Social Media Guidelines

“Establishing Social Media Guidelines of the Organization” from Social Media ROI by Blanchard proved to be a very relevant chapter as we are all preparing to move on to the real world and social media has been on the rise and an industry that does not seem slowing down any time soon. I found it especially interesting because I am currently working to start a non-profit organization and although I am not super active on social media, it has made me occasionally stop and think twice about what I am posting and how people are going to react to it. Currently, it is a very small start-up organization, but I would not want to post anything to hinder our growth. This also caught my attention and gave me new insight considering previous jobs I have encountered have not been concerned with social media at all.

While reading this chapter, I kept catching myself thinking “does this really happen?” or “this seems a little extreme to have in the social media guidelines.” This chapters goes in depth about what should be included in a company’s guide to social media and made me aware of many things I had never thought about.

The first part this talks about is the employee social media bill of rights, your basic rights to social media usage in regards to the company. Mainly, it determines that you can have your own personal social media accounts but you must be careful about what you say and make sure that it will not hurt the company in any way. The chapter goes on to talk about internal and external guidelines, using social media during the workday and how the lines are blurred between professional use for the company and personal opinions. In discussing the external social media usage guidelines, an interesting point was brought up. the time something is posted can determine whether is detached to the company. However, because the time distinction between work hours and personal use is not clear to the general public and will not be perceived that way and therefore, they represent their employer 24/7/365. To me, this makes sense but also seems unfair because it is essentially saying that you should never be posting anything personal as it could potentially cause an issue with your company. This creates an extremely restricted use of social media, regardless of it being related to work at all.

Within the external guideline, having a disclaimer was discussed. This is to clarify that opinions in expressed by a personal account are personal in nature and in no way reflect the views and opinions of the employer. This was something that I could personally relate to. Personally, I have not had to worry about this too much because non of my previous jobs have had any social media guideline handbooks. However, it did get me thinking about my own non-profit and how we have to be careful about what we post personally. Also, if we had other people working, how we would construct our guidelines. This is an example of someone including that disclaimer in their twitter bio:

Social media blog

Anti-Defamation Guidelines
The chapter describes anti-defamation guidelines as a way to help protect employees and the organization from unnecessary lawsuits from offended parties. It describes libel, slander and defamation and how employees can avoid getting in trouble with this. I think this is something that we experience daily without even realizing it, This about how many people you see going on twitter to complain about a company or a brand and just destroying any good reputation they had. Sometimes this can happen with employees if they had a bad day at work or not longer work for a certain company. Although, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, it is important that one does not give the company a negative image. And they should be aware of serious consequences that can result. The following tweets may not fall into these categories specifically but they are the same idea:

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This is from someone who used to write for the Odyssey. This is completely putting a negative image not the site and anyone who read this would be driven away from it. Some of these posts were made after she stopped working, but regardless, it think this is a form of defamation and it may not be taken as seriously because it is not a huge corporation, it could turn into an issue.

Overall, this chapter was helping and interesting in thinking about what we have to think about when posting on social media and starting a new job at companies that have all these guidelines. I was surprised to see that there is such a large “handbook” for this when social media is such a new industry. However, it is quickly growing and while I find some parts of these guidelines extreme, it does make sense as to why they are important.

And here’s a link with examples of companies with good social media guidelines:


Ratings Society, AKA Our (Exaggerated) Reality

This episode of Black Mirror, in my opinion, simply illustrates our society in an exaggerated form. To summarize the episode very generally, the main character lives in a dystopian world where every person has a rating, and everyone else can choose to either increase or decrease their rating based upon things the person posts online or actions they do in real life. Throughout the show, the main character, Lacie, is striving to keep up with her highly-rated and glamorous best friend, and has a mixture of admiration and jealousy of her friend due to her social ranking.

Though our society does not function this way completely, we tend to make enormous judgments of a person simply based upon how many followers they have or how many likes they get on a social media platform, regardless of who the person is themselves. When we see pictures of a person thinking looking especially glamorous or having a good time, we often experience some variation the following two polarized thoughts:

  • This is such a cool picture. He/she seems like such a fun person with an exciting life!
  • Ugh. He/she is so self absorbed. He/she must think they are SO cool.

