Hey Facebook: the masses would appreciate some consistency.

29 Sep

While my title is very much the truth, the other truth is that we will ALL continue to use Facebook. No matter what crazy curves may be thrown our way. Until something more intriguing comes along that is.

In the meantime, brands are going to have to be more innovative than ever to convey their desired message. For example, since this first new wave of changes rolled out, only two of my “Like” pages has shown up on my news feed. Ironically, one was the Facebook page I contributed to during my internship this summer, Visit Detroit. The other being Pure Michigan. The Visit Detroit update seemed to only be because it was recent, but Pure Michigan’s post show up fairly regularly because of the high level of engagement on their page. Top stories continue to be a feature for brands if they are as successful as Pure Michigan, but not if brands are already struggling with their social media presence.

The ticker is a great tool for brands. When you hover over a story with your cursor, the post/photo/content, etc. becomes enlarged and click-able. When one of my friends “Likes” a page, it shows up in the ticker and allows the option to “Like” it yourself. The ticker also shows friends posts on “Like” pages, even if  I don’t personally “Like” it as well.  It’s biggest problem however is how rapidly it changes. There is some good brand content on there if you happen to catch it. Also, I hide the chat bar, and the chat bar also has the ticker on top making my ability to see that content limited to whenever I want to make the chat bar visible again.  The best option for brands is to continue to build a strong presence so that “Likes” increase and therefore a higher probability of friend engagement will show up on the ticker. How to do such a thing? Ask for it. Brands need to continue to use varied media-lots of pictures, links, videos- they all draw the most comments and likes. Asking questions and answers in comments or allowing consumers to post on the wall will undoubtedly draw more action to the page and in turn ticker.

Timeline runs the risk of information being buried. It also gives an opportunity for people with Facebook pages to give their brand recommendation and show loyalty over time. Only drink Coca-Cola and you have since you were 10? That will say more to Facebook friends than any Coke ad ever would. Timeline will force brands more than ever to make a positive impact not just on social media. New and established brands alike will be put to the test because of Timeline.

As for the next part of the assignment I’m thinking Starbucks. I think a “Starbucks Coffee Maker App” would be cool to see in Timeline. For instance, it would be an option on your profile (separate entity than the cooking app that Mark Z showed during his presentation, but to be used alongside of it) saying “I’m brewing _____________ today”. Loyal Starbucks consumers can highlight all of their different brews and in turn so can Starbucks. The app should also be able to highlight its competitors brews (i.e. Caribou, etc.) but the app itself has a Starbucks stamp on it. I would patent it so no other competitor could create a similar app, that way even if it isn’t Starbucks coffee being brewed, Starbucks would continue to be synonymous with coffee in general.

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Twitter and YouTube…don’t cha know?

22 Sep

My evaluation of Coca-Cola’s Twitter account is simple: literally all it is used for is responses. All posts I witnessed from today back to the beginning of the month started with “@” symbols. There is a link to Coca-Cola’s Twitter and Facebook Accounts on the actual page, but there hasn’t been content outside of replies in quite sometime. In my opinion, a more lowly type of minion has the responsibility of replying to what I’m assuming is anyone who reaches out to the brand via Twitter. I would make the argument the goal of the account is to make Coca-Cola seem like an approachable brand that values its customers. The controversy level is low, unless someone were to get snippy in an “@” reply. How do I believe Coca-Cola could improve upon Twitter? I think what the brand is choosing to do is consistent and therefore fairly smart. Coke has a lot of other avenues to go with different kinds of promotion, and it is interesting to see an entire social media extension of a company to have the one purpose of being on the same level as its consumers.

In regards to the video we watched on YouTube, I was floored by many people value it as a tool of total self-expressionism. YouTube is commonly thought of on a very superficial level but when taken into a deeper consideration, I completely see how it has changed how we interact as a species. On some level, it has made us less judgmental. While people may use YouTube as an outlet to laugh at others, more overwhelmingly it has now become a beacon for humans to realize we are all a little crazy-in the best way possible. Though the lack of face-to-face interaction I view as very much less than ideal, credit needs to be given where credit is due in that YouTube has irrevocably changed the face of human interaction. Good, bad and ugly.

YouTube has also made the entire web browsing experience more engaging than it ever was prior-it lifted it to its potential. We has human beings have poor attention spans (whether academics care to admit it or not, it holds true for them as well) and videos pique interest more than text or sound alone would dare dream to. We are visual creatures and the success of YouTube shows that, having every other web entity follow in its footsteps.

Live Tweeting

15 Sep

In our class last week, it was dare I say, fun to live tweet Obama’s speech as a class. I am not one to actively use my Twitter account, so it forced me to gain more experience (which is a good thing, not to worry!)

