Monthly Archives: May 2014

To trust or not to trust?

ImageI tend to trust everyone or it seems that way initially when I think about it. It’s always been my nature. I might not be the best quality but it is who I am. I can say that I trust some more than others but am finding it hard to figure the qualities that make some stand out over others. Over time my trust will decline for someone or it may even take on a roller coaster pattern.

On Facebook I don’t accept strangers as friends but some friendships have only been in the online world. That’s not to say that I trust real world friends over those I’ve only met online. I’ve formed bonds with people in this program that far exceed some friendship where I can actually meet with the person face to face.

My trust boils down to how deep a connection I have with a person. That connection is formed by becoming close to people and interacting with them often. If we’ve built up that intimacy then I will have more trust for them than others.

One behavior that stands out in regards to who I trust is that they display a positive attitude. There’s nothing more annoying than someone who only complains on social media. I also want to get value out of those I connect with. If someone is flooding my feed with nonsense then I might ignore most of what they post, even it something may be good from time to time. I also look for people that are caring and helpful. I want to know that someone is being genuine and not just in it for their own benefit. It goes back to the trust formula and how all the good qualities are multiplied together and divided by self-promotion. If you are only on social media for yourself, I don’t see many people trusting you.

The person that stands out to me is Paige Mackenzie. While I know her personally, she is a professional golfer and uses social media to build her personal brand. She demonstrates all the qualities I recently touched on. What makes her a great follow is she’s entertaining. She’s knowledgeable in her sport and provides analysis and tips for other golfers.

Paige offers a variety of different tweets by sharing personal life details or content from others. While leading a busy life playing golf, being on air with Golf Channel and traveling the world, she still finds the time to interact with her followers. She’s engaging and builds up the intimacy level that is need to trust someone.

How does she benefit from my trust? The more followers she has the more it might motivate her to continue down a great path with her social media posts. As I interact with her on Twitter, she can know that people are listening and care about what she has to offer.

Do you find yourself trusting those who have a negative attitude on social media?

Is there a value you can put above the rest when it comes to trust?


Building Blocks of Trust


Trust is hard for me to define. It’s not because of the usual response that people might give that they don’t trust many people. My issue is I trust everyone. I take what people say at face value and don’t question things. That’s why it is hard for me to define why I trust someone when I feel like I trust everyone.

The trust formula presented in our lecture made a lot of sense. The tweak I would have to the formula would be that certain factors weigh more heavily and that I wouldn’t just add them all up together. I’m thinking about building blocks and how certain combinations can add up to trust being built. You might get there using a different combination for each person and the tower of blocks/qualities is different each time you stack the blocks.

I do however strongly agree that self-promotion is what can ruin trust. There has to be a sense of selflessness to earn trust. The person can’t be in it for their own gain. Also helpfulness and intimacy stood out to me more than authority did. If someone is helpful in a genuine way and they are friendly and coming from a good place, then trust goes up.

I really liked how reliability was added in there. If you can’t rely on someone then you probably don’t have as much trust for them. You want someone to be there for you when you need them and not only when it is good for them. The people that embody reliability will always rank high in someone’s trust.

Northern Rail has done a great job building trust. The things that stood out to me were that they had a warm and friendly tone. The came off as human and showed that they cared about the person’s problem. They weren’t dismissing anything as too little to respond which goes a long way. Their responsiveness was off the charts. They simply didn’t apologize and leave messages at that. The person responding saw the conversation all the way to the end and really went the extra mile. It was more about the conversations and making sure they took action than just responding to tweets.

There are many companies that can use Northern Rail as an example. People want to know they are being heard and that their complaint or praise is being taken to heart. That is what will build trust for companies.

Pinterest Terms & Conditions

My love for Pinterest runs deep. It was an easy selection this week to review its terms and conditions. I’m glad that Pinterest didn’t disappoint. Its policies were by far the most user friendly compared to Facebook and Twitter. It also wasn’t a dreadful read like the others were.

Pinterest made this area of its site more user friendly by breaking the policies up into sections with large headings. The font was a reasonable size. The biggest difference was that it included a box next to every section that gave the same description but in layman’s terms. The biggest turn off for reading these types of documents is that not many understand what they are reading.

Pinterest provided the required legalese but then helped the everyday person out by dumbing down the language into something we can all understand. Pinterest has a legal obligation to protect itself with binding language, but it did its users a favor by making a page that someone might actually want to read.

One thing I found surprising was Pinterest requires businesses to have a business profile and not a personal profile. I knew business accounts were available but I didn’t know it was mandated. Shhh don’t tell but I currently run a business account through a personal one. Maybe I need to look into changing that.

Pinterest operates with a copyright policy to protect itself. It’s become a lot easy to take another’s work and claim it as your own and Pinterest knows it has to combat that. It doesn’t want to come under fire for a user posting material they shouldn’t. I’m not sure Pinterest would be able monitor absolutely everything, so this policy and complaint process will help cover the company when copyright issues arise.

