Embrace good enough: A response to Sandberg by Elsa Walsh

Elsa WalshSheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook, has ignited the world with her comments for women to “Lean In” to their work. It’s caused many women to question and engage in a dialogue that explores the complicated balance between work life and family – and how to choose a priority. So, should women really be on their blackberries 24/7, sending work emails, tweets and participating in other social media applications to get ahead – or seek a more balanced life?

In an article published in The Washington Post on Sunday, Elsa Walsh, a former Post reporter, author of “Divided Lives: The Public and Private Struggles of Three American Women,” and a current New Yorker staff writer, suggests we consider a “good enough” life. She takes a “longer view of a woman’s life” and frames the perspective with a question for Sandberg: Does she ever consider the fact that she will die someday?

April 23rd, 2013|Categories: Commentary|Tags: , , , , |

The Different uses of social media: What is best for you?

The other day, I had a chat with Joseph, our social media strategist, about the different uses of social media. The conversation started with how differently we viewed Facebook. Joseph uses Facebook to connect with more and more people, to engage with them, share opinions and articles, etc. – the more, the merrier — in order to start conversations and share content.

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Marie Ebenezer has been interning at OWC, writing about social media and cultural differences.

I, on the other hand, only use Facebook for private purposes. I have about 150 Facebook friends, and these are the people I actually see or communicate with on a regular basis. Seeing private photos of someone I barely know, for instance, seems odd to me. I guess keeping my Facebook profile quite private is just a personal preference, and I might be an exception. I would feel violated if someone, who I don’t really know, looked at my private pictures and knew where I was spending my holidays, and I, therefore, do not want to have as many Facebook friends as possible. This does not mean that I’m unfriendly or reluctant to make new acquaintances — I am actually very opened and extroverted.

This conversation I had with Joseph is just part of a much larger trend I have noticed while working in public relations. I have talked about Facebook with a lot of different people, and I have found that almost everybody uses it differently: some wish to have thousands of friends and interact with new people constantly, whereas others use it very passively, just to stay in the loop (e.g. know about upcoming events). Facebook alone has many different uses, and I started wondering what people used all the other social networks for. Do each of them have a specific purpose? Well, here are my thoughts on this as a meme.

People use Facebook in many different ways.

My approach to Facebook is just one of many ways to use it.

Facebook is the largest social-media platform, and it is the one I use most…by far. I use Facebook to write messages, to chat, to share photos, videos and articles and to stay connected with my friends. I also have a LinkedIn profile, which I created for professional purposes. It is useful for networking, even though I still have two years of university ahead of me before I can start looking for a job.

I do not have my own Twitter account or blog, but I have tweeted and blogged for OWC lately – and really started to like it! Twitter is great for getting your thoughts out there quickly and having them seen by a large audience. If you tweet well, your number of followers increase, and Twitter becomes very effective. Blogs are a good tool for creating a voice and elaborating interesting topics. Another emerging platform is Pinterest, an online pin board where you can collect and share items such as recipes, ideas and designs. Pinterest has a predominantly female demographic (80%), and it is expected to gain more and more influence on the social media market.

And then there is Google+. Did you know that Google+ is the second largest social network? I was surprised when I read this statistic, but as I looked more closely at this site, I became more and more convinced that Google+ has some very successful years to come. I have only ever used Google+ for hangouts, and in my opinion this tool was cleverly marketed.  It’s definitely the most prominent feature, and not only can you hang out in private (like you would on a Skype video call); but you can also join public hangouts, which are being held quite frequently. Barack Obama, for instance, has used this feature just last week for connecting with the public. (The hangout was entitled “Barack Obama answers your questions,” and it was publicized on the Google homepage).

The advantages of Google+ are not restricted to hangouts though. Another great trait is that you can use this network like Twitter by writing short posts with a hash tag (“Google+ trends”). You also have the option of chatting with your connections like you would on Facebook chat, for instance. Connections on Google+ are divided into different “circles.” These are great, because you can choose which items you share will be visible for which circles (friends, family, colleagues, etc.). You can also join a Google+ community (e.g. “Breaking Bad”, “NFL” or “Baking”) , which is similar to liking a public page on Facebook. Finally, you can create or join a Google+ event, where all the invitees can contribute to a shared photo collection and where you can share photos instantly with the so-called Party Mode.

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Google+ trends, hangouts, events and chat are just a few of its great features.

These are just a few of the features I discovered on Google+, and I’m sure Google is working on elaborating this network even further. If you are looking to have your presence known on the web, then this social media site is great, because your profile will show up on Google searches and lead people directly to you. Google+ borrowed some great aspects from existing sites and services (Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Instagram) and made them work together. This social media site looks quite promising to me, and I’m curious to see how it will evolve and how big of an influence it will garner. And let’s not forget Pinterest, which is also on the rise – some very exciting social media trends ahead!

February 21st, 2013|Categories: Client News|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Social Media and Modern Rights

At work the last couple of days here at Olmstead Williams Communications, we’ve been having some engaging conversations about social media and how it can affect a business’ bottom line. There have been fascinating conversations, and we’ve been posing several open-ended and critical questions in regards to our philosophy and practice.  Here are some of the questions we’ve been asking: “How can we measure success with social media?” “How can we approach it as a craft, a medium, a genre?” “How do we want to be received as a company, a brand, a voice through our various accounts?”

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But the one questions we didn’t ask was how our rights were protected through social media?  How far does our freedom of speech extend in the realms of Facebook, Twitter, and others?  And can a workplace censor those ideas and opinions or hold you responsible for deprecating comments?

Well, it sure came to our attention with a great article in the New York Times by Steven Greenhouse: “Even if it Enrages Your Boss, Social Net Speech is Protected.”  According to Greenhouse, “National Labor Relations Board says workers have a right to discuss work conditions freely and without fear of retribution, whether the discussion takes place at the office or on Facebook.”

This is quite a victory for free-speech advocates who believe that social media isn’t just an extension of the workplace, but a space where opinions, thoughts, and ideas are protected from censorship and fear. Of course, this is going to bring about compelling issues over branding and marketing a business’ image. Now that employees are protected under the law and can say what they want without fear of termination, does that mean employees always should speak their mind?

For example, a bartender was fired from his job, because he posted on his Facebook that he was frustrated that his bosses hadn’t given him a raise in five years.  He went on a rant and called the patrons rednecks.  Then there was a reporter in Tuscon, Arizona, who was fired for speaking her mind. She wrote on her Facebook that there should be more murders in the city, because she needed to have something to write about.  I don’t know, but maybe they should have chosen not to say these things.

The debate has only begun. And while this recent ruling defines freedom for social-media expression, does it extend to blogs, too? Okay, companies can’t fire their employees for their posts and tweets anymore, but could they one day sue them for liable? What’s next?

January 23rd, 2013|Categories: Client News|Tags: , , , , , |