. Whatever we post online might be seen by employers, potential mates, employees, credit agencies, clients, etc.McLuhan clearly foresaw the whole phenomenon of blogging, Twitter and Facebook status updates. Whenever we publish details about our selves, we have affirmatively decided to invade our own privacy. How much information is too much? Location-based services like Foursquare and Rally (which I use regularly) are fun, and useful, but are we giving away too many personal details? Must we give up our privacy?The merger of our personal and business lives in a single social networking “presence” has its problems, too. Is it really smart to let current and future employers know about a drunken beach party or a bailout from a Mexican jail? More and more we are living our lives out in the open, on the public web, and this has its consequences. It also limits the degree to which we can protest about invasions of privacy.
  • “To (students), Facebook and the like occupy some weird twilight zone between public and private information, rather like a diary left on the kitchen table.”This is, of course, wrong.Facebook updates (this varies with privacy settings) are easily seen by friends, parents, educators and perhaps more importantly, law enforcement and potential employers. So no analogy other than “sending a full written report to the agency of your choice” really works here. Any other is clever, and perhaps stimulates conversation, but can lead to some serious online faux pas.
  • Here’s an example of the ways in which Facebook’s lack of privacy can cause all kinds of havoc. This screenshot is from Rudy Giuliani’s daughter’s Facebook page. You can see from the Mini-Feed that Caroline has just left a Barack Obama support group page. This caused her father, a Republican, a bit of embarrassment. Personally, I don’t think it matters that someone’s daughter doesn’t share the same political views, but I guess at the highest levels of politics, this is seen as a failing or inconsistency on the part of the elder Giuliani.What I found more interesting, and more embarrassing, was that Caroline, who was, I believe, 17 at the time this was published, is looking for “Random play” and “Whatever I can get.”
  • The Social Media Collision

    1. 1. the social media collision Universidade lica Portuguesa Formação Avançada em Media Sociais April 26, 2012 Joel PostmanCopyright 2011-2013, Joel Postman & Socialized
    2. 2. Social media is troubled by the constant collision of traditional and new communications.Copyright 2011-2013, Joel Postman & Socialized
    3. 3. Time, place and occasion don’t exist on theelectronic commons Copyright 2011-2013, Joel Postman & Socialized
    4. 4. conversation or publication? • Between you and a friend • Visible to millions • No permanent record • Possibly indelible • Personal signals add nuance • No nuance • Negotiated conversation clears up • Lack of context and clarification leads to misunderstanding confusion • Not governed by law (in most cases) • May have legal implicationsCopyright 2011-2013, Joel Postman & Socialized
    5. 5. I’m a little bit social. You’re a little bit media.Copyright 2011-2013, Joel Postman & Socialized
    6. 6. authenticity and transparency could cost you • 35% of employers have found content on social networking sites that caused them not to hire the candidate. • Reasons cited for not hiring include provocative photos (53%), alcohol or drug related content (44%), and badmouthing a previous employer (35%). • 14% rejected candidates who used emoticons :-( • 29% use Facebook, 26% LinkedIn and 21% MySpace. Harris Interactive/CareerBuilder poll, Aug. 19, 2009 2011-2013, Joel Postman & Socialized
    7. 7. • Similar to NASDAQ, regulates certain financial service providers, brokers, financial planners, fund managers • January “compliance notice” NTM 10-06 regulates “dynamic communications” like Twitter and Facebook and “static communications” like blogs and advertising • Calls for content to be pre-reviewed and archived, harder with dynamic communications “the current state of technology makes it hard to keep personal uses of networks like LinkedIn and Twitter separate from business uses.” Joseph Price Finra senior vice presidentCopyright 2011-2013, Joel Postman & Socialized
    8. 8. Publication is self-invasion of privacy. Marshall McLuhan Copyright 2011-2013, Joel Postman & Socialized
    9. 9. “To (students), Facebook and the like occupy some weird twilight zone between public and private information, rather like a diary left on the kitchen table.” Randy Cohen, Ethicist, New York Times Copyright 2011-2013, Joel Postman & Socialized
    10. 10. Rudy Giuliani Disliked ThisCopyright 2011-2013, Joel Postman & Socialized
    11. 11. facebook/postman @jpostmanCopyright 2011-2013, Joel Postman & Socialized