Maybe not everyone thinks this way, but I can admit that these thoughts definitely pop into my head, and I am self-aware of how silly both are. However, they ultimately strike a parallel between our inner thoughts and the way Lacie conducts herself throughout the episode. She wants to be seen just as highly as her attractive friend, even if her friend is not actually that great of a person overall. Though we may not be as extreme as Lacie, many of us would admit that we have had the thought that it would be cool to get as many likes as someone else.


Almost every single thing Lacie does throughout the episode is to make others rate her positively and increase her overall number, just as how every thing we do on social media is for others to think of us positively.  I highly doubt anyone can say that they have posted on social media without a subconscious intention of eliciting a positive emotion in the minds of others. Whether it be an attractive Instagram picture, a funny tweet, or a politically-charged Facebook status, everyone posts because they want others to have some kind of reaction.

Writing this blog post reminded me of an article I read recently about a fake Instagram account made by the French organization Addict Aide to raise awareness about alcoholism. The account, louise.delage, which can still be found on Instagram, depicts the exciting and fun life of a French socialite. In every picture, the woman is holding some kind of alcoholic beverage. Though her life may look exciting and glamorous, her character could have a serious drinking problem– however, everyone chooses to see the fun, cool side of her and wants to see her posts regardless of who she really is in real life. The account has 111k followers.

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The article about the account closes with, “…the glamorous slice of someone’s life that you see online isn’t always what it seems to be… in fact, sometimes it’s not real at all.” Though Lacie was doing things throughout the episode to make her rating higher, the end of the episode made it clear that these glamorous and fake affirmations simply drove her crazy instead of making her happy. The Black Mirror episode and the article both pulled me back into reality, and made me realize how though people’s perceptions of us can still matter overall, the way people who know us personally in real life perceive us is far more important than how our social media followers do.

Instagram Screenshot:

Black Mirror: Dystopia or Reality?

Although intended to be a fictional TV show, Black Mirror’s episode Nosedive is not so far off from the world which we live in today. As a little recap, Lacie Pound lives in a society completely reliant on ratings. Everyone has a rating out of 5 and the higher your rating, the more elite you are. The characters in the episode are able to rate and see everyone’s statistics in their direct vision and rate one another instantaneously. In this episode, Lacie tries to attain a 4.5 or higher in order to receive a discount on a new apartment she is wishing to rent. She practices expressions in the mirror, takes pleasing photos of her food and tries to be as friendly as possible with everyone she interacts with. When Lacie gets a call from an old friend asking her to be maid of honor at her wedding, Lacie couldn’t be more thrilled to accompany this high ranked friend at a high profile wedding. She thought this would for sure boost her ranking but everything leading up to the wedding backfires and her rating keeps decreasing.

This dystopian society that Lacie lives in is not so far off from our own reality. We are so consumed with likes and social media and yearn for popularity on so many virtual levels – popularity and social acceptance is determined by how many likes you get on a picture. I know that personally I have had many conversations that have contained the phrases “she gets so many likes”, “ugh I barely got any likes” or “I’m not liking her picture”. Although we don’t have actual ratings like in Nosedive, we do have hierarchy of social status. For example, celebrities generally get the most likes of anyone and even get paid for some posts. These would be classified as the “5.0”’s in our society. Then would be those who are “Instagram Famous”, followed by ordinary people who just have a large social following and then your average Joe.

These ratings are not the only things that are comparable to our reality. In the show, the characters are able to see each other’s ratings overlaid in their direct line of vision. Google already has their Google Glass spectacles, which project imagery into your line of vision – just like in Nosedive. There have been so many studies and developments about creating these lenses as contacts to possess virtual reality at your fingertips.

After watching this episode, I am terrified of what is to come of our future if we continue to move down this path of social gratification. We are so consumed with the amount of likes we get and “doing it for the Insta” that we are more present in the virtual world than we are in the present. Younger generations are growing up with this technology and mentality that social media likes are everything – and generations to come will be just as obsessed, if not more. As terrifying as it is, we are moving on a path towards the society in Nosedive whether we would like to admit it or not.




