The fine folks from RazorSocial have published an article with nifty infographic (below) with some excellent tips for creating shareable content. The article is definitely worth a read.

How to Promote Your Blog Post to Get 1,000 Shares

Courtesy of: RazorSocial
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ACT ETHICALLYAs many of my readers may recall, I was a participant in a social media contest earlier this year that went horribly wrong, in oh-so-many ways. In fact, it went so poorly that the company didn’t even publicize the results of the contest in its own social media channels (though it did issue a standard news release). I found myself frustrated when my repeated attempts to provide helpful advice to the contest sponsor were dismissed. And I learned a LOT from this experience that may help your organization should you desire to plan a contest in social media.

So what I have for you here are six things I learned during that catastrophe about running an ethical contest in social media. Following these guidelines may help turning your brand ambassadors into your “assadors,” as one of my Facebook friends called them.

NOTE: I am not a lawyer, nor am I giving legal advice. I am just sharing my understanding of the guidelines.


Learn, understand and apply the disclosure guidelines that the Federal Trade Commission has published. As the FTC says, “If there’s a connection between the endorser and the marketer of the product that would affect how people evaluate the endorsement, it should be disclosed.” Put simply, if you are incentivizing people to mention your company online (by providing them with something free OR having them mention something specific to enter a contest of yours), they need to say so. And it’s up to YOU to be sure they do.

The FTC provides a handy, dandy mnemonic to help:

  • Mandate disclosure from your contestants. (See my post “In the Interest of Full Disclosure” for more on this.)
  • Make sure your own staff knows the rules, and
  • Monitor the contestants, to be sure they are following the guidelines.


Don’t ask or require participants to “stage” something as a way of endorsing your product or company. Doing so is creating false advertising.


Know and follow the terms of service for the social media platforms you are using in your contest.

Did you know . . .

  • businesses should not ask for reviews or endorsements on Yelp?
  • if you’re having participants create a video to post on YouTube, you must provide clear judging criteria, and you must not use video views or video likes to conduct the contest?
  • requiring participants to post something on their personal  timelines to enter a contest violates Facebook’s terms of service?
  • you can’t use Facebook Likes or Shares as a voting mechanism?
  • you should not ask contestants to tweet something multiple times for multiple entries, or the contestant risks being  suspended for Twitter spam?
  • and for more examples, see Social Media Promotion Law: Contests and Sweepstakes.


Follow your own contest rules and guidelines to the letter. Varying from them will cause frustration among the participants at a minimum, and a run-in with the FTC or state for more egregious errors.

  • If you are asking contestants to create a 30- to 45-second video, then award points only to those whose videos are within these parameters. No exceptions.
  • If you have in your contest rules that “no additional purchase is necessary,” do not require contestants to purchase specific items for photos they must post.
  • If you provide a calendar of social media posts that your participants must publish on specific days, use that calendar; do not make last-minute changes. (In the contest I participated in, this happened more than once. One of the days, the participants were supposed to create a specific video to post on YouTube. Videos take time to shoot and edit. The day the assignment was due, the contest manager changed the assignment to something totally different . . . and never had the video used at all as an entry. This caused much frustration among the participants, as you might imagine.)


Provide objective criteria for judging entries, especially when the entries will be judged by a panel chosen by your organization. Having your panel vote for which entry they “like best” doesn’t cut it.

As a professor, I tend to use rubrics to grade assignments. (A rubric states what the criteria are and how many points can be earned by fulfilling the requirements.) A rubric would be helpful for participants in contests, as well.


Be available to answer questions from your contestants. Have one place the contestants can come to for official answers from your organization. Ideally, this would be a place on your own platform, rather than an informal Facebook group, for example.

Availability is especially important if you are running a lengthy, multi-part contest. Establish and maintain an expected turn-around time for answers. For example, if someone submits a question, respond within 24 hours.

Remember, in the absence of official communication, the contestants are left to speculate about the answers to their questions.