It was incredibly difficult however to both try and tweet a sufficient amount will listening and comprehending what Obama was explaining about his Act to Congress.  I hold a strong interest in politics and I really wanted to just process what the president was advocating internally and not have to try and post something witty about it for my followers to see. I do think it was a great exercise for me because as a PR major, I could certainly end up in a job doing exactly that (if not witty, then at least professional sounding).

The one thing I wasn’t a fan of was the political skew the tweets inevitably started taking on. I tried my best to keep my political views out of my tweets but I’m sure some of them were transparent. On the other hand, some of our classmates were saying things that I found downright offensive. Other classmates even felt the need to debate back and forth, which I think is healthy social media etiquette, if it is done in the right way. It did make me uncomfortable. I try to be as professional as possible, even if it is my personal account. I guess it all depends. Maybe it is something we could touch on in class one day-the line between good and bad (though I’m sure it is varied).

All in all, I loved being able to learn, be active and incorporate things I’m interested in all the while being in a classroom. I’m starting to get the hang of the iPad too. Which the jury is still out on if that is a good or a bad thing.

Remembering 9/11

15 Sep

I chose to analyze the 9/11 anniversary content on National Geographic for this part of our assignment. There is an entire page full of various multimedia centered around the subject.

I believe the overall goal of the coverage is simple: to spark internal contemplation about the event, your own experiences, to give respect to the victims and their families and to exude a sense of patriotism.

The site itself and all of its facets are simple to navigate. There is nothing too innovative or flashy about it, but I respect it for that. In my opinion, it is extremely user friendly and those from eight to 80 would have no problem accessing it-as something like this should be.

The photo gallery titled “9/11: 25 Indelible Pictures” is full of iconic and chilling images that tell virtually the complete story of the events of the fateful day. The social media response was great: 2,000 likes and about 250 tweets just of the gallery. I found myself in tears at the end of the slideshow and I was thinking about my own experience of that day as well as feeling for those who were directly impacted. Suffice it to say, I think just that

The second photo gallery on the website is a combination of photos of survivors, their stories and artifacts from the day. Some of the stories easily give chills and I appreciated the text on top of just photos. There were social media icons of Facebook, Twitter and a more button which housed about a hundred different social media sites. I approved of their approach in that sense.

The “Global Origins” portion of the website was fascinating and educational, but not at all social media friendly. Though it is incredibly somber material included in this particular portion, the option to share should still be there.

On the left side of the website, there was an opportunity for visitors to log into their personal Facebook accounts and “tell their 9/11 story” on National Geographic’s Remembering 9/11 Facebook site. I chose not to go through with posting my story however, because it wasn’t a page-it was an app. I personally would have done something much different, like having them log into their account and being on National Geographic’s own Facebook page.

There are also dozens of videos from everything to timeline of the day, to George W. Bush’s retrospective thoughts on the day to Jon Stewart commentating a video on the future memorial center. On the bottom of the page are links to even more stories about 9/11 including conspiracy theories, to the making of a liquid bomb, to articles about Osama Bin Laden. While I thought further articles were a good idea, I didn’t appreciate some of the articles they chose to highlight at the bottom. For example, the making of the bomb article could have shown itself not on the main page, but after clicking on an article from the main page and offering it as a suggestion. It was well done, but for whatever reason it didn’t sit well with me being on the front page.

Links to books and DVDs and Nat Geo TV schedules all about the subject were also readily available on the site.

I appreciated how they honored the victims and it did cause me to do a lot of introspective thinking.

 

 

Yeahhhh, Fire Up Chips!

2 Sep

First and foremost, my personal social media accounts were around 90  percent attuned to the game yesterday.Though I have several Facebook friends who do not attend Central, quite of few of them were even getting in on the Chippewa action.  Some of them were wishing us good fortune in the outcome of the game or my more negative Facebook friends making fun of the school all together…(I can’t believe I dated him for two years ;)) Needless to say, the game was a hot topic, and that was prior to me looking for outside sources.

There was a status on my news feed yesterday that said “8 a.m. class over? Time to get hammmmmmmmmmmmmmed! Fire Up CHIPS!” That particular status was only just the beginning. I feel as though every possible aspect of the game was debated and analyzed from what girls were going to wear, to where people were meeting up to tailgate to how the O-line was looking all leading up to the game. Of course, it wouldn’t be right if there wasn’t copious amounts of drinking talk as well.

While at tailgate, a smart phone was in many a hand, and many of those hands were being put to use to use social media to do everything from take pictures of the stadium to update friends on their whereabouts. I found it fascinating because I noticed more people use Facebook to interact with their friends in real time than actually texting or calling them. Maybe it was just a fluke or maybe it is because I just never noticed it before. Honestly though, I doubt it was a fluke. People love posting on Facebook and Twitter details about their lives to appear more interesting to their followers.

