Open Mike by Terry Heaton

Why Employees Should Own Social Media

Online, we live and breathe as part of a vast network, and the rules for everything here are different than they are for life outside. We lose both in terms of innovation and potential when we force the Web into the shrinking universe of analog living. Here are six concepts that should at least get you thinking about the wisdom of releasing control of our employees in a social media environment.
By
TVNewsCheck,

Those in media who view the Web principally as a sustaining innovation — that is to say that its primary purpose is to advance the brands of mass media players — continue to make serious strategic errors in their efforts to draw the Web into their newsrooms. Nowhere is this truer than in the discussion over how television stations should exploit social media for their benefit.

The latest suggestion is that employees' Facebook accounts, for example, are actually owned by the brand, not the employee. Therefore, strict rules need to be enforced, as Diana Marszalek noted in an excellent overview last Tuesday for TVNewsCheck: "Who Owns, Controls Social Media Activity?"

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Stations are carefully wending their way through the minefield of social media dos and don'ts. With no industrywide standards yet established, they must determine how to oversee what employees — especially high-profile on-air personalities — post; whether they should be using station or personal accounts; and who owns such accounts and their growing legions of followers.

The only thing "standard" about the Web is its fundamental structure. It is a network of equal nodes capable of equal functionality. That's easy to miss, I'll admit, because we can make the Web "look" otherwise, but that doesn't change its fundamental structure. Everybody is just a node, a URL, a "uniform (or universal) resource locator." Anything, therefore, that WKKK-TV's node can do can also be done by nodes representing each of its employees. Everyone is a publisher. Everyone is competing for attention. Everyone is a media company.

Online, we live and breathe as part of a vast network, and the rules for everything here are different than they are for life outside. We lose both in terms of innovation and potential when we force the Web into the shrinking universe of analog living. Here are six concepts that should at least get you thinking about the wisdom of releasing control of our employees in a social media environment.

  • If it "belongs" to the employee, he/she will work it 24/7. This is an issue with media companies that wish to make social media a part of an employee's duties, because it becomes "work" for them instead of what they could and should be doing to advance their careers. News people demand time during the work day to do their social media duties, and this is problematic, given the resource demands of our newscasts.
Brand Connections
  • People follow people, not institutions. All nitpicking and "concerns" aside, people form social relationships with other people, not media companies. When Sir Tim Berners-Lee created the Web, he wrote that it was more a social phenomenon than a technical one, which is why sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ seem to fit so well into our online lives. Even if our employees are identified solely as representing us, our fans have always connected with them more than us. There's an inescapable artificiality about institutional "friends," because the institution, by nature, only cares about itself, while there's a chance (even if it's thin) that "my" anchor cares about me.
  • Personal branding is what matters online. Everyone is competing, and we rob our employees of the chance to compete (on our behalf) by forcing them to behave in a certain way that benefits only our single node. We're reaping diminishing returns in a world that is quite literally exploding. Bear in mind that non-employees in the community are not so encumbered, and they are growing in stature in the bigger news picture. Forbes has figured this out and to a certain extent, the Huffington Post. Their models deserve serious attention.
  • Being on TV has incredible personal branding value. Other local nodes on the network would do anything for a single chance to be on TV, and yet we squander any advantages our employees have by restricting their ability to compete in the world of personal brands. Think about this for a moment. We have at our disposal the greatest promotional medium ever created, and we're not using it to grow the brands of the people who work for us.
  • TV employees are mobile, the Web is not. One of the concerns I hear about employees and social media is the fear that employees will "build up a big following and then take those people with them when they leave." This is not only inaccurate, it's 180 degrees from what really takes place. Those followers are local people, and they don't "go" with the anchor or reporter. This is why we need to bring a form of promotional compensation into employee contracts. This would tie us to those followers, in perpetuity, as the quid pro quo for the marketing value we provide them.
  • The best use of the Web for local TV is to recruit viewers, not followers. In the beginning of the media's use of the Web, it was a given that building a huge following online would translate to big dollars. It turns out those dollars are, at best, dimes, and it's time we rethought the real value of the Web. Let's begin to exploit the Web as a way to grow our traditional audiences. Turning our people loose to recruit viewers is not as far-fetched as it might seem. They can go places we cannot go, and their "friends" or "fans" have other friends and fans that might not favor our station. It's a much more natural task for denizens of the Web than publishing branded content with ad messages attached.