That said, what other recommendations do you have for making sure your organization’s social media contest is run in an ethical (and legal!) manner?







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Photo Credit: "Sad Clown" by Shawn Campbell

Photo Credit: “Sad Clown” by Shawn Campbell

Two months ago, I thought it would be a lot of fun to participate in the Genghis Grill Health Kwest. I had the chance to win $10,000, and I got a gift card worth one free stir-fry bowl a day from the restaurant. It seemed like it would be a fun way to lose some weight and use my social media skills.


I have chosen to withdraw myself from the 2014 Health Kwest  due to concerns I have with Genghis Grill’s ethics in the management of the contest. I have also removed the HealthKwest-related posts from this blog. Some concerns I have are as follows:

  • not informing contestants about our (and their) obligation to disclose that GG provided free meals for us in exchange for our posts in social media
  • going against terms of service for multiple social media platforms (such as requiring us to post something on our personal Facebook profiles)
  • not providing objective criteria for judging the mini-contests (worth $300-$500) ahead of time
  • changing some of the orders/challenges the day that they are due (such as Sunday’s order that had been to record a video in a grocery store, and was changed on Sunday to something different)
  • recommending that we could “stage” photos of ourselves “enjoying” a specific beverage to post in social media
  • requiring a Yelp review (again, with no disclosure that we received free food)

I have addressed these concerns with two people involved in the management of the contest, to no avail. (UPDATE 4-2-2014: I have heard back from the Chief Marketing Officer. He has yet to address any specific concerns, but he did write to me.)

If you’re a participant in this contest and would like to discuss issues such as these, please let me know. I have created a Facebook group for this discussion.
NOTE: I have NO concerns about my local Genghis Grill restaurant in Rogers, AR. They’ve been wonderful to me both before and throughout this contest.


UPDATE 4-1-2014: Here are a few additional concerns with the contest rules.
  • The contest rules state that no additional purchase is needed to enter or win. However, several of the challenges/orders required contestants to purchase something from Genghis Grill or elsewhere (including Skinny Drinks, Red Diamond iced tea and Vitamin Water).
  • The contest rules state that 1,000 points are possible for weight loss, and 1,000 points are possible for social media. However, the top 30 contestants as of April 1 all have more than 2,000 points earned, and the contest isn’t over yet. How were these extra points earned? There has been no explanation.
  • The contest rules state that “each Genghis Grill bowl has an Approximate Retail Value of $599.” If this is the case, then the Health Kwest gift cards given to the contestants should be worth $599 x 61 (days) or $36,539.
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[Re-posted with permission from ProfNet: The Expert Connection, “Beyond the Basics: How to Make Social Media Really Work for You“]

by Evelyn Tipacti

A special installment of our monthly #ConnectChat will take place Tuesday, March 15, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. EST.

“Beyond the Basics: How to Make Social Media Really Work for You” will feature two special guests: Ellyn Angelotti, faculty member, digital trends and social media, The Poynter Institute, Poynter Online; and Barbara Nixon, professor of journalism and public relations, Southeastern University.

This is not your basic “Social Media 101” discussion. Ellyn and Barbara will share specific techniques on how to increase your audience and get real, measurable results.

Topics of Discussion:

  • Choosing what social media tools to use for your particular needs
  • Developing content
  • Using social media platforms to increase brand awareness
  • Getting more comments on your website or social media page
  • Getting existing followers or friends to interact with you and each other

Ellyn and Barbara will also discuss your particular challenges and guide you on how to find a resolution.

To submit questions for Ellyn and Barbara in advance, please e-mail or tweet your question to @profnet or @editorev.

We’ll try to get to as many questions as we can. Of course, you can also ask your question live during the chat.

To help you keep track of the conversation, we will use the #connectchat hashtag. Please use that hashtag if you are tweeting a question to Ellyn or Barbara, or participating in the chat.

If you can’t make it to the chat, don’t worry — a transcript will be provided on ProfNet Connect by the end of the week.

