Social Media

I always enjoy talking to reporters about social media, online communities,  and other topics related to information technology. This page has examples of when I provided an expert opinion to the press.


From February 11, 2015, Philadelphia Business Journal, “Will Carpenters union’s social media tactics gain sympathy, or get lost in the mix?“:

“In any kind of dispute … it’s going to be natural that if the normal remedies don’t exist or are not met, that somebody would then go to the court of public opinion,” said Steven L. Johnson, an assistant professor in the management information systems department atTemple University’s Fox School of Business.

Another way to keep your message on top of people’s minds is to have a positive spin.

“People respond to positive messages [more] than negative messages. [Our research] found that people that express more positive emotions are viewed as more influential than people that have more negative emotions,” Johnson said. “When you have a sustained challenge like this, it’s a lot harder to rally people.”

Part of the challenge the Carpenters face is turning the situation into one of overcoming adversity, rather than continued anger about a perceived injustice, he said.


From May 2, 2013, Frederick County Gazette, Survey: Frederick County businesses embracing social media:

“Every business should at least have an online footprint,” Steven L. Johnson, a professor in social media at Temple University’s Fox School of Business in Philadelphia, Pa., said in an interview. “Twenty years ago businesses advertised in the Yellow Pages. Now it’s Google.”

Johnson said businesses with websites that allow for customer comments are essential. “This is how they can monitor what is being said about them online,” he said.

From February 4, 2013,, (Maryland), New unit seeks to safeguard online privacy

Creation of the unit was praised by an expert on digital information sharing.

“A state-level Internet Privacy Unit can serve as a valuable resource for individuals, businesses and local law-enforcement agencies, as there is a lot of confusion about what legal protections exist for online data, who has jurisdiction, and what to do if you think a law is broken,” said Steven L. Johnson, a professor of management information systems at Temple University Fox School of Business in Philadelphia.

Gansler’s initiative also serves as a reminder that online privacy is a public policy matter, Johnson said.

“As society becomes increasingly dependent on the Internet, it is even more important for government agencies to staff specialized units to keep up with developments in technology and supporting business models,” he said.


On October 5, 2012, Erika Morphy at E-Commerce Times included my thoughts on Facebook’s billion user milestone in the article,  At a Billion, Facebook Is Still Figuring Things Out:

“Like most services, there are some people who create multiple accounts,” noted Steven L. Johnson, assistant professor of management information systems at Temple University’s Fox School of Business.

“Even so, it is an impressive milestone,” he told the E-Commerce Times.”It is significant because it shows that Facebook is providing communication and social networking for people all over the world.”

Nonetheless, it does not say anything about how intensively people are using Facebook, he pointed out. “Some users are on Facebook all day long, but others may have visited the site only once to create an account. What brands and advertisers care about is user engagement, not just the number of users.”


It is understandable, though, that the Street and social media industry are concerned about Facebook’s progress.

Its growth has slowed in its mature markets such as the United States, Johnson pointed out. Now its growth is focused on emerging economies where new users have limited disposable income.

This does not bode well for the company’s bottom line, he said. “Facebook already has a low average revenue per user compared to online services like Google. It has few prospects for increasing average revenue per user.”

Facebook is already too big to continue growing as rapidly through new users alone, Johnson concluded, adding that the site can only maintain a long-term growth trajectory if it can develop new products and services.

On May 23, 2012, The Philadelphia Inquirer published an opinion piece I wrote called, “The Death of Facebook.”

To remain vibrant and relevant, Facebook must overcome daunting challenges. Unless it can deftly incorporate future waves of innovation, it faces the fate of other once-successful technology companies: death.

Listen closely and you can hear the death knell: Facebook is no longer cool; the once-clean interface is cluttered; and better applications are taking off even faster than Facebook did.

Already, Facebook is in danger of being really good at something people are no longer interested in: sharing content with their acquaintances. And with around 85 percent of its revenue coming from advertising, it lives or dies by its number of users. Moreover, the larger it becomes, the more difficulty it will have adapting to the technological advances and user expectations of tomorrow.

