SOCIAL MEDIA, A LAW UNTO ITSELF

Skinny & the Beard found out the hard way that not all content is welcome on Facebook, even if it is just in the form of simple satire.

The other day we were set to upload the video clip for our upcoming song ‘Stubble,’ a parodied version of Taylor Swift’s ‘Trouble’ (SHAMELESS PLUG: you should all check it out when we manage to finally get it up, receive updates @Skinny&theBeard).

In the midst of our excitement and waiting for the video to go live, we were interrupted by a glaring message which stated ‘by uploading this video, Facebook has detected material which may impinge copyright of the individual owner.’

At first we were baffled as to how dime-a-dozen chicks and dudes with guitars could get away with posting multitudes of song covers on social media without so much as the batting of a heavily lashed eyelid, yet we were harpooned for covering a song in the sole interest of non-for-profit comedy and satire.  We had even changed every single word of the song, if that helps.

Common law in Australia allows for fair use of copyrighted materials without the need for royalties in some situations including the one just mentioned, so why don’t sites like Facebook and YouTube afford this same attitude?

The question dawned on us which we dutifully put to our ‘Scopers in a more directed fashion; how can social media remain so multijurisdictional, yet fail to even trust its users to abide by the laws of their own countries? Our followers responded in turn:

“If you put something on Facebook it can end up being a legal nightmare, especially if you’re from a different country or something. Where on earth do you persecute – slash how– slash why?”

“With a lot of the restrictions I think that social media sites can limit creativity of the users and impinge rights, like the right to freedom of speech or expression.”

I can understand the hesitance social media sites may have to grant leeway to things which may have the potential to create legal problems in one country or another where statutes and opinions both differ. However by keeping users on a shorter leash they are lessening the ability for legitimate fair practice in accordance with respective laws.

Businesses may need to be wary of their dealings through sites such as Facebook and YouTube with particular emphasis on copyright for this reason. If a page decides to post a home-made style video with no intention of receiving profit for such an action, there is every chance Facebook will still flag the video as an infringement of copyright in turn restricting the user from posting similar things in the future (or in some extreme cases, receiving an outright ban.)

I suppose the moral of this story would be to brush up on your social media site’s respective T’s and C’s of use; they might come in handy sooner than expected.

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FACEBOOK SPONSORSHIP MIGHT BE KILLING SMALL BUSINESS

Not two days ago did Skinny & the Beard sing Facebook’s praises for being a champion of social justice in the form of supporting the marriage equality movement.

Now though, we’ve all discussed things further and chatted at length to our lovely Periscopers on the subject of Facebook’s sponsored posting, and now we’ve all found something new to be peeved about.

This conglomerate of a networking site initially began as a way to network with your friends, then a way to express your own interests and opinions in the form of pages and ‘likes,’ then a means of legitimate business advertisement with fair representation. Now through the introduction of sponsored posts, we believe the giant has ruined all its good work and shot itself square in the foot in terms of organic reach by users to the right people.

I think it’s time Skinny & the Beard had words with you Zuckerberg. Your company’s spam-inducing algorithms are killing the chances of worthy businesses to actually be seen by their interested publics. What’s more is that your sponsorship has gone so off target to actually be effective, as evidence by some disgruntled ‘Scopers from our recent S&B session:

“I would say that I’m a proud and happy agnostic, but the other day I had a sponsored advertisement come up on Facebook which was promoting the Islamic religion. I have nothing bad to say about the Muslim faith, only that it is something that I don’t wish to become a part of. It kinda goes against the whole idea about Facebook being a platform where we only see and interact with the things that we are interested in, whether those things are our friends or the pages we are genuinely interested in.”

“If the algorithm occasionally gets it right, it can still be harmful for business. You don’t want to see all this s@#! on your feed in a negative way, you want to have proper targeted ads like other sites.”

S&B are with you there, mates.

Newsfeeds have become so bombarded by Facebook’s ‘handy suggestions’ that we are now immediately inclined to look past the things that may actually be of interest to us because we disregard the format itself as spam.

This is a major issue for businesses (particularly smaller in size) who seek legitimacy in the form of Facebook advertising, yet are seeing their dollars go to waste with their public hastily trying to scroll past the other irrelevant spam – throwing a true interest before crossfire in the process.

Businesses must mature as Facebook has, knowing that now might be the right time to let go of the hope that instant viewership will be achieved through the one networking site alone.

