Lives Clashing Online: The Importance of a Social Media Policy

Employees' Social Media Activities under the magnifying glassLiveJournal. Friendster. Myspace. Facebook. Early on, social media sites began as online outlets allowing people to express themselves and connect with their friends. It was intriguing, it was experimental, and above all, it was classified personal. Over the years it’s become evident just how public our social media activities are. Recently, a New York Times reporter was reminded of how personal and professional lives are clashing online, by being assigned a social media babysitter.”

The Jerusalem Bureau Chief for the nation’s most prominent newspaper repeatedly posted messages on her public Facebook profile that her employer found to be problematic. As a result, she will now work closely with an editor on her social media posts.

According her New York Times editor, Margaret Sullivan, “The idea is to capitalize on the promise of social media’s engagement with readers while not exposing The Times to a reporter’s unfiltered and unedited thoughts.”

Watching what we say is not a new topic, but certainly one that bears repeating, as more companies are tracking what their employees post online.

As the employee, it’s important to know your company’s social media policy. If they don’t have a policy – ask for one.  Also remember that anything you say online can be tied back to your company, whether you like it or not. Platform Magazine, which included commentary from DVL in its latest issue, advises that before posting on social media to ask yourself, “Would you want your boss to read this?

As the employer, make sure you have a social media policy in place. From creating these for various clients, DVL knows policies can vary from industry to industry and company to company, so it’s not advised to “borrow” one you find online. There are many factors to consider, such as how an individual engages in social media for a company, how individuals engage in social media on company and personal time, as well as how the National Labor Relations Act and employees’ rights affects a social media policy.

Social networking has evolved from its beginnings and continues to grow, but one thing often holds true online and off – think about what you’re going to say before you say it.

The Value in a Brand and Consequences of Change

Gilda Radner is a comedic legend whose life was cut short by cancer. As Saturday Night Live characters Roseanne Roseannadana, Baba Wawa or Emily Litella, Radner always found a way to make people smile. The original cast member of SNL passed away in 1989 from ovarian cancer, but her legacy lives on through Gilda’s Club, a non-profit cancer support network that was started by her friends and family.

Recently, some of the Gilda’s Club branches announced they would be changing their name to Cancer Support Community, including the Madison, Wisc., Gilda’s Club affiliate.

The executive director of the Madison affiliate explained that her organization decided to change its name to Cancer Support Community Southwest Wisconsin after it realized that most college students were born after Radner died in 1989.

“We are seeing younger and younger adults who are dealing with a cancer diagnosis,” the executive director told the Wisconsin State Journal. “We want to make sure that what we are is clear to them and that there’s not a lot of confusion that would cause people not to come in our doors.”



This decision ignited backlash from a number of Radner supporters. The Madison chapter’s Facebook page has been bombarded with comments filled with anger and bewilderment.

Other chapters, specifically the Nashville chapter, announced on its Facebook page on Nov. 29 that the local branch would not change the name. The page received numerous positive comments applauding the chapter’s decision. Sandy Towers, the affiliate’s founder, explained why it’s important to hold on to the name, Gilda’s Club.

We have been established in our community for almost 15 years, and there is value in the brand,” said Towers. “Having the name Gilda’s Club is special and unique. It is a personal connection that allows us to tell a better story and gives us the opportunity to explain who Gilda was and what we do as an organization.”

“When Gilda was diagnosed, she said cancer was a very unfunny topic,” continued Towers. “We deal with difficult issues here, and yet at the same time, there is so laughter and a whit and whimsy attitude that was a part of Gilda and is part of what happens here. Even though people are diagnosed with cancer, people can live with it. There’s a quality of life that can be had no matter the outcome.”

Towers and her local organization stress that Radner’s life represents a wonderful story of how she dealt with the cancer. The spirit of who she was is so important and valuable to the organization.

There is something to staying true to a brand and celebrating its legacy. No matter if it’s Susan G. Komen, The Mayo Clinic or Gilda’s Club, there is value to a brand’s name.

Other companies have received negative feedback when trying to change their image. Coca-Cola attempted to change its recipe and name to “New Coke”, but was faced with epic consumer fallout so it reverted to the original recipe and name three days after the change. In 2010, GAP introduced its redesigned logo on its website, only to receive nothing but criticism and complaints from the retailer’s customers. The retailer turned it into a positive by engaging fans, asking for suggestions and, ultimately, returning to the old logo.

Could the Madison chapter’s decision lead to a new generation discovering the comedic genius of Gilda Radner, in addition to newly found brand awareness of Gilda’s Club?  Can they make good out of a bad situation?

Only time will tell.

For your enjoyment, here is a glimpse of Gilda Radner’s life and one of her infamous skits.



