Ethos, Pathos, Logos, and Twitos

In the age of Web 2.0, how do you create real change through activism with Social Media? Many try, some get retweeted, some get shared, some get small amounts of donations, but how many actually accomplish their goals?

In the past, in order to rouse a crowd to action with a persuasive speech, one must employee the elements of Ethos, Logos, and Pathos, essentially: Ethics, Logic, and Emotion. But how does this apply to social media? I would like to promote the equation:

Ethos/Logos/Pathos+USP(Unique Selling Point) = Social Action.

Essentially, one must find a way to sell their message to their audience in order for them to interact with it and then respond in a way that benefits your campaign. Here are few examples of success that combined these elements:

Ethos+USP=KONY 2012

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This video became massively viral and received millions of views, despite it’s nearly 30 minute length. This single viral video was able to earn 26.5 million dollars to their cause by appealing to the ethical obligation of us all.

Logos+USP=Wikipedia Donations

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This campaign comes around once a year, and uses logic to appeal to users of Wikipedia to keep their valued website up-and-running through donations. Needless to say, the non-profit website is still successful. The unique selling point here is the value and need of Wikipedia in the lives on online users.

Pathos+USP=Karen Klein

Most often campaigns fall short by simply appealing to one’s emotions; however, Karen Klein, the bullied bus monitor, received over $600 thousand in online donations after her video was posted to YouTube. Her unique selling point? In-your-face display of cruelty and innocence.

So how do you see a difference in people “sharing” your campaign through social media, and people “participating” in it? Ethos/Logos/Pathos+USP = Social Action. They must do more than judge, think, or feel you have a good campaign; they must be sold on it.



The McCourt Code of Ethics for Social Media

With everyone from your grandma to your grocer on social media, it has become necessary to create a universally accepted Code of  Ethics that can be adopted by all social media websites. With that, I recommend adopting The McCourt Code of Ethics for Social Media. This simple 3-step code is designed to cover the vast amount of ethical issues that stem from social media abuse.

The McCourt Code of Ethics for Social Media

1.) Information and photos of others must not be published without their consent. 

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  • This is the most important tenant of the code, because it seems that most ethical violations are centered around exposures of information. Whether it’s an email that gets leaked on or a revealing photograph that is posted to, users and non-users alike need to have the right to protect their private information.

2.) Harassment, obscenity, and/or cyber-bullying will not be tolerated.\

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  • This tenant is necessary because a great deal of communication now takes place through social media, and with that comes the negative forms of communication. Harassment of another, obscene postings, or behavior that can be classified as cyber-bullying must be clearly prohibited, audited, and met with real consequences.

3.) Profiles and/or posts cannot be purposefully deceptive.

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  • This tenant stems from the ethical issues surrounding deceptive activities such as the creation of fake profiles or spreading of false information. Blogs, profiles, and posts cannot be used to willfully deceive. You cannot blog on behalf of another, you cannot create a profile to benefit your organization unless the connection is made public, and you cannot knowingly post falsehoods that can be misinterpreted as fact.


Comcast Cares: Customer Service through Social Media

Everyone with a cable subscription knows all too well how frustrating a call to the Customer Service hotline can be. I remember earlier this year, I called the AT&T U-verse hotline to dispute being charged twice in the same month. One hour later, I had been transferred 6-7 times. I had been “accidentally” disconnected. I had been given no answers. And I had begun to see red. Later that night, over dinner with friends, they questioned my snippy attitude and short temper. My only response: AT&T ruined my evening.

Now, the days of calling 1-800 may be coming to a close. Comcast’s Digital Care team has attempted to take Customer Service to the next level. Launched last year, Comcast Cares has attempted to use Twitter as a form of customer relations to proactively assist guests that may be having issues with their service.

The team, headed up by Frank Eliason, spends their time skimming twitter feeds for any tweets that mention Comcast. Once one is found, the Comcast subscriber can anticipate a personalized re-tweet or direct message simply asking: :”How can I help?” Also, when outages or issues occur, the team take to the Twitterverse to spread the word:

This sounds like a brilliant idea, right? Let’s take a closer look:

The biggest win of this campaign is that they personalized several Twitter accounts to coincide with the man or woman behind the screen. Instead of talking to @ComcastSupportAgent, you speak with @ComcastMichael or @ComcastSteve. This makes a huge difference by adding that human element to something that could be very dehumanizing.