The Ad Age Insights report, “Managing Your Brand’s Social Life,” includes several quotes from me (available here for $249). Available for free, there’s an introductory report from Ad Age Digital, “How to Manage Your Brand’s Social Life” (also by Jenna Schnuer). A choice quote:

ROI is really just one way to figure out how much your brand benefits from having a social life. With a little creativity — and with an understanding that you need to push your measurement in new directions — you can more clearly understand what social media delivers to your brand. Steven L. Johnson, assistant professor and director of social-media programs at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, offered the example of the Campbell’s Kitchen Facebook page, whose “mission is to get people to use more Campbell’s Soup products.” Mr. Johnson said Campbell figured out that every time somebody printed a recipe from Facebook, they prepared it approximately 2.5 times, and 1.7 times, they used a Campbell’s Soup product. “You can’t figure that out online,” he said. “They just figured that out through some kind of additional market research. But then based on that, you’re able to put a value on this action that you’re trying to drive people toward.”

In the April 3, 2012, Bucks County Courier (PA), Crissa Shoemaker DeBree wrote on MyYearbook to become MeetMe:

Steven L. Johnson, an assistant professor of management information systems at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, said in an email that the company is ahead of the game because of past success but would face stiff competition online.

“The name MeetMe is an appealing rebranding in a crowded space,” he said. “I love that I frequently meet people online of all ages, backgrounds, and from all around the world. When I think about places where that usually happens it is through shared interests, shared activities, or mutual friends. It’s part of what I really like about things like online communities, photo sharing, and social networking. For MeetMe to be successful, they will need compelling content that attracts users and a welcoming community that retains them.”

From March 9, 2012,, (Maryland) Senate says passwords off-limits

Steven L. Johnson, an assistant professor in the Management and Information Systems Department at the Fox School of Business at Temple University, agreed.

Unless the person is a public figure, such as a newscaster whose Facebook and Twitter feed is tied to their work, there is no legitimate reason for an employer to demand access to a worker’s social media account, said Johnson, who teaches social media uses for businesses.

“That’s like an employer saying, ‘We need to be able to inspect your home on a regular basis.’ We’d all be appalled if an employer said, ‘We want to visit your home every day just because we want to.’”

Employers also have a legitimate interest in what their employees post about their workplace, but many companies are beginning to address that through social media policies for workers, Johnson said.

“It’s important for gray areas to be defined,” Johnson said.

From the February 22, 2012, edition of The Inquirer, Catherine Laughlin’s article “Self portrait, mixed (social) media

In a bygone era, a professional could take part in an unrelated hobby – the lawyer moonlighting as a rock star – and easily keep the smoke-filled pub scene divorced from the courtroom. But with the pervasiveness of social media today, we probably need to establish paradigms of how our versatile selves are perceived within our social network.

Steven L. Johnson at Temple University Fox School of Business, says sometimes the online blending of a person’s main job and any after-hours interest might work – in Derfler’s case, for instance, – but it’s probably best to keep a firewall between them.

“It can get tricky,” says Johnson, who teaches social media innovation. “We want to be around people that are well-rounded, but if our surgeon is regularly tweeting and posting pictures of himself skiing, you might start to wonder how good he is at surgery.”

In the February 20, 2012, Philadelphia Metro, Bruce Walsh wrote “Facebook finding its place in the classroom”

“I don’t think it’s a good thing to require students to be on Facebook. But it can be helpful if the population of students is already there,” says Steven L. Johnson, professor of management systems at Temple University. “I find master’s students just aren’t interested in communicating on Facebook. But so many undergrads live in a post-e-mail world, so Facebook definitely helps reinforce things.”


“As educators, we can take the stance that students are going to do what we tell them. Or we can take a stance that says we want every student to do as well as possible, and we’ll meet them where they are,” says Johnson. “If we take the second approach, part of that is recognizing that students — just like any person — have different preferences about what communication channels they want to use.”

On February 3, 2012, my interview with John Moe of Marketplace Tech Report aired on Is Pinterest a Facebook Killer?

