Local and state officials are hoping another group — grandparents — will join the effort to keep children safe when they’re online.
The S.C. Attorney General’s Office recently began teaching older caregivers to protect children when they log on to the Internet.
Patti Fowler of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, a division of the Attorney General’s Office, typically addresses students at schools across the state during her online safety talks.
But for the first time last month, her audience was much older. She spoke to a Columbia support group for grandparents raising grandchildren.
Members of a similar support group in Beaufort County also got a taste of the new educational push recently. At a “Grandparents Leading the Way” conference at Beaufort Elementary School in late February, representatives of the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office used materials from the state to share tips about online safety for kids.
Regardless of how much technology they know, grandparents can help spot Internet dangers before children become victims, Fowler said.
Her new target demographic includes people like Debra Polk of Beaufort, a member of the county’s Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Support Group.
Polk has 10 grandchildren but no personal computer. Polk said she was aware of issues such as cyberbullying and Internet predators and thought it was important to find out more. She learned that she doesn’t have to be up on the latest technology or social-media trends to help keep her grandchildren safe when they’re at her house. She just has to be present.
“It’s really just about being with them and keeping computers in a more open space where you can supervise,” Polk said.
Fowler encourages grandparents to ask their grandchildren to teach them how to use computers and show them the sites they visit and the people they talk to online.
Red flags include a child who suddenly begins going online excessively or becomes reluctant to use the computer at all. Fowler said grandparents should talk to children if they notice they’re minimizing a screen or shielding the monitor when they walk into the room.
Attorney General’s Office spokesman Mark Powell said the new push is important as more grandparents have become guardians for young children because of the economic downturn. According to a recent fact sheet from the AARP, 13 percent of children under 18 in South Carolina live with grandparents or other relatives who are not their biological parents.
Fowler said her first talk in Columbia was so well-received that she’s planning others. She said she will reach out to the Beaufort County School District to offer a similar presentation.
Follow reporter Allison Stice at twitter.com/IPBG_Allison.
What do companies use Big Data technologies to analyze? Sales transactions. Social media trends. Scientific data. Social media trends. Weather readings. Social media trends. Prices for raw materials. Social media trends. Stock values. Social media trends. Web logs. And social media trends.
Sometimes I wonder if the entire point of Big Data is to sort through Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and Tumblr–as well as closed social media networks like Salesforce.com’s Chatter and Microsoft’s recently acquired Yammer.
Perhaps this is a reflection that “social” is more than a way for businesses to disintermediate and reach customers directly. (Remember “disintermediation”? It was the go-to word during the early dot-com era of B-to-B and B-to-C e-commerce, and implied unlimited profits.)
Social media–nowadays referred to simply as “social”–is proving to be very effective in helping organizations improve communications. Document repositories and databases are essential, of course. Portal systems are vital. But traditional ways of communication, namely e-mail and standard one-to-one instant messaging, aren’t getting the job done, not in big organizations. Employees drown in their overflowing inboxes, and don’t know whom to message for information, input or workflow.
Enter a new Big Data angle on social, one that goes beyond sifting through public messages to identifying what’s trending, so you can sell more products or get on top of customer dissatisfaction before it goes viral. (Not to say those aren’t important, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg.)
What Big Data analysis can show you is not just what is going on and what the trends are, but who is driving them (or who are at least on top of the curve).
Use analytics to find out which of your customers are taste-makers–and cultivate them. Find out which of your partners are generating the most traction–and deepen those ties. And find out which of your employees, through in-house social tools like instant messaging, blogs, wikis and forums, are posting the best information, are attracting followers and comments, and are otherwise leading the pack.
Treasure those people, especially those who are in your IT and development departments.
Big Social is the key to your organization’s future. Big Data helps you find and turn that key. We’ll cover both those trends at Big Data TechCon, coming to Boston on April 8-10. Hope to see you there.
Digital marketing and social media agency, Room 214, has just released a new research report entitled, 100 Trends: What’s Up in Business and Culture for 2013, covering the top trends influencing how we live and work this year. Relevant to marketers and business professionals, the report provides in-depth, useful insights into new and emerging trends in the arts, business, communities, food, marketing and technology.
