EU Looks at Limiting Employer Social Media Snooping

Rising levels of employer reviews of job applicant and employee social media posts continue to stoke concern over personal privacy or even if many social media posts are reliable predictors of performance or potential.

Rising levels of employer reviews of job applicant and employee social media posts continue to stoke concern over personal privacy or even if many social media posts are reliable predictors of performance or potential.

As more employers view social media posts by prospective and existing employees, the European Union is moving to put up some boundaries for online snooping.

CareerBuilder, a recruitment company, says 70 percent of US employers admit to using social networks to screen job candidates. That’s up from just 11 percent in 2006. In a survey conducted for CareerBuilder by Harris Poll, more than a quarter of employers said the discovery of online content caused them to reprimand or fire existing employees.

According to a report by the BBC, an EU working group is looking at ways to impose restrictions on employer searches. The working group’s recommendations could wind up influencing changes in EU data protection laws.

Many states, including Oregon and Washington, have passed anti-snooping statutes. Research for the Society for Human Resource Management indicated only 20 percent of HR professionals use social networking screens, largely because of potential legal risks involving racial, religious or age discrimination. They also question whether social media posts are good predictors of performance or potential.

Snooping techniques such as demanding an employee’s or job applicant’s passwords or making a friend request are already taboo, Human resource experts also say it is good form to let an applicant know when a social networking search is planned.

But the emerging EU recommendations say searches should be relevant to a person’s qualifications or job performance. Searches also might vary by the type of social network. Deeper dives, for example, might be allowed in sites such as LinkedIn, which is intended for professional networking and job searches.

The Harris survey for CareerBuilder found that provocative photographs or content and evidence of drinking or drug use were the top job search terminators. A third of respondents in the survey said they would rule out a job candidate who made discriminatory comments or bad-mouthed a previous employer.

On the flip side, a job candidate’s cause could be aided by posting information or evidence supporting their self-described qualifications and maintaining a site projecting a professional image.

Job recruiters, based on the survey, look for online evidence that someone is well-rounded and has a personality that would fit a company’s culture. Not surprisingly, communication skills, or the lack thereof, on display in social media can tip the scales for or against getting a gig.

While there may be a presumption by some that social media is intended for exchanges among friends or followers, there may not be exactly how job recruiters see it. In a 2014 story in Time, people in the job market were warned not to post about illegal drug use and take care with their grammar. The story noted that one in six recruiters took into account a person’s political affiliation.

Some of the concern over employer snooping in social media stems from the use of search engines to track what employees are posting, whether at work or on their own time. Many employers take social media posts seriously enough to discipline or fire employees over content they judge as inappropriate or defamatory.

Oregon Catalyst Survey Shows No GOP Frontrunner

An online survey by a conservative GOP political group indicates Secretary of State Dennis Richardson is an early leader in the field of possible Republican gubernatorial candidates in 2018, but no one really can be called a frontrunner.

An online survey by a conservative GOP political group indicates Secretary of State Dennis Richardson is an early leader in the field of possible Republican gubernatorial candidates in 2018, but no one really can be called a frontrunner.

The 2018 Oregon gubernatorial election is a long way off, but political jostling has already begun. A 500-respondent online survey conducted by a conservative political group indicates there is no clear Republican frontrunner to challenge Governor Kate Brown.

According to Oregon Catalyst, Secretary of State Dennis Richardson holds the pole position with 29 percent, followed at 23 percent by Rep. Bill Post, who represents Keizer, St. Paul and Newberg.

Bend Rep. Knute Buehler, who has been positioning himself for a 2018 gubernatorial run, weighs in with only 9 percent of Republicans who participated in the survey. Happy Valley Mayor Lori Chavez-DeRemer, who says she is exploring a gubernatorial run, attracted 8 percent. Bud Pierce, the unsuccessful GOP challenger to Brown in the 2016 election, appeals to 12 percent.

“The field is much more divided than we anticipated,” writes Reagan Knapp of the survey conducted from June 9-18. “No one is running away with the nomination at this point, which means anyone who can raise the money to get noticed has a chance to win.”

Rep. Bill Post could be a serious contender with strong support from conservative Republicans.

Rep. Bill Post could be a serious contender with strong support from conservative Republicans.

Richardson “is an obvious choice to run,” says the Oregon Catalyst, because he has arguably the highest name ID, has won a statewide race and could have a leg up in fundraising. He runs strongly in Southern Oregon, where he is from, and among older GOP voters.

Rep. Knute Buehler from Bend may be the favorite of Republican moderates.