However, after thorough review of the service, I have noticed some areas that can use some TLC:

  1. Consistency in communication. With each different Twitter account comes a unique personality. And all these personalities seem to engage the Comcast customers in different ways and at different frequencies.
  2. Promotion of this tool. I now know about this seemingly excellent service; however, I’ve been using Twitter for over a year now and only found out about Comcast Cares now.
  3. Actually Respond. The service seems to be tapering off. Each Comcast Twitter user seems to post few and far between (sometimes months apart). If this service is up and running, it deserves a little more focus.

In conclusion, I’d like to note that I actually tested this service yesterday by tweeting the statement: “So frustrated with Comcast right now.” Over 24-hrs later, I’m still waiting for a response. If this was once a great service with a sneak-peak to the next generation of customer service, it seems to have fallen short of its initial hype.

It’s Time: A Viral Case Study

You’ve all seen it! It flooded your news feeds, and may even have roused you to post/retweet it yourself. No, I’m not talking about Rebecca Black’s awkwardly contagious video production. I’m talking, of course, of the “It’s Time” video that first emerged on YouTube last Thanksgiving.

Take a moment to wipe the tears from your eyes…

Now, let’s discuss.

The It’s Time video began to flood my Facebook news feed when I was on vacation in Miami–roaming the streets of South Beach. Curious, but only with my iPhone at my disposal, I tucked myself into the shade of one of the street corners and plugged in my ear-buds to see what everyone was ‘Liking’. Exactly 1 minute and 17 seconds later, my stomach lurched. By the end of the 2 minute video, my heart felt like it been replaced with a small gerbil, tearing at my chest cavity to escape.

Within the week, a Facebook Page emerged asking for support to air the video on U.S. National Television. The campaign was raising funds, and I was overjoyed that a positive and realistic portrayal of LGBT life was gaining so much attention… Then, it just stopped.

The YouTube video currently sits at 6.5+ million views but the Facebook campaign has stopped just short of 10 thousand ‘Likes’. Although the project has raised funds, through the webpage, it has only raised 2.6% of its $50,000 goal.

So, was this video viral? Yes, I believe it was, and the millions of views speak to that. It gained massive public attention on a global scale within a very short period of time.

But was the viral-factor of this video affective at meeting its goals? Sadly, I must conclude that no, it was not. Although the video was highly popular, it did not create the change it sought in a way that could be measured (aka $$$). It may have inspired viewers to open their hearts but they kept their wallets closed.

Ten months later, this campaign appears to be coming to a close. This video, if aired on national television, may indeed have the ability to catapult marriage equality into U.S. law. But unfortunately, for all its emotional appeal, it still lacks the lucrative traction to create change.

Social Media: A Digital Subtext in Every Conversation


Last weekend, as I was browsing the aisles of my local grocery store, I overheard a conversation between two women who had coincidentally bumped into each other. Since I was in the middle of a conundrum of whether low-sodium or organic ketchup would be best for me I happened to overhear most of their conversation. These two women gossiped as if their tongues would dry up and wither away if they didn’t keep flapping. From the fashion-disaster that a mutual friend was caught wearing to a dinner party to the nasty divorce that another friend was going through.

As I half-heartily continued to listen to their half-interesting conversation (clearly having nothing better to do with my time), I began to pick up on a conversational trend. All the information they were discussing was coming from one source: Facebook. The fashion nightmare: those were tagged pictures that appeared on a news feed. That nasty divorce: Susie Q (or whoever) went from being “Married” to “Single.” Every subject they breached had its roots in social media, and as I snapped out of my voyeuristic coma, I was left with one impression: Facebook has changed human interaction forever.

“Wait. She posted what to your wall?”

“Are you serious? He unfriended you because of that?”

“I’m going to check-us-in here, is that okay?”

Digital communication and social media have assuredly changed how we communicate. The pressure to be social has never been so high, and face-to-face interaction is no longer enough for us. Upon meeting someone socially, a Facebook “friend request” has become standard, and not abiding by this (and other digital-standards) can lead to various social ramifications. I’ve had friends become upset with me because I did not “like” certain pictures they posted or I forgot to post to their wall on their birthday. I’ve seen friendships start and stop on my news-feed, and I’ve often been out to dinner with friends where there is a moment when we are all sitting in silence, staring down at our iPhones.


No matter whether you feel this necessity for digital communication through social media is constructive or not, denying its existence will not make it go away. Face-to-face communication will be forever laced with a digital subtext, and just like those two women in the grocery store, if you are not connected through social media, you may find yourself with nothing else to say.