From now until March 15th, culture mavens can download a free copy of 100 Trends before it goes on sale for $199.
The report includes proprietary analysis and online data monitoring conducted by the Room 214 research team that uncovers the rising themes driving social media conversation and business planning. The result is an invaluable look into consumer motivations and our broader culture for the upcoming year.
“It’s all about an empowered ‘you’,” says Michael Kwolek, Research Associate and author of the report. “For example, the web is democratizing trade through new avenues for product design, manufacturing and distribution. Exciting stuff!”
“These insights are always top of mind when planning upcoming digital marketing strategy and executions for our clients,” says Jason Cormier, co-founder of Room 214.
In an ever-changing world, business leaders and marketing professionals are constantly on the watch for shifts in culture. Ideating around these changes can mean the difference between a marketing campaign that flops and one that has real impact.
Read the complete100 Trendsreport now to learn more about the cultural and business trends that will change us this year.
About Room 214 Room 214 is a digital marketing and social media agency that helps companies connect with the people who matter most. You hire Room 214 to help with: social media research and strategy, content marketing, video production and visual storytelling, social media monitoring and campaign planning, community management and reporting, search engine and conversion optimization, search marketing and online advertising, custom Facebook application development, training, content marketing and mobile-friendly website optimization.
The college-age generation thrives on the embarrassing realities of others’ lives. It’s their guilty pleasure.
Students at Northwest do not have to turn on MTV and catch an episode of “Jersey Shore” or “Catfish” to get their fix. All they have to do is log on. Students are telling their deepest secrets and sharing embarrassing, drunken photos— all on the worldwide web.
Anonymous Twitter and Facebook accounts, such as “Maryville Passouts” and “NWMSU Confessions,” give students the courage to expose their most private thoughts and actions.
And the audience loves it.
“It’s become a daily thing,” freshman Madison Bailly said. “When I get on Facebook, I check NWMSU Confessions. It’s entertaining to see what people have to say.”
On NWMSU Confessions, students can submit posts anonymously. Because of the absence of a real-world identity, students fess up to actions such as smoking on campus, throwing condoms out of residential hall windows and accidentally setting the Tau Kappa Epsilon house on fire.
NWMSU Confessions became popular instantly. The page gained just under 1,500 “likes” within the first four days of its establishment.
Senior Loni Russel said she discovered the page on the fourth day when “everyone was raving about it.”
“Our society in general is so concerned with other peoples’ personal lives,” Russel said. “I think people like to hear other people’s problems. They read these depressing things, and they’re like, ‘Well, that sucks, at least my life is not that bad.’”
The confessions page could get shut down by the University if posts get out of hand.
Administration took the confessions page at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, down less than 24 hours after it was launched due to student complaints.
The San Francisco State University confessions page’s administrator took the page down last week because he feared legal battles with the University.
Senior Heather Shumake, who is an Alumni Association social media intern, said she would compare this “online community diary” to the “Mean Girls” burn book.
“Not trying to quote ‘Mean Girls’ or anything, but the stuff that they put in their book, half of it was true, and half of it wasn’t,” Shumake said. “Yet they had to investigate all of it… What if something serious was confessed on (NWMSU Confessions) and they did nothing about it? Would the school be liable for that? Would whoever made this page be liable for that? Would the user? There could be a number of problems that come from this.”
Jody Strauch, Northwest social media strategies professor, said the site will become harmful if students start posting about each other.
“That’s the danger of this,” Strauch said. “People think they’re so anonymous, but they could be hurting other people. I think this will be fun for a while, until somebody really gets hurt. Then people will start to go, ‘oh, maybe that’s not a good idea.’… Right now it’s kind of funny, until we go too far.”
The biggest appeal of these sites could be the proximity. It’s not exactly like MTV reality shows. Students are watching the personal lives of people they could know.
Maryville Passouts retweets pictures tweeted at it of students who pass out at parties.
“I probably look at it every day,” Shumake said. “Just because it’s funny, and I know half the people in those photos.”
Tweets on the Maryville Passouts page could affect students’ futures. A picture could easily trace back to a person because it is connected to the Twitter handle of the person who posted it.