Another safeguard that Pinterest has to put in place is not making itself responsible if a questionable or inappropriate third-party site is linked from the platform. Again it boils down to not being able to monitor everything at the rate things are pinned.

Pinterest did a great job explaining how it uses the information it tracks for each user. I do find it a bit unethical that it can track the web pages I visit if that site has a Pinterest feature. But I do give them credit for offering up an option where that off-Pinterest data option can be turned off. The normal user that doesn’t read the terms won’t have any idea that Pinterest does this or that you can turn it off.

It doesn’t seem that the Pinterest terms cover as much as Facebook and Twitter. I did feel that it was lacking a bit in substance but I can’t quite pinpoint what it was missing.


Don’t just check the box

No wonder I’ve never read thImagee terms and conditions for Facebook, Twitter or pretty much anything until today. My eyes are fried from long pages of small text that utilize words and phrases I don’t even understand.

That last sentence explains exactly why many don’t read the terms and conditions. It’s not much fun and you won’t walk away understanding much. They are in a legal language that many won’t comprehend on the first read. If you choose to read things over and over until you understand, you might never make it through the document. Some, including myself, turn a blind eye to the terms because we just don’t care or think that a company would hide something in there that might actually harm us. It’s not a great position to take but I’ve checked far too many boxes agreeing to turn back now and take a read.

I get that companies create these documents to cover their legal behinds but why can’t they figure out a way to be more user friendly. Make it so that someone might actually know what they are agreeing to when they check that little box. Companies probably make them this way so people won’t read them and know what is really going on.

My suggestion would be to make this area of social media sites interactive. Social media screams visual imagery these days, so why not take that approach. Make the text larger, streamline it into more understandable text and have a little more fun with it. Maybe they could have someone on video talking people through the different areas.

Parts of Facebook and Twitter’s terms and conditions did give examples which helped me understand different things. There were points when both would use images to help explain different areas. A complete redesign is needed though for more people to want to utilize these areas.

Like our lecture said, most of the terms are full of what you can’t do and not a lot about what the company is doing. I feel there is a lot being hidden. Facebook is very general and uses the word most far too often. If it isn’t all of something then what is happening to the rest Facebook?

Where my duty lies

Ethics are very gray. The word means different things to different people. Ethics is not the law and there’s no magical right answer when faced with a decision on what to do or not do in a situation.

ImageCase in point, when I was thinking about what I would do in regards to the case study discussed in our lecture, I had a gut reaction but started doubting myself. If I was a journalist having to report on a murder case, would I try become friends on Facebook with the alleged murderer’s friend? My initial reaction is yes. I would ask to be the person’s friend without making it known I was a journalist. My gut reaction stemmed from the desire to get noticed, make my boss happy, and/or receive a promotion or a new job. My duty at first lied with what was best for myself and my career.

As the lecture went on and other scenarios were pointed out, I started to question myself. As it was pointed out that it could be bad for my name, my paper or industry, I was more hesitant than I initially was. But my reaction was always self-centered relating to the egoism theory. My decision was based on how it would affect me and not the victim receiving the friend request on Facebook.

My stance on the person getting the the friend request is that person has to look out for themselves. They have the power to accept or deny me as a friend. They should do their due diligence and investigate prior to accepting.

Do I feel unethical taking that stance? Yes a little. But I also feel that as a journalist it is part of the job to investigate the story.

I think it is extremely helpful to break ethical decision making down into three steps. We each will have a gut reaction but that isn’t always the best decision. Thinking things through and using a process will help us come up with the best solution for ourselves. Again the decision might not resonate well with everyone but we have to decide where our duties lie.

Getting to know Stacy Shanks

My name is Stacy Shanks. I’m a grad student at the University of Florida getting my Masters in Mass Communications with a specialization in Social Media. I also received by BS in Advertising from the University of Florida as well in 2004. When I’m not studying and completing assignments, I’m working full time or being a wife to my husband of five years and a mother to my two-year-old Lily.

At the end of March, I took a new career path. I had worked for the Ladies Professional Golf Association for nine year steering their digital/mobile media strategies and platforms. I loved the golf industry but found myself needing a new challenge. I also wanted to find a position that allowed me to play a larger role in social media.

I landed at the United Soccer Leagues in Tampa as the Director of Digital Media. I’m overseeing the digital strategy for all of its leagues and taking each websites through a redesign. I’m also overseeing the social media strategy for each league as well and doing a lot of the posting. I’m really enjoying being hands on with social media and putting all that I’ve learned to use.

I’m really looking forward to our Social Media Ethics class. We are all going to face an ethical scenario in our line of work and with this class we can become as prepared as we  can be for how to handle situations that arise.