Black Mirror Presents: My Nightmare

About three months ago, I was talking to a coworker about an episode of Black Mirror (the one with Jon Hamm, I know you know the episode). I had only ever seen the show once, but Jon Hamm truly turned me into a Black Mirror fan, and I desperately needed to know which episodes to follow up with. My coworker replied, “Whatever you do, skip the next one, Season 3, Episode 1. I had to turn it off mid way because it frightened me too much.” As someone with zero tolerance for jump-scares and gore, I asked her what the episode was about so I could avoid it. To my surprise, she responded, “Social media.”


As recommended, I held off on watching “Nosedive.” But after learning the episode was required for class, I became re-interested, figuring it would seem more captivating after a semester submerged in social media. I was not disappointed. “Nosedive” was simultaneously unbelievable and relatable. It was fascinating, but unnerving. It hit on anxieties most millennials face every day when engaging in the social media realm – and cranked them up 10 notches.

That feeling of awkwardness when you post an Instagram photo, and it takes 3 whole minutes for anyone to like it. That judgment you make when someone follows you on Twitter, and you quickly stalk your own timeline to ensure your past posts were funny enough. That envy you feel when someone posts the most aesthetically pleasing candid ever, and you realize your own “selfie” game is weak. That pressure to take interesting pictures in any situation, because otherwise, how would anyone know you left your bed?


Black Mirror addressed all of this uneasiness surrounding social media that no one seems to talk about.  Why the taboo? Because Twitter is hilarious, we insist. Instagram is so pretty. Facebook keeps us connected. We don’t want to admit that a platform built around sociability can makes us feel supremely miserable and self conscious. Especially when your timeline is filled with 5 photos of Victoria’s Secret models, 7 photos of beautiful foods you can’t recreate, and 19 photos of acquaintances living their “best life” while you sit in class.  But, as “Nosedive” pointed out, none of this is real.

Take the coffee shop scene for example. Ordering a latte she didn’t like and a cookie she didn’t want, our 4.2 friend Lacie snapped a pic to boost her rating, then discarded the breakfast. She proceeded to lie to her loyal feed followers by captioning the combination “Heaven.”  I took this personally, because there’s nothing worse than a bad breakfast recommendation. Besides, between a $6.00 specialty coffee and a $4.00 pastry, Lacie spent approximately $10.00 to lose her freakin’ mind.


Black Mirror has always prided itself on being able to effectively straddle the line between fiction and a realistic future. I personally feel as though our society should heed these story lines as warnings, as opposed to simply entertainment. This social media obsessed world that “Nosedive” presents does not seem too far off from our current daily interactions. Toning back on the favorites, likes, and ratings could benefit human cultural overall, creating more authentic face-to-face interactions. I, for one, could not survive in a world that required rating every single interaction – my thumbs (not to mention my brain) would simply become too tired.



Image Sources

The Wonderful World of Internet HR

Wonderful Pistachios introduced me to the incredible world of online customer service.  Customers of late have been finding maggots and burnt nuts within the protective shells of their pistachios.

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Two separate (horrifying) instances produced immediate responses from the company.  These errors are so egregious that they have no choice but to be upfront in their damage control.  They use comforting language to their customers, almost adopting a parental undertone.  “We’ll take care of you.”  This sentence is intended to show that they remain in control and have the means to care for their customers, regardless of external circumstance.

In Chapter 8 of Ben Shields’, Social Media Management, he mentions that best practices in social media management lie within the speed of reply.  Stopping the uproar before it becomes an untamable wildfire of customer anger is imperative.  Also, Shields states that tone of the response is important as well.  Acknowledging error and displaying how you will correct it in the future is more effective than a simple apology to a customer.  So, despite the gross factor of Wonderful Pistachio’s latest mistakes, their social media team is doing an exemplary job in managing it online.


This is something Uber has faced recently in more than one way.  On the political, business, and technical front, Uber has stood in the face of extreme crisis a lot in the past year.  They even have a separate Twitter account than their main @Uber account to deal with customer maladies.