About Ellyn Angelotti

Since joining The Poynter Institute in 2007, Ellyn Angelotti has helped Poynter explore the journalistic values and the legal challenges related to new technologies, especially social media. She also has helped create and develop Poynter’s use of interactive teaching tools like online chats and podcasts.

Angelotti regularly teaches journalists how to effectively use interactive tools as storytelling vehicles, and how using these tools changes the media landscape. In the summer of 2009 she traveled to South Africa to teach and research mobile storytelling. As a judge for national multimedia journalism contests, including the National Press Photographers Association Awards and E.W. Scripps National Journalism Awards, she has studied and taught about best practices in innovative storytelling.

Her current work is focused on the intersection of journalism, technology and the law. She is attending law school part-time at Stetson University College of Law.

Before coming to Poynter, Angelotti directed award-winning, nontraditional multimedia sports content at the Naples Daily News in Florida. There she created and produced two interactive vodcasts, “PrepZone” and “Blades Playbook,” which won the Newspaper Association of America’s Digital Edge Award for Most Innovative Multimedia Storytelling. While attending the University of Kansas, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and journalism, she worked at the Lawrence Journal-World as multimedia journalist. There she helped launch two award-winning websites and weekly print products, “Game” and “The Lansing Current.”

About Barbara Nixon

Barbara Nixon teaches journalism and public relations at Southeastern University (both face-to-face and online). She also worked for several years in human resources for a Fortune 500 corporation. A Life Member and Past President of the International Listening Association, Barbara served in ILA board roles for more than a decade. She is completing her dissertation at Capella University, focusing on leadership development in volunteer organizations. Fascinated by social media, Barbara blogs at and tweets as @BarbaraNixon.

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Twitter bird paper-toy by Nerea Marta.

"Twitter bird paper-toy" by Nerea Marta

[Updated from my original post written in December 2008 :: Additions are in italics]

When I first started using Twitter about a year ago in 2007, I would follow anyone who first followed me. As Twitter has grown, I have realized that I need to be more discerning so that I don’t get overwhelmed. Here’s a brief description of my thought process.

I tend to automatically follow:

  • people I’ve met in real life (if I liked them when I met them)
  • students of mine at Georgia Southern University & Southeastern University
  • PR students & faculty from other universities
  • people who live in the Savannah or Statesboro (GA) Lakeland/Tampa/Orlando areas
  • people who engage me in positive ways with @barbaranixon tweets

Occasionally, I’ll revisit the people I’m currently following and make a determination if I still want to invest time in following them. Today I looked back at the last two days of tweets in my time line. And then I made a purge of about 250 people that I was following. I honestly have no idea why I was following some in the first place. Some were laced with foul language, while others just plain brought me down with their negative tone. Others tweeted about things that I’m no longer interested in.

If your tweets don’t make me learn or laugh, then quite often I don’t keep following. It’s as simple as that. However, I may add you to a Twitter list and look at the list on occasion. Or I may engage with you when I follow a hashtag like #TopChef (as we live-tweet the Bravo TV show) or #NASCAR (during races).

About once a month, I’ll visit my Followers page and hover my mouse over a name. If there’s no real name or any bio at all, I usually don’t look further. I’ll read a bio if it’s there. If in your bio you’re promising me things that I’d hear in a late-night infomercial, it’s unlikely I’ll follow you. Things in a bio that may intrigue me include:

  • public relations or social media
  • student affairs / higher education
  • photography
  • Auburn University
  • Presbyterian
  • autism or Asperger’s syndrome
  • food/cooking

Though it’s not hypercritical, I prefer engaging in conversations on Twitter with people who use their real photos. It’s nice to have a name and a face together.

If I make it as far as looking at your most recent tweets:

  • Is there a mix of original comments, @replies,  retweets and links? (If all the tweets are of one type, I usually don’t follow.)
  • Do I see @replies to people I know?
  • Do I think I’ll learn something from you?
  • Are many of your tweets of a positive nature (not whiny)?
  • Do you avoid foul language (most of the time)?
  • Do you make me laugh?

