Social Media: Week 11 & 12

When it comes to generating traffic, Facebook is usually the number one social media platform that a majority of brands utilize to get their messages across. This is understandable, given Facebook’s mass appeal and built in user base that reaches well into the tens of millions. However, Facebook is also one of the few social media forums that has capitalized on its global demographic in such a way where it can now charge businesses a certain amount of money. Such fees are in direct correlation to the number of users that the business would like to reach. Simply put, the way this number is calculated is based upon the number of users to which that business wants to appeal. Because of this calculation, certain companies have chosen to not utilize the network, or even have decided to leave Facebook altogether. This situation most recently occurred the last month when the online food delivery service, Eat24, decided to cut ties with Facebook.

In a rather amusing move, Eat24 publicly vented the company’s frustration with Facebook through a post appropriately titled, “A Breakup Letter to Facebook from Eat24,” where it disclosed various frustrations with the social media forum by stating,  “When we first met, you made us feel special. We’d tell you a super funny joke about Sriracha and you’d tell all our friends and then everyone would laugh together. But now? Now you want us to give you money if we want to talk to our friends. Now when we show you a photo of a taco wrapped with bacon, you’re all like “PROMOTE THIS POST! GET MORE FRIENDS!” instead of just liking us for who we are.” (http://blog.eat24hours.com)

Twitter is another popular social media network upon which companies heavily rely on to further broaden their appeal and reach. Twitter allows companies- through the means of rather restrictive context of posts under 140 characters- the ability to showcase more of its’ brands personality. This particular social media venue offers an immediate- through limited because of its 140 character limit- way of reaching actual and potential clients in real time.

Social media can prove to be the most effective platform for a company looking to build or improve its brand. However, there are a few basic concepts that should be taken into consideration when it comes to a company or organization looking to increase their brands visibility through a social media platform.

 Choosing the best profile picture in which best represent the company.

 Two different questions arise when companies must decide which profile picture best represents them: whether or not to use its brand’s logo as the default picture or instead choose a picture of a person or another figure that might best and more clearly embody what the business represents. If a business already has established a strong presence- where the brand or logo has already developed high recognition amongst the targeted companies with their intended demographic or customer base- then it would be highly advisable for the company to keep the brands logo as the default profile picture.

However, if the company and/or organization is relatively new and still in the early stages of developing its brand, then perhaps putting their respective logo as its profile picture, might not be the best choice. In such cases, the profile picture might want to be represented through a photo of a person. Studies suggest that users on social media are more inclined to interact directly with a company whose profile picture is of a person rather than a brand logo.

Posting an ever-changing series of photos of fans as well as celebrities enjoying the products is also very helpful in getting the word out. Doing so ensures that the product/brand will remain fresh and interesting. 

It is also important, once a profile picture has been decided upon, that the company keeps the same picture for every social media platform, for it effectively makes brand recognition easier for the user if the brand logo/photo remains the same. Companies’ sales and marketing departments’ goals are to reach the most possible number of potential customers by using all types of social media, and they know that by keeping their images consistent in the various venues help consumers more easily navigate them.  

 What Should be Included in a Companies Profile or Identity?

 Building a brand requires foresight into what, exactly, the brand is meant to represent and what ideals best capture a desirable image of the businesses. Clearly delineating their goals is the reason for the importance of mission statements, which is where businesses inform the public of not only what companies produce or why they exists but also describes the ethics and morals upon which the organization has built its foundation.

Social media has given companies a platform through which they can inform users their mission statement. This is a much more personal and direct form of contact with the public, demonstrating the way that the company chooses to present itself on social media.

 It is also through social media that companies showcase their brands’ “personality,” which can be seen in their posts, photos/video uploads, articles, etc. Social media is a medium that also allows a business to develop a much more intimate and direct relationship with the public. Perhaps more important, it also allows corporations to be able to see the public’s response to their product through user comments.  Such feedback, in turn, is beneficial to the company as now it can be more informed on how its product is received. Not only that, but it is also now privy to information as to where or what improvements should be made.

As far as to questions regarding what content companies should include in their social media profile, they should always incorporate information that showcase, in a few sentences, what product the business produces and why it is important for their company to produce this specific product. Examples of this are organic diapers made in the United States where part of the proceeds of every sale will go to the mothers of infants that do not have access to or funds needed to get clean diapers. The company profile should also include the goals and ethics of the company: American Apparel boasts of being a clothing company that manufactures and produces all of their merchandise in the United States, with a responsible work ethic where the employees of the company are valued and treated fairly when it comes to their wages and the way in which their employees are promoted. This portion of the companies profile and identity should be stated in the “About me” section of Facebook where such information should be stated in a few short sentences.

It is through a social media profile that companies are now are able to form an identity, one where they can become more humanized. However, just like anything else on the Internet, once something has been posted, it’s impossible to retract a post without it going undetected. Regarding that last statement, I cannot help but think about US Airways recent blunder in which the airline accidentally tweeted an image of a pornographic picture as a response to an angry customer. The tweet ended up becoming a top story in many of the news stations in which the public response was not so much shock and outrage, but more of a lapse in judgment in which many considered to be amusing and comical. Whether or not this “accidental” tweet was a ploy in marketing or an actual slip up still remains a mystery, but one thing cannot be denied, as a result, US airways become one of the leading stories of the day and the tweet proved to show a more human side of the company, one that makes mistakes.

