Journalists on Social Media Networks

Have you ever sat down and wondered who in the world makes the most use of Social Media in current times? Maybe it has always been so and it’s just become really noticeable now, but due to tumultuous events in the world, namely the revolutions in the MENA region, Journalists seem to be all over Facebook and Twitter. Not only that, they also take the most advantage of what is said and posted on social networks the most in their work.

Even though the recent events have succeeded in making anyone on Twitter a ‘Citizen Journalist’, hundreds of professional Journalists are turning to tweeting and blogging, sharing their views and opinions online, and using these means to verify information they receive as well as sourcing stories.

According to a survey done about this, it seems almost half of those Journalists (47% to be exact), use Twitter to source their stories. A third of them (35%) turn to Facebook, and the rest (30%) use blogs they are already familiar with. Surprisingly, research also found that about 47% find leads to stories through blogs they have never visited before… Thank you Twitter.

In past years, PR agencies played a big part in supplying news to Journalists and news channels. They still play quite a big part and are just as important as online sources. However, having a solid (social) network, good blogger relations and a strong content strategy will definitely get a Journalist far.

Do you think Journalists have it easier these days than they did say, 10 years ago?

How do you think the news world has changed because of Social Media Networks like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube?

Multi tasking = #Fail?

“When you are walking, walk. When you are sitting, sit.” – Buddha

We all know not to drink and drive. Correction: Most of us know not to drink and drive. What would your answers be when posed with the question would you drink and write? Perhaps writing a love letter is different, but when it comes to writing an important work email or working on a project, the answer should obviously be a no. There is strong researched evidence that suggests that what most of us do in the workplace – Multitasking- can reduce your performance in the workplace to that of a drunk.

A molecular biologist compares a person driving and texting to a person in the office who is simultaneously checking emails, writing up a document, and surfing the web. He claims they are essentially doing the exact same thing. He also claims that the brain is not made to multi task, and it just doesn’t exist, as much as it is highly praised when someone claims they actually can multi task. He gives another example: You may have noticed that when you are working on something, and have music in the background, you finish work and realize the CD is finished but you can’t recall any of the songs you heard.

Another business coach says there is no such thing as multi tasking, but rather refers to it as task switching, where we are simply performing one task that has all our attention, while being mindless about another. Other research by him shows that people who are interrupted and have to keep switching their attention back and forth between things, take 50% more time to accomplish a task, and subsequently make the same amount of errors. An everyday life example of this: Sitting at a restaurant for lunch with a friend, you’re in deep conversation, and then you get interrupted by the waiter to take your orders. After he leaves, how many times have you completely forgotten what you were talking about? Not only do interruptions cause amnesia, claims this researcher, but they also cause delays due to the fact that the brain has to go through a four step neuron switch thing (too scientific to get into in this post).

So, given the above examples and research studies, what are your views on multi tasking in life and in the workplace?

How does multi tasking come into play if your work is in the digital social media sector where interruptions are a common thing?

What effects do you see when you try to do several things at the same time, rather than focusing on one thing at a time?

Business in Social Media: Facebook Pop-Ups

Steering away from Social Media in Politics, this post will discuss Social Media in Business. It is no secret that when it comes to advertising, Facebook is the go to place for promoting brands. A new Facebook trend on the scene now is ‘pop up’ stores (example: Roots), literally popping up all over Europe and Canada at the moment. In the real world, pop up stores are a new concept in marketing: Basically temporary shops (or bars) that ‘pop up’ in random places for a day or a few days offering a limited collection in efforts to build awareness of the product/brand.

More and more retailers all over the world have been making use of Social Media in recent years, offering deals, and encouraging people to write reviews or to address complaints. The convenience of said pop up stores on Facebook is that it ultimately allows current and potential customers to purchase their items without having to leave the site itself (i.e. Facebook), potentially increasing revenue tremendously, while generating ‘buzz’.

It takes time to calculate and analyze exactly how many more customers/clients such endeavors give to a company advertising in such ways, but as many retailers are claiming to have been seeing much positive results from using temporary ‘pop up’ stores on Facebook. They said they have seen an increase in the number of fans on their Facebook pages, more subscribers to their newsletter, and higher sales.

