Tag Archive: Twitter

Yesterday I had the opportunity to read an interesting article entitled “I Lost my Dad to Fox News” by Edwin Lyngar and it spoke to me somewhat.  This was not because of any specific political ideology I have, but because of the latest (and most fun) class I’ve had the opportunity to teach, Media and Politics.  I’ve always had an affinity for the media (as a Communications MS), but my love for politics has been evident since my college years.  I minored in Political Science, have volunteered on campaigns in the past and have always done my research when voting season rolls around.   This class was perfect for me to teach.

Before reading this blog piece, it’s important to read the article, as I don’t want to summarize it.  Any summary would not do it justice.  (The article is located at:   http://slnm.us/s7tyt23).  Also, I want to preface this article by saying I will not be adding any of my personal political commentary here, just a discussion of our present-day media.

The idea behind the blog piece is that our older generations are being influenced (to say the least) by the propaganda empire that is FOXNews.  I’d like to discuss several reasons why this is happening:  media conglomeration, demographics and gatekeeping.

The first reason that our older generation relies on FOXNews is media conglomeration.  Whether we like it or not, our media is owned by six major companies.  This leads to a multitude of problems, but one of the major problems with this is the bottom-line.  If these companies don’t have advertisers for their product, they don’t make money.  There is an inherent problem with media ownership in our present landscape.  News is no longer out to serve the public interest, it is to sensationalize stories to become more appealing to the viewer.  Why is this?  A viewer is now a consumer and therefore a potential customer for advertisers.  News quality is not what is important, making money is.  And while I’m sure this is no surprise to anyone, the problem is not likely to go away.

This leads to the second reason that FOXNews influences our older generation, demographics.  For those of you that don’t know, CNN leans left (democratic) and FOXNews leans right (republican).  There are many reasons why this may be, but demographics plays a key role.  There needs to be a news outlet that supports the older generation’s ideology. That doesn’t mean that FOXNews even believes what they broadcast; it means that there is a large segment of the population that wants to hear the news spun in this manner.

I don’t want to bog this piece down with a lot of Communication theory here, but one theory that needs to be discussed in this piece is the Uses and Gratifications theory.  Basically, this theory discusses that as news consumers, we will almost always seek out information that is in line with our viewpoints, regardless of who says it.  I gave this example in class:  If you are pro-life on the abortion issue, you seek out information that supports your pro-life standpoint.  Let’s say there are two articles about the topic, one pro-life, one pro-choice.  Even though the pro-choice article could have been written by someone with a doctorate that is very knowledgeable about the topic, you would still side with the pro-choice article even though it may have been written by someone with little or no education.  You do this because it reaffirms your own views on the topic, not because the person writing it is educated.  Twitter is the modern-day example of the Uses and Gratifications theory in play.  We follow those that have the same or similar viewpoints as we do and don’t follow those that do not share our viewpoint.

That said, there are large segments of our population that believe certain things about our country. One is the democrats, one is the republicans.  It’s well-known that the media typically leans to left because the democratic party is often progressive in their ideology.  Younger people tend to be more progressive in nature, while older people are typically more “stuck in their ways”.  FOXNews understands this and intentionally spins their stories to be in line with that republican ideology.  They want those watching their news to agree with their views and make it seem that the “liberal media” is against the republican party.  But really what they are doing is simply shaping their news to the demographic that they serve.  Take a look at some of the “experts” they bring to their programs.  Most of the experts will agree with the spin of the topic of the day.  If they do not, they are berated by the host or simply cutoff totally.  They do this because there are advertisers out there that need to hit this demographic.

The final reason that FOXNews influences our older generation is gatekeeping.  Gatekeeping refers to those people who have extreme power to determine what news makes the broadcast.  Imagine the power the owner and producers of FOXNews have.  They get to determine for a large segment of the country what news is worth being discussed.  One key thing to remember is that the news media doesn’t necessarily tell how to think, but what to think about.  So if all day FOXNews goes on and on about how Barack Obama’s new Healthcare plan is responsible for holding back our economy, those watching these newscasts will tend to believe what they are hearing over and over.

To me, this is the same reason that political radio talk-show hosts are rarely (if ever) moderate.  They have to appeal to certain demographics that the station is seeking.  That in turn determines what news will be broadcast and what spin that broadcast will contain.  I understand there are exceptions to some of the things I’ve mentioned, but media studies must generalize certain points.  I’d contend that the gatekeepers for FOXNews don’t even believe what they are saying (and the journalists most certainly do not), but as long as the overwhelming majority of the audience believes what is said, they’ve done their job.

Unfortunately, this trend will not change.  There was a comment in the article that FOXNews will die when the demographic passes on, but I don’t agree with this statement.  As we grow older, our ideologies change as is what is important to us as a human being.  FOXNews understands this and will alter their broadcasts to reflect what is important to the demographic that they seek.  Don’t count on FOXNews going anywhere anytime soon.

