Social Media Murkiness, Corporate Carrots and Parenthood Pitfalls

October 2018

Recommendations for What to Read, Watch and Listen to

Photos: iStock


Social Media and the Global War for Public Opinion

Two think tankers, P.W. Singer, a strategist at New America, consultant for the U.S. military and intelligence community and book author, partnered with Emerson T. Brooking, a research fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who writes about conflict and social media, to co-write a new book, “LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media.” The authors explain to NPR’s Fresh Air host, Terry Gross, how opposite combatants in a conflict influence public opinion using social media and how it has, in turn, influenced battlefield decisions in the past. According to the authors, you may soon be able to enlist in an online army promoting and hijacking online discussions for a military organization … yikes! (In the more tranquil world of B2B marketing, we call this action the “advocacy stage”—the latter part of a buyer’s journey.)

Whether you listen to the podcast or read the book, you can learn about everything from bots, click farms and sock puppets to trolls, altered Wikipedia entries and neural networks … all methods that groups and governments are exploiting in the alarming dark side of social media. 

Listen to the podcast here.


Your Company’s Values Had Better Align with Mine

Los Angeles Times writer David Lazarus’ article, “Let’s Stop Pretending That Corporations Have Any ‘Values’ Beyond Making Money,” argues that businesses are designed to make money and are not intended to espouse their positions on social hot topics, much like an individual would. The catalyst for Lazarus’ article was a recent study conducted by the PR firm FleishmanHillard called “Navigating Zero Gravity.”  The study is chock-full of fascinating data that reinforces the need for companies to be prepared with corporate responses on topics ranging from sexual harassment, minimum wage, racism, diversity and data security to gender discrimination and equality, gender pay gap, data privacy and much more. And the study encourages companies to back it all up with actions to avoid consumers sensing an “authenticity gap.”

Consumers have new expectations of corporations and want entities to weigh in on these topical issues, which, if not conveyed with care and craft, can produce devastating results with lightning speed. According to the study, at stake are two-thirds of U.S. consumers who say they have often or sometimes stopped using certain products or services because a company’s response to an issue does not support their personal views. Companies need to have their values defined, followed by all within the organization and communicated.

Lazarus asserts that Wells Fargo’s five core values didn’t deter the company from racking up “over a billion dollars [in fines] in recent years for a variety of missteps, including opening millions of accounts without customers’ permission.”

Lazarus points out that the FleishmanHillard study concludes, “Determining the right thing to do needs to be grounded in the values of your organization, a long-term perspective and deep commitment to carrying forward a company position.” Lazarus’ response to that states, “No, determining the right thing to do needs to be grounded in knowing the right thing to do, as defined by state and federal law, and by a broader awareness of ethical conduct.”

Yes, businesses exist to create profit and employ workers and they need to comply with regulations and have ethical practices, but this is all the baseline for operations. I believe a company distinguishes itself from its competition by focusing on the good stories about how their products and services help customers, and about the dedicated people that work in the company … narratives that are intertwined with the values the company has set forth and adheres to. Audiences are attracted to stories about people, not brands.

Read the Los Angeles Times article here.

Read the FleishmanHillard study here.


Parenting is a Learned Skill

Looking toward her future, my daughter recently proclaimed she may never have children as she doesn’t believe she possesses the needed maternal instinct. “Oh, no … it’s not an instinct. It’s a learned skill,” I assured her. 

I’m many years removed from the in-the-trenches rearing of little ones, but I am thoroughly enjoying reliving some new-parent faux pas by watching The Letdown on Netflix. In this series, you’ll laugh while following new parents, Audrey and Jeremy, and their quirky friends. The advice Audrey’s mother gives to her: “You don’t learn motherhood, you live it.”

Watch The Letdown trailer on Netflix (and spend some time being amused).  

Thank you for reading this.

—Maureen Joyce