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APRIL LUNCHEON: FROM FRIENDING TO FIRING – SOCIAL MEDIA’S IMPACT ON EMPLOYMENT

APRIL LUNCHEON: FROM FRIENDING TO FIRING – SOCIAL MEDIA’S IMPACT ON EMPLOYMENT

BY: JESSICA GUTMAN

As an employer, should you find job applicants on social media? Should you accept friend requests from current employees? How should you handle online and physical harassment claims from employees?

Chris McCarty, attorney at Lewis Thomason, covered these topics and more during a lively, open discussion at the American Marketing Association Knoxville’s April luncheon, titled: “From Friending to Firing: Social Media’s Impact on Employment.”

When searching for job applicants or current employees on social media, McCarty said there are pros, cons and legalities to consider.

“You can find out things you could never ask in an interview, including their age or family status,” he said. “You can also see their social life habits to determine how responsible they are. Anything that is publicly posted is fair game.”

However, searching for an applicant’s social media accounts may also cause negative bias against them. For example, if a job candidate is pregnant and posts that information on social media, an employer may be less likely to hire them given insurance costs and future time off.

When accepting friend requests from employees, McCarty said employers should consider their industry and office culture, and that there are always risks involved. He also informed attendees that as an employer it is illegal in the state of Tennessee to force employees to be friends with you on Facebook.

In regard to employment and social media endorsements, McCarty explained the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) endorsement guidelines.

“You can’t have a material connection to what you’re endorsing without disclosing the connection in a clear and conspicuous way,” he said. “Material connections include employment.”

This means employees endorsing their company’s products or services on social media must also disclose that they are employed there. This includes a public employment listing on Facebook or mentioning it in a Twitter or Instagram bio.

He cited an incident in 2017 in which the FTC sent out more than 90 letters to celebrities, athletes and other influencers reminding them to clearly and conspicuously disclose relationships to brands when promoting or endorsing products through social media.

“It’s the same if you work for a hotel and post on Facebook, ‘this the best hotel ever, you should stay here,’” McCarty said. “You must disclose that you work for the hotel because you have a material connection. It’s the law.”

He also said employers must be cognizant of employees’ rights to express themselves online, especially about working conditions.

“Employees are not forbidden from talking publicly about working conditions on social media,” McCarty explained. “This includes pay, benefits, break times and OSHA concerns.”

This protection falls under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which states, “Employees have the right to unionize, to join together to advance their interests as employees, and to refrain from such activity. It is unlawful for an employer to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of their rights.”

Lastly, McCarty covered a popular topic in today’s society: harassment in the workplace. He said to be aware that proper workplace boundaries apply offline and online.

He said, “If someone is uncomfortable in a workplace setting because of something happening online, it cannot be ignored by the company.”

To learn more about these topics, visit FTC.gov or EEOC.gov.

November Luncheon: Marketing to Millennials

November Luncheon: Marketing to Millennials

On Nov. 8, Courtney Jernigan, owner of Knoxville Graphic House, led a dynamic presentation for AMA Knoxville’s November luncheon. She discussed marketing to Millennials and developing out-of-the-box branding strategies to stand out in today’s market. With over 50 people in attendance, the luncheon was highly engaging and informative.

Wish you hadn’t missed out? Check out Courtney’s entire presentation:

KGH_Presentation

Marketing to Millennials Presentation

There are a lot of negative adjectives describing the Millennial generation. In fact, it makes Millennials not even want to be Millennials! But where are these labels coming from? Generation X & Y, the Baby Boomers? Studies have shown that Millennials are all about change. That is not said for the generations before them. When you have a group that was born into creative technology like the Millennials you better believe they are going to think and act differently. But instead of labeling and cringing at a culture built on expressing themselves, let’s dive in and understand why they act and react they way they do. After all, there is money to be made.

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Black Thursday is the New Black Friday

Here are some thoughts to consider long before that Thanksgiving meal settles. Thanks to KAMA member Kathleen Atkins for contributing this guest post:

Last year, I documented the day after Thanksgiving shopping madness I have annually participated in and has been dubbed by retailers and consumers as the biggest shopping day of the year — Black Friday. The article was based on a tweet from @LauraLPotts: “Black Friday is like zombie apocalypse: you’re either one of them, or you’re locked inside praying that loved ones don’t get trampled.”

This evening, as I’m scouring the Internet doing my research, I’m prepping and flipping through Black Friday ads that have been pre-released, scanned, and posted on various web sites. I’m beginning to formulate my plan of attack.

But this year is different.

Nearly all of the stores are now opening at midnight or earlier. Gone are the days of 5 a.m. store openings I was accustomed to in the “early days.” Black Friday has evolved into Black Thursday, a round-the-clock, nationwide, sleep-deprived shopping massacre.

Black Thursday is the new Black Friday.

