Local editor explains social media values


The University of Tennessee College of Communications and Information kicked off its eighth annual Social Media Week Tuesday, Feb. 20 to provide students with opportunities to learn about an increasingly prevalent field.

Jack McElroy, editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel, emphasized the social media’s importance in journalism students’ daily lives during a panel discussion. Social media tips serve as immediate sources about local stories like the 2016 Gatlinburg wildfire.

“Just about as soon as I got into my house, an app called Data Miner blew up on my phone. I opened it up and started looking at these tweets of people shooting video of flames leaping up outside their hotel window in Gatlinburg,” McElroy said.

Editors like McElroy focus on social media like Twitter and Snapchat as critical outlets to gather news, especially breaking news. Social media videos like those of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida become essential to public knowledge.

“The parents will be passing it all around. Things of this type are touching people’s lives and pinning into their network of connections, so social media is tremendously important,” McElroy said.

Social media changes the style of formerly traditional newsrooms. McElroy used the Knoxville News Sentinel as an example.

“We are really more of a digital newsroom,” he said. “If you’re projecting out 10 to 15 years, it’s very hard to picture what kind of traditional news organizations are going to be surviving.”

McElroy took questions from students in attendance. The aspiring journalists asked how social media and news rooms may continue to evolve.

“I’m certainly not going to answer your question of what the future holds, you’re going to answer it. The people in this room are going to invent what that new world tool is.”

UT Social Media Week continues through Thursday, Feb. 22. For more information, click here.


Story by Caroline Jordan

Edited by Lexie Little

Featured Photo: TNJN

UT alumnus discusses social media for businesses

Even though most consumers do not want to see ads for credit cards or posts from their bank when they log on to Facebook or Instagram, advertisements are crucial to a modern business model.

Andrew Vollmer’s job is to make that advertising content as appealing as possible for social media users.

Vollmer’s presentation for UT’s fifth annual Social Media Week was titled “Branded Social Media: An Introductory Crash Course,” and focused on using social media for business.

The talk on Tuesday morning attracted enough students and faculty to fill every seat in the Communication building’s Scripps Lab.

“Everyone uses social media and thinks they know it very well, but it’s very different in a business setting,” Vollmer said.

Since graduating from UT in 2009, Vollmer has worked as an account supervisor for Publicis in New York City, where his team’s main client is Citibank. Vollmer and his co-workers are responsible for “making sure that Citibank’s strategies are aligned” across media, production and reporting platforms.

Vollmer told the audience that the main benefit of using social media for a business is that it brings a relatable, human element to advertisements that other forms of media can’t provide.

“It’s difficult to stare at a print ad and feel related to it,” he said. “If you do it right, it doesn’t seem like an ad but like something that’s just in your feed.”

Vollmer said this humanization stems from the overall casual tone of social media compared to traditional media. Real time feedback on content allows businesses to learn about what users like and dislike seeing in their news feeds.

Social media can also bridge the gap between different media platforms employed in a business’ marketing strategy.

“One of the most important things with social media is connectivity,” Vollmer said. “You can provide exclusive content and then you can link to a website.”

According to Vollmer, client companies are very objective driven and many brands have to be convinced to put money into the social media sphere.

When asked his thoughts on Instagram’s recent algorithm changes, Vollmer said he predicts that it will go the way of Facebook and become “littered with ads and sponsored posts.”

Edited by Ashley Sharp. 

Featured image by Courtney Anderson

Politico’s Laura Brown discusses social media in politics

Laura Brown, advertising operations manager for Politico and University of Tennessee alumna, came to start off Social Media Week 2016 on Monday, March 28.

The lecture centered around how social media is entangled in modern life, especially in the realm of politics. The speech touched on varied topics including politics, net neutrality, the ethics of nonstop coverage of Donald Trump and how the newer and older generations differ on how they consume news.

“I’m here today to talk to you a little about how the internet is disrupting politics,” Brown said. “The only thing predictable about the 2016 election so far is how unpredictable it is.”

Speaking on the current presidential election, Brown talked primarily about Trump and Bernie Sanders, two candidates who she said are disrupting the political norm. She also mentioned how Ted Cruz, another Republican candidate for president, is utilizing social media better than any other candidate.

“The Cruz campaign has hired a team of behavioral psychologists to take your internet persona and map it out,” Brown said. “They use this data to determine which message you might be most receptive to.”

Brown said the Cruz campaign uses three separate classifications for potential voters: true believers, stoic traditionalists and temperamental conservatives. The campaign has a different message tailored for potential voters who may respond better to one of those three messages over the other two based on their social media presence.

She also explained to the audience how social can take action against something in the same way it shares viral videos and images. Brown said that when net neutrality was introduced, social media mobilized to keep it as a relevant discussion, citing the reaction to be similar to the “blue-and- black or white-and-gold” dress that went viral around the same time.

