Employers! You’re having a laugh, aren’t you?

Can humour on social media help managers find the most appropriate candidates for the job vacancies they hope to fill? Writing in the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising, researchers from Finland, suggest that humorous recruitment campaigns can increase exposure for a given job advertisement but conversely the approach might lead to flippant applications at which point it might be difficult to separate the serious candidate from an inappropriate one. The team also suggests that choosing a particular social media channel over another may skew the type of applicants they receive for a given job, for better or worse.

Eeva-Liisa Oikarinen of Oulu Business School and Jaakko Sinisalo of Oulu University of Applied Sciences have carried out a case study of the social media recruitment campaign of a high-profile company operating in the architecture industry. The campaign used amusing text and graphics to entice people to apply for a specific vacancy and to differentiate the company from others in the market for job applicants.

The use of humour in consumer marketing is well known, indeed humour in marketing is probably as old as selling itself. However, in marketing an employment vacancy has been little used and advertising of jobs tends to be a rather dry affair. The team points out that where it has been used little research has been done to track the pros and cons. There is the potential, as with any marketing, for humour to be a double edged sword, the team suggests, with it having the potential to harm a company’s credibility and reputation if the humour is misplaced or causes offence.

Conversely, the humorous campaign can backfire if a responsive candidate is found and yet the work environment does not fit the jocular image projected. Moreover, some serious candidates perfectly suitable for the job may be put off from applying by the flippant nature of the campaign.

Oikarinen, E-L. and Sinisalo, J. (2017) ‘Personality or skill: a qualitative study of humorous recruitment advertising campaign on social media’, Int. J. Internet Marketing and Advertising, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp.22–43.

Emergency retweets in times of disaster

Twitter and other social media tools are commonly used around the world. Now, many government and not-for-profit organizations have a presence on at least one of these systems and use them in various ways to share information about their activities and engage with people.

For organizations that work in disaster zones and emergency situations, these tools can also be used to coordinate activities, help raise funds and disseminate timely news that can help in relief efforts. New research from the Department of Political Science at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, USA, suggests that just half of the Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies around the world have adopted Twitter. They assessed the factors influencing adoption rates as well as message type and frequency, and the ability to reach large audiences. Writing in the International Journal of Emergency Management the researchers report that adoption is constrained by the digital divide and country population size. The team defines the digital divide as the disparity between country-level internet access rates.

Moreover, the researchers, Clayton Wukich and Ashish Khemka, found, the existence of an account on Twitter does not necessarily mean that the target audience is necessarily aware of its existence or engaging with it. There are significant limitations to organizational reach and many people who need to receive important content on a timely basis may not actually do so. However, the team observed high activity rates in countries such as Kenya, Indonesia, and the Philippines, which they say indicates the potential for continued growth in developing economies, especially as internet access increases.

The researchers recommend several strategies based on their findings that could help organizations improve their reach and engagement. For instance, they suggest that organizations must plan to make personnel available for handling social media throughout and subsequent to any large-scale disaster. At the technical level, organizations should use hashtags in order to expose their messages to the largest possible audience and to create some coherency during particular disasters. The team also found that while a link to additional information might be useful the presence of a link, a URL, actually reduced the rate at which Twitter users shared a particular update, it correlated negatively with retweets, in other words.

Wukich, C. and Khemka, A. (2017) ‘Social media adoption, message content, and reach: an examination of Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies’, Int. J. Emergency Management, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp.89-116.

More secure in fog than the cloud?

Computer scientists in Italy are working on a new concept for remote and distributed storage of documents that could have all the benefits of cloud computing but without the security issues of putting one’s sensitive documents on a single remote server. They describe details in the International Journal of Electronic Security and Digital Forensics.

According to Rosario Culmone and Maria Concetta De Vivo of the University of Camerino, technological and regulatory aspects of cloud computing offer both opportunity and risk. Having one’s files hosted on remote servers displaces the hardware requirements and makes files accessible to remote users more efficiently. However, there are gaps in security and accessibility of files “in the cloud”. The team has now turned to another meteorological metaphor – fog – and has proposed an alternative to cloud storage that makes any given file entirely immaterial rather than locating it on a single server. They envisage a fog of files rather than a cloud.

The files are distributed on a public or private network and and so have no single location, in this way, there is no single server that would be a target for hackers and so only legitimate users can access them. The researchers point out that, “The trend towards outsourcing of services and data on cloud architectures has triggered a number of legal questions on how to manage jurisdiction and who has jurisdiction over data and services in the event of illegal actions.” Fog computing would essentially circumvent the security and legal problems putting files off-limits to hackers and beyond the reach of law enforcement and in particular rogue authorities.

“Our proposal is based on this idea of a service which renders information completely immaterial in the sense that for a given period of time there is no place on earth that contains information complete in its entirety,” the team says. They explain that the solution is based on a distributed service which we will call “fog” and which uses standard networking protocols in an unconventional way, exploiting “virtual buffers” in internet routers to endlessly relocate data packets without a file ever residing in its entirety on a single computer server. It’s as if you were to send a letter with a tracking device but an incomplete address that simply gets sent from post office to post office and is never delivered.

Culmone, R. and De Vivo, M.C. (2017) ‘Vanishing files: protocols and regulations for immaterial documents‘, Int. J. Electronic Security and Digital Forensics, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp.45-61.