“If you’re passed out on the sofa where you just threw up (in a picture posted online), that’s going to affect your ability to get a job, I think,” Strauch said.
This could be out of a student’s control. Most “Maryville Passouts” tweets are submitted by the friends of the passed out.
“I don’t know why anyone would put themself on (Maryville Passouts),” Shumake said. “Unless they don’t care about their future? I don’t know.
“I think you’re stupid for putting yourself on there. I think your friends really think it’s funny to put you on there, but it’s not doing you any good.”
Sites like NWMSU Confessions and Maryville Passouts give students something to talk about.
“It’s the juicy gossip that people put on (these sites),” Bailly said.
Russell said she uses NWMSU Confessions as a conversation piece with her friends.
“My friend will be like, ‘Oh, Loni, you have to check this post out. This has to be so-and-so.,” Russel said. “Or we’ll be like, ‘yeah, I’m never sitting on that sofa again.’”
SALT LAKE CITY – Call it the Pinterest effect. Like the consumerization of IT, all segments of business technology seem to be influenced by popular consumer tech trends these days, and a new example of that is the latest version of the Adobe Marketing Cloud.
Announced at the 2013 Adobe Summit in Utah today, the new user interface for the Marketing Cloud has visual-heavy design intended to inspire as well as encourage collaboration among teams and agencies.
Brad Rencher, senior vice president and general manager of the digital marketing business unit at Adobe, described further in prepared remarks that “when managing teams for creative design, advertising and analytics are all under the same roof, marketers need information that paints a full picture of their business, in one easy-to-access spot.”
Acknowledging the ever-growing Pinterest platform as a base model, Adobe said the gist is to take visualization and sharing capabilities and apply them to the enterprise.
Also, like most consumer software and products seeping into the enterprise market, there shouldn’t be much of a learning curve here. Users simply pin images to and curate boards around projects. From there, those “cards” show up on team members’ news feeds, and co-workers can edit and comment on cards too.
As seen in the chart below, those cards also turn into more data as well. Every time cards are shared, that content is filtered into a metrics report for further analysis.
Speaking of analytics, Adobe also introduced a new workflow that is touted to enable marketers with the chance to both identify and target “high-value” customers within minutes.
Essentially, the predictive workflow integrated into the latest version of Adobe Analytics takes advantage of big data, promising to sort through terabytes of data “quickly,” identifying audiences based on shared characteristics and then score them based on how likely they are to convert to customers.
That information can then be filtered to Adobe Target — another realm of the Adobe Marketing Cloud — to deliver optimized offers depending on which category or audience they fall into.
Finally, Adobe is making a major mobile push for all of its releases, with a heavy focus on tablets.
From the simplest user point-of-view, Adobe Marketing Cloud is being optimized for tablets with a touch-based, mobile-first interface, which was done in reflection of the growing mobile workforce in general.
But Adobe is particularly keen on strengthening its portfolio for trapping and analyizing mobile data through new social apps and advertising. This includes delivering optimized content through mobile-optimized websites thanks to a revised SDK.
Supporting content for iOS, Android, Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, OSX, and Blackberry mobile apps, the SDK has been configured to automatically identify a consumer’s device and then deliver real-time content specific to that device.
The San Jose-based corporation is also aiming to conquer mobile analytics with help from industry partners.
For example, Adobe is integrating solutions from apps analytics and conversions specialists Distimo to discern app store data such as downloads, rankings and revenue to offer marketers with a more well-rounded perspective on the engagement process from initial download through monetization.
While most of the new mobile UI changes to the Marketing Cloud are available in beta, an integrated digital asset manager along with a campaign setup wizard are scheduled to follow in a few months.
The mobile analytics updates are also out now in beta with a full-fledged release planned for the second quarter.
More than 90 percent of American children younger than 2 already have some sort of digital footprint, social media expert Shama Kabani reported Thursday.
“People are now the media,” Ms. Kabani said, adding that Twitter often is breaking the news.
Ms. Kabani, of Dallas, is president of The Marketing Zen Group, a full-service Web marketing and public relations company, and author of “The Zen of Social Media Marketing.”