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In 2014, Uber exec Emil Michael suggested spending a million dollars in a counter-strike against the media, using “off the record” material against a female journalist that wrote a critical piece on the company concerning their male-dominated culture.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick issued a poor, lengthy apology that did nothing to soothe public opinion:

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In his rambling apology, Kalanick does not take into account the nature of Twitter.  It’s a brief platform.  He basically chops up what looks like an email to employees and calls it a day.  He also glazes over the actual issue at hand, making too broad a statement and not mentioning any steps to correcting Uber’s culture moving forward.

Shields states that in mitigating a crisis, you must do three things: shift perception, direct audiences to a specific action, and improve brand health (216).  Kalanick does none of these things with his lackluster apology.  An effective strategy would have been creating a plan for the company to empower women within their business model and harshly reprimand (i.e. fire) any male drivers that have been reported as sexually harassing women.  Merely reproducing a company policy in 13 tweets does not satisfy a consumers’ need for change.  Also, incorporating visual content within an apology, especially from a company as tech-saavy as Uber, would appeal to customer emotion more than loose text.  Shields also makes an excellent point in stating on page 218 that anything on social media these days can be taken out of context and create an even larger problem.  Post with caution.


Customer Service for the Whiny Millennials

When millennials have something to complain about they take it to Facebook or Twitter. This outlet is so common in fact, that companies have actually felt the need to start responding to these complaints as a form of customer service. Today, social media customer service is a full blown job for people working in the field. If you look at the infographic pictured below, social media is a positive change for customer service.


Speaking from personal experience. I would much rather take to Twitter or Facebook to get in touch with a company rather than call an 800 number and wait a year for an answer. Below is my personal example of reaching out to a company with a very serious question I needed an answer to ASAP.



This is a great way to get a company’s attention because it is public and can start a bigger conversation. We know this, and so do the companies so they do their best to respond back quickly and nip the problem right in the bud. The last thing companies want is an uproar online about their poor service. Here are a couple of examples of how companies use social media as a customer service tool:


Ignore the bottom two tweets, but at the top you see how a customer is asking a company directly for help using Twitter. They even got a response back in a matter of minutes!

Companies even take to social media to stop problems before they happen. In the tweet below, Kendall was complaining about Comcast not necessarily to submit a formal complaint but a complaint nonetheless. Comcast responded back immediately to help so that they can try to help fix her problem.


This is important for companies to show a good face to the public. People like to see public conversations like this because they feel they can relate to the company better. Here, it seems like Bill Gerth is just another tweeter.

In some cases, companies like to have fun with their social media customer service. This is another way companies can find common ground and relate to their customers. People enjoy witty tweets from their favorite companies.






Even better, LOL.

Today, companies are forced to change their customer service with the times. Life has moved to have social media in almost every aspect. Businesses are learning to meet their customers halfway and give them the customer service they want.



Crisis Adverted!

Twitter. One of the best websites to communicate with your audience and one of the best ways to get roasted by your audience. Social media has greatly increased the number of crises that happen and companies have fallen victim to Twitter fails. Shields explains in Chapter 8 “Managing Crisis in Social Media” that these crises can happen either online or offline. Online refers to the company tweeting an embarrassing or offensive tweet, or when a customer complains about a product. The example of Red Cross that Shields uses is the perfect example of an online crisis since it was caused by its social media presence. An offline crisis deals with outside forces influence social media and causes controversy. One example that Shields uses is when British music retailer HMV laid off a significant amount of their employees and some employees were complaining on Twitter, raising controversy. Companies need to react to tweets to keep their brand and public image positive. But how would a company even respond to these complaints without causing their image to come under fire? Before discussing how to respond to these crises, we need to examine the different types of crises there are.

Three ways for trouble

Shields explains that the three types of crises are victim, accident, and preventable. Victim crisis are not caused by the organization, but by external forces. These crises are relatively easy to handle if the social media team is communicative with their angry customers and keep up efforts to fix problems. An example of this would be when gamers were furious with Microsoft because hackers DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacked the live services, not allowing gamers to play with their friends online. Gamers raged at Microsoft on Twitter, being disappointed that they cannot control their own services. Keeping a level head, Microsoft responded to complaints and continued to work on the issue and the live services were back up within a couple of hours. Who knew that people will be extremely angry for having their online services denied for about 4 hours.

