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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Retailers Are Using Your Social Media Profile

If you have a social media presence (and who doesn't these days?), be assured that retailers and other businesses are using your photo, your profile, and all other information you post on those sites to sell you something.  Facebook, Google, Apple, and others all collect social media users' "faceprints" to enter these photos and information obtained from your social media sites into a facial recognition database.  What do they do with that information?  They use it to target personalized advertising, of course.  If you have ever wondered why you keep seeing ads on the Internet that seem particularly targeted to you and your preferences and recent activity, you can be certain that these ads have been generated because of information you provide online. 
Laws in Europe require that companies obtain permission before they collect a faceprint.  However, there is no such law in the United States.  So, until the law catches up with technology, you should expect that any information you provide online is open fodder for commercial use. 
For more on this topic, check out the ABA Law Journal article "Is your photo online? Are you on Facebook? If so, retailers can ID you and your shopping profile."  You can also check out a recent story about Google Glasses and its facial recognition capabilities.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Are Your Employees Posting Work Videos on Vine?

The Wall Street Journal blog has a new article about Vine, the video sharing app developed by Twitter for iPhones.  According to the article, employees use Vine to post videos about their employers, co-workers, and themselves, while on the job.  Videos include an employee wearing a company uniform smoking from a bong and another employee filming herself leafing through what appears to be confidential business plans. There are plenty of videos of employees venting about how much they hate their jobs, including an employee making an obscene gesture at a grocery store where he apparently works.
You can access the article on the WSJ blog. Or, go to Vine and search for "work" videos. Just use your lunch break. And, be smarter than these employees - don't video yourself watching them.  If you have an Android phone?  Forget about it - Vine is only for Apple users.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How To Use LinkedIn More Effectively

Most professionals recognize the value in setting up a LinkedIn profile, but are you using LinkedIn effectively?  Here are a handful of tips for getting the most out of your LinkedIn experience:
1.  Use a Professional Profile Photo. 
Save the pictures of your puppy or kids for your Facebook profile, and make sure you are using a professional headshot for your LinkedIn profile.  Ask your employer if you can use the headshot from your company website if you have one or spend a little money and have one taken. 
2.  Fill in the Details.
Make sure you fill in your background, skills, education, experience, and publications.  Use links and upload documents to make it easier for potential employers, clients, or customers to learn more about you.  Link to your website and any other professional social media site (blog, company Twitter or Facebook) but avoid linking to personal social media sites.  Think about LinkedIn being an extension of your resume. 
3.   Connect.
LinkedIn is about connections, so make them. Invite people you recently met at a conference or discussed business with at your kids' school to connect with you. Make sure your clients or customers are connections - they are your best source of recommendations or endorsements. LinkedIn is not a popularity contest, so you can (and should) be a little more choosy in your connections - remember, this is a professional networking site. 
4.  Join Groups.
If you aren't joining groups in your field, you may be missing out on making valuable new connections.  LinkedIn will provide you with recommendations of groups based on your profile and summary information in "Groups You May Like."  But, you may need to dig a little deeper.  Search for organizations you already belong to and see if they have a LinkedIn group - they probably do.  Join your company group.  See what groups your connections belong to and join those.  
5.  Keep it Current.
Every couple of months, or immediately after a significant professional change (i.e., new job, promotion, publication), review and update your profile with new skills, activities, publications, etc.  In addition to keeping your profile current, it also keeps your connections informed of new activities.  

Friday, May 24, 2013

New Study on Teens, Social Media & Privacy

On May 21st, the Pew Research Center released a study titled "Teens, Social Media, and Privacy." The group had surveyed 802 teens about their social media activities and how they protect their privacy online. Not surprisingly, teens don't have the same privacy concerns as adults  do in using social media.  They also don't like to "share" their social media sites with adults - leading to the movement from Facebook to newer sites like Instagram. Fastest way to make something unpopular with teens? Bring in old people.

You can access the full report here, and a summary of the findings is below:

·        Teens are sharing more information about themselves on social media sites than they did in the past. For the five different types of personal information that we measured in both 2006 and 2012, each is significantly more likely to be shared by teen social media users in our most recent survey.
·       Teen Twitter use has grown significantly: 24% of online teens use Twitter, up from 16% in 2011.
·        The typical (median) teen Facebook user has 300 friends, while the typical teen Twitter user has 79 followers.
·        Focus group discussions with teens show that they have waning enthusiasm for Facebook, disliking the increasing adult presence, people sharing excessively, and stressful "drama," but they keep using it because participation is an important part of overall teenage socializing.
·        60% of teen Facebook users keep their profiles private, and most report high levels of confidence in their ability to manage their settings.
·        Teens take other steps to shape their reputation, manage their networks, and mask information they don’t want others to know; 74% of teen social media users have deleted people from their network or friends list.
·        Teen social media users do not express a high level of concern about third-party access to their data; just 9% say they are "very" concerned.
·        On Facebook, increasing network size goes hand in hand with network variety, information sharing, and personal information management.
·        In broad measures of online experience, teens are considerably more likely to report positive experiences than negative ones. For instance, 52% of online teens say they have had an experience online that made them feel good about themselves.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