She was the keynote speaker Thursday at the third annual Retail Summit, hosted by The University of Texas at Tyler College of Business and Technology and Center for Retail Enterprises, and attended by more than 100 people.
Ms. Kabani talked about social media in the retail world — the trends, how far it’s come and what to expect in the future.
“Do you think Facebook will be here in the next 10 years,” she said. “I don’t know, but the idea of social media is not going away.”
A customer’s experience at a retail business once was measured from the time they walked through the door of the business to the time they left. Now they often have “preconceived notions of the business long before they walk in because of what they’ve found online,” she said.
She said everything a person has done online that makes up their persona on the web creates their digital footprint. Individuals and organizations have digital footprints, which are “not only what you put out there about yourself but what others say about you,” Ms. Kabani said.
Ms. Kabani earned a master’s degree in organizational communication from The University of Texas at Austin. When she wrote her thesis on Twitter, it had a few thousand followers and now has 375 million users, she said. When she graduated, there was no social media industry. She couldn’t find a job so she moved back in with her parents and became an entrepreneur, she said.
At the time she saw a lot of demand for social media at the small business level but not in the corporate world. She built her company, which now has 30 employees, using social media marketing alone. She teaches others how to do the same, and her clients span from Dallas’ 24 branches of YMCA to Hagar apparel.
Ms. Kabani originally wrote her book as an e-book and through Twitter, it was picked up by a traditional publicist and is now in its third print edition. She said it is the most popular text book for social media courses around the country.
“I think businesses are really hungry to reach their customers who are not responding to traditional ways” of marketing, she said. “It’s huge,” she said of social media marketing. “Look at how people get their information now.”
People often go to Yelp to pick a new restaurant or check their Facebook for reviews before going to see a movie, she said.
“If you want to know how important retail is to Tyler, drive down Broadway,” Dr. Harold Doty, College of Business and Technology dean, told the group.
He said retail has an economic impact of about $3.5 trillion, or more than 25 percent, of the overall economy.
Retail marketing has become sophisticated. “If you want to know the reach of social media, one in eight people on the globe have a Facebook account,” Doty said.
Dr. Kerri Camp, assistant professor of marketing and director of UT Tyler’s Center for Retail Enterprises, said retailers employ many people and generate sales tax revenue.
“Retail business is one of the most important businesses in East Texas,” she said. “It is vital to the economic success and the sustainability of East Texas.”
Barbara Wooldridge, associate professor of marketing at UT Tyler, said how retailers communicate is changing and it is critical to stay up above the curve with students and focus on social media. “It is a changing landscape,” she said.
Dr. Camp said the biggest request she sees from businesses looking to hire college graduates is their experience with social media.
“Social media is evolving. It’s one of the things we do in marketing that always changes,” Dr. Camp said, adding that people have to adapt to what is going on.
She said the reason business owners should integrate to using social media is because it is affordable — low or no cost — and it is where the customers are.
“In retail you need to be where customers are, and right now they’re in social media,” she said.
Ms. Kabani said the primary reason people use social networking is to showcase their identity. If businesses can use that knowledge to make it about the audience instead of themselves, they will win, she added.
HANOVER, Germany, March 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ –SAP AG (NYSE: SAP) today announced new capabilities for the SAP® Customer OnDemand solution that empower businesses to know their customers like never before, guide them through each step of the buyer’s journey and groom customers to become loyal brand advocates. Combining the advantages of consumer-grade design, social, mobile and cloud technology with deep customer insight and awareness-to-cash process automation, the solution re-imagines what customer-centricity means for today’s enterprises. Designed for marketing, sales and service organizations, SAP Customer OnDemand is comprised of the SAP® Sales OnDemand, SAP® Service OnDemand and SAP® Social OnDemand solutions and the SAP® Social Media Analytics application by NetBase. The announcement was made at CeBIT 2013, being held March 5-9 in Hanover, Germany.
The inability to gather insight about each stage of the buyer’s journey across multiple platforms is a major limitation with most CRM applications today. In addition, it is costly, inflexible and time-consuming to tap into back-office systems to expose customer-specific processes such as pricing, quotes and sales orders. Whether companies leverage on-premise, cloud or hybrid solutions, SAP is the only company that can easily integrate with any environment to surface the insight and execute the processes that deliver a new level of customer-centricity.
