Sunday, March 31, 2013

Do We Have the Rights to Talk about Work or our Boss on Social Media?

It is not new to hear people got fired because of their updates on social networking sites. In one extreme case, a man got fired even for his random thoughts posted on Facebook. So, is it legal for companies to fire employees because of their updates on social media sites?

Employees have the rights to discuss face-to-face on “protected concerted activity” as outlined by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). For example, employees can talk about their wages and work conditions with co-workers. According to The Lodging Magazine (2013), the answer to whether employees have the rights to talk about work or their boss on social media sites depends on whether the employee’s update is considered as protected concerted activity.

The article in The Lodging Magazine reported two cases with the published decisions from NLRB. One case involves in an employee’s sarcastic comments about the employer. This employee is not protected because NLRB believes that the comments were made “solely by the employee without any discussion with other employees.” In the other case, an employee responded to a co-worker’s criticisms of her job performance as well as the performance of other co-workers. This employee was fired, but NLRB ruled in favor of the terminated employee because the employee’s behavior is “a call to group action that related to their working conditions.”

Even though it is noted that the decision made by the NLRB may turn out to be invalid because the Supreme Court by the Administration is still pending on its decision on whether the NLRB “lacks a quorum and is unable to conduct business,” employers are advised to keep such decisions of NLRB in mind. In the end, the article lists six suggestions for employers’ considerations (direct quotes):

  • Eliminate policies that require employees to maintain confidentiality over wages, bonuses, or commissions.
  • Review social media policies for non-specific terms that need further definition or stricter language.
  • Adjust overly broad language that prohibits employees from discussing company policies, schedules, safety, dress codes, work assignments, other staff, or management.
  • Eliminate or change language that prohibits posting of company logos, company name, identification of employee with the company, etc.
  • Where legitimate issues are involved, define information that the company considers confidential (private employee data, guest information, strategic marketing plans, financial particulars).
  • Consider a disclaimer at the end of the social media policy that makes clear that the policy is not intended to restrict an employee’s Section Seven Rights under the NLRA.

My suggestion to individual users is to think before posting any negative comments about work or their boss. They may ask themselves: besides venting my feelings about work or my boss on social media sites, how does my update help solve the issue? Are there other places for me to vent my feelings? Are there other places I can seek solutions (e.g., the HR Office, the corporate HR Manager, the NLRB, etc.)?

I agree to the article that managers need to revisit their companies’ policy. Ideally, I believe that the best solution to “stop” employees from bad-mouthing the company or their supervisors is to nurture an organizational culture that value employee feedback. If employees know their employer listens to them and shows genuine interest to them, they tend to be more open to their managers about their feelings and thoughts. If their issues are solved, they will not need to vent their feelings on social media sites any more. What do you think?

Ryan, Andria, & Lominack, Reybun. (2013, March). Word to the wise: the National Labor Relations Board is weighing in on social media communications and employee rights; Here’s what hoteliers need to know. The Lodging Magazine (The official magazine of The American Hotel + Lodging Association), p. 20-21.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a pretty simple, self-explanatory term. Successfully doing it, however, is extremely challenging. An entire industry has been born to help businesses and people optimize their websites for higher search engine rankings. Distilling all of that information into one blog post would be impossible. We will instead touch on some of the basic terms and concepts that are frequently associated with SEO.

We all know what search engines are and we all have our favorite one. Google, Yahoo, Bing are a few of the most common names in search and all primarily do the same thing; turn your search terms into a list of the most relevant websites. But how do they do that? First, each of them has a massive database that includes all of the words on all of the world’s websites (wow!).  Second, they have “spiders” (computer programs) that crawl over all of these web pages to keep the database up-to-date. Finally, they have proprietary algorithms that quickly match the search terms you type in to the database of webpage words they have. In approximately .19 seconds, you’ll be given a list of what your chosen search engine thinks are the most relevant websites for whatever you were looking for.

As a lonely website wanting to be found, it is imperative that you show up on the first page of this Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Knowing what we know about how search engines work, the KEY is having the right WORDS on your webpage to match what is being searched for. Yup, keywords are, um, key. From the URL, to the page titles, to photo tags, to filenames and, of course, your actual content, you want the purpose of your website to be conveyed through relevant keywords.

From the basics of keywords, the ins-and-outs of SEO get complicated quickly. Having other webpages link to yours is important – say, a newspaper review. Have fresh content to keep the “spiders” interested in your site is important. Fine tuning your long-tail keywords is important – i.e., moving past simple keywords to chains of words like “the best social media class at SU” that people might search. Being able to analyze and adjust your SEO plan as algorithms change, your competition changes and peoples search habits evolve is yet another factor to consider when launching your website.

How comfortable would you feel handling your websites SEO? If not, how much would you be willing to pay for this type of service?


How Much Does “Popularity” Cost on Social Networking Sites?

Money cannot buy us true friendship in the real life, but can we buy fans or followers on social networking sites? Absolutely, and the price might be cheaper than expected.   