 Visual Content: Images or no Images?

 If Twitter and Instagram have proven anything, it’s that users are now more interested in seeing pictures and short video clips than anything else right now. Photos, videos and visuals are in the process of replacing text messages.

Companies have begun to notice this change in user behavior and are increasingly relying more on uploading photos and videos as a new method of self-promotion. This shift in social media marketing and advertising are, according to recent analytical studies and surveys, apparently resonating the most with potential consumers.

As a result of this change in the styles of communications, when it comes to audience engagement, visual content is now at the forefront of where companies can maximize their exposure, becoming the easiest and quickest way for a business to promote its brand. By simply uploading a photo of the most recent product or uploading a quick video, users are able to see some behind-the-scene footage of a production, a certain product, or upcoming showcase.

Whereas a user can ignore a post by simply scrolling over the text; in contrast, an image cannot be so easily passed over. This is because a picture does not require any work on the user’s part, it simply is a flash of an image that, whether the user scrolls over it or not, tends to resonate in his or her memory. “Uploading photos is the most popular activity on Facebook. Therefore, it’s recommended that your business implement this popular trend as an element of your marketing strategy. Uploading photos to Facebook is one of the best ways to keep your friends interested in and aware of your business.” (www.business2community.com)

The social media network Instagram has, over the past two years or so, become at the forefront in terms of user popularity. People are starting to recognize how much time is spent when scrolling through Facebook, with a news feed that contains an overwhelming amount of content of posts, videos, status updates, photo albums containing fifty-plus photos. Instagram, on the other hand, does not require the same level of attention nor time from its users; it is simply a photo based social networking site, where a user tends to post only a few images throughout the day, as to not clog the news feed. A user can essentially scroll through the entire contents of one day’s worth of news feed in a few minutes, therefore making using Instagram much less time consuming and less overwhelming when compared to other networking sites.

The same concept also applies to Twitter since it, too, only allows users the ability to tweet updates that are limited to 140 characters, thus minimizing the clutter. When attempting to generate visibility for a company, Tweets do not necessarily have to always revolve around promotion. Instead it can be used as a platform in which to show the brands personality. Only tweet things you’d be interested in. Twitter isn’t an ad column so don’t bore your followers with constant sales pitches. Use discretion in your tweets and don’t tweet unto others, what you wouldn’t tweet unto yourself.” (http://www.business2community.com)

Social media has allowed corporations and organizations alike to have presence amongst the viral community, one that allows instant communication. The benefits of such daily interaction are what allow businesses the opportunity to increase their own visibility in hopes that it will generate more traffic. But, as with any business, social media does not guarantee success. It still requires daily attention and strategic planning in which it is just one aspect in which a company can use to help further attain its goals and grow its brand.

 Links

 http://blog.kissmetrics.com/successful-social-media-profile/

http://blog.eat24hours.com/breakup-letter-to-facebook-from-eat24/

http://www.business2community.com/social-media/businesses-can-optimize-social-media-profiles-0844522#!EYHmT

http://www.business2community.com/social-media/social-media-marketing-snapshot-social-platforms-using-business-0835907#9xhXfcBsZLXbrbfT.99

 

Week 10- Social media activity and the ways in can be measured

Social media has become an invaluable platform offering organizations and businesses the ability to reach users and potential consumers alike in a way that has never been done before. It is through social media that organizations can now establish a strong user base through the number of followers or “likes” in which users can become affiliated with a particular one, resulting in a level of personal interaction between the organization and the user. So while social media undoubtedly has made it significantly easier for organizations to interact with users on a daily basis, sometimes, however, having a strong following there or an impressive number of “likes” does not necessarily generate enough interest about the organization to actively participate.

In order for organizations to establish a successful presence in social media, it is first necessary to- as is the case with any business- establish a set of goals which they hope to attain through that particular medium. Accomplishing those goals successfully is another form of branding in the sense that organizations have to determine first what is the intended purpose for using social media: To engage user participation? Establish a faithful readership within the community? Use it as a way to promote product awareness? Or, is the goal simply to want users to share their content?

There are a variety of ways in which organizations can present their image based on whatever it is that has become their chosen objectives. Once this has been established, then other goals, or benchmarks, can be used to measure the growth or level of success. Often, success is declared when a certain amount of “likes” within a specific time frame are reached, giving the organization the necessary tools in planning for the future, based on that information.

Measuring the level of influence or effectiveness that an organization is striving for in their social media presence can be analyzed in two different ways. First, if the organization is analyzing their social media presences in terms of “Ongoing Analytics,” this entails measuring “activity over time.” Second, organizations that have a “Campaign-Focused Metrics,” have a definitive start-and-end date, a deadline in which a goal must be accomplished. In this latter case, social media is used as a way to campaign for a certain goal within an allotted amount of time. (https://blog.kissmetrics.com)

Social media can be compared to a twenty-four hour a day convenience store, at certain times throughout the day and night users can and do experience “rush hours” or surge of activity while at other times user activity is at its lowest. Knowing this, organizations test the markets by analyzing the statistics that show what times generate the highest amount of online traffic for their site, tracking to determine which of their posts garners the highest level of user interest.