If I haven’t followed you, and you would like me to, it’s generally a good idea to send me an @barbaranixon so that I know you’re interested in engaging in conversation with me. And if it seems like I’ve been talking in a foreign language here, take a look at A Twitter Lexicon.

So, what’s your strategy? How do you decide whom to follow?


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Social Media Paper :: PRCA 3030

On March 23, 2010, in assignment, PRCA 3030, public relations, by Barbara Nixon

Writing words.. by _StaR_DusT_.Due: April 14 by 11:59pm in GeorgiaVIEW

Worth: 150 points

For those students in Social Media for PR who choose not to complete a “Viral” Video as part of a team, there is another option. You can write a short paper on an aspect of social media in public relations. Topics for your paper could include virtually anything we’ve read about as part of our course; look through A Survival Guide to Social Media and Web 2.0 Optimization: Strategies, Tactics, and Tools for Succeeding in the Social Web or Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies for ideas. Consider what’s most interesting to you or what you are most passionate about. Even consider what’s most confusing about social media. You could write a case study or a literature review, if you wish, as your paper.

Please let me know how you plan to complete this assignment (video or paper) by March 29 by using this Google Form. And e-mail me with your potential topic when you have determined what you might like to write about.

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Due: April 28 by 11:59pm in GeorgiaVIEW

Worth: 200 points

Social Media Resume Assignment

One of the ways college grads are helping to market themselves is through creating a social media resume. Dan Schwabel shares some excellent advice on social media resumes in a blog post at Mashable.

Using a free online site like WixWeeblyVisualCV, Google Sites or a new WordPress blog, create a social media resume for yourself.

At a minimum, include/embed the following:

  • At least two SlideShare or Prezi presentations you have created (one can be the Trade Book Review you did for this class)
  • One podcast (it can be the one you did for this class)
  • Three work samples (such as PDFs of news releases, brochures, newsletters, ads, etc.) — NOTE: If you have no client work yet, then substitute in at least two items from the Optional list below
  • A hyperlink to your blog
  • Hyperlinks to at least three of your favorite blog posts that you have written (to highlight your writing skills in digital media)
  • A PDF of your traditional resume
  • A hyperlink to your LinkedIn profile

Optional items to enhance your social media resume include:

  • A selection of  photos you have taken, to show your photography skills
  • Links to client work you have produced
  • Links to the social bookmarks you have created
  • Links to Facebook fan pages or groups that you have created and maintain
  • A Wordle of key words that describe you
  • The “Viral” Video you created for this class (if you chose to do one), or another video you have created
  • A social media monitoring report that you have created (to show your social media research skills)
  • A short video in which you introduce yourself to potential employers
  • A link to your Twitter stream (but only if it’s 100% appropriate for a potential employer to view)

NOTE: If you are in my PR Practicum class this semester, this assignment can also serve as your Portfolio.

Here’s a short video that explains this assignment further. NOTE: There may be minor changes/clarifications to this assignment here in this blog post that were not addressed fully in the video.

View on »

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Martin Waxman, president and co-founder of Palette Public Relations Inc., took 25 minutes out of his hectic pre-SXSW schedule to chat with me this morning about life in a PR agency, the importance of a traditional PR background (along with social media knowledge), and our digital footprints.

View on »

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Since our course is called Social Media for PR, it’s only natural that writing and maintaining your own blog is a vital part of the course; your blog will be 25% of your grade in the class. Feel free to continue to use an existing blog of yours, unless you feel compelled to start fresh with a new blog for this course.

Please add a category for each type (listed below), and make sure each post is categorized appropriately. Each post for this class must have the category of “PRCA 3030” along with at least one additional category. (If you do not categorize your posts with the name of the class, it will be much more difficult for me to find them.)