This has not been seen in the Middle East region however, not yet anyways. How successful do you think they will be for us in the region? As a culture that is new to shopping online (thanks to many years of war, political unrest, and no cargo getting into the country, or out for that matter), do you feel it might just be another way of regular advertising and brand awareness for most, rather than a good revenue generator?

Social Media to the Rescue: Speak2Tweet

In last week’s blog post ‘Online Activism: Social Media & Politics’, we took a bird’s eye view of the situation in the region as a whole, and how Social Media tools were assisting in organizing protests and demonstrations in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan and other parts of the middle east. In the past week, shortly after completing the blog post, Egypt erupted into what became a revolutionary uprising that is still ongoing as this new post is being written.

The role of Social Media, despite the government shut down of the internet in Egypt for days, has shown how important it truly is in our modern lives, and how much we rely on the internet for information, assistance and ‘spreading the word’. Which leads me to wonder how on earth did our parents survive without the internet?! Especially for those of us in this turbulent part of the world…A blog post for another day.

When the Egyptian government cut off the internet and started to crack down on Media censorship, Twitter came to the rescue with the help of Google and a company called SayNow to launch a service called Speak2Tweet. This was their way of helping Egyptians and others inside Egypt find a way to communicate with the outside world. People in Egypt call a certain number and are able to leave an audio message which is then posted immediately on the SayNow website, as well as on Speak2Tweet’s twitter account. Despite most of them being in Arabic, volunteers from all over the world are translating them into English, Spanish, and French.

Other Social Networks such as Facebook and YouTube have also been playing a major part in the Egyptian uprising, with Facebook pages popping up all over the world regarding the uprising in Egypt. Videos of the protests as well as news are being posted and shared by the thousands.

All of this leads to the ultimate question: What role should social networks take when it comes to Politics and various human rights issues such as what just happened in Egypt? Should Facebook and Twitter ‘take sides’?

Online Activism: Social Media and Politics

online_activism-150x150The recent events in Egypt mirror the uprising in Tunisia just a couple of weeks ago. Those events in turn remind us of similar anti-government protests in Iran in 2009. The thing that they all have in common, and that stands out, is that all were instigated online through social networks. Online activism in the region has been erupting anywhere you look online; Facebook, Twitter and YouTube specifically.

In 2009, after the presidential elections in Iran, thousands of Iranians took to the streets for days in protests and demonstrations that rocked the country. None of us in the outside world would have heard anything about those, and the subsequent human rights violations that occurred there, had it not been for Twitter and Facebook. Despite the fact that they were blocked, and no foreign reporters are allowed into Iran, some people managed to get on other proxy’s and tweet the reality of the situation. Foreign Media was reached thanks to Twitter, and made the world aware of the dire situation there.

Fast-forward to 2011, and barely two years later, Tunisians took to the streets by the thousands in anti government protests. They succeeded; President ZineAbidine Bin Ali fled the country. There, as in Iran, social networking sites were being actively blocked by the government, but that did not stop many from bypassing those and posting and sharing videos of the revolts on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Facebook though, more than Twitter, became an indispensable resource for tracking the minute-by-minute development of the situation. The online community rallied with them in support, spreading and sharing the news and videos coming from Tunisia proving that Social media tools are powerful ways to communicate. Another thing to take note of is according to Facebook, they got thousands more users in that one month since the Tunisian uprising than ever before.

Inspired by the revolution in Tunisia, Egyptians took to the streets on January 25th. They came out in the thousands. There hadn’t been protests of this magnitude in Egypt since the 1970’s. All this would not have been possible had it not been for a simple Facebook page calling for all Egyptians to demonstrate and protest against alleged police brutality in Egypt, on the national holiday of Police Day. All day during the demonstrations people in Egypt were tweeting and re-tweeting the events happening around them, journalists and citizens alike. Despite the fact that the events in Egypt were not headline news on most TV channels in the region or internationally, it was indeed all over Twitter. The government keeps blocking Twitter as well as other social networking sites, but people are finding ways around them and continue to spread their message.

As this blog post is being written, protestors are still demonstrating in the streets of Egypt. Social Media has obviously been playing a major role in not only organizing such events, but also in spreading the word about them, and giving a rise in Citizen Journalism.

All those anti government uprisings in the region leave me wondering what’s next in Social Media when it involves politics. Online activism is translating into real results.

What, in your opinion, are the affects of Social Media in the Middle East, specifically when it comes to speaking out against something or someone?