New Bill Exempts Professional Accounts From Social Media Password Ban

Effective January 1, 2013, the Illinois General Assembly enacted a law prohibiting employers from requiring employees to provide passwords to their social networking accounts. 9 other states have enacted similar laws, the most recent having been adopted in Colorado.

The Illinois law is very broad in its prohibitions and includes the following language:

It shall be unlawful for any employer to request or require any employee or prospective employee to provide any password or other related account information in order to gain access to the employee’s or prospective employee’s account or profile on a social networking website or to demand access in any manner to any employee’s or prospective employee’s account or profile on a social networking website.
The use of the language “on a social networking website” essentially covers all social networking websites, not just private websites. Senate Bill 2306 proposes to amend this statute to clarify that the ban does not apply to “professional accounts,” defined as an “account, service, or profile created, maintained, used or accessed by a current or prospective employee for business purposes of the employer.” A “personal account” (still subject to the ban) is defined as an “account, service, or profile on a social networking website that is used by a current or prospective employee exclusively for personal communications unrelated to any business purpose of the employer.

Currently, this bill has passed the senate and is on its third reading in front of the house. We will continue to update you as this legislation progresses.

Guest authored by Bob McCabe

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Is Instagram the New Facebook?

In researching for my book, Social Media & Local Governments: Navigating the New Public Square, I was struck by the sheer number of social media sites.  Just a decade ago, we were talking about Myspace and Friendster, with Facebook just entering the horizon.  Now, we have dozens upon dozens of different social networking options, with a new site seemingly popping up every day.  As I watched the move The Social Network again this weekend, I wondered how Facebook went from being the social media platform for the "cool kids" (teens and college students) to what it has become today, with the parents and even grandparents of these kids setting up Facebook profiles, and becoming active users of the site.
 Now, I don't have anything against grandparents jumping on the social media bandwagon, but I am guessing that the younger demographic might.  And I wonder if that's the reason why Instagram has gained so much popularity with that younger demographic, particularly tweens and teens.  Instagram's growth and success is staggering - over 100 million users in a little over 2 years (It took Facebook over 3 years to reach those numbers).   Instagram claims that 45 million photos are uploaded by users to its site each day, with 8,500 likes and 1,000 comments per second.  That's a lot of activity.  If you have tween/teen aged kids or know some, you know they are choosing Instagramming over Facebooking. 
Which makes me wonder what the next hot "thing" in social media will be.  Maybe I should ask a 10 year old. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Bill Protects Student Social Media Passwords

HB 64, enacting the Right to Privacy in the School Setting Act, just passed both houses of the Illinois General Assembly.  The bill has two separate sections, one covering social media passwords of post secondary school students and the other deals with elementary and secondary school students.  The language is similar to the employee social media password law that took effect earlier this year and is summarized below.

1.  Post Secondary Schools
The bill would make it unlawful for a post secondary school (college or university) to require a student to turn over his or her social media password or other account information or provide access to the student's social media account.  This ban does not, however, prohibit a post secondary school from establishing policies on the use of school computers and other electronic equipment.  It also would allow post secondary schools to monitor activities on school equipment and to access student information in the public domain.  In addition, the law does not apply when a post secondary school has reasonable cause to  believe that a student's social media site contains evidence that the student has violated a school disciplinary rule or policy.
2.  Elementary and Secondary Schools
The ban on requiring a student to turn over his or her social media password does not apply to elementary and secondary school students, although the school must notify the student and the parent or guardian prior to requiring the password and can only require the student to provide his or her password when the school has reasonable cause to  believe that a student's social media site contains evidence that the student has violated a school disciplinary rule or policy.

Illinois Passes Law Targeting Violent "Flash Mobs"

A "flash mob" is defined as a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then quickly disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, and artistic expression.  Flash mobs are typically organized via social media (Twitter, Facebook) or through text messages or email communications. 
Flash mobs are supposed to be spontaneous and fun and for the purpose of entertainment; however, recently some groups (often teenagers) have been organizing "flash mobs" for the purpose of committing crimes.  But a couple of recent, widely publicized incidents in Chicago spurred the Illinois General Assembly to enact legislation to toughen penalties on violent flash mob participants.  SB 1005, which passed both houses and was sent to the Governor for signature, increases the penalties for "mob action" where the use of electronic communications is involved from three to six years.     