There are also numerous other ways in which organizations can use outside resources to collect data: “Facebook Insights provides useful information about how many people are reading and interacting with each post. Google Analytics allows you track blog readership, or how many people are coming to your website from sites like Facebook or Twitter and where they’re going on your site. Bit.ly allows you to shorten and then easily track how many people clicked on a particular link, which is particularly useful for use with Twitter, or to create trackable links for different social media channels.” (http://www.idealware.org)  

While these tactics can provide organizations with a statistical number that computes their reach through their use of social media, sometimes that is not enough information for organizations to determine the actual level of influence or effectiveness that an organization has amongst social media. Within the context of social media when monitoring the level of interaction and participation that users have with an organization, various degrees of involvement can be measured. If an organization is interested in determining the range in which their message or posts are being shared, it can do so terms of “awareness,” but if an organization is more concerned with user “engagement” then this can be analyzed in terms of user participation such as retweets, comments, and other forms where users are actively responding to an organizations post. (https://blog.kissmetrics.com)

Organizations can also engage users through various marketing tactics. These can include creating a unique hashtag for use as a direct response or develop a relationship to the organization. Such interaction can help guide an organization when making changes as a direct response to user activity, comments, and other direct indicators that would suggest what is resonating the most within the user community and what factors are simply not working. So while social media can be an invaluable resource for a particular organization, it does not automatically guarantee success.

Links

 http://www.idealware.org/articles/measuring-your-social-media-success

 https://blog.kissmetrics.com/social-media-measurement/

Social Media Week 9

Facebook and Twitter have become the two most popular social media forums today, and, while these two websites share the same common denominator of allowing users to connect and exchange information, they differ greatly in terms of user experience and their function in modern society.

Social media has become one of the major resources for information sharing, one where users are able to connect with one another not only in a variety of ways, but also on a variety of platforms that are designed with specific intent to maximize the experience. Facebook is constantly redesigning the format and layout of their website, with the most recent renovation occurring in these last few months. Facebook’s latest “Facelift” has given the news feed section a more organized and clean look, where users’ posts appear almost always with a photo or a link to an article. The new design of Facebook’s news feed is now heavily focused on photos and articles, a move most likely influenced by the shift in users spending more time on Instagram, another social platform that is specifically designed for photo sharing. Facebook has recently purchased Instagram, demonstrating that the company recognizes that photos have become the new focal point in social media.

Perhaps the most noticeable difference in Facebook’s redesign is that this new layout tracks the user’s interests. For example, when a user clicks on an article that has appeared in the news feed, he or she is immediately offered three more options of similar articles, with comparable subject matters that might be of interest to the user. That is essentially the same concept as the online music station Pandora, where the website creates a music station that is primarily based on what the user had initially typed in as the artist and/or band they preferred to listen to.

There have been a lot of changes in Facebook, not only the way in which the platform is design, but also in its latest acquisitions. Recently, the social media forum has been on a spending spree, acquiring a diverse mix of social media sites (Instagram), mobile Apps (WhatsApp), and, most recently, the two billion dollar purchase of the virtual reality game, Oculus. Facebook’s recent purchases have left many disgruntled at the idea that it is becoming a tyrant in the internet world, speculating that it will only be a matter of time before the internet is run by only the top few, most successful and powerful, websites.“There is a significant risk that Facebook loses the loyalty and attention of the teen and millennial audience, as they move on to the next cool thing. It risks becoming a bit of a “social everyman” – OK at everything, but not best in specialized areas such as real-time news and access to celebrities (Twitter), location-based services (Foursquare, Yelp and Google Maps), photos (Instagram & Pinterest) and messaging (Snapchat, WhatsApp and WeChat).” (http://pando.com)

            Twitter, on the other hand, has more or less stayed within the realm of their original design and function. Very little has been altered on Twitter- its news feed remains just the same- whereas Facebook as taken it upon themselves to filter out all the excess clutter, resulting that the content in the news feed that once showed every single post or most recent action of all the users “friend” has now been swapped for a more clean and simple news feed that that only reveals the “top stories.” The basic difference between Facebook and Twitter is that not only users, but society and the media as well, view each platform as each having two very different and distinct functions.

Facebook is targeted more toward a user’s connection with other users that, outside of the social networking site, a relationship between them had already been established or had recently established. In contrast, Twitter users tend to follow or connect with other users that they may not necessarily know outside of the social media forum. This may be seen in how Twitter users prefer to follow celebrities or social figures, where interaction with them seems more intimate and authentic, (case in point, Alec Baldwin and his very public feud with American Airlines that was documented, in-depth, through a series of tweets). “Facebook belatedly introduced fan pages that you could ‘like’, but whereas updates from musicians and film stars on Facebook can sometimes seem a bit scripted and the work of the PR department, on Twitter, there’s a direct interaction between celebrities that intrigues users, as well as a chance that a fan’s comments or @replies might get read directly and ‘retweeted’ by the celebrity.” (http://pando.com) Given that, it makes sense as to why users would rather follow a celebrity or public figure on Twitter, especially when it seems as though celebrities are constantly having to publicly apologize for one of their Tweets.