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Ratings

Overnights, adults 18-49 for September 25, 2016
  • 1.
    5.5/18
  • 2.
    2.6/8
  • 3.
    1.2/4
  • 4.
    0.9/3
  • 5.
    0.5/2
  • 6.
    0.2/1
Source: Nielsen

Reviews

  • Rob Owen

    Easily fall’s best broadcast network comedy pilot, NBC’s The Good Place offers a clever high-concept premise that’s complemented with intelligent, sometimes absurdist humor. Created by Michael Schur, co-creator of NBC’s Parks and Recreation, The Good Place is a highly serialized series that’s essentially set in heaven and stars Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. NBC made five episodes of The Good Place available for review, and the show not only holds up, but also it improves, deepening characters that initially feel one-note and frequently leaving viewers guessing with cliffhanger endings to many of the episodes. The combination of snappy dialogue and winning but flawed characters makes The Good Place a great bet for fans of smart TV comedy.

  • Maureen Ryan

    Pitch has swagger, for good reason. It gets the big things right; the Fox drama about the first female baseball player in the Major Leagues is one of the year’s most assured and exciting debuts. But part of what impresses about the pilot is also the way it confidently strings together so many small but telling details. Ginny (Kylie Bunbury) is the first woman to be called up from the minors to the big leagues, and no show since Friday Night Lights has done a better job of portraying the internal and external pressures that weigh heavily on young athletes asked to do much more than merely succeed on the field. Pitch will likely do a good job of getting viewers to root for it. The hope is that the show won’t be an impressive, short-lived curiosity, but rather a long-term phenomenon.

  • Kevin Fallon

    In a fall TV season that’s already making a splash for championing diverse, distinctive voices in an array of projects that they created, wrote, and starred in, Better Things on FX stands out. The show is created by, written by, and starsPamela Adlon. She plays Sam Fox, the single mother of three daughters modeled after her own reality-show-ready experience raising three girls in Los Angeles following a divorce. Sam is also, like Adlon, a working actress — on shows both raunchy, a la Californication, and animated for children, like her role on Recess. It’s a refreshingly blunt take on single motherhood without sacrificing the warmth of parental love, portraying the dance between selfishness and selflessness that’s at the heart of being a parent — especially one weathering the hormonal fireworks of a household of four women at different ages.

  • David Wiegand

    The fall TV season doesn’t count as much as it used to — we already know that. But no matter how many retreads the broadcast networks throw at viewers in the next few months, this fall will be memorable because of the premiere of Atlanta on Tuesday, Sept. 6, on FX. The half-hour comedy created by and starring Donald Glover (Community), simply and brilliantly recalibrates our expectations of what a TV comedy is and how black lives are portrayed on the medium.

  • Louisa Ada Seltzer

    The second reboot of the 1980s John Candy movie Uncle Buck, bumped by ABC from midseason, has the same tired jokes you'll find on any second-rate sitcom. Too bad, because Mike Epps is appealing and ABC would be wise to keep him around for future shows, but there’s just not enough to this show to suggest it will last past summer. It also airs against NBC’s America’s Got Talent, summer’s No. 1 program on broadcast, which may make it even harder to find an audience.

  • Neil Genzlinger

    Bryan Cranston brings his Tony Award-winning interpretation of President Lyndon B. Johnson to television in an adaptation of the Robert Schenkkan play All the Way, and it’s still quite a sight to behold, just as it was on Broadway in 2014. Nothing beats witnessing this kind of larger-than-life portrayal onstage, of course. But the television version, presented by HBO, offers plenty of rewards, allowing Cranston to work the close-ups and liberating him from the confines of a theater set. Cranston’s performance is a gem — in his hands, this accidental president comes across as an amazing bundle of contradictions, someone who seems at once too vulgar for the job and just right for it.

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