Category Archives: 3. News You Can Use

Influencer Marketing: Cool or Not So Much?

Influencer marketing—the practice of hiring personalities with a large social media following to sell a product or service (think Colin Kaepernick)—is running into some ethics walls, and at least one major manufacturer is drawing a line in the sand.

Unilever, maker of such varied products as Hellman’s mayonnaise and Dove shampoo, has drawn attention to the fact that many influencers are using fake bots to ramp up their numbers, especially those with 50,000-100,000 followers. Companies that track influencer marketing claim that advertisers are paying these influencers millions of dollars a month for fake followers.

This fraud has marketers seething and they are calling the practice not just misleading, but corrupt. Buying followers is simply not the same as individuals choosing to follow an influencer, says Keith Weed of Unilever, and he’s calling for social media platforms to increase their oversight to clean up the problem.

The dramatic rise in influencer marketing makes the issue all the more important. A survey conducted for the Association of National Advertisers found that out of 158 marketers, 75% used influencer marketing, and of those, nearly half intend to up their spending next year.

Critical Thinking Discussion Questions

  1. How do you think consumers would react if they were more aware that some influencers claim to have as many as 20% more followers than they actually do?
  2. Why do you think influencer marketing has become so popular in recent years?
  3. How might marketers encourage consumers to use consumer evaluation rather than rely on influencers?

Yay or Nay: Using Personal Social Media at Work

Should employers allow workers to access personal social media while on the job?  With the preponderance of sites and users, the situation is a dilemma that organizations must face whether they like it or not.

It’s no secret that employees use their social media accounts at work. In 2014, the Pew Research Center found the practice to be common, with reasons for accessing accounts ranging from taking a break to connecting with friends or family or to learn more about colleagues. Pew recently reported that about 75 percent of Facebook users and 60 percent of Instagram users log into their accounts at least once a day, making accessing personal social media during worktime almost inevitable.

However, when employees use personal social media, employers find themselves in a fix. On the one hand, organizations have come to realize that social media is part of their branding, and many companies happily accept their employees using personal accounts to talk about the organization’s brand or to reach out to new customers. On the other hand, those same organizations cringe when employees use their personal social media accounts to discuss potentially damaging information related to the employer—or when employees use company time to post on their social media accounts for non-work-related matters. After all, why would any organization want to pay its workers for “liking” a friend’s latest new baby photos or snaps of a recent meal?

Why indeed. Some experts claim these breaks from work that allow employees check in on their outside lives gives them a sense of pleasure, and happy employees stay in jobs longer. When a worker takes ten minutes to catch up on personal social media, it’s the equivalent of a dashing out for a latte, they say, noting that posting or commenting are also far healthier work breaks than going outside to smoke a cigarette (healthier employees cost employers less, too!).The risk, these experts say, of losing valued employees by denying them this outlet is greater than the risk of creating a restrictive workplace.

Others, however, see more dangerous implications. They claim that allowing employees to engage with private social media sets up an employer for security and privacy risks: When an employee uses a personal Facebook account, doing so opens the door to a data breach and opportunities for competitors to extract confidential information. These naysayers advocate that all social media be controlled through a dedicated marketing function.

What do you think?


  1. What are some possible benefits to employers when employees discuss the company’s brand on personal social media accounts rather than on company-regulated social media?
  2. Why should or shouldn’t employers allow workers to use personal social media to shop or chat during work time?
  3. How closely should organizations scrutinize their employees’ personal social media?

From the Wall Street Journal

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Women Can’t Win

Although the gap has narrowed between what similarly qualified men and women earn—in2016 women earned 81 cents on the dollar, up from 57 cents in 1975—women still earn $1 million less than men over the course of their careers. A reportpublished by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workplace found that while women are indeed making inroads toward pay equality, the gap is still broad and difficult to bridge.

The research revealed that women have made advancements. For example, more women are choosing majors that lead to high-paying jobs. However, they still tend to choose the lowest paying areas within those fields. So, while more women now study engineering, they disproportionately make up workers entering the lowest-paying area of engineering, environmental engineering, instead of the highest earning area, petroleum engineering.

Interestingly, women now receive more bachelor’s and doctoral degrees than men and pursue fields traditionally reserved for men. Nevertheless, they still hold most of the jobs in low-paying fields overall. Even when women do choose high-paying careers such as medicine and business, fewer make it to the most lucrative specialties or the board rooms than their male counterparts.

Stereotypes and cultural biases play a big role in the pay gap, the research found. Girls are still steered away from math-related careers, typically the highest-paying occupations. Likewise, traditional notions about women’s roles push them toward occupations such as teaching that center around nurturing. Additionally, women continue to carry the primary burden for childcare, especially when children are young, which takes them out of the game for higher paying jobs.

 The report concludes that women can equalize the pay gap by doing the following:

  • earning a second degree
  • obtaining a graduate degree if majoring in the liberal arts
  • negotiating the first salary well, since it affects lifetime earnings
  • being cautious of vocational certificates, which are of limited value to women in the labor market


  1. Why do you think many women choose low-paying fields such as education more frequently than higher paying careers?
  2. What reasons can you think of that lead to fewer women leading organizations than men?
  3. What kinds of discrimination do you imagine women face in the