When it comes to the issues of privacy, Facebook allows users the ability to control the level of privacy (and I mean that in the loosest of terms) of what the user is willing to share on the social media forum. Users have an option with Facebook where an individual can opt to be notified when they are tagged in a photo or post, thus allowing him or her the opportunity to either accept or reject the photo/post before it is given permission to be published in the news feed. Users on Facebook can also arrange their friends into different groups, dividing them up into various categories such as: friends, family, work, school, etc.). This further gives them control by selecting which groups can see the users’ complete profile and which groups are limited in what they are able to see of the users’ profile/photos/posts. Facebook offers users a platform in which to engage in longer discussions, ones that don’t have to unfold publicly, given the option of instant messaging.

Facebook has become a vehicle for users to document their personal lives, highlighting each momentous occasion and/or events, all neatly catalogued throughout the users’ timeline. The site has become as a personal scrapbook for users, one where the focus is on the past; Twitter users, though, are much more focused on the present, writing tweets to give up-to-the-second information about their views or thoughts at that precise moment, or circumstances and/or situation that is currently unfolding. Because of this immediacy, news outlets and journalist alike tend to refer to Twitter as a medium to report on a breaking story.

Twitter does not offer the same level of interaction when it comes to engaging in any type of in-depth dialogue. It is more a platform for immediate conversation, quick spurts of thoughts that must be limited to 140 characters. Twitter is severely constrained by the limitations that conversations become merely bullet points. While Twitter is immensely influential in allowing its users the ability to exchange information- often times invaluable information- it is not the proper format for users seeking or needing to engage in casual conversations.

Tweets can also be highly “attention grabbing,” since each word, given its limited space, is usually highly charged. By its restrictive nature, words and are selected based on which would be the most effective in communicating a point or thought. Twitter – with its short and concise messages and trimmed down or abbreviated words- has its own language, one where hashtags have become almost a form of dialogue in themselves by creating a link that users can click on and be directed to that particular hashtag’s page, or be used as just a fun way for users to express themselves.

I remember reading an article where the writer was discussing his views on social media and there was one particular statement in which stuck out. The writer stated something along the lines of how Facebook is a chore and Twitter is a hobby. I tend to agree with this. Facebook is constantly changing, forever introducing a revolving door of new features, increasingly a social media forum that filled with advertising, where every single behavior of the user is tracked and subsequently sold to potential companies. There’s also an overwhelming amount of articles, petitions, news stories, etc. that are constantly asking users to “like” it. And even though Facebook’s latest redesign has given the forum a much cleaner and more organized appearance, it still somehow maintains a certain sense of sensory overload.

            The allure of Twitter is its simplicity. Since Twitter first emerged back in 2006, the social networking site has remained authentic to its initial mission, which was to provide a platform in which users can post up to 140 characters. And there is a sense of comfort in the familiar.

 

 Links

 http://www.impactbnd.com/blog/the-difference-between-facebook-twitter-linkedin-google-youtube-pinterest

 http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/mar/25/facebook-buys-virtual-reality-gaming-firm-oculus

 http://www.diffen.com/difference/Facebook_vs_Twitter

 http://pando.com/2014/02/06/facebook-vs-twitter-who-wins-the-battle-for-our-social-attention/

 

 

 

Social Media Week 7 & 8

It goes without saying that social media, if used correctly, can propel a business into becoming a financial success. As a result, companies have begun to approach social media on a much more analytical level, one that relies on methods of decoding and data collection as a way to tap into what users are saying on public forums. “Merely being present on social media is no longer sufficient for some of the world’s largest corporations, who are turning to young technology ventures in India for help in decoding social chatter for business gain. These companies are using insights gained from conversations on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to shape entry strategies in new markets, address consumer grievances and communicate directly with target groups.” (http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com)

The approach of “decoding social chatter for business gain” is what allows companies the opportunity to “listen in” on current social media conversations; the method used for collecting data is a new tactic for companies to gather personal insight into the mind of the consumer. However, the manner in which companies are now able to collect information that is solely based on the activity of a user/potential consumer, is not only a form of eavesdropping but also could be considered a legal form of insider trading. “Companies are using conversations on social media platforms to shape entry strategies in new markets, address consumer grievances and communicate directly with target groups.” (http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com)

Companies are not only using analytical methods to forecast which direction would be most beneficial to the companies’ long-term goals, but they are also using social media to capitalize on the unplanned, spur of the moment situations as another way to interact with users on a much more day-to-day basis. Such was the case in the 2013 Super Bowl blackout. “Two big-name brands that have been in the news because of their in-the-moment social media posts are Oreo and Poland Springs. Oreo made delicious waves during the power outage that took place in New Orleans during Super Bowl XLVII when it posted one of its signature cookie images with the note, “You can still dunk in the dark.” (http://publiclibrariesonline.org)

Social media has not only given every user the opportunity to have a voice, but has done so for companies as well. Because of this, companies have managed to cultivate their own identity or personality as a way to showcase what their corporation represents. Zappos is just one of many companies that uses Twitter to engage with consumers on a daily basis, and, as a result, its presence on the social media forum has been quite successful and entertaining. When it comes to Zappos, “They encourage their employees to post on Twitter and then all of the streams are fed to the company website. The Twitter posts typically feature fun and witty facts about the brand and company. The CEO of the company really lets his personality show through on his Twitter account, and this helps achieve brand loyalty.” (http://tweakyourbiz.com)