People were also discussing in real time the plays of the game and how the home team seemed to be holding up-it was cool to see such a sense of spirit and community.

From a business standpoint, when we were walking in, I noticed the screen in front of the event center was broadcasting several twitters, including the SAC’s and URec. http://twitter.com/#!/URecCMU

The game itself was covered by several CMU affiliated social media sites in real time including CMU Football’s official Twitter account, CM Life’s Twitter account and CMU Athletic’s Twitter account.

http://twitter.com/#!/CMUAthletics

http://twitter.com/#!/CMLIFE

http://twitter.com/#!/CMLifeSports

http://twitter.com/#!/CMU_Football

It was a bit crazy to me that they were all covering the game fairly in depth, but then again, CMU Football promotes the school in more ways than just sports. The more positive coverage in any fashion, the better.

The Morning Sun had its CMU Football beat writer host a live chat during the event at http://www.themorningsun.com/articles/2011/09/01/sports/doc4e5fc9519bb39994830966.txt and was promoted on its Twitter site at http://twitter.com/#!/MPMorningSun.

Channel 9 & 10 news were also covering the game with video: http://www.9and10news.com/Category/Story/?id=301684&cID=6 but it was not advertised on its Twitter account at http://twitter.com/#!/9and10news/, which I thought was kind of odd. It is relevant news to the area and Twitter is the social media site designed for constant and varied updates.

During the game itself I didn’t notice as much promotion for social media sites. I would argue that most of the promotion is done beforehand or for people who cannot actually attend the game in person. I think all of these social media outlets could have had a more varied coverage however. Most of them didn’t use pictures in their updates and almost none video. Varied content offers a better chance of engagement.

The biggest problem with reaching the stadium? Straight up, reaching drunk college kids. The nature of CMU’s team is not that of MSU of U of M. The best part of the game for most students  who attend is the heavy drinking, making them a tricky audience to reach.

Haven’t exactly reached prowess level yet.

1 Sep

Defining social media is quite the task, considering its constantly changing nature.

The most significant and fairly obvious aspect to social media is communication. The variety of ways to communicate within the social media realm are great. Good old text, photos and videos are the main forms of communication but how they are utilized to convey a message is where the breadth of diversity lies. Social media sites can be used for persuasion, information or entertainment. It is highly individualized and immediate.  Social media is also about dialogue, or to take it further, to create a sense of back and forth communication between several online entities.

Though social media is known as a forum for commentary for individuals and their followers, that is most often just the surface of social media’s purpose. I mentioned previously persuasion, information and entertainment. Businesses specifically use social media in all of these ways to promote their brand. For example, with persuasion a business could have specialty loyalty promotion only available to those social media users that “like” their page on Facebook. On the information front, general important facts can be seen on a Facebook page, without liking it for those who are looking for more information about the business. Several businesses have also created successful viral video campaigns which serve as entertainment value for a potential consumer as well a promotion of their brand.

As far as the next part of the post: “What’s your experience level? What social networks do you engage in already? Which do you not understand? What are you hoping to learn in this class?”

I am a PR major and therefore feel as though I need to be absolutely fluent in social media. I also feel as though I am lacking in this regard and quickly need to change it.

On a personal level, I have a Facebook, Twitter and Linked In account. I have a blog, but I had previously used it for strictly academic purposes. I would say that is pretty much it when it comes to my own online presence.

However, this summer at my public relations internship with the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau (DMCVB), I greatly contributed to the DMCVB’s social media goals. I was given access to both their Facebook and Twitter accounts directly and through Hoot Suite. This is an example of a post I did for their Facebook page:


I also encouraged conversation with comments that we previously did not always engage, which was also one of Fluency’s recommendations. I worked with a content calendar and was constantly looking for innovative things to include in the post for more feedback. The photos I uploaded on the page also had quite a few comments and “likes” (though I can’t claim I took them at all!)

These are general links to pages I contributed to this summer, but not all my specific posts- I don’t want to totally bore you!

https://www.facebook.com/VisitDetroit

http://twitter.com/#!/VisitDetroit

We got to work with a social media consultant out of Ann Arbor called Fluency Media. They would give us weekly reports on our social media avenues and I learned a ton of useful information about how to handle social media efforts in the future.

Twitter was one I didn’t get to spend as much time with as Facebook at my internship and I can’t even pretend that I know all that much about it as a whole-it is certainly a beast I’ve yet to understand. Linked In is something I just kind of stumble through and definitely don’t use to its fullest potential.

For starters, I want to have a better working knowledge of the social media sites I already am engaged in. The other things I’m hoping to gain from this class are more awareness and comprehension of the other major social media outlets. Another aspect I’m excited for is to examine business to consumer and business-to-business utilization of social media.

I think this class is going to give me a leg up in the job hunt after graduation and I’m pumped you are giving me such an opportunity! 🙂