Freedom of Speech Doesn’t Equal Freedom from Consequences — Our #UpstateSocial17 Recap

The Partners crew attended the great Upstate Social Sessions in Rochester, NY — here are some highlights from the day.

LIVE is Life — Is That a Good Thing?

Evan Dawson, host of Connections on Rochester’s NPR station, and Adam Chodak, WROC News 8's evening anchor, kicked off our morning with, well, feelings. Feelings about LIVE. Facebook LIVE that is.

WROC Channel 8’s Adam Chodak and WXXI’s Evan Dawson kicked off Upstate Social Sessions 2017 at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, NY.

As two people (who are often mistaken for each other) working in the world of broadcast news, they admit LIVE has caused quite a few headaches. But it’s here, and here to stay, so let’s all make the best of it. We learned how we can use it well — and for good.

The Issue

Everyone can broadcast, which means 1) the sound is often terrible 2) the picture is often horrible — i.e. people’s foreheads and vertical video that — just film horizontally, they begged! 3) gory, disturbing, offensive and factually incorrect content is being streamed all the time.

Chodak prolifically stated: Freedom of speech doesn’t equal freedom from consequences.

The Solution(s)

Good audio and good content will set you apart, right away. Film horizontally and grab one of those tripod/mic set ups for better sound. Consider an app like Videolicious for easy, light editing.

The first 15–20 seconds are crucial. Don’t make those seconds boring. You need to get traction right off the bat.

Praise others. Thank your commenters and users for their engagement. Less snark, more gratitude. Dawson said, “it’s better for all of us.”

He closed with a real-life call-to-action: to read “Unfollow” and remember, “if [Facebook LIVE] is used well, it can change the world…the right way.”

**adds to reading list**

A powerful way to start the morning.

Nerding Out Over Relevancy Scores

Jeff Knauss of Digital Hive dug deep into relevancy scores, which are oftentimes overlooked.

Jeff Knauss, co-founder of Digital Hyve, a digital marketing firm based in Syracuse, NY.

What’s a Relevancy Score?

According to Facebook, it’s a score that helps determine how relevant the ad is to the user. More relevant = Higher score. With a higher score, the ad is more likely to be served than other ads targeting the same audience. And this makes spend more efficient, so you pay less to reach the right audience.

Google + Facebook = 👑

Google and Facebook are king when it comes to paid social. Why? Because ads on these platforms allow for good and efficient targeting, creating impactful social ad buys. Agencies and brands should continue to focus on here for paid.

Be Strategic About Targeting

Knauss advised setting up 2–3 different targeting groups for your ads because if one group isn’t performing well, you can easily adapt and adjust to reach a good score.

Other ways to improve your relevancy score:

  • Narrow audiences tend to perform better than broad – always make custom audiences, when possible
  • Consider your ad’s image and message — so important! Then, think about how your ad’s message and image will resonate with your audience
  • Refresh your ad
  • When your relevancy score for your ad drops, try creating another ad with new content for your audience
  • Learn from testing — try showing different ads to the same audience or the same ad to different audiences – look for patterns that can lend insight
  • Avoid offensive content (duh), but really, Facebook will ding you and you could potentially lose your ability to promote ads

Don’t @ Me

Tianna Manon, EIC of Open Mic, John Mackowiak, Martin Davison PR, and Arien Rozelle, St. John Fisher College, joined Tom Proietti to discuss controversy on the internet — and how companies can manage it all.

The ‘Don’t @ Me’ panel at Upstate Social Sessions 2017.

Anticipate, then Plan

Rozelle said, “Brands [and companies] need to anticipate the criticism they’ll get — and plan for it.” The panelists stressed the importance having a crisis plan, not just for press, but one that includes social media.

Every Employee is Your PR Person

Remember that bakery scandal that happened a few years ago? It came up. And the gang agreed: that situation speaks to the fact that it all extends far offline. Your customer service folks are your PR people.

So create a document. A living, breathing community guidelines document that everyone can reference. And bring those guidelines into every day conversation to keep it top of mind. (Oh, and make it concise!)

What Do We Do About Trolls?

Manon’s simple answer: “I don’t respond. And I work for a black online magazine — you can imagine what I get. I pride myself in an unbiased approach.”

She continued, “there’s nothing to be done with them — ignore them.” Manon noted that we give the trolls power if we respond. If we ignore them, their comments are invalid. They just sit there.

Her kindness and empathy continued as she encouraged the audience to take a moment and understand the trolls, adding that anyone you interact with has their own struggles, and it’s important to just understand.

The Future of this Panel

Moderator Proietti asked, “if we have this panel in five years, what will it be like?”

Mackowiak said that it depends on how people have changed. If we are the same, the future panel will be the same. But the fact that we are having a conversation is positive — that shows progress.

The panelists encouraged us all to be a more thoughtful — just 1% of each person thinking just a little harder — that could be life changing.


The big theme: You are not free from consequences. The internet and social media can be a beautiful and also ugly thing. Use strategically, wisely, and kindly — and it’ll be good for us all.

See you next year, #UpstateSocial!

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