Paul M. Miller
Professor, Central Penn College
Social Media Editor, KollisionMedia


Twitter: @SolutionsforAdv

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/paul-miller/3b/b5/495

With the prevalence of social media in our society, many small to medium businesses have been faced with this question:  Where do I start?  This entry will take you step-by-step how to start a social media strategy from nothing, with a brief description of why each step is important and if you should employ different social media outlets.

1.  Have a message to convey and the time to convey it.

Before you even attempt to start a social media plan, you need to have a clear vision of what message you want to disseminate.  Sure you can create your pages, but what really is the point if you aren’t going to put the effort into the maintenance of the page.  Social media is certainly an example of the adage “You only get what you give”.  Have a clear plan and execute it; it is that simple.

2.  Start a Facebook for Business page.

There are still people out there that refuse to engage in social media as is the nature of new technology in the communication world.  However, there is no reason a business should not have a Facebook page.  The pages are free, take little time to maintain, and best of all are the easiest way to engage with current and potential customers.  Facebook is the easiest way to drive people to your business website (which I’m assuming you would already have, if not please create a webpage before beginning a social media plan).

Setting it up is easy, just go to:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php and complete the steps.  I would strongly advise reading the Facebook Pages Terms (http://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php) before getting started.  While it is the typical legal red tape, it is still important to know the guidelines that Facebook mandates.

At this point, this is where Social Media Strategy differs depending on the type of business you are.  Every company needs a message, the time to convey it and a Facebook business page.  Your plan from there depends on if you are a professional business (such as a Law Firm or Accounting Company) or a casual business (Retail store or Restaurant).

Professional Business:

3.  Create a Linked In Business Page

For professionals, Linked In is the number 1 asset to networking.  I have discussed multiple reasons why this is true in past blogs, so let’s assume you know the value of Linked In for individuals.  Those same reasons that Linked In is important for the individual is the same for a professional business as well.  While the Linked In for business page is somewhat more complicated that starting a Facebook for Business page, it will bring double the returns than Facebook assuming that it is done properly.

To start a company page, you must first add the company to your personal profile by saying you are employed there.  At that point you will be allowed to create a business page for the company.  By doing this, you can easily allow of your connections to be invited to the business page and have a built-in base of followers.  By encouraging other members of your staff to do the same, commanding a large group of followers in a short time is quite easy.

4.  Create a Twitter Handle

Regardless of what kind of business you are, Twitter is a free and easy way to promote your services, show expertise in your field and engage with people who are like-minded.  Create a Twitter handle (the letters behind the @, ex. @Foursquare) based on your business name.  Tweet important events, specials and articles written by you or your peers for your followers to view.  Understand that because of the 140 character limit, you have to be brief and concise.  This is not a detriment, in fact the 140 character limit has made Twitter what it is because of its’ simple nature.  Even if you don’t start tweeting right away, following those in your field (including the competition) can be a way for your business to stay up-to-date on current market trends.

For a professional business, these 4 steps can be the beginning of an effective and (best of all) free way to market your business to potential clients, family and friends.

Restaurants, retail outlets and other commercial ventures can use other means to attract and engage with potential customers using social media.  Assuming Steps 1 and 2 are complete, the next steps will allow your business to grow by interacting with your client base.

3.  Foursquare

Foursquare is an amazing asset that is not being utilized to its’ full potential by commercial businesses such as restaurants, pubs and retail stores.  In a past blog entitled Foursquare:  An Innovative, (kind of) New Social Media (https://paulmmiller.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/foursquare-an-innovative-kind-of-new-social-media/), I describe Foursquare and why I love it.  Foursquare has an easy process to begin using for businesses.  Sign up (or log in with your Facebook ID), go to the business page and on the right side of the page there is a link that says “Do you manage this venue?  Click here”.  The verification process does take a little more time than the creation of a Facebook business page, but it’s worth it.

There are many reasons to use Foursquare as a “casual business”.  If you go for dinner at a trendy new place and have a phenomenal evening, you can leave a tip on the business page, tell your friends how great of an experience you had, leave photos of your food or view, etc.  Your friends see these experiences and become inspired to try the place based on your recommendation.  In 2012 and beyond, everyone is critic; be it food, restaurant, or other retail venue.  You also can create specials that could begin with loyalty bonuses and continue with discounts aimed at driving business during slower periods of the day.

4.  Twitter

This aspect is similar to part 4 above for the professional businesses, but the need to engage is much higher.  Whereas with professional businesses, Twitter should be used as a tool to enhance your knowledge of your given field, Twitter for the casual business should be used to promote your company.  It is very important that any specials that you may have are disseminated to people who follow your business.  Even if they don’t decide to attend this event, the name recognition alone will go a long way in creating a successful online brand for your business.

Truthfully, social media is all about what you think makes the most sense for your business.  These words here are not the end-all be-all, but I would love to see more businesses take advantage of these tools out there to make their venture more successful.  Not one thing in this entry costs any money whatsoever, only time and a message.  The fans will come if you manage your pages appropriately and the business will grow.  Face it, join social media now or be left behind.

Paul M. Miller


Twitter: @SolutionsforAdv

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/pub/paul-miller/3b/b5/495