Black Friday Sales and Cyber Monday Deals: Consumer Trends in Online Shopping

Consumer Online Shopping with Mobile Device: Black Friday and Cyber Monday Smartphone ShoppingWhile less than 20 percent of people say they shop on Black Friday, for the second year some retailers will start ‘Black Friday’ sales on Thanksgiving night. Not to be outdone, Cyber Monday is expected to once again be the largest online shopping day of the year, according to ComScore. Overall, retailers with ecommerce expect more than half of their holiday sales to come from online and mobile – and Forrester estimates a 15 percent online sales increase over last year’s holiday shopping season.

More than ever, consumers will integrate variety of devices into their holiday shopping – so much so that Google is calling this the first “nonline” shopping season, as more shoppers do not see a divide between online and offline shopping.  As displayed in the results below, Google found “shoppers turn to different platforms at different stages in the buying cycle”:

  • 51 percent research online and visit store to purchase
  • 44 percent research online and buy products online
  • 32 percent research online, visit store to view product, then return
  • 17 percent visit a store first, and then purchase online (a.k.a. “showrooming”)

Yes, consumers are using computers at home to search for deals, but more are also using smartphones and tablets to locate stores, look up coupons, read reviews and complete purchases. One of the most common practices of mobile users is comparing prices.

To help with holiday shopping, Google launched enhanced Google Maps for Android mobile devices, which include floor plans of stores and maps of malls with route suggestions on how to navigate from one store to another. Enhancing the online shopping experience, Google has integrated Social Reviews, as well as Shortlists, Promotions and a 360-degree view of many toys.

Many retailers are doing what they can to keep up with changing consumer trends. Companies should not only be improving their overall online strategies and offerings, but also enhancing mobile sites and mobile efforts, especially during the holiday season. Crafty loyalty programs, mobile apps, mobile-friendly coupons and even offers on deal-of-the-day websites can help consumers on the go. To combat “showrooming” (visiting the store, then purchasing online), some retailers have implemented online price-matching programs, which can be critical in keeping a sale.

In short, retailers need to be prepared for “nonline” shopping and offer consumers a maximized shopping experience across multiple touchpoints.

All of us at DVL wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and stress-free holiday shopping!

RELATED ARTICLE: Cyber Monday Boosted By Social – and Mobile – Media

Image via Fotolia.

Recognizing the Impact of Social Media


More than 327,000 tweets per minute.  More than 4.2 million likes on Facebook.  More than 800,000 retweets.

It beat the previous photo share record holders of  Mark Zuckerberg’s wedding photo and a glass of beer tribute to a fallen soldier.

(Special note: While the photo was posted election night, it was actually taken three months ago on the campaign trail.)

The impact of social media in today’s world is significant as the “four more years” photo was posted to Facebook and Twitter before a mass email was sent and even before the crowd was addressed in Chicago.

Regardless of your political affiliation, you have to recognize the impact of social media and the juggernaut it continues be.  How do you capture lightening in a bottle like this?  It happens at the intersection of timing and emotion.  It’s organic.  Social media is how the world is communicating.

Next time you have something big to share – how will you do it?

MLB Continues Building Social Media Buzz During World Series

Baseball bat hitting ball in slow motion: MLB's social media efforts: Twitter, Trends, CampaignsGame 1 of the World Series generated the second-most social media comments in postseason history, according to Mentions of Pablo Sandoval (“The Panda”) accounted for 20 percent of the 813,000 Facebook and Twitter comments, thanks to the athlete’s historic three-homer night. No count yet on how many mentions the infamous Barry Manilow reference from FOX announcer Tim McCarver received.

Social chatter during sporting events is expected to increase, as the number of sports fans who use social media to follow leagues, teams and players has almost doubled since 2011.

This postseason has been very successful for the MLB’s social media efforts, having generated twice as many social media comments by Oct. 10 as it did during the entire 2011 division series. This could be in part to the MLB’s expanded online presence and digital campaigns. Nearly every team now has its own Facebook, Twitter, GooglePlus, Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr account, as well as check-in services.

In an effort to make its fans feel more engaged (and in turn get more buzz about baseball), the MLB has run online campaigns such as #MLBmembersonly, #FlyWitness and Pictober (#postseason). One of the most successful social programs is the MLB Fan Cave – a physical venue that hosts athletes and other celebrities whose interviews, antics and musical performances are shared online.