Monday, May 20, 2013

3 Reasons Why You May Not Be Using Social Media Professionally

More than half of American adults maintain a social media presence on one or more social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.  The statistics for the younger demographic is even higher.  Most social media users are on these sites for pleasure -- keeping up with friends and family and posting photos and videos are the most popular social media activities.  Social networking is not just for fun, though. If you aren't using social media to market yourself, your product, or your business, you may be missing a key marketing tool (and demographic). 
It isn't difficult to set up a professional social media presence - many of you probably have a LinkedIn profile where you filled in the standard profile and occasionally get connection notifications.  This is a great place to start, but there is so much more out there that you may not be aware of or think you don't have the knowledge or time to  explore. 

There are any number of reasons why you may not yet have taken the leap into more interactive marketing on social networking sites.  I've touched on three of them below:
I don't know how.
If you are a true novice, meaning you don't yet have a Facebook profile and have no idea what a tweet is, I recommend you take "baby steps" before you jump into a professional marketing program.  Start by setting up a Facebook page - it is easy to set up a profile, and you can start interacting with friends and family members almost immediately.  It is as easy as filling out a profile, setting up a password, uploading a profile picture (not required, but recommended if you want people to find you!), and typing in your first post. 
For those of you who already have some experience in social media on a personal level (Facebook, maybe even Twitter), you already have the tools you need.  Using a social media site for business reasons is technically the same as using it personally, so you don't need any special classes or training.  I do recommend that you keep your personal and professional social media presence separate if you can. Remember that you are trying to market yourself or your business to potential clients or customers.  They may not be interested in your recent vacation to wine country, or your St. Patrick's Day activities, and your political opinions could limit your marketing pool.  Keep it separate folks!
I don't know where to start.
If you have a LinkedIn profile, you have already started.  LinkedIn is the professional social networking site.  It's easy to set up a standard profile and start networking with colleagues and others with similar professional interests.  The key is to go beyond the "fill in the blank" profile, and use LinkedIn's full potential by joining groups, posting about articles you've read (or better yet, that you have written), seminars you attend, and other activities that your connections may be interested in and that show your expertise and interests. 
LinkedIn is just the first step. There are many other ways to social network in a business context. 
If you tweet personally, think about setting up a professional Twitter account to link to news stories and articles of interest in your field. 
If 140 characters isn't enough, set up a blog where you can write in more detail about what interests you and what professional activities you are engaging in (publications, seminars).  But, be careful not to be "all over the board" on your blog.  You want to focus on a particular topic to draw continued readership.  Even more important, make sure you write about something that interests you.  Too many blogs are started with the best intentions, and then go stale because the author loses interest.  Keep your blog current - post at least once each week, and preferably every day.  Which leads to reason #3....
I don't have time to keep up with it.
If you are going to use social media professionally, be in it for the long haul.  If you are looking for a new job or new opportunities, you need to think about social media as a necessity - it is a very important tool in marketing yourself to a new company or clients and customers.  Think about your social media site as an extension of your resume.  The standard rule of thumb is that resumes should be no more than one page - yet, how can anyone sell themselves in one page.  If you provide a link on your resume to your LinkedIn profile or professional blog, you have, in essence, extended your resume well beyond that one page.  Your social media site could provide links to projects you have worked on, publications, and other events and activities. Any one of these links could be what leads to your being hired or making the right connection. 
So, we all agree social media marketing is an important tool.  The question I hear most frequently is "how much time do I need to devote to social networking activities?"  In my case, I maintain two blogs (Strategically Social on social media and Municipal Minute on local government law), a Municipal Minute Twitter page that links to both blogs, and a LinkedIn profile.  I also update my firm's website.  That's a lot of social networking.  I find I'm able to keep my networking sites current in about an hour each day.  Whenever I read an interesting case, article, law, post, or other publication, I bookmark it, print it, or email it to myself so I always have new material to write about.  Cross-linking between all of the social media sites is very important, because you will have different readership (connections, fans, friends, etc.) among the various sites.  If one hour each day seems too much, spend an hour or two on the weekend to put together a few posts that you can schedule for publication throughout the week.  