I will be among the thousands lined up on a sidewalk or in a parking lot with red blood-colored cranberry sauce stains on my shirt, and everyone will be facing the store’s front door just waiting for the doors to open. Traffic will be at a standstill in Turkey Creek and West Town Mall, and the struggle to obtain the best deals has never been so perilous.

The zombie shopping fever has spread, and I’m afraid it’s hit a pandemic level. I can’t help but wonder, what would Rick from The Walking Dead do?

Zombies in The Walking Dead are quite similar to Black Thursday shoppers:

  • They devour any living thing (deal) they can catch.
  • They never sleep.
  • They are more dangerous in large numbers.
  • Loud noises attract large herds of them.
  • They stand still or shuffle around rather slowly. However when in pursuit, they move much more quickly.
  • They may turn what would normally be a harmless household item into a weapon.

As I prepare to head out into the darkness the evening of Black Thursday, I will be double-knotting my tennis shoes and keeping in mind that the swiftest shoppers can be far more dangerous than the walkers roaming the earth.

Copper Cellar Going Social

Bart Fricks, COO of the Copper Cellar Family of Restaurants, brings more than 27 years of restaurant experience to the table (yes, pun intended J). Previously with Mr. Gatti’s and then Ruby Tuesday, the man behind the Calhoun’s Restaurant Twitter handle @Calhouns, says being part of the “social party” gives him the opportunity to stay close to customers.  Fricks says that managing their many restaurant concepts within the Copper Cellar brand is a challenge but customers follow and engage with the restaurants they enjoy most. Their team, Fricks says it is definitely a group effort at this point, uses tools such as Hootsuite to help space out their posts so they don’t bombard customers all at once with messages from each concept.

The locally-loved restaurant brand first launched into the social web with Facebook pages for Smoky Mountain Brewery and Copper Cellar in the fall of 2009 followed shortly with pages for Calhoun’s and Chesapeake’s. By the end of 2009, the brand had accumulated 1,518 followers. It wasn’t until the group really started joining in the conversation that they saw the biggest increase in followers. Posting each concept’s daily specials, events, and responding to customer feedback and suggestions quickly has driven much of their success in continuing to grow in the social space.  Twitter proved to be a bit different story for the brand. Fricks says that in 2009 and 2010, they didn’t do a very good job with Twitter. He took over as the voice behind @Calhouns and began thanking people for following them, retweeting, and jumping in the conversation especially on #FollowFriday where you suggest that your friends “follow” others on Twitter. “More is better on Twitter,” says Fricks, as he encourages the group to be active in the space and comment on what others are saying.

Posting great food photos and monitoring searches like “Where to eat in Knoxville” has helped the brand expand their reach. Fricks says it’s easy to go after big numbers, using an app to buy followers for example, but he’s not interested in that.  His goal is for the brand “to be great at a few things” and not try to be everywhere such as places like Foursquare, Flickr, or Pinterest. For now, the brand is focusing on cultivating great conversations with their customers mainly on Facebook and Twitter.

My favorite conversation point of the luncheon is when Fricks exclaims, “I hate coupons.” Most people assume that restaurants are just going to be in the coupon business. He goes on to say that in his experience coupons have a way of abruptly bringing in clientele which the restaurant isn’t quite prepared for, and then service and food quality suffers. “You can’t just hire servers for 4 weeks and expect them to provide great service then let them go,” which is what would be required for a huge influx of customers which a deep offer coupon. To Fricks, great service and quality of food every time a guest comes in to one of their restaurants is the ultimate goal of the brand.

The Copper Cellar Family of Restaurants is continuing to expand its real estate in the digital and social space. New websites for each restaurant concept are coming soon, and Fricks says they are looking into hiring someone to manage their social strategy. So keep on the lookout for new great things coming from this local restaurant family!

Swag Happens: Stephen A. Burroughs Talks Marketing

“When Stephen A. Burroughs was in the womb
his mother could feel his beard kicking.”

The Knoxville chapter of the American Marketing Association hosted viral Internet sensation and local personal injury attorney, Stephen A. Burroughs at its October luncheon at The Orangery. KAMA’s theme this year is “Shift Happens,” because it’s not business as usual any more, due to changes in demographics, economics and technology. Burroughs was speaking to the change in his marketing strategy and the impact the recently launched Facebook memes page has had on his business.

The story about the University of Tennessee freshman who created the tongue-in-cheek Facebook page has been well documented by Carly Harrington in the Knoxville News Sentinel. The Stephen A. Burroughs Memes page gained 21,000 fans virtually overnight and led to Swagfest, a party at the Sunsphere attended by 14,000 members of Burroughs’ “swag posse.” Talk about a branding bonanza – you can’t buy that kind of awareness and exposure. Not to say Burroughs hasn’t been spending heavily on outdoor advertising and bus wraps over the past several years. He said he took advantage of a downturn in the economy that left billboards vacant to negotiate a sweet deal with Lamar Advertising.