With SAP Customer OnDemand, SAP empowers people through a consumer-grade user experience, purposeful collaboration and insightful analytics for sales, service and marketing professionals across businesses of all sizes. The latest innovations from SAP Customer OnDemand are geared toward delivering a personalized customer experience.
Prepare Sales Professionals for Meaningful Customer Conversations Anytime, Anywhere
Sales representatives today expect beautiful applications they can easily personalize based on their selling motion, helping them work effectively to deliver a best-in-class customer experience. The new home page for SAP Customer OnDemand brings consumer-grade user experience to sales professionals. The dashboard equips sales professionals with everything they need to know about the customer to orchestrate the sale from lead-to-cash. Based on what they deem relevant, insightful and productive, sales professionals can personalize the home page through an intuitive drag-and-drop interface.
Having customer information at hand is essential to ensuring each customer engagement is relevant and differentiated. New offline capabilities for the iPad application for SAP Customer OnDemand means sales people have complete customer insight wherever they are. With this new must-have sales feature, meaningful customer engagements no longer halt when cell signal does. In addition, the new “sales assistant” provides guided selling that helps ensure representatives are leveraging best practices, delivering the right message and making each customer engagement personalized at every stage of the sale.
“Mobile is a must-have capability for our sales teams,” said Jaap Stoppels, manager, Managed Training Services, Schouten Global. “SAP Sales OnDemand delivers full-feature mobile apps — at no extra cost — that helps our mobile sales team in China to collaborate on the road, all with a complete customer view. With the SAP Sales OnDemand mobile app, they’re prepared to make every customer engagement relevant and meaningful.”
Create a Delightful Customer Service Experience via Any Communication Channel
Customers want to choose how they interact with customer service, whether by email, phone or social media channels. At the same time, customer service agents need cross-channel visibility into every step of the interaction to deliver a delightful customer experience. Additional communication channels in SAP Service OnDemand and SAP Social OnDemand now include a powerful self-service Web portal and an interface for computer-telephony integration (CTI). These channels allow customers to truly do business on their own terms. Customer service agents can now leverage an even greater number of sources for proactive customer interactions, such as branded online communities, websites for product ratings and customer reviews with pre-built integration into Bazaarvoice, a social commerce company that enables customer-powered marketing.
Customer service leaders can now access relevant service information such as ticket status, escalations and key service metrics while on-the-go with the new iPad application for the SAP® Customer Insight mobile app. Turning customer service from a cost center into a revenue-generating team has never been more important. To foster this, product registration and warranty information have been added to help service agents identify targeted upsell and cross-sell opportunities with their clients, and to serve their customers in a more targeted way.
Gather More Social Media Insights for Modern Marketers Faster and in More Languages
Customers’ tastes and opinions are evolving faster than ever before. In today’s global, networked world, there is no reason for language to be a barrier when getting to know a customer. With new scheduled alerting capabilities in SAP Social Media Analytics, marketers can stay on top of the latest social media trends across the globe. This powerful feature has added support for 19 new languages — from Arabic to Vietnamese. Now campaign managers can quickly capitalize on opportunities to adjust messages and launch corresponding campaigns or promotions almost anywhere in the world while also giving communications teams a chance to get ahead of risks before they go viral. Additionally, with the new “Focus Wizard,” a streamlined approach to topic refinement, marketers can access research topics faster than ever. Through increased research efficiency, marketers are able to evaluate the quality of any social Web topic they wish to analyze. It also helps eliminate any irrelevant chatter by applying filters with a single click, instantly providing a clean set of accurate results.
For marketers seeking the next level of customer insight, SAP has partnered with FanAppz, a personalized marketing platform for social media. This platform allows marketers to deliver compelling experiences on their social media pages, driving engagement and capturing social data as well as permission to use it. Now brand managers can fine-tune the way they connect with their audience and drive conversations across multiple channels.