Social media has given companies the available resources to build a presence in a user’s daily life, offering a much more personal level of interaction. Companies can now post questions for users to answer or directly ask what their favorite product is as well as feedback on which product needs improvement. This type of interaction, in turn, establishes a relationship between the company and the consumer, a feeling that the company values the opinions of the users. The result of such direct and personal interaction is that company now becomes humanized, thought of as an individual in which consumers can have direct contact with and the ability to exchange dialogue and thus, can help develop brand loyalty. “Graco manufactures and sells baby accessories, such as strollers and car seats. Their successful social media marketing campaign involves collecting pictures of customers using Graco products and then displaying them on their Flickr account to humanize the company.” (http://tweakyourbiz.com) Corporations needed a way to relate to the consumer, and through the means of a casual dialogue, developed a certain rapport between it and the user, is exactly what social media has allowed these companies to do.

Corporations have undoubtedly benefited immensely from social media; the same could be said of movements that have also used social media to establish a presence amongst the viral community, using it as a device to raise awareness of certain situations that could potentially spark enough interest to help further a cause or inspire a change.

However, while social media makes it easier for users to participate globally in a certain cause or movement, it still sometimes is not enough to generate the momentum needed to ensure its success. Malcolm Gladwell states that when it comes to activism, social media “makes it easier for activists to express themselves, and harder for that expression to have any impact.” (http://www.newyorker.com) While Gladwell is a bit bleak in his opinions regarding activism and its place in social media, I tend to agree with him to a certain extent. It’s a lot easier to disregard public opinion or stance on a certain matter when it is done through the Internet, given that a computer does not have the same impact and presence as a gathering of individuals marching alongside one another, whether in a protest or showing up at a political meeting.

As a user of social media, I follow movements that are important to me, one of them being animal rights, such as the petition to make it illegal to keep orca whales in captivity for the sole purpose of entertainment. This particular situation has captured the attention of many and, as it stands now, it seems as though efforts in changing the law to make keeping orca whales in captivity illegal seems to be gaining traction. However, it goes with out saying that while social media has helped further the cause, it was actually the documentary film Blackfish that became the catalyst for raising public awareness on the issue.

I also follow “Urgent Dogs of Miami,” which is a social media group that posts photographs of dogs that are “in the red,” canines whose times are up at the Miami-Dade Animal Shelter, and are now scheduled to be euthanized within 24-48 hours. The purpose of “Urgent Dogs of Miami” is to hopefully get enough “shares” that a rescue or potential adopter will come forward to pull the dogs before they are put to sleep. While it is heartbreaking to see the photos of these dogs, social media has greatly benefitted this particular movement to where now dogs are being given the exposure that they so greatly need during the most crucial of times.

Users that follow “Urgent Dogs of Miami,” tend to be official rescue groups and animal lovers alike. When a certain dog is “in the red” and is in dire need of medical treatment (broken leg, open wound, etc.), users tend to post comments, pledging to donate money toward the dog’s vet bills, hoping that their act of generosity would increase the dog’s chances of having a someone come forward and pledge much needed help. I work with several rescue groups in Miami, and last week I became aware of an elderly German Shepherd that was scheduled to be euthanized in a few hours. It was through social media that brought this particular dog to my attention, and luckily, we were able to pull the dog out of the shelter and a certain death just in time.

This particular dog garnered the attention of hundreds of users, and his photo had dozens and dozens of comments of users “pledging” to donate money to help cover the cost of his vet bill. Such “pledges” are not uncommon when it comes to “Urgent Dogs of Miami” and every dollar goes a long way towards rescuing a dog; in fact, it is the “pledges” that make these rescues possible.

In the case of Bruce, the elderly German Shepherd, there were over $500 in pledges -certainly a generous amount- but also immensely helpful as he was in need of immediate medical care. The vet gave an estimate of how much it would cost to treat Bruce, somewhere around $900. Based on that rough estimate, I set up a link through the fundraising site, youcaring.com, so that users who had pledged money toward Bruce’s medical bills could quickly and easily donate to the cost.

Once Bruce was safe at the vet’s and receiving the care he so urgently needed, I reached out to those users who had vowed to donate towards payment of his medical bills, giving them an update on his condition. I also posted a link to the dog’s donation page. I suspected that some of the users who pledged would not follow through with their donation, however, what I did not expect was that almost three fourths of those users would not follow through at all. The total donation for the dog ended up being $200, with my mother contributing half. It is through this particularly sad experience that I have come to the realization that relying on social media to further a cause requires constant attention. Social media makes it quite easy to get caught up in the momentum of a certain cause but once the goal is achieved, interest all but fizzles. I had reached out to those users who pledged to donate less than twenty-four hours after the dog had been pulled from the shelter. By then, “Urgent Dogs of Miami” had already featured twelve more dogs that were now “in the red.” And, along with the photos, were the “pledges.” I could not help but wonder how many came through on those.  

To me, seeing those, it seems as if users are on to the next rescue, quick to sign up their support without having to do the hard work required to assure the dogs’ wellbeing and safety. When it comes to social media, there is no obligation or requirement to follow through on one’s word and that can be problematic, especially for the “Urgent Dogs of Miami” who are in a life-or-death situation. 