The man himself, Stephen A. Burroughs

The man himself, Stephen A. Burroughs

This deal has made Burroughs omnipresent, or “top-of-mind” as we say in the biz, plastering his face on 31 outdoor boards and more than a dozen KAT buses. Burroughs had perfected his “Blue Steel” gaze and had become something of a Knoxville celebrity even before the memes page took off, catapulting him to viral marketing legend status. Now he’s Knoxville’s own “Old Spice Guy,” if you will. Or perhaps “The Most Interesting Lawyer in the World,” in a nod to the famous Dos Equis campaign.

Laura Bower and Dottie Ramsey

Laura Bower and Dottie Ramsey

Burroughs delighted KAMA’s audience of marketing professionals with anecdotes about Swagfest, like the one about the girl who tattooed “SAB” on her forearm. “The whole thing was pretty surreal,” he said. Burroughs is already planning Swagfest 2, but he’s eyeing corporate sponsors and considering a charitable slant for the event.

“Right now, I’m in the hole,” said Burroughs, when asked about the return on his six-figure investment in Swagfest. However, he believes he’s building brand recognition with future clients.  After all, his business model is driven by car wrecks; he’s ready to help “when the need arises.”

“It’s not like someone’s going to say ‘Stephen seems really cool. I think I’ll go get an injury,’” quipped Burroughs.

Just Desserts

Just Desserts

Burroughs described his evolution from radio to TV to outdoor advertising, which he thinks is the ideal channel for him. On TV you have to be outrageous – the guy in the giant monkey suit, according to Burroughs.  He aspires to a more professional image.

“The message has to fit the medium,” he said.

Who says this guy doesn’t know marketing?

*This post is used with permission. The original blog can be viewed at knoxify.com

The Art of Conversation: Social Media for B2B Communications

“Markets are conversations.”  –The Cluetrain Manifesto

Facebook has more than 800 million users.Twitter has 200 million users.  Google+ just hit the 50 million user mark, making it the fastest growing website ever. Moms and Millennials, Boomers and Tweens – everybody’s texting, tweeting, posting and blogging via desktops, laptops and mobile devices. And brands are falling all over themselves in the mad dash to reach consumers via social networks and join the conversation. But what about business-to-business communications? How are companies talking to each other?

In the B2B arena, the conversation is decidedly different. While B2B buyers have very high social participation, their primary goal in the social media space is to establish themselves as subject matter experts and then build relationships for future lead generation. Social media is based on relationships. Relationships help make B2B buying decisions. Word of mouth, whether online or offline, is still the most effective means of advertising. Particularly in the corporate world, personal endorsements and referrals validate business decisions.

As Ford CMO James Farley famously said, “You can’t just say it. You have to get other people to say it to each other.”

A primary concern of relationship marketers is migrating interactions to a lower-cost communications channel. That’s what makes social media so appealing: the prospect of building an audience of pre-qualified brand advocates on an owned media channel with minimal cost. The undisputed social media channel for B2B communication is LinkedIn.

Eighty percent of companies use LinkedIn for recruitment. Talking shop is expected on this platform, which boasts an advanced search option that allows users to sort by region, business category and other specifics. Setting up a company profile, establishing industry groups and encouraging employees to create personal profiles and “connect” with colleagues are all ways to build meaningful B2B relationships. LinkedIn is an online Rotary Club. It’s digital word of mouth.

According to Christine Moorman, senior professor of business administration at The Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, while marketers, in general, expect to increase social media spending over the next five years, B2B product sector companies anticipate lower budgets going forward. Moorman hypothesized that CMOs don’t believe social media activities are appropriately integrated into their companies’ overall marketing strategies. In other words, there’s an urgency to utilize social media tools, even without a comprehensive plan in place.

“Firms are in a period of experimentation and observation about social media. Like television advertising in the 1950s, this period will define winners and losers of this generation’s firms,” Moorman said.

So whether your goal is lead generation, networking, brand management or establishing your company as the thought leader in your field, social media is where it all happens. While the physical handshake and business card exchange haven’t gone away, they are increasingly a precursor to or follow up after a digital dialogue. Get used to it.

“Transparency and conversation are to the Web 2.0 culture what ‘productivity’ and ‘innovation’ are to corporate culture.” – SAP

Slow down and think about it. Incorporate social media into a holistic, integrated marketing plan.  Don’t put tactics before strategies. B2B marketing traditionally lags B2C marketing in terms of innovation, so learn from other people’s mistakes and formulate a well-thought out approach to social media communications.

Things have changed.” – Bob Dylan

Indeed.

*This post is used with permission. The original blog can be viewed at talkstreetsmart.com

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