Rep. Knute Buehler from Bend may be the favorite of Republican moderates.

Post has been accumulating a conservative GOP following while serving in the Oregon House. The survey indicates his support is strongest, as you would expect, in the Mid-Willamette Valley.

Buehler’s bid is bolstered by his more moderate political positioning and his experience running against Brown for secretary of state in 2012. The survey indicates he gets high marks from younger GOP voters between 18 and 34.

Happy Valley Mayor Lori Chavez-DeRemer has expressed interest in running and polls best in the Portland metropolitan area and among younger voters.

Happy Valley Mayor Lori Chavez-DeRemer has expressed interest in running and polls best in the Portland metropolitan area and among younger voters.

Pierce’s support is hold-over from his 2016 campaign, which got off to a start, but then imploded. While his support stretches across the spectrum of Republican voters, he doesn’t soar with any of them. Forer gubernatorial candidate Allen Alley was included in the survey, but he got only 4 percent of support. Alley hasn’t given any indication he plans to run in 2018.

Chavez-DeRemer lost a race for an Oregon House seat in 2016, but among the group of hopefuls holds the most appeal in the Portland metropolitan area. She also received 35 percent of the younger voters participating in the survey.

The results from the Oregon Catalyst survey can’t be taken too literally. The Catalyst is a blog that has a strong conservative following. Plus, participation was promoted via the social media sites of the candidates included in the survey. “We think this poll [of self-described Republicans] is more accurate than a straw poll, but still less accurate than a traditional poll conducted via telephone,” Knapp notes.

Survey Shows Medicaid Patient Satisfaction High

Despite political talking points, a Harvard University survey shows satisfaction is high among Medicaid enrollees across the board.

Despite political talking points, a Harvard University survey shows satisfaction is high among Medicaid enrollees across the board.

One of the GOP talking points to defend slashing federal Medicaid spending is that it doesn’t provide good health care. A survey conducted by the Department of Health Policy and Management at Harvard’s Chan School found the exact opposite.

Politics is not reputed for fully factual discourse. In this case, the claim appears to be pretty close to false.

NPR reported that 84 percent of Medicaid patients said they were able to access all the health care they needed in the previous six months. Only 3 percent said they experienced long wait lines or doctors who refused to take Medicaid patients. The results applied across the board for patients in the traditional Medicaid program, Medicaid managed care plans and among the elderly and disabled, regardless whether they were in states with expanded Medicaid programs. Researchers did not include patients accessing Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act expansion or patients in nursing homes.

Medicaid is known as a health program for the poor, and it is. But the largest amount of Medicaid reimbursement pays for health care for the elderly and disabled, including 62 percent of the seniors living in nursing homes.

Medicaid is known as a health program for the poor, and it is. But the largest amount of Medicaid reimbursement pays for health care for the elderly and disabled, including 62 percent of the seniors living in nursing homes.

House Speaker Paul Ryan belittled Medicaid last spring when the House was considering the GOP American Health Care Act. “I mean, what good is your coverage if you can’t get a doctor?” Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price used a similar argument last month at a congressional hearing, claiming one third of US doctors refuse to accept Medicaid enrollees.

According to Michael Barnett, who authored the Harvard survey report, researchers evaluated data from more than 270,000 Americans enrolled in Medicaid in 2013. Barnett said the average rating of Medicaid patients was 7.9 out of 10, with 10 representing “the best health care possible.” He added that almost half of patients gave Medicaid a 9 or 10 rating. “If nearly half the people are giving it nearly a perfect score, that’s pretty good,” Barnett told NPR.

“Part of what motivated this study is that there is a lot of rhetoric and what we would call misinformation around ‘What does Medicaid do, how effective is it, and how satisfied are enrollees with their coverage?’” he said. “This is the survey that really provides the most reliable large-scale information that we have to date, [with] over 270,000 enrollees, and they’re largely satisfied.”

The findings seem to be borne out by on-the-ground reactions to Republican health care legislation that would give states more control over Medicaid and slash federal funding over the next decade by as much as $800 billion. Lawmakers from both political parties report larger-than-normal crowds at their town hall meetings with many people pleading to avoid steep spending cuts on Medicaid.

While Medicaid is largely viewed as a health care program for the poor, the largest amount of Medicaid reimbursements is for health care for older people and disable persons. Medicaid pays for 62 percent of seniors living in nursing homes. Medicaid also pays for 50 percent of all births in the United States.

Clear, Fair Questions Key to Reliable Survey Results

Reliable survey research depends on many factors, but it all starts with questions that are asked clearly and fairly.