Eric Steuer reported the following price tags in Wired Magazine:
Facebook: 500 likes for $30 or 20,000 for $699 on
Twitter: 1,000 followers for $10 or 1,000,000+ for $1,750 on
Pinterest: 100 followers for $15 or 5,000 for $95 on
YouTube: 30,000 views for $150 or 1,000,000+ for $3,100 on

I can certainly afford to pay $30 to make my Facebook page look better, but if I rarely engage the Facebook users on my page, how likely can I build a meaningful relationship with them? Without a meaningful relationship, can I create value for me and the Facebook users on my page? Probably not. That’s why I argued earlier that only the relationship built on engaging conversations can create value. Likewise, even though companies can buy thousands or millions of likes or followers, without engaging and meaningful conversations, company will not be able to convert the likes and followers into customers or sales.

What do you think of the act of purchasing fans or followers? Can we treat that behavior the same as cheating? If so, are the companies cheating the customers or potential investors? What suggestions will you provide to the companies who want to recruit (but not to buy) real fans and followers?

Relevant discussion:

Steuer, Eric. (2013, April). Best friends$: No matter what social network you’re on, you can buy your way to popularity. Wired, p. 32.
The picture was downloaded from

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

We Have Good Reasons to Become Facebook Addict, Psychologists Said

“Yes, yes, I know. I should have stopped, but please just let me finish posting this update …” God knows how difficult it becomes these days to get people’s attention away from Facebook or just any social media platforms. People are tempted to check news feeds and updates.  

Let me ask you another question: When was the last time you checked your Facebook? Was it just a minute ago before you put down your cell phone? Or right in this moment while you are trying to share my discussion on Facebook? For a long time, Facebook has become the most visited website in the U.S. (3rd place in the world) and the website on which Americans spend the most time. There must be a good reason why people can’t have enough with Facebook.

According to recent report on Monitor on Psychology: A Publication of The American Psychological Association, Facebook indeed has the “magic” to satisfy people’s need for connectedness and self-promotion, boost people’s self-esteem, and help people maintain offline relationship. If people feel lonely and disconnected, they can find comfort on Facebook. If they are not feeling lonely, they can also go to Facebook to maintain their social connections. So, Facebook attracts people, regardless how lonely or social people feel.

Research evidence also shows that people who look at their own Facebook page for as little as three minutes can show a significant increase of self-esteem as compared to the control groups who either look at themselves in a mirror or simply wait in a room for three minutes. It is believed that the “Photoshopped version” of people themselves have a positive effect on their self-esteem.

Facebook can also be considered as a means to build a person’s social capital. Because of Facebook, people can now access the updates of their friends, which they would not be able to do otherwise, and thus, have fewer chances of missing out a story or sometimes, a job opportunity.

Is that so? What is your reason of using Facebook? Do you think Facebook help you boost your self-esteem? Does Facebook or social media in general allow you to maintain a closer relationship with your friends and family? Furthermore, are you addicted to Facebook or social media in one way or another? Or do you know anyone who is addicted to Facebook or another social media tool? Please feel free share your stories with us.  

Winerman, Lea (2013, March). What draws us to Facebook? Psychologists and communication researchers are studying how Facebook so successfully lures us in. Monitor on Psychology: A Publication of The American Psychological Association, 44(3), 56-58.
The picture was downloaded from the Joking Cobra Blog

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Google+ or - ?

“Google+ Why is it important?” seems to be a trick question at first glance. Of course it isn’t important. The only time anyone ever hears or thinks of it is when one of the many meme’s making fun of it get circulated on the social network that matters – Facebook. 

Ending the conversation there, however, misses some of the benefits that Google + can have for individual users and businesses. For the individual user, Google+ easily allows you to connect to your interests via the thought leaders and content creators that form their new, yet numerous, “communities”. In the same way that Facebook easily connects you to your existing friends, Google + can be used to connect to the ideas and communities that matter to you. Google+ also makes it easy to keep this network of people organized in a way that you define. The intuitive “circles” feature allows you to sort your contacts into whatever categories you find appropriate (close family, extended family, HPM homies, old grad student friends, etc.) and lets you easily set differing levels of privacy with each group. In short, with an ever increasing number of users, the opportunities for easily connecting both publicly and privately to friends new and old are growing daily.

While the differences between Facebook and Google+ may seem slight for the individual user, the benefits to businesses can be tremendous. Unlike their earlier social effort, Buzz, Google+ hasn’t been created as a standalone product. It is becoming more and more integrated into all of Google’s offerings, from Google docs to Gmail to Maps to Search.

Ah, search. In the same way that Facebook rules social, Google rules search. If you’re a business with a web presence (can you think of any that don’t?), then search is important to you. Shortly after the creation of Google+, they introduced the concept of Search plus Your World, an effort to combine traditional search results from the wider web with results influenced by your Google+ network. For a business without a presence on Google+, you risk dropping lower in search results than businesses that do. An example of the search benefits of being an active member in Google+ can be seen at here:

Beyond major international companies like H&M that were profiled in the link, there are also implications for local business. Google+ Local is another service integrated with Google+ and combines search with product reviews and mapping. As the internet is increasingly accessed via mobile devices, this is a powerful combination that can direct customers into local businesses at the exact moment they are searching for what they want. 

To conclude, Google+ can be a user-friendly way for individual users to connect to people with similar interests. It is also becoming an increasingly vital way for businesses of all size to maintain their search relevance. Though many scoffed at Google’s second attempt at social, the internet giant might just be the one to get the last laugh.

If you are Google, what do you hope Google+ does for your company?

Does Google+ need to overtake Facebook for social dominance to be successful?