If the Giants’ and Tigers’ social networks and online buzz were analyzed to predict an outcome of the World Series, the winner would be the San Francisco Giants. According to Sysomos, the Detroit Tigers’ social mentions are at about only 2.3 million, compared to the Giants’ 2.75 million, which account for 54 percent of the conversation. The Bay Bombers also have a larger social following (as of Oct. 26, 2012, 9 a.m.):

Detroit Tigers
• Facebook: 1,118,742 likes
• Twitter: 183,242 followers

San Francisco Giants
• Facebook: 1,586,853 likes
• Twitter: 340,691 followers

No matter who comes away with the Commissioner’s Trophy, it’s apparent the MLB is winning with many of its fans when it comes to social media. The platforms are changing the way not only the MLB connects with fans, but players, too. Athletes talk directly with their fans, respond to their questions, encourage engagement and even retweet followers’ messages – which is as good as an autograph for many people nowadays.

If you want to find out if your favorite athlete is on Twitter, check out

Twitter Wins During Presidential Debate

The first presidential debate took place last night at the University of Denver between U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney.  It’s no secret that Twitter users “tweet in” for current events, and last night’s showing proved no different with more than 10 million tweets during the 90-minute debate, making it the most tweeted about event in American political history.

On its blog last night, Twitter released a minute-by-minute chart displaying high and low messaging points during key moments of the debate.

Twitter Blog: Presidential Debate Breaks Records, October 2012


The night’s most tweeted about subjects included the performance of debate moderator John Lehrer and Big Bird. The Twitter Government account, @gov, tweeted that the phrase “Big Bird” had generated about 17,000 tweets per minute.

With every current event, there is always a PR lesson to be learned.  The iconic home appliance brand KitchenAid discovered this quickly last night after an irresponsible tweet was sent from the company’s official account. The brand issued an apology soon after via Twitter and later to media.

With Twitter’s crisis communication moments and the constant stream of conversation, outlets like Politico seem to think that Twitter jumped the shark last night with the inability to follow comments due to the overwhelming volume of tweets sent. Of course some would disagree, as Twitter continues to prove that watching live and current events with the Twitter community has become a part of the culture for many.

Does Web Design Matter? Finding a balance between attractive design and clear, usable content

Website Design - Does it Matter? Web design/layout on blackboardDoes Web design matter? As a designer with a four-year, fine-art degree, that question pains me to type it out. But even more painful than the question, is my response – not always.

Now had I said, “Does web design matter to me?,” the answer would have been a resounding, “Yes! But, for the purpose of this blog post, I’m approaching it from the perspective of the average web user. I’m also referring primarily to ‘business-to-consumer’ websites where the main goal is communicate about or sell a product or service.

Imagine you’re at the dealership to purchase a new car. You probably wouldn’t expect to have a conversation like this:

You: “Wow! That’s a great looking car. How’s the gas mileage?”

Salesperson: “Hmmm…that one doesn’t actually have an engine.”

You: “Oh Ok. So what’s the point?”

Salesperson: “Well…you said it’s a great looking car, right?

At this point, it’s likely you would reconsider your choice to purchase a car from that particular dealership and take your business elsewhere. While this may be an extreme and highly improbable situation, the analogy makes sense. No matter what the car looks like, the most fundamental purpose of said car is transportation. The same can be assumed for a large portion of websites – no matter what the website looks like, the most fundamental purpose is communication.

A website may be the most beautiful, well-designed masterpiece that ever came across your screen, but if it doesn’t communicate the intended message or drive the user to act, it’s not accomplishing its primary function.

Now don’t get me wrong – I love websites that are beautifully designed! But web design is not art, and it has never pretended to be. Those of us in the web design business must determine how to present the intended information in the most usable (and beautiful) way possible.

When it boils down to it, I believe most people don’t really care what a website looks like as long as it has relevant information.

One shining example is Craigslist. Strictly from a design perspective, Craigslist is one of the most unattractive, unimaginative and ‘ho-hum’ sites on the Internet. But according to their FAQ page, it currently receives 30 billion global page views every month. According to Alexa Internet Statistics, Craigslist currently ranks as the eighth most-visited site in the United States. To give some context, numbers one though seven are: Google, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo!, Amazon, Wikipedia and eBay. That’s pretty good company for a site created by a small team of developers that draws its main source of revenue from fees charged for job postings.

The real challenge for any website is successfully finding the balance between attractive design and clearly-presented, usable content.

I believe that a great website has straightforward content for the average user, while at the same time, shows time and effort was spent by the designer to present that information in the most aesthetically-pleasing way possible.

Pixel-perfect graphics, grid-based layouts and animation are just a few of a web designer’s tools to create a great site, but they are still just assets to support the content. They should never get in the way of the main function of the site, which is communication.

Here at DVL, we strive to partner with our clients so their message becomes our message. In doing so, we can use our knowledge and tools to communicate that message as efficiently and successfully as possible.

And having a nicely designed website doesn’t hurt.


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