Reliable survey research depends on many factors, but it all starts with questions that are asked clearly and fairly.

A lot of things need to be done right to deliver reliable and useful survey data. At the top of the list is asking relevant questions clearly and fairly.

Fuzzy questions produce fuzzy answers. Skewed questions produce skewed results. Fuzzy answers and skewed results aren’t a solid foundation for successful advertising and advocacy campaigns or for smart business decision-making.

Clarity in the wording of questions is essential to avoid confusing respondents. You want to make sure respondents have a common comprehension of the question so you can reliably measure their responses. A best practice in public opinion polling and market research is to test questions to ensure they are as clear and commonly understood as possible

Question clarity is becoming more important because of increased cultural diversity and audiences that include English-as-a-second-language speakers. Question testing needs to include this variable as well.

Along with clarity, questions should explore a single idea, issue or product feature. If you mix in multiple ideas, issues or features, you won’t necessarily know which one is the factor that fetches a  “like” or “dislike” answer. Sarah Taylor, in a blog post about survey questions, provides this example:

For example, asking "how valuable and organized was the Ebook?" is mixing two issues together: value and organization. Maybe the respondent really enjoyed the content in the Ebook, but thought it was organized poorly. If you ask them that question, the response may be for either issue and you won't really have a sense of what needs to be changed for your next Ebook. Instead, ask two questions: “How valuable was the e-book?" and “Rate the organization of the Ebook" to get better quality data.

The vocabulary of questions should be basic. Respondents will run the gamut of education and backgrounds. If your subject matter is technical, take special care to avoid jargon or phrases that may go over the head of some respondents. In some cases, you may need to preface a question so there is a common framework for all respondents. Special care is required to make sure any explanation is fair and factual.

Which brings us to skewed questions. If you are in the propaganda business, skewed questions and push polls may be tools of your trade. But for everyone else, skewed questions aren’t helpful and can be disastrous if you mistakenly base million-dollar campaigns on their findings.

Finding out what you need to know – as opposed to what you want to know – is the proper attitude to bring to any kind of research, whether  a quantitative poll or qualitative focus group. Curiosity, not a fixed mind set, is the right frame of mind.

Credible pollsters and market researchers can readily identify and will avoid loaded words or leading sequences of questions. But sometimes skew still slips in, as it did in this famous question, “Would you vote for a woman for president if she were qualified in every other way?” In addition to being confusing, the question implies being a woman is a qualification as opposed to a gender. Subtle, yes, but doesn’t mean it can’t have a significant effect.

The order of questions can influence responses. Pollsters and market researchers will often rotate the order of questions to minimize the possibility of skewing results.

Give respondents a full range of choices in evaluating an idea, issue or product feature. You also might give them a chance to comment through an open-ended question, which allows you to capture their words, not just their answers.

One of the most common forms of skewing is the omission of a key word or concept. If you were polling the congressional Republican proposals to replace Obamacare, it would be a mistake not to test the concept of lower health insurance premiums in connection with the cost of keeping premiums low for patients with pre-existing conditions. Who wouldn’t want to see lower health insurance premiums, but at which price and paid by whom? Installing residential rooftop solar panels will be enticing as a way to cut electricity bills, but the financial equation is incomplete with exploring how long it would take to break even after making the investment in solar panels.

Many other factors determine the accuracy and reliability of survey findings, such as representative samples, sample sizes, length of surveys, when surveys are conducted and the type of survey used. Surveys can generate rich, meaningful and actionable data if done right. A good place to start is to get the survey questions right.

Social Media Video Sells to Consumers on the Move

Peloton has used Facebook video to connect with potential consumers and turn views into sales.

Peloton has used Facebook video to connect with potential consumers and turn views into sales.

Video sells. According to Animoto’s "State of Social Video in 2017," 64 percent of consumers say they purchased a product after watching a video about it on Facebook.

No wonder Animoto found 83 percent of marketers place video content on their company’s branded Facebook pages, many as often as four times per month and some six times per month.

One obvious reason why video sells is because it causes consumers to stop and pay attention to a product message. That’s important because more than 80 percent of consumers who regularly view branded Facebook pages do so on mobile devices. They may be swiping quickly while riding a bus, shopping while watching TV or standing in a store looking at the product.

Branded social media video content is the rough equivalent of a TV infomercial. Both need to show off unique product features, explain how the product works and point out practical product applications. While infomercials are designed to appeal to insomniacs on a couch, social media videos need to connect quickly with consumers on the move. That means you need more than a great branded video; you also need a smart branded video marketing campaign to reach those consumers on the move.