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Colorado is 10th State to Adopt Social Media Password Protection Law

Maryland was the first, and Illinois the second to pass a law prohibiting employers from requiring or requesting that job candidates or employees turn over their social media account passwords.  Check out the link at the end of this post for a great summary of Colorado's law.  According to the author, the Colorado law differs from other states' laws as it contains additional exemptions to the ban and the penalty provisions are somewhat weaker than the other nine states' laws. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Social Media Marketing Conference in August

Calling all social media novices and experienced users - come to Chicago in August (it really is the best time to visit this fine city) and attend the Chicago Area Social Media Marketing Conference presented by SkillPath Seminars.  I just received the brochure in the mail and this day-long conference is jam packed with interesting sessions that look to provide a lot of practical advice to beginners and experienced social media users in marketing themselves and their business. 
The Chicago area seminar starts at 9:00 a.m. and goes until 4:00 p.m. and is offered on 3 separate days (August 5, 6, and 7) and in 3 different locations in the Chicago area (Chicago, Oak Brook, and Schaumburg).  From the website, it looks like the group also presents this conference in other cities, so if you can't make it to Chicago in August (and I don't know why you wouldn't), you should check out SkillPath's website and enter your zipcode to see if the conference is offered near your city.
The conference presents two concurrent tracks, each consisting of five sessions:  Track 1, "You've decided to jump into the world of social media - now what?" and Track 2, "Step up your social media presence: Network, promote, share...and profit!" 
Here is a preview of some of the sessions:
  • Mistakes rookies make...but you don't have to
  • The art of writing for a social media audience
  • Show me the money: how social media actually pays off
  • The key to social media success: getting off to a good start
You can register for the conference on SkillPath's website.   I'm looking forward to attend this conference because (1) it's in my home town of Chicago and (2) it allows attendees to split their time between the "beginner" and "experienced" sessions so they can customize their conference to fit their interests and needs.  Even experienced social media users should leave the conference having learned something new.

6 Social Media Tips for Job Candidates

Spring means graduation time, and that means a lot of people are applying for a new job. Making a good first impression is critical.  Everybody knows they need to read and re-read their resume or CV for grammatical errors and typos.  Most will make sure they have the proper interview attire (new suit, of course).  Unfortunately, many candidates don't give a second (or first, for that matter) thought to their social media sites. Whether you are a first-time job candidate or an experienced employee thinking about changing jobs or even careers, after you press your suit and proof-read your resume, you'd better take a long, hard look at your social media sites and make sure you aren't giving off the wrong impression.
It should not come as a surprise to any job candidate that a potential employer is going to look at your social media sites.  Some states (including Illinois, Maryland, and others) prohibit employers from demanding a job candidate to turn over their social media passwords.  That does not, however, prohibit that same employer from looking at anything and everything that is in the public domain.  So, unless you have a Fort Knox level of security set on all of your social media profiles, the information you post (and others post about you), is probably going to be reviewed by potential employers. 
Here are a few tips for job candidates:
1.  Those pictures on Facebook of you and your buddies doing keg stands at Little 500?  Delete them (especially if you aren't of legal drinking age!).  Any pictures that might make your grandmother blush should be similarly removed.  
2.  Set your privacy settings so people cannot tag you in posts, at least temporarily during the job search.  You can't control what your friends post on their own walls, but you can try to control what ends up on your own.
3.  Read your tweets with the eye of a potential employer.  It is great to have strong opinions and convictions, and nobody is saying you can't express them.  But, understand that your strong opinions could limit your potential hiring pool. 
4.  Set yourself apart from other job candidates by using social media to "market" yourself.  You want to be a journalist? Set up a blog to post your articles, papers, short stories, etc.  Musician?  Upload your original music to a music-sharing website like soundcloud
5.  Update your profiles to put in more detail about your education and job experience, as well as your interests.  Did you win any awards while in school?  Treat your social media profiles as an extension of your resume.  Consider setting up a LinkedIn profile to focus on your professional achievements. 
6.  After you've done your own careful review and scrubbing, have a trusted friend or family member review your sites and give you feedback on other areas that need to be addressed. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

9 Tips for Drafting a Social Media Employee Policy

If you are an employer, you have probably dealt with (or will deal with) employees' use of social media.  This might include excessive use of social media by employees at work, negative comments made by employees about their job or their boss, release of confidential information about the company or its customers/clients, and a variety of other situations that might require employer action.  Most of you probably already have in place a policy for employee use of company computers, laptops, tablets, cell phones and the like.  But, have you reviewed your policy lately to make sure it covers social media use?
A social media policy should clearly establish guidelines and boundaries so employees can anticipate and understand their companies' expectations and restrictions about their use of social media.  
Although each employer should create a social media policy tailored to the particular employer’s workplace, the following are a few tips for employee use policies:    
1.  The policy should communicate to employees whether social media use in the workplace will be prohibited, monitored, or allowed.  If allowed, the policy should provide guidelines as to what constitutes reasonable use.