If you throw a few spare notes towards a sponsored post for your business, I say congratulations and best of luck to you. Only keep in mind those companies with bigger pockets nine-times-out-of-ten will be getting bigger spots on the newsfeed for the simple money factor alone – no matter where they’re from or what they seek to sell.

PUTTING PERISCOPE ON A PEDESTAL, WHERE IT BELONGS

Oh Periscope, how we love thee. If Skinny & the Beard could write you a love song or a sappy screenplay, it would begin thusly:

“We found you one night when we had far too much to drink, and we knew that even though you were a little bit ‘in our faces’ we were all going to hit it off right away. We introduced you to our friends shortly afterwards, and when you gave us your first stream of hearts we simply knew you were the one for us.”

So it’s clear to say that Skinny & the Beard have certainly found their favourite medium of online social interaction. Our sentiments were also echoed by other ‘Scopers during an S&B live broadcast @PFaint:

“I love Periscope because I can learn about other places in the world without having to ever leave the country.”

“The potential of this thing is untapped, it can be used to so many different ends.”

“Periscope is awesome because it breaks down stereotypes, giving you a chance to have a chat with an ordinary person from any given region in the world.”

Well said ‘Scopers, well said indeed.

In fact so well said, that it got us to thinking about the different ways in which businesses (and indeed ourselves) could use the medium as a means of leveraging the interest of the public in a new and exciting way.

Only in the worlds of chat roulette and omegle have we seen the beginnings of live person-to-person broadcasting before, which ended in spectacular failure when the mummies and daddies of the world caught wind that the sites were merely more than a means of exhibitionism. However now that Twitter has managed to wrangle Periscope’s live streaming with a code of ethics, imposing strict rules against the bad stuff, we are able to achieve a level of consumer interaction the likes of which is as yet unparalleled.

Live Q and A’s to explain the functions of a product, a behind the scenes look at the latest concert series, businesses asking for firsthand reviews of their services; all in real time, with a direct ability for viewer involvement unlike most other social media apps currently on the market.

Many app reviewers and social media experts have already taken it upon themselves to find out the perfect means of Periscoping businesses, reaching the conclusion that things like live focus groups and tutorials could soon be taking the place of the more stunted ‘webinar’ type settings that companies have become very fond of.

The app is not at all stunted, inflexible or unable to reach a wide viewership if its content is set to purpose with something interesting for the audience to engage with on a personal level.

Periscope we are expecting big things from you on the business development and social media relations front, don’t let us down baby!

For a great article on 9 Ways to Use Periscope for Your Business, click here.

SHOUT OUT FOR EQUALITY, AND BEING COMPLETELY ‘FACEBOOKED’

First of all, endless props to the American government on making the right decision for marriage equality. Love wins, huzzah!

Nothing made the Beard and I happier than waking up to a fresh face of rainbows for every single person on our newsfeeds. The jaunty manner of everyone’s gayness simply sent waves of happiness into my body, and I immediately decided I needed to be made into a rainbow just like Zuckerberg here.

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Shortly after making my decision to get technicoloured, I headed straight to Photoshop to see it done. However, the Beard kindly pointed out that instead of going through the relatively lengthy process of doing my own ROYGBIV overlays, Facebook themselves had provided a ‘click-of-a-button’ solution for turning my face into the skittles box I desired.

Not only was I pleasantly surprised by the fact that Facebook had taken on such initiative towards the widespread knowledge of an important social justice issue, I was impressed that the boundless reach of social media that day was used for nothing but good.

So were our Periscope audience, it seemed:

“At the risk of offending our polite audiences, equality certainly got around!”

“It was a massive sense of involvement, and Facebook actually provided the public with the tools to get in on it.”

However there’s always a flipside to every coin:

“Would anyone have changed their profile picture if Facebook hadn’t told them to? Did Facebook manufacture the trend?”

Thankyou devil’s advocate for posing this question! The Beard and I are of the opinion that while rainbow day was certainly a great way of showing an entire population’s partiality to new social developments, the trend would not go nearly as far as it did without the aid of Facebook as an enterprise.

Facebook’s ability to almost singlehandedly give millions of people the opportunity to champion a cause in the most obvious of ways truly highlights their image not only as a vessel for communication, but a multinational business with its own set of values and ambitions that has now spread throughout the world in an instant.

Of the hundreds of worthy social justice campaigns that exist in the world today, equality in love and marriage was the first to gain such heavy participation and notice, simply because Facebook made it so. From a business or professional context perspective, Facebook has proven their ability to connect with their users in a way unparalleled by other organisations of a kind.