 

Links

 http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2013-05-17/news/39336633_1_social-media-travel-insurance-media-analytics

 http://publiclibrariesonline.org/2013/03/social-media-being-in-the-moment/

 http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/10/04/101004fa_fact_gladwell#ixzz1akWd8rHP

 http://tweakyourbiz.com/marketing/2013/09/18/social-media-marketing-6-corporations/

Week 6 – Social Media and its place in Society

It is an indisputable fact that social media has for all time redefined the way in which society currently functions; it has become such an important aspect of it- so influential in different world cultures- that it has actually proven to have the power as well as the ability to change governments. A perfect example of that is how social media made played a crucial role in both the Egyptian and Libyan revolution.

Social Media is a forum that allows valuable information to be exchanged; users can now become aware and/or stay informed on certain situations that might otherwise never have been brought to light. Recently, the situation in Venezuela- social, political, economic- has deteriorated to the point that street demonstrations continue to erupt, with citizens protesting against the government and its policies causing the government to react through the use of excessive force, a reaction that quickly escalated into violence and police brutality.

What began as Venezuelan citizens peacefully protesting against the current government, fomenting unrest that quickly erupted into deadly riots, with twenty-two casualties and scores injured to date. Protestors used social media to plan their strategies. Unfortunately, there has been minimal, if barely any, media coverage on what is currently happening in that country, and that is largely due to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro control of what the media outlets there are allowed to report. The President has also shut down Venezuela’s access to the Internet, further preventing citizens or journalist from reporting on events or being able to exchange information. (http://www.miamiherald.com)

However, despite the lack of media coverage and obstacles presented by the Maduro government, the continuing political unrest and demonstrations in Venezuela are starting to create a certain momentum in raising global awareness, largely due to social media. Recently, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and YouTube videos are being uploaded and used as a way to inform the general public of Venezuela’s tumultuous situation. These videos and posts are continuously being reposted on a users’ page, and because of this, Venezuela is finally getting the type of coverage that the news and media reports have failed to do.

Social media has essentially become a new form of public service announcement, raising awareness to certain situations that, were it not for its existence, would have never had the ability to have such global reach. Because of its ever increasing influence, social media has, in many ways, become also a new form of social activism, one where users are able to, with a quick click of their mouse, sign a petition that could potentially garner enough attention to influence change or bring awareness to a cause and/or law.

And while this form of social activism can benefit a society, in some cases, clicking a mouse is simply not enough for change to occur. The problem now arises when social media is starting to transform a majority of the public into “say-ers” and not “do-ers,” the latter referring to the lack of follow through. When referring to the influence of social media as regards its power in political situations, “Emily Parker, a former Wall Street Journal editorial staffer and State Department staffer states: “Social media alone will not light that spark. What the Internet does create is a new kind of citizen: networked, unafraid, and ready for action.” Wall Street Journal, Monday, March 10/2014. 

            The amount of information that has become so readily and quickly available through social media can be just as detrimental as it is valuable as regards the fine line regarding the authenticity of the information being shared and whether or not it is in fact, valid. The dangers of this can potentially create a certain “virtual” mob mentality amongst its users even before all the information has been proven to be accurate. “Social media can be used to communicate misinformation as readily as it can be used to convey reliable information. For example, “A Gay Girl in Damascus” (Amina Arrat) was one of the more popular Syrian bloggers in the beginning of the uprising, blogging about revolution, sexuality, and repression in Syria. The story fell apart, however, after “Amina” was revealed to be Tom McMaster, a masters student who resided in Scotland. The unmasking of “Amina” as a straight man from Scotland reminded us all how easy it can be to spread lies and use a false identity in cyberspace. It also no doubt undermined the real Syrian activist blogosphere and its receptive audience.” (http://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/cgi/viewcontent)

            The posting of personal opinions no longer require an identity given that individuals can virtually posts anything under a false or fake account with the risks associated with doing so all but eliminated. Social media allows every one the opportunity to have a voice- but not a correct name or face- resulting that sometimes these “voices” are working to push an idea or ideal rather than merely a form of expressing one’s own opinion without the price of accountability. Although doing so can result in irreparable damage to the reputation to an individual, business or corporation, there are almost no repercussions for having done so.

However, while social media has essentially given everyone a “voice,” the issue of user privacy continues to be a source of controversy. This is a highly charged issue, given the rate in which technology and information is evolving and progressing on a day-to-day basis, will only further blur the lines of privacy (NSA, anyone?).

Society is becoming more and more transparent and this transition into transparency is largely due as the result of the power and influence of social media. However, social media has not only affected the level of privacy of its users, but it has also affected the way in which politics now function. “We’re looking at how new journalism practices such as WikiLeaks are changing political information systems like Diplomacy – as well as forcing mainstream media to meet people’s expectations of transparency.” (http://blogs.lse.ac.uk)

And while social media has become so engrained in our culture, especially in the way in which society now functions, it is not solely responsible for the changes in which society has undergone, but has merely has contributed to it. There is a certain responsibility that comes with using social media and if it is used properly and authentically, it has the potential to greatly change society for the better. “These may not be revolutions. Social Media does not guarantee positive outcomes. But in the longer term I think that with good research and critical thinking we can use it to contribute to creating a better society.” (http://blogs.lse.ac.uk)