An accident crisis is when an organization is involved in a bad situation but fully responsible for it. Samsung demonstrated this when the Galaxy Note 7 kept catching fire unexpectedly. The company was getting the full blame for the situation until Samsung explained how the second battery from a different manufacturer caused the fires. This helped shape the perception of the crisis to the manufacturer, causing many angry tweeters to target the other manufacturer instead of Samsung. What a heated situation, right? (I know it’s a bad pun)

The final crises are the preventable crises, a crisis that could have been easily avoided. Displayed below is a tweet by Chrysler Autos.



Ouch. That is a pretty bad tweet and could have easily been avoided if the person thought about the consequences before sending. Any bad tweet you can think of is probably a preventable crisis, and companies still fall prey to these types of ordeals.

So how does a company respond to these social media crises? Well, I researched companies that successfully dealt with crises and the best one I found is Wendy’s.

A Tasty Roasting

Crises are inevitable but some are not terrible to a company. Shields states that “Because everyone has a voice and messages can spread rapidly and unchecked, what audience perceives as the reality is often the challenge to address first and foremost.” Wendy’s took this quote to heart and recognized that their crisis could easily turn in their favor. Goals on responding to a crisis consist of shifting perception and sharing your voice, directing audiences to a specific action, and improving brand health. You need to think about your audience, platform, brand, and content when responding. Let’s look at how Wendy’s responded to a crisis that could have easily harmed its image.



Thuggy -D (what a name!) was being a real jerk to Wendys, complaining how its beef is frozen. Wendy’s used a traditional response to silence him but he did not let up. To resolve this, Wendy’s thought about the major components of responding to a social media crisis. It knew that the audience consists of a younger generation who thinks sassy and roasting comments are hilarious. Since this happened on Twitter, Wendy’s knew that this is the perfect platform to use roasting comments to get their message across. It used the Wendy’s brand itself to be less format then using a CEO or a marketing manager to seem more funny. The content Wendy’s used focused more on reducing the offensiveness of the event. Wendy’s did not need to apologize or deny any allegations since the company used facts to correct Thuggy-D. Reducing the offensiveness would help show Wendy’s knows about the fresh beef industry and will not take any snarky remarks. The format and tone Wendy’s used is very sassy and upfront text to provide the perfect roast of the customer.

You would think this response would hurt the company image but it improved it! People noticed these hilarious tweets and partake in the roasting. The distribution of tweets by Wendys were swift and straightforward, diffusing the crisis cause by Thuggy-D and improving brand health. Now I am not saying companies should start roasting their customers but they should take notice how Wendy’s successfully dealt with a crisis. Keeping a level head and thinking about audience can make any company survive a crisis and ultimately improve their image.


Too damn good. Bravo Wendy’s. Bravo.


Personal Branding

When we talk about personal branding online, I think some of us have a hard time defining our personal brand. What makes your social media posts different from everyone else? How would someone know that it is you posting if it didn’t have your username? Do your posts on social media consistently reflect your personal brand or does it seem to be all over the place and depend on what platform you are using? I personally didn’t realize I had a personal brand and when asked to write about it, I wasn’t sure what to say or how I would define my brand. Not only does your personal social media determine your personal brand, but also your professional brand. As the reading from Shields mentions, employers can directly source job through social media and do social media background checks, so everything you post has the potential to affect your career opportunities.

The main platform that employers look at is LinkedIn. This is the most professional platform and the best way to network with people who can help you in your career path. Shields mentions a couple pointers that show complete LinkedIn profile and those include: your industry and location, current position, two past positions, education, at least three skills, a profile photo and at least fifty connections. I’m sure we can all think of profiles that are not professional. For example, this profile with the current position as “the coolest guy in Nashville”Untitled 4

There are endless examples of poor LinkedIn profiles and this hurt employment opportunities greatly. But what about the rest of social media and how we react and interact there.