SAP is devoted to giving companies the power to harness the right solution for their diverse marketing, sales and customer service needs across their global enterprise. Continued investment and quarterly updates across SAP Customer OnDemand enable sales, service and marketing organizations to understand, engage and delight customers like never before at every stage of the customer journey.
To learn more about the three must-have capabilities that sales reps love, visit the SAP Sales OnDemand blog. To learn more about putting the “C” back in customer service, visit the SAP Community Network. For more information, including additional news from SAP at CeBIT, visit the SAP Newsroom.
As market leader in enterprise application software, SAP (NYSE: SAP) helps companies of all sizes and industries run better. From back office to boardroom, warehouse to storefront, desktop to mobile device – SAP empowers people and organizations to work together more efficiently and use business insight more effectively to stay ahead of the competition. SAP applications and services enable more than 232,000 customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and grow sustainably. For more information, visit www.sap.com.
Any statements contained in this document that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements as defined in the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “expect,” “forecast,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “project,” “predict,” “should” and “will” and similar expressions as they relate to SAP are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. SAP undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements. All forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from expectations. The factors that could affect SAP’s future financial results are discussed more fully in SAP’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), including SAP’s most recent Annual Report on Form 20-F filed with the SEC. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of their dates.
NEW YORK, Mar 04, 2013 (BUSINESS WIRE) – Sense Networks, the leader in delivering mobile ads based on mobile location and behavioral targeting data, announced today that Heather Sears, Vice President of Marketing, will participate in an industry roundtable on social media best practices. The roundtable is hosted by the public relations department at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications, one of the nation’s most prestigious communications schools focused on today’s rapidly changing media landscape. The interactive session will cover social media trends and best practices for leading brands and technology companies today, including digital measurement, analytics, engagement and targeting.
“Marketing has evolved to keep up with today’s digital world, and social media is a driving factor for audience engagement,” said Heather Sears, Vice President of Marketing. “Through digital media channels, Sense Networks is distributing engaging content and sparking two-way dialogues that drive success, leading to elevated exposure and new business opportunities. I’m honored to be a part of this prestigious roundtable and share those success stories and tips for achieving social media triumph.”
Sears’ presentation will focus on how Sense Networks leverages social media to position the company as the leader in the location-based mobile advertising industry. The discussion will explore how to foster relationships with prospects, clients and press through digital forums. She will share specific examples of inbound leads generated through social media engagement and how that has impacted Sense’s brand awareness in the mobile advertising community.
Who: Heather Sears, Vice President of Marketing, Sense Networks (@heathersears)
Ed Hadley, Senior Marketing Manager, Neolane
Nate Shafer, Digital Media Specialist, Cision
John Puterbaugh, Founder and CEO, Nellymoser Inc.
Jessica Payne, Director of Digital Strategy, PAN
What: Social Media Roundtable, presented by the Newhouse School Public
When: Tuesday, March 5; 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. ET
Where: Syracuse University
S.I. Newhouse School of Communications
Newhouse 1, Room 101
Syracuse, NY 13244
For more information on the Social Media Roundtable, visit the Newhouse School website: http://newhouse.syr.edu/Newsroom/read_news.cfm?id=890. You can also follow the conversation on Twitter: #SMRountable, @Sense_Networks.
About Sense Networks
Sense Networks is the leader in applying mobile location and behavioral targeting data to connect brands with relevant mobile users, through mobile ads. Sense uses the most sophisticated location data processing platform available in mobile advertising, to deliver mobile audiences at scale and a four time lift in click-through rates (CTR), compared to typical context-targeting. The company builds user profiles allowing brands to reach mobile audiences based on historical and real-time location data, combined with 1,000 behavioral attributes. Sense’s Retail Retargeting(TM) solution can identify and reach shoppers and prospects of the top retailers with relevant mobile ads when they are near the retailer, such as at home or work. The company has over six years of experience working with mobile location Big Data, processing billions of location points per day. The company was founded by computer scientists from MIT and Columbia and is backed by Intel Capital, Javelin Venture Partners and investors from the hedge fund community. For more information about Sense Networks visit us at http://www.sensenetworks.com/. Follow us on Twitter at @Sense_Networks.