 

Links

 http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/02/21/3952191/in-venezuela-its-the-president.html

 http://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1667&context=iclr&sei-redir=1&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Furl%3Fsa%3Dt%26rct%3Dj%26q%3Dwhat%2520changes%2520on%2520the%2520social%2520media%2520horizon%2520threaten%2520to%2520make%2520social%2520problems%26source%3Dweb%26cd%3D4%26ved%3D0CDkQFjAD%26url%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Flawdigitalcommons.bc.edu%252Fcgi%252Fviewcontent.cgi%253Farticle%253D1667%2526context%253Diclr%26ei%3DRj4aU7K2KY220AGp34HAAg%26usg%3DAFQjCNFcY5gJyftFKrtUzJKYxRbOwSrDNA%26bvm%3Dbv.62578216%2Cd.dmQ#search=%22what%20changes%20social%20media%20horizon%20threaten%20make%20social%20problems%22

http://forumblog.org/2013/11/qa-what-are-the-effects-of-content-on-social-media/

 http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/polis/2011/03/15/can-social-media-create-a-better-society/

 

Week 5 – Social Media and Relationships

Social media can be both good and bad for personal relationships, depending on when, where and how and why it is used, depending as well on the nature of the relationship between user and recipient. Social media can be very positive when it allows individuals to connect and/or reconnect with one another, resulting in a relationship that flourishes, but it can also be equally detrimental when it causes a personal relationship to sour. There are no secrets anymore- pretty much anything can and will be found about anyone on the internet, knowledge that will eventually appear on social media.

          However, social media is solely not to blame if a user- one that is already suspicious of his or hers’ partner’s actions as regards fidelity or truthfulness or honesty- uses it to check on his or her activities. Or, vice versa, when a user utilizes social media to betray one’s partner by conducting affairs through it and is discovered to have done so, the consequences can be shattering. The easy access to any/all types of interaction with other users that social media offers can be both negative and positive.  It’s interesting that user indiscretion has not gone unnoticed in social media; in fact, indiscretion and infidelity have found a place in the social media world. Companies such as “Ashley Madison” cater to users that are solely looking to have an affair with an understood “no strings attached” policy.

            So, while social media can connect users with similar tastes, allowing them to exchange thoughts and ideas, it also has the ability to divide them as well. Relationships that were once nurtured through personal and physical interactions no longer require the same level of “work” to maintain them since the work is, essentially, done through the platform of social media. Such online interactions can also build a false sense of a social life and intimacy as users are continuously exposed to updates and photos of other users’ personal lives, one that outside of the social media confines, they actually has no part of.

The more prominent social media becomes, the more individuals can lose their social skills as a result. It is now not necessary to leave one’s home to have a social life- one can create one on Facebook. And, even if one does leave one’s home to meet friends in a social setting (a bar; a restaurant), when such a group gets together, most often they are not interacting with each other; they are busy checking social media on their phones.

Social media has developed into a society onto itself and, as is the case with any society, has created its own language and social structure. It is also starting to influence a new style of writing -one that is much more blunt and almost incomprehensible- given that Twitter, Facebook, and other countless similar social forums typically tend to allow a maximum number of words. And such forms of communication are not only restricted in characters but are also very impulse driven- users type what is taking place at that moment in time and are not crafting well thought out ideas, feelings and thoughts.   Writing is no longer something that is thought provoking, contemplative, and time consuming, but rather a quick two-sentence burst of a personal thought and observation that carries no reasoning behind it; not only is this abrupt and truncated style affecting the writer, but the reader as well.

The allure of Twitter and Facebook updates is that users have a vehicle to express what they feel in that moment. The problem with relying on those methods as a device to connect with others risks that people can potentially become conditioned to only think in short and concise spurts. These abbreviated forms of expressing one’s own instant reaction to events are not conducive for deep thinking. The constant use of such brief, unique ways of communication- through the limited use of proper words to express what an individual is thinking, feeling or witnessing- is very restrictive. After posting short, immediate descriptive bursts of what has transpired, the user quickly moves on to something else when he or she wants to update his or her followers with another post that has nothing to do with the previous entry.

The reality is that once those thoughts are posted and/or sent out into the universe, they can never be retracted. Positive or negative thoughts are displayed that are there for all eternity, for all to see. Consequences of writing such thoughts, ideas that come to the writer on the spur of the moment- in anger; while under the influence; in a rush; thoughtless comments- can be devastating. No amount of wishful thinking will make them go away. (A perfect example of that which was widely reported in the media was the situation in Miami when a student posted a comment on Facebook giving details of her family’s confidential settlement following a lawsuit, an indiscretion that cost them $80,000.)  Lately, it has become known that such diverse entities such as human resources departments of companies and/or corporations and college admissions officers have used social media to research the backgrounds of applicants. Important, life altering decisions have been made based on their findings. 

It’s true that Facebook, Twitter, etc., are in some ways, a form of conversation, but it comes at the expense of social interaction. There are benefits to being able to have viral conversations that, without technology and its global reach, would never have taken place. However studies have shown that children are spending hours in front of a computer instead of interacting with one another. Nowadays, in a majority of public places- airplanes or in restaurants- children (even toddlers) and/or a young adults are continuously distracted by some sort of technology- playing with their iPhones, watching movies on their iPads, texting, etc., They are blissfully unconcerned with all that is going on around them, and, sadly, their parents approve as it is easier to keep them entertained by electronic devises rather than social interactions. 