Brown also noted the difference between the generations and media consumption. She said that the newer generation is primarily consuming media through social networks whereas older generations are still relying mainly on cable news and newspapers.

Specifically when referring to Trump, Brown also touched on how news outlets cover the Republican frontrunner.

“The media is covering Donald Trump because people are clicking on stories about Donald Trump. On the other hand, people keep on rapidly clicking on stories about Donald Trump because the media keeps on covering Donald Trump.” Brown said, comparing the situation to a “chicken or the egg” narrative.

Brown also offered her thoughts on the election, specifically comparing it to the elections in 2008 and 2012; “Believe me when I tell you that this is going to be one of the most studied elections in American history.”

Social Media Week will be going on until Friday, April 1. Look here for a full list of speakers and topics.

Edited by Courtney Anderson

Featured image by Ryan McGill

Producer discusses social media careers during Social Media Week

Headline News (HLN) Social Media Producer Luke Burke spoke to students and staff in a session called “Do What You Love” about pursuing a career in social media as a part of Social Media Week, held in the Scripps Lab of the College of Communication and Information building Thursday, April 2.

Luke Burke discussing his career in social media news during Social Media Week
Luke Burke discussing his career in social media news during Social Media Week.

During the session, Burke talked about how he came to his career, and emphasized the importance of keeping an open mind when it comes to choosing careers because technology is continuing to advance.

“You must become proficient with the skills and applications at your fingertips now, because tomorrow there will be something new,” he advised.

In 2003 Burke landed his first job with MTV News, where he worked on various shows including “True Life,” “Cribs,” and the “Video Music Awards.” He said the highlight of his time at MTV was when he interviewed Janet Jackson.

Burke said that he noticed how the internet was becoming bigger and had more of an influence on the way everyone was consuming news, so he made the transition to MTV’s digital news source.

Burke left to work for BET, but when he started, the network used little social media.

“They didn’t even have a Twitter account,” he said.

Burke helped launch BET News’s social media platform, where he created his first news special “I Am Trayvon Martin,” which was rated as number one during prime time.

Later, Burke began live tweeting during the show “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” and was contacted by a producer of the show who found his tweets entertaining, and he began to work with the show.

However, Burke was ready to return to news after only one year, saying that working with the show “was the most grueling work ever.”

He said that he realized that he wanted a career in social media news after seeing how much it had changed in one year, which led him to his job at HLN.

“The key point is you have to keep up, the landscape is always changing,” he said.

To keep up with Burke and the latest viral hits, follow him on Twitter @LukeBurke

Edited by Hannah Hunnicutt 


Alex Goldschmidt talks social media trends, gives advice

Goldschmidt, bottom left, taking a selfie with the attendees after the lecture (courtesy of his Twitter page).

On Wednesday, Alex Goldschmidt gave a lecture entitled “The Science of Social Media” as a part of UT’s Social Media Week.

Goldschmidt, the social media coordinator for the digital strategy firm Tiny Horse, talked about his experiences after college graduation, going into public relations and finding his calling in life to become a social media coordinator.

His lecture, which took place on the third day of Social Media Week, focused more on how to present and represent oneself on social media. Topics that he discussed ranged from how to break into social media, how to maintain a following and how to deal with criticisms on various social media platforms.

Throughout the lecture, Goldschmidt offered a great deal of advice not only for people thinking about making a career out of social media but also for people who are majoring in advertising and public relations.

“How do you make mundane things sound interesting?” asked Goldschmidt. He went on to offer an example and used the film “American Hustle” and cited Jennifer Lawrence’s performance. He stated that if he wanted to reach his followers, he couldn’t just tweet something generic about Lawrence’s performance, rather it would be a better idea to connect her role in “American Hustle” to other popular roles she’s played in her career.

In his experience, Goldschmidt said that some of the biggest tips he can offer up are being up-to-date on the current trends so that you don’t embarrass yourself, being friendly to everyone and giving the followers what they want.

He gave tips on how to succeed on a variety of different social media networks, most notably Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Tumblr.

He compared and contrasted the platforms, stating that Twitter was the best platform for day-to-day operations; Instagram is the best platform for creativity; YouTube is the best platform to accurately express oneself, and Tumblr is the best platform for converging all of those other platforms. He also discussed other services such as Vine and Snapchat and added that they were also great ways to gain and maintain followers.

Although his advice was different for each platform, he said that cross-posting is a great way to become more successful.

His last topic was how to deal with online criticism. Perhaps his most profound statement regarding this topic was that haters can sometimes be beneficial because they unexpectedly promote you, although he admitted this was not ideal.

In his advice for dealing with criticism, he pointed out that ignoring hateful, angry comments is probably the best route to take, although it’s a good idea to learn from critics. He also said that not everyone is going to like or understand everyone else, and it’s important to just respect others no matter what.

As the lecture ended, he answered some questions and then proceeded to take a selfie with the people in the room, thus demonstrating exactly what he lectured about.

Edited by Maggie Jones