Aiming branded social media videos at mobile device users is now more than a trial run. It is a trend that shows no sign of tailing off. And there is a clear incentive – mobile device users are more likely to watch the entire video, which explains why Animoto found 81 percent of brand managers optimize social media video for mobile devices.

Getting views and generating sales require an eye-catching video with an engaging thumbnail and teaser to draw attention, informative content, some entertainment value and a call to action. It also requires a campaign that targets your most promising prospects. Animoto says nearly 70 percent of marketers pay to boost their social media videos to targeted audiences, which is smart because 3 billion videos are posted everyday just on Facebook.

Unlike mass media ads, digital media advertising is all about testing variations, measuring responses and focusing on what works. Some Facebook videos may get views, but no follow-up. Marketers want to find out what turns viewers into buyers. Often that is the video that is more informative than artsy, that shows someone using the product and talking about it.

A few other nuggets from the Animoto survey:

  • 85 percent of Facebook videos are viewed with the sound off, which argues for strong visual content.
  • 39 percent of consumers are more likely to finish videos with subtitles, making it easier to understand key messages.
  • There is increasing interest in live branded videos.
  • Consumers like behind-the-scenes videos.
  • Consumers are more likely to share videos with educational value, emotional tags or humor.
  • More than 40 percent of viewers decide whether to view the entire video in less than 15 seconds.
  • The attention span of mobile device users viewing videos is significantly shorter than viewers on laptops.

The bottom line is that if you aren’t using video content as part of your marketing mix, you are missing out on opportunities to connect with your existing and potential consumers who are on the move.

Medical Trends to Outpace US Health Care Policy

Major trends, including the marriage of medicine and technology, are revolutionizing health care even as US politicians struggle to find a path forward on ensuring access and affordability for all Americans.

Major trends, including the marriage of medicine and technology, are revolutionizing health care even as US politicians struggle to find a path forward on ensuring access and affordability for all Americans.

How and whether Congress repeals and replaces Obamacare will shape health care in America, but there are other trends that may have as much or more impact.

Frank Baitman and Kenneth Karpay, who are involved in health care technology, identify “three immutable trends” in the US health care system that will march on regardless of what Congress does or doesn’t do. The trends are the aging of America, the marriage of technology and medicine and new life science discoveries that are bursting from research laboratories.

Taken together,” Baitman and Karpay write in the Harvard Business Review, “these three trends will drive dramatic changes in health care, regardless of government policies. We see several areas where patients and care providers, as well as entrepreneurs and investors, will likely benefit.”

While politicians bicker over health insurance strategy, health care officials and investors are focusing on patient engagement, which Baitman and Karpay say is linked to better heath care outcomes. “Technology plays a crucial role in promoting engagement, in part by customizing medical information for each patient and [using] digital platforms that promote health and help patients understand their medical conditions and options for treatment and prevention.” The authors say there were 296 digital health start-ups in 2016 and they expect $4-$5 billion will be invested annually in this evolving health care sector.

One way to promote more affordable health care, they say, is to bring medicine to patients, especially older people, instead of patients to hospitals or clinics. The savings goes far beyond avoided travel costs and risks. “Today’s telemedicine technology enables practitioners to scale their services, seeing more patients in less time and it embeds analytics that can help focus clinicians’ time on the cases where they have the greatest effect,” according to Baitman and Karpay.  Patients benefit by more frequent contact with their health care providers, which can improve coordination on ongoing treatment of chronic conditions. The authors note there are now 3,000 apps to aid in managing diabetes.

The market is adapting to a expanding aging population by offering aids to enable older people to live independently or in facilities that allow semi-independent living situations.

The growing availability of personal health data and declining cost of integrating those massive health data sets is galvanizing medical research into what might be called personal medicine. “The pipeline for new drugs is bursting and new devices and tools in the rapidly emerging digital health space will come to market more quickly,” Baitman and Karpay say.

Even though the explosion of new drugs and devices will open up new treatments, it also will create a conundrum for medical providers who must keep up with new options and health care payer who need to figure out affordable strategies to pay for them. Baitman and Karpay predict the “current payer strategy of negotiating favorable pricing” will be seriously challenged.

The question marks on Capitol Hill surrounding a replacement for Obamacare are unlikely to alter these trends, Baitman and Karpay insist. "Uncertainty surrounding the health care bill shouldn’t have a material effect on the success of various solutions. Indeed, with the current government gridlock, the rapid development of and growing demand for new health care technologies may help policymakers chart the course forward.”