1. TOW: Topic of the Week – Together as a class, we will come up with a topic (or topics) each week for you to write about. You should have at least 13 of these before the end of the semester. At times, you will watch a video, listen to a podcast, or read a specific blog post, and provide your thoughtful reactions. These posts must be a minimum of 300 words. We’ll keep our running list of TOWs on a PRCA 3030 Blog Topic of the Week post here at my blog. If you miss writing a TOW for one week, you can make it up with two the next week.

2. PR Connections – commentary, reflections and opinions about PR issues/examples that were not addressed in class. These can be responses to other PR blogs you read, links to interesting posts or articles, embedded YouTube videos, etc. You should write at least 10 of these during the semester.

3. Reading Notes – brief notes or key ideas from the reading assigned for that week’s class. Jot down 3-5 ideas that you believe are the most important & wish to remember. Be very brief, but write enough so someone who can’t read your mind understands what you mean and I am convinced that you actually did the readings. Remember to cite your source(s) when you paraphrase or quote materials from the readings; use a hyperlink to the book (either at the publisher’s site or at a bookseller like

4. Blog comments – whenever you comment on someone’s PR blog (whether it’s a PR professional or a PR student), add the comment to ONE post that you update throughout the semester so I can assess your online participation. Do this only for PR-related blogs. You should have a minimum of 15 comments by mid-semester and at least 30 (total) before the end of the semester. See Tracking Your Blog Comments for Nixon’s Classes for more information.

5. Personal – optional category. Use it for any posts not related to public relations.

You may add other categories and sub-categories of your choice. Please keep in mind that when I evaluate your blog I will pay special attention to the categories listed above, but I will not ignore other posts. I will perform a wholistic evaluation of your blog, looking for:

  • professionalism: Clear, correct, thoughtful writing
  • frequency: Sufficient posts in categories 1-3, posted throughout the semester. There will be at least four blog checkpoints during the semester, including a graded checkpoint at mid-semester.
  • linking: Identify other PR blogs (use PR Open Mic or my blogroll in my Delicious bookmarks as starting points) and link to them. Respond to others’ posts. Become a part of the blogosphere. Blogging should not be lonely.
  • readability: brief & concise writing style, use of white space, bold characters, images, bullet points

SUPER-IMPORTANT: In order for you to get credit for your blog, I need to know where it is. Tell me your blog address by completing this Google Form; do this no later than the end of January.

Questions? Just let me know.


NOTE: Many thanks to Dr. Mihaela Vorvoreanu at Purdue University, who allowed me to use her blogging guidelines from her PRinciples class. They were so well-written that I made just a few tweaks for my own class. Dr. V knows that Blogs Matter.

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For Prof. Nixon’s PRCA 4330 Public Relations Research Class:

This assignment gives you an opportunity to learn how to monitor blog and other social media content in a way that provides similar insight offered by more traditional environmental scanning methods.

Many people will discuss your client or organization and its products/services on their own Web sites or on social media sites, outside of realm traditional media. Just as it is important for you to know what the media and your community are saying about your organization and its products/services, it is important to know what is being said in social media sites like blogs, social networks, and message boards. For this assignment, you will

  1. monitor the online conversation that has occurred about an organization or brand of your choosing since November 1, 2009
  2. create a table for your data
  3. write an analysis of the conversation with suggestions for action.

You might find bloggers who are blogging about your client organization or brand, people who are creating Web sites about it, message board members who are discussing it in forums, Twitter users who are twittering about it, social networking users who are commenting about it, or online video producers who are posting YouTube videos about it.

Let me know by November 15 how you choose to complete the project (individual or in pairs) and which organization you are choosing using this Google spreadsheet. NOTE: The first person (or pair) to “claim” a Fortune 500 company “gets” the company. No duplicates, please.

For details on the report, see below.

Social Media Monitoring Report

Many thanks to Kelli Burns, from University of South Florida, for allowing me to slightly modify a project posted at her Social Researcher blog.

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