2.  The policy should be careful not to excessively restrict the content of employee social media postings to the extent that “protected concerted activity” among the company’s employees would be prohibited. For example, a social media policy should not ban “inappropriate discussions” about the company, management, working conditions, or coworkers that would be considered protected speech in another form or forum.

3.  The policy should caution employees that they have no expectation of privacy while using the Internet on employer equipment.

4.  If employees will be monitored, the policy should inform employees of that monitoring.

5.  The policy might also require employees who identify themselves as employees of a particular government or company to post a disclaimer that any postings or blogs are solely the opinion of the employee and not the employer.

6.  Employees should be advised that they should not use the company logo, seal, trademark, or other symbol without written consent of the administrator.

7.  The policy might prohibit the posting of pictures of employees in uniform or on duty.

8.  The policy should also address the protection of confidential and company information and information about customers or clients.

9.  Finally, all employees should be required to sign a written acknowledgment that they have received, have read, understand, and agree to comply with the social media policy.

New Book - "Social Media and Local Governments: Navigating the New Public Square"

The ABA Section of State and Local Government Law published a book called "Social Media and Local Governments: Navigating the New Public Square." The book is co-authored by Municipal Minute author Julie Tappendorf and Patricia Salkin, Dean of Touro Law School.

You don't want to miss this practical guide to the legal and ethical issues faced by local governments in their use (and their employees' use) of Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media. You can purchase the book on the ABA's website or by using this order form.

A brief description of the book is below:

Social media offers tremendous opportunities in the public sector. Governmental entities can use it to communicate with the public, interested stakeholders, and each other. The promise of greater transparency and public participation, however, is not without risk. Local governments must consider the reliability and source of posted information, professional ethical obligations, and a host of other legal issues. Social Media and Local Governments provides practical information to government attorneys and officials in their use of social media in the government context. The authors provide concrete examples of how communities across the country implement social media; explore First Amendment issues, Sunshine Laws, and copyright and privacy concerns, among other legal considerations; examine public employee usage of social media, whether at or away from the workplace; and explore ethical issues faced by public officials. The book concludes with sample social media policy forms and a checklist for creating and implementing a new social media policy.

The Risky Business of Social Media

The American Bar Association recently published an excerpt from the book "Social Media and Local Governments: Navigating the New Public Square" that Patty Salkin and I co-wrote. You can check out the article on the ABA's website at The Risky Business of Social Media | Section of State and Local Government Law.

Teacher Dismissed for Calling Students “Future Criminals” on Facebook

Check out the Education Law Insights blog for an interesting analysis of a recent New Jersey appellate decision upholding the dismissal of a teacher for derogatory comments she made on her personal Facebook page. New Jersey District Dismisses Teacher Who Called Students “Future Criminals” on Facebook. Both the Administrative Law Judge and the New Jersey court ruled that the teacher's Facebook posts were not protected speech under the First Amendment because they were not made on a matter of public concern.

The teacher's posts included the following statements:

       “I’m not a teacher—I’m a warden for future criminals!”
“They had a scared straight program in school—why couldn’t [I] bring [first] graders?”

Another good example of why you should be careful what you post on social media!

Kudos to Education Law Insights for reporting on this case.

How One City Engaged the Public Through Online Planning

Governing Magazine just published an article titled How Generation X is Shaping Government, about the City of San Mateo, California's recent experiment in "online" public engagement. 

The City Parks and Recreation Department had scheduled a meeting to present a new playground plan for one of its community parks and to obtain community input. Eight people showed up. But, when the City posted a set of the proposed designs online for a month and invited public comments, they were thrilled with the response - 130 people from around the City engaged in an online debate about the plans, including commenting on what they liked and didn’t like in the designs, and made suggestions. What the City found most interesting was the age of the online participants - almost 60% of the participants were between the ages of 35 and 45. This was significantly younger than the demographic typically drawn by public hearings in San Mateo and exactly the target audience the City was trying to reach.
The lesson for the City of San Mateo and other public bodies is that they shouldn't rely solely on the "tried and true" methods of soliciting public input on government issues (i.e., mailed surveys and public meetings). To engage a younger demographic, governments will need to bring their message to the public, through the use of social media and other online sources.

For another great article on the benefits of social media and city planning, check out an article posted on Planetizin, a public-interest information exchange for the urban planning, design, and development community, titled For Planners, Investment in Social Media Pays Dividends.


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