Businesses can now take away the lesson that engaging with an audience is as simple as finding something extrinsic which actually motivates them to be engaged in the first place. Seven colours, one filter and 26 million voices saying yes to marriage equality. Now THAT’S a damn simple way to procure a decent following; way to set the bar Facebook.

THANK GOD WE DIDN’T SEE SOMEONE DIE

About half an hour into our nightly Grand Theft Auto session, The Beard jumped from his indented seat on the couch exclaiming, “Holy S@#!” thus prompting a return jump from my own heavily indented spot with a surprised, “what the F@#! Jack?”

Turns out that his outburst of exclamation wasn’t without reason, for we had discovered that not five minutes earlier on distant shores one of our own beloved sports stars was almost aggressively mauled by a hulking great beast of a marine animal.

I refer to the incident where Aussie surfing legend Mick Fanning nearly had his leg become breakfast for a bloody Great White shark, a Sydney Morning Herald full description of which can be found here.

If the situation itself wasn’t disturbing enough, consider the fact the entire shot was broadcast via live feed straight to numerous news sites and transferred directly to popular social media platforms Twitter and Facebook for the world to witness.

Thankfully no harm came to our Mick, but the Beard and I were left with a looming sense of foreboding. We saw this as it happened. What kind of social media crisis may have followed if teeth were to have actually found their mark?

Periscope had this to say:

“The way that it emerged and trended while the rest of the world was awake, hearing news happen to local identities through those sources is quite interesting.”

“That could have gone so south so quickly and nobody could have done anything to stop it.”

“I heard they’re doing a new Mick Fanning special at fish and chip shops, battered flake!”

Okay, so that last one I just decided to throw in to lighten the mood a bit… but the answer to our question became clear: there is no one way to prevent or predict a crisis from unfolding as it happens on social media. Taken out of the celebrity context and placed into a professional one, the same can also be said. There is nothing that can be physically done to stop a recorded Skype session between work colleagues turning into a live exhibition of a heart attack, nor is there an airtight way to prevent a member of the office divulging confidential company information with a slip of the fingers on Facebook (courtesy of a stronger-than-usual long island iced tea on any given night.)

Crisis communication is a touchy subject where many err toward the side of caution with regards to preparing for the worst, and rightly so.

The incident in 2011 where Motocross star Marco Simoncelli was unfortunately killed in a racetrack accident, was captured live and broadcast directly to YouTube prompting immediate and widespread reaction to the truth that viewers had just witnessed a man die on the spot.

No person, company, crowd or organisation can prepare for a social media crisis, the only ability they have to calm the situation is to clearly and concisely report the facts as they unfold.

GHOST EARTHQUAKES AND THE POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Could the power of social media possible rival the power of natural disasters? An interesting thought considering over the past few weeks the Gold Coast has apparently been littered with activity by both.

However, according to Skinny & the Beard’s undeniably impeccable critique of resources provided by various social media networks (*cough) these earthquakes may have been a little less impressive than they were made out to be.

Without feeling the actual rumble of the earth beneath my feet to begin with, I was later informed by the ever-radical vicissitudes of Facebook that, “holy damn people! We just had an earthquake!”

Within five seconds of the first message, hundreds were to follow, leading me inevitably to believe that the world had collapsed absent of my actual notice.

Immediately ringing The Beard, rousing him from sleep, I yelled down the phone, “did you feel that?!” He replied, “I know!”

… despite the actual fact that none of us had felt a thing at all.

This prompts the interesting question with ‘the power of social media’ at its heart; are we now so bombarded by messages throughout the many platforms of social media that we have an inability to distinguish the true nature of actual events?

The Beard and I took to Periscope to ask the question, with a particular emphasis on the power of social media in a professional context relating to companies such as the Bureau of Meteorology and others that predict or comment on the severity of natural disasters.

A mixed bag of reactions from the ‘Scopers ensued:

“Nobody would have expected an earthquake to have happened here, it literally and figuratively blew up because of social media”

”We don’t have earthquakes in Florida, but you never hear about the ones that happen anywhere else until someone posts about it on social media”

“If you didn’t feel an earthquake but it was all over social media, do you consider the earthquake to have happened at all?”

Save the last odd piece of haunting existentialism, these ‘Scopers make a good point. Businesses, organisations and evidently even those responsible for reporting the weather have the ability to harness the power of social media to easily reach an entire populace in the blink of an eye, a power not to be discounted.

Hearing so intimately about the fires we didn’t feel, tsunamis that didn’t touch us or earthquakes that never even rumbled through our cushy Ugg boots is a good means of remembering that the power of social media is truly universal.