Shields goes on to talk about the different levels of models of branding. He discusses The Standard Model which includes sharing an participating on platforms, having active engagement. This becomes more interesting because it allows one to create a personal brand rather than a professional brand. While there are guidelines that should be followed and ettiquete rules, this is a much more creative opportunity. Shields focuses on the types of profiles for professional brands, however, how does this translate into a personal brand?

Most of us have personal social media account, but what do we use them for. Do you use Facebook or Twitter to share personal experience?. Are you posting dog pictures or selfies on Instagram? What makes your social media, YOUR social media? We explored an endless number of social media guidelines among various companies and they all have pretty standard rules about what you can and can’t post about the company and what use is appropriate for social media. But what if we forget about the idea that employers look at social media as a way to decide whether to hire you. I like to think of personal branding as a way to stand out from other people and in a business such as music (where I am interested) this is a way to get noticed and gain more traction. Take the band The 1975 for example; they have definitely established a personal brand on Twitter:

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They post every tweet the same way: beginning and ending with two forward slashes and a space in between every letter. Also, rarely do they tweet without a picture. But you would know who this was even if there was no username. This personal branding is a way for people to remember them. With social media being a huge way that bands are discovered (although they don’t need discovering at this point), this type of branding is important.

This goes for Instagram too. One can personally brand themselves based on what they post or the way they post. Jonny who founded a company called Qriket uses emojis to brand himself on social media.


He rarely posts without including the blue and yellow heart and the blue and gold “Qriket emoji.” This a way for his Instagram posts to stand out to people. When you continuously see something like this, you start to remember it and it becomes familiar and if it is something you are interested in, you will stop to look closer and potentially interact.

Overall, not only is branding important for professional purposes (although the last two examples could be argued to be professional because they are businesses), but also personally. And it’s not all about following guidelines and rules while creating your personal brand. Sometimes it is important to do something that other people do not in order to make yourself a brand and stand out to people who can help you in your career path. It is once you are there and employed that it becomes more important what you post.

How Do You Want It?

How do you want it? Are you the type who goes for the basic package or the premium? Well, according to Shields, you can apply the same idea to your social media presence. And it makes a ton of sense.

When you start to realize just how much goes into strategizing an effective professional profile, your head starts to spin. You think you have one set of “if, then” rules memorized for posting etiquette, then suddenly you read ahead to the next twelve rules for good social media profile management and you admit that there is a lot more to all of this than you thought. The good news is there is a basic package subscription for people like you.

Or maybe this isn’t you at all. Maybe you long to emulate the great social media celebrities in your field. You spend all your free time analyzing how a top CEO worded their last six months’ worth of posts, and you can be the first to say how and why they strategically present different facets of themselves to different audiences all from the same platform and all for the same ultimate purpose. Well, then, there’s a premium package for you.

And, of course, there’s a standard package that fits right in the middle there somewhere. The way Shields has divided these concepts up makes it much more approachable to starting out on a new professional journey, so let’s take a look.


The Basic Model:

The lowest level of professional social media presence means that you have a presence on multiple social media platforms that is consistent, and its purpose is for branding and connecting. You have a way to connect with colleagues, prospective employees, friends, and anyone else important in your field.

When it comes to Linked-In, which many of us are least proficient in, we should have a complete profile that resembles a complete resume, and have 50 connections to seem professional and trustworthy. The bottom line for this Basic Model is that for whatever platform you choose to be on, do it completely and do it well.


The Standard Model:

The middle level of professional social media presence means that you actively engage with your network, and the primary purpose of your online presence is to share and participate. A standard presence requires you to post a photo from one of your events while also liking/sharing/endorsing content from your network and reaching out by following/friending and commenting to others’ profiles. You can create a level of authenticity this way, by showing that you are a real person with real-life aspects. This can be a powerful strategy when choosing to show your personal side when everyone knows your professional side first.

However, if you are trying to become a leader of thought in your field, then these first two models just won’t cut it.