Shame is a powerful motivator. If you know people will judge you for your behavior, you tend to try harder to do things the right way. Combine it with social media, which lets you broadcast the minutiae of your life to the world, and you’ve got a potent concoction for feeling horrible about yourself.
Sometimes people give themselves high stakes to make it easier to stick to goals. In this case, shame is a positive force. And there are social media services capitalizing on this type of shame. But there’s also shame with no purpose, the kind that exists simply to make you feel like a piece of garbage.
Somewhere along the line, social media transformed from a virtual communication and connection tool into a broadcasting medium. The term “lifestreaming” didn’t appear out of thin air, after all. We are all the stars of our digitally capture and shared story, through photos, videos, tweets, blog posts, status updates. It means that there is more power at the individual level than ever before, but it also means that we are putting ourselves in the position of having all that content thrown back in our faces. The Internet has no qualms playing the shame game – in same cases, as a motivation tool, in others, maliciously.
No shame, no gain
Some new social apps are harnessing the mighty power of shame as a motivating tool. For instance, Gym Shamer is a new and utterly ruthless app designed to shame you into going to the gym. When you sign up, you state how often you want to work out a week. Using Fourqquare, Facebook and Twitter, the Gym Shamer app keeps track of how often you check into the gym. If you fail, it will automatically broadcast your laziness to your friends, family, and sexy acquaintances.
This is the kind of thing that sounds amazing January 1 and atrocious February 27.
But maybe you love going to the gym. You chug protein shakes and you’re fluent in meathead. There are plenty of other social shaming apps around. Take Shame Alarm - it’s an iPhone app that sends Twitter and Facebook updates letting everyone know when you pressed snooze. It even lets you customize your “Shame Message,” so you can write something really horrible about yourself as motivation to get up on time.
Other services will shame you into making better decisions without your prior knowledge. For instance, a Twitter account called @NeedADebitCard calls people out for posting their bank information on the Internet. The account re-posts photos people take of their credit cards, number included. Most people who realize they’ve been shamed take down the information, so it could actually serve a legitimate purpose, though it’s pretty harsh in its methodology.
None of these compare, however, to the far more malicious world of social media shaming.
The Mean Girls of social media
If you’re a college student who has drank a sip too much and made out with that guy from your Anthropology class at some point, any and all harmless fun could be capture and called out. Your photo could easily end up on Twitter, in said compromising position. Most big U.S. and Canadian universities have Twitter accounts devoted to exposing public lip-lockers. BuzzFeed looked at some of the most popular feeds; from huge state schools to liberal arts colleges, higher education’s most intoxicated caresses are getting paparazzi-ed and put up for the world to see.
The “Makeout Twitter” trend probably makes regretful college students blush, but these novelty accounts are on the tame side of social media shaming. There’s a whole world of terrible, terrible social media trends out there.
In addition to locking lips, college students are getting extremely drunk and passing out in odd places. We’ve They’ve been doing this for years, of course, but now some of the most groan-inducing moments in a young person’s life are getting tweeted.
Along the same equally grody line as the “Makeouts” trend is the “Passouts” trend – people at colleges start novelty Twitter accounts where they take pictures of their incredibly wasted peers and post them for the world to see. Students are slightly less amused when they’re caught by the cameras:
There’s a website called “The Dirty” where people can submit their own gossip. It’s like Perez Hilton in his dick-drawing days, but for everyday people. You can select the city you live in, or the college you attend, and read through nasty story after nasty story. Their pictures are posted for the world to see along with salacious summaries of their misbehavior. If your photo gets put up, you can complain to the moderator to take it down, but the damage will likely be done. Needless to say, there’s no fact-checking, so it’s basically a slander service. And it’s enormously popular.
While these are profoundly creepy and awful, at least they’re fair (in most cases): You are in public getting drunk and lascivious (or passing out, as the case may be). And men and women are both targets here; it’s equal opportunity shaming.
Slut-shaming, the Web-wide trend that just won’t die
Everybody loves selfies. But if you’re a young woman and you think you look cute and you snap a self-portrait and upload it, you risk getting criticized. One minute you feel happy and confident, only to be torn down the next. If other people think you’re being too risque, the merciless jabs are endless. They make Joan Rivers look like Joan of Arc.