In this ADD world, attention spans will eventually become shorter than they are now and I wouldn’t be surprised if in the long run, the lead cover stories in articles in such periodicals such as Time Magazine or the Wall Street Journal will only be a few paragraphs long, if that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 4- Economics of Social Media

Social media’s primary purpose is to offer users ways to connect on a global scale. Additionally, it places at its users’ disposal a forum in which to share information with one another.  Given social media’s massive global reach, it has become an exceedingly profitable venue for companies to use not only for advertising and marketing purposes but also as a potentially lucrative investment.

When it comes to the economic side of social networking sites, the formula is quite simple: the more users a social networking site has, the more potential for profit both the site and the companies that advertise with it. This essentially makes the relationship between social media networks and companies a very symbiotic one, since each would benefit from having a relationship with one another.

A majority of social media users already have multiple accounts with different social networks, making it increasing difficult for new networks to appeal to users since they have already other long established accounts. The social media landscape continues to change on a daily basis –a result of the ever growing launch of new social websites and applications that further challenges those interested in developing a successful –in terms of number of users and the potential for profitability –fresh social networking sites. Given the inherent competitive market place already established within the social media realm, barriers to entry into that world become even more daunting.

It seems as though that in order for new social networking sites to garner a strong user base, such a site must have a certain concept and/or focus that the other social networking sites do not have, one that targets a specific demographic or function.  An example of this is Yelp, a site uniquely dedicated to the food and restaurant business where users can comment on or recommend certain places.

The start up costs associated with the developing of a social networking site requires a certain amount of financial backing, one where a majority of the funds are most likely provided by the developer. However, in some cases –such as Twitter –financial backing was provided by venture capitalists, or “a person or organization that invests money into new businesses in the hopes that the business will succeed and return a profit to the investors,” (http://computer.howstuffworks.com/internet/social-networking/information/start-social-networking-site2.htm). But Twitter seems to be the exception as it is rare for venture capitalists to invest in a start up for a new social networking site. While advertisements can be substantial in boosting profitability for a social networking site, it is not the only way for such site to garner revenue. Some social networking sites sell their users’ personal and professional information and connections to certain companies, while others, such as Facebook, have recently issued an IPO.

Social media has effectively changed how business models are now devised. “Social networks operate under an autonomous business model, in which a social network’s members serve dual roles as both the suppliers and the consumers of content. This is in contrast to a traditional business model, where the suppliers and consumers are distinct agents.” (http://howtostartasocialnetwork.com/2008/05/05/how-to-start-a-social-networking-website-part-2-business-models-and-revenue-streams/)

It has been during the past few years, that users have been starting to navigate social media through their mobile devices, a behavior that has allowed companies to shift into new a territory: viral marketing. “Already, one of every four minutes online is spent using social media, and advocates see lots of room for growth. Usage of social media on mobile devices is expected to continue to surge. Social is spreading internationally. In addition, enterprises are increasingly adopting social networks internally for collaboration and externally for marketing and sales. Jim Farley, chief marketing officer at Ford, said, “We want to take that stupid little box we were forced into as advertisers, blow it up, and change the way we interact with the customer.” (http://www.forbes.com/sites/hardeepwalia/2013/11/18/how-to-profit-from-social-networking-stocks/)

This transition into mobile advertising has given companies a new forum in how potential consumers are now being marketed to, one that also comes at a cheaper cost. “In addition, social usage is clearly moving to mobile devices, but social companies are finding it hard to charge as much for ads on mobile devices as they can for desktop ads.” (http://www.forbes.com/sites/hardeepwalia/2013/11/18/how-to-profit-from-social-networking-stocks/)

When it involves social media, no specific demographic is targeted when it comes to the marketing for a specific consumer. This is because, at any moment, a user can potentially be exposed to a product through his or her personal social network. It has been reported that Kim Kardashian, who has millions of followers, gets paid upwards of $10,000 for her to tweet about a specific product or merchandise. Companies not only rely on celebrities such as Ms. Kardashian to tweet about a specific product, but they also rely on users as well to publicize their company with offers stating that if a user “repost” their product, they become eligible to win whatever giveaway or free merchandise that the company has promised. This is the same basic strategy followed by individuals when they participate in the lottery, but with more incentive given that a “repost” is done at no cost to the user. Further adding to the appeal, this form of marketing requires only a second of a user’s time to repost such an image or giveaway on their personal page. To the company seeking publicity, reposting is the ultimate form of free advertisement since the user’s followers, seeing such an enticing offer, might be more inclined repost on its behalf. The result of this reposting is invaluable in terms of exposure, given the potential for breaking into new markets.

 

 Links

http://www.forbes.com/sites/hardeepwalia/2013/11/18/how-to-profit-from-social-networking-stocks/

 http://technorati.com/business/article/how-social-media-saved-the-economy/

 http://computer.howstuffworks.com/internet/social-networking/information/start-social-networking-site2.htm

 http://howtostartasocialnetwork.com/2008/05/05/how-to-start-a-social-networking-website-part-2-business-models-and-revenue-streams/