Those images and that simplicity have made Pinterest a handy way of managing a web experience. “Pinterest is part of a broader trend toward valuing content curators,” says Steven Johnson, assistant professor of management information systems at Temple University’s Fox School of Business. “Back in the early days, the biggest thing was finding interesting things. Today, the problem is the opposite. We’re inundated so we’re trying to find information sources we can trust. Once you find someone and you like their style, you want to find a way to follow them and follow what they’re presenting to the world as their style. Pinterest is one tool that makes it easy to do that and it’s well designed to share and follow other people who are doing that. “

No one’s ready to say Pinterest will dethrone Facebook just yet. For one thing, they’re different. One’s about interests, the other’s about people. But if Pinterest finds an audience, other new social networks could do the same. “Certainly a long-term threat for Facebook’s success is that people come along with multiple sites like Pinterest that start to reduce the amount of time people spend on Facebook,” Johnson says. “I think it would be really hard for Facebook to be the one place all of these other things happen.”

Carolyn Beeler of the local NPR affiliate, WHYY, interviewed me about what hot trends for 2012. Read her January 3, 2012 article on‘Virtual social scrapbooking’ site expected to take off in 2012.

Johnson believes the virtual pin board will take off in 2012, as people reach the limits of what they can do on Facebook and Twitter and want more room to be creative online. In an age of information overload, the site also taps into the need for what Johnson calls “content curators” with shared interests.

“It’s not just about finding sources of info, it’s really about finding people you can trust that can sort through that information for you,” Johnson said.


Larry Dignan and I prepared complementary Point/Counterpoint articles for the Fox School of Business alumni magazine, Fox Focus. Find the complete article at Social Media Strategy: Learn as you go or apply what you know.

Michael Fitzpatrick interviewed me for Leaders Edge Magazine, Nov. 2011, Tweet! Tweet! Twitter: Brand Building 140 Characters at a Time

Twitter has about 100 million active users, about half of whom sign in once a day. The social media outlet allows businesses, including those in insurance, to stay connected to their customer base and to keep clients updated with industry developments.

“Twitter for the average broker is a much bigger investment in terms of making a name for yourself,” said Steven L. Johnson, director of social media programs and research at the Fox School of Business’ Institute for Business and Information Technology. “The more niche your product is, the more Twitter would be helpful. Then you could be known as the go-to information source.”

April 20, 2011, Philadelphia InquirerSnatching or shunning the latest in tech:

Plus, committing early helps advertise to others who you are and what you value. “If you are a big fan of Apple products, standing in line on the first day is an event, like people who stand in line, say, for Springsteen tickets,” said Steven Johnson, director of social media programs at Temple University’s Fox School of Business.

“It shows you are a loyal fan.”

Still, for the early-in folks, those extra few months may be worth it, said Johnson. Being robust users, they get more experience with their product immediately, meaning by the time the price goes down, they may already have gotten their money’s worth.

April 2011, Treasury and RiskFacing up to Facebook: Employees’ use of social media offers risks and rewards.

“Whether they know it or not, every Fortune 1000 company has some kind of online reputation that is being formed and re-formed every day by what people are Twittering and putting on Facebook,” says Steven Johnson, an assistant professor of management information systems at Temple University’s Fox School of Business. “Companies can monitor that, or they can participate in the discussion—or they can just put their heads in the sand.”

A company that has a sophisticated program for monitoring its brand on social networks is Staples, he says. A team responds to negative references and also thanks people who say nice things about the company.

But there’s more involved than just reputation buffing. “Social media also allows employees to share knowledge, managers and employees to communicate, and companies to learn from their customers and suppliers,” Johnson says.

Technology companies like Apple and Microsoft have used social media as a way to get customers to brainstorm and solve software problems, he notes.

“There’s really very little downside to having your employees use social media,” Johnson says, “unless you have a company with very bad employee morale.”

For those who prefer longer videos, I appeared with three of my colleagues from the Management Information Systems department of Temple U. Fox School of Business in a round-table discussion on Social Media on Temple U. TV.