In Sweden, an anonymous Instagram account targeted both boys and girls around 13-14 years old. People sent in photos and descriptions of these barely-teens, detailing sexual exploits and calling them “sluts.” The poster, believed to be a 17-year-old girl, published over 200 photos, amassing thousands of followers. And people didn’t take it lying down, with thousands engaging in a real-life riot ensued outside of the alleged perpetrator’s Gothenburg-area high school:
The riot is an extreme example, but not that extreme: “Slut-shaming” is just another form of cyber-bullying, which has led to high-profile suicides over the past few years. In comparison to the death of an innocent teen, this after-school kerfuffle looks positively tame.
It’s also the tip of the iceberg; slut-shaming has become a viable Internet activity. The trend of people using social media to slut-shame their peers is bolstered by tons of prominent Internet users reinforcing the idea that people whose sexual behavior does not conform to conservative social mores are worthy of name-calling and degradation. Even the normally female-friendly YouTube star Jenna Marbles devoted a video to shaming promiscuous women.
Can we banish shame from the Internets?
The “slut-shaming” trend isn’t good for anyone. It reinforces a narrow, sexist standard of female behavior and, at the end of the day, it’s malicious and benefits no one. The incomparable Tina Fey put it best in, ahem, Mean Girls: “You have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it okay for guys to call you sluts and whores.”
And the onslaught of Twitter accounts and websites devoted to shaming people for their bad behavior are equally harmful. They slut-shame and behavior-shame young people in a way that could haunt them for years to come. 10 years ago, if you went to a party and had too much Jungle Juice and acted like a moron, you’d feel ashamed the next day – but that embarrassment wouldn’t be broadcast for everyone to see. To your friends. To your teachers. To your future employers and parents. Internet anonymity is vanishing, and when our mistakes get cataloged online, they’re harder to move past. Young people who find themselves the target of this type of shaming can feel worthless, and in way too many cases, this feeling of worthlessness translates into self-harm.
Shame can be a powerful motivator, and it can help you break bad habits and improve your life. But there’s a gaping difference between deciding to use shame to motivate yourself and to have someone else try to teach you lesson – because really, why does anyone with a Tumblr account think they’re the arbiter of what we should feel bad about?
The way people are degrading each other by broadcasting socially inappropriate behavior is cruel, unhelpful, and deeply disturbing. There’s really nothing positive to draw from it, except perhaps a deeper understanding of how our lives – even when we don’t record or publish certain parts – are ending up online. The line between public and private is disappearing, and the chances of mistakes leaving a lasting digital footprint continue to increase. And unfortunately it’s especially dangerous for young people: They are the generation that has grown up online, and there is ample opportunity for their dumb mistakes to be cataloged and used against them. Mark my words: Gone are the days when that shameful thing you did freshman year of college will live and die solely on a diary page.
Social media is all over the news these days. Whether we’re talking about startups and tools, brands, issues such as privacy and security or how big brands and events are using social media, we can expect to hear something new or interesting every day. Just consider some of these examples:
Last month we were introduced to Vine. Twitter purchased Vine last year which is a six-second looping video creation tool and consumption platform. It’s all the rage right now. But what will be the shiny new object we all flock to next week?
One of the most popular international brands using social media (and integrated media) these days is Red Bull. Its culture of “pushing the limits of human endeavour and experience” makes for great content on platforms such as YouTube and Instagram.
Privacy and security
Privacy has taken a back seat in the social media discourse these days. That’s only because the hacking and unauthorized use of Twitter accounts of Jeep, Burger King, HMV and the City of Vaughan, Ont. has brought the issue of security to the forefront.
Recent events such as the 2013 U.S. Presidential Inauguration, the 2013 Super Bowl and Beyonce half time show, the Grammys, and Oscars have all heavily used social media tools and tactics to amplify the conversation and experience.
Over the coming weeks and months I will be highlighting specific social media trends and case studies. I encourage you to participate in this column by reaching out to me on Twitter @karimkanji and also by including the hashtag #ITBSocial.