The Premium Model:

The highest level of professional social media presence means that you actively develop unique, differentiated, and complex thoughts and media, with the primary purpose of connecting and leading. In Shields’ words, “thought leadership usually refers to content that takes a position on current industry trends, news items, and future opportunities” (262). With social media, practically anyone can try to be a thought leader—so what can you do to make yourself truly stand out as a leader? Just like in the non-tech world, you have to think uniquely and creatively. Thousands of people already have a blog discussing what you are passionate about; how can you put a different spin on it to make your message cut through the noise more effectively?

Not only can you differentiate your mission from others in the Premium Model, but you can differentiate yourself as a person by showing your audience your honesty and compassion that sets you apart. This model is the most work, but could reap the most benefit in terms of visibility.


And once you decide on your model…you still have to plan out a posting schedule and watch your analytics!



Works Cited:

Basic Package. Digital image. InstaFace Photo Booth. N.p., n.d. Web.

Premium Package. Digital image. Theme Skills. N.p., n.d. Web.

Shields, Ben. Social media management: persuasion in networked culture. New York: Oxford U Press, 2017. Print.

Standard Package. Digital image. Design Vamp. N.p., n.d. Web.


Designing Free People


When reading Ben Shields’ chapter, “Designing Social Content,” I couldn’t help but think of the Free People brand. For those that don’t know, Free People is a clothing brand targeting females in their 20s, with a bohemian feel. As they put it on their website, their audience is, “a 26-year-old girl, smart, creative, confident and comfortable in all aspects of her being, free and adventurous, sweet to tough to tomboy to romantic. A girl who likes to keep busy and push life to its limits, with traveling and hanging out and everything in between. Who loves Donovan as much as she loves The Dears, and can’t resist petting any dog that passes her by on the street.”

A very specific type of person. With this specific type of person Free People wants to reach, they absolutely have to actively keep their social medias on brand. Shields states that the building blocks of social content are message, voice, and share proposition. In describing each of these, I will quote Shields,

“Message—What exactly are you trying to communicate to your audience?

Voice—The expression of your brand’s personality through content. Personality is who you are; voice is what you say.

Share proposition—The reason why your audience should share your content.”

Though these 3 ideas are not immediately relevant with every brand—i.e. they are not saying “this is our message, this is our voice, and this is our share proposition!”—they are ideas that are always taken into account when posting.

Let’s look at their instagram:


Free People’s Instagram bio immediately says who they are and who they are trying to reach. They also advertise their alternate Instagram dedicated to workout wear, their snapchat, and their website for continued interaction. Through these things, as well as an initial look at their feed, Free People stays true to their voice.


As we click into a post, we see that their voice here is also consistent. The photo, though just a picture of a cat, is on brand with the lounging around (beautifully) aspect of their brand, and makes the user click to see what the caption might be. “Our dreams just came true” with a shocked cat emoji and a shooting star is not something you’d see posted on, say, Adidas’ Instagram, but is very appropriate for the voice of Free People. This is also an example of shareable content, as it advertises free shipping. Certainly the 104 comments are full of people tagging their friends to alert them of the free shipping. These posts can also be sent through direct messaging, screenshotted and texted, or simply for providing information to share with friends. There is a call to action within this post, and it definitely qualifies as shareable content.

On Free People’s Twitter:


We have a tweet that shows someone working for their brand, whom represents their brand, and providing a link to an article about her and her style. This is a great example of an articulated message. The caption gives the user a clear idea of what will be in the link and who they are looking at. At this point, they can choose to read more or move on.

As an added portion, I would like to share a piece from their youtube channel:

As if their social medias weren’t enough, Free People has a youtube channel with tons of content furthering their brand. Feel free to check it out if you want to see more. However, the most interesting thing they’ve done, in my opinion, is a series of short films. About 3 years ago, they were consistently putting out short films that essentially embodied the Free People girl. There were about 10 of these at one point, though they deleted most of them (I don’t know why). My friend and I were obsessed with these short films—they were always so beautiful and dreamy, and had no motivation other than that. They always had some little storyline, usually a love story. Of course, this is a crazy tactic. Getting Free People buyers to interact with them EVEN MORE, and showing a life that the buyer, if falling under their audience, would absolutely want. With the main character clothed in Free People.

Wild stuff.

That’s all I have to say about Free People. Thanks for having a read.