MSVU Social Media Course Blog

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Skittles: Tasting the Rainbow of Social Media Tools

Since Managing the Gray has not been updated since May 5, I went back through some of the older posts and found a great example of a brand utilizing social media. In his March 3 podcast, C.C. Chapman speaks a little bit about the new Skittles website and what he thinks of it.

 If you haven’t seen it, it’s a very interesting site for those interested in social media. When you first enter it asks for your birth date. Once entering the site you’ll notice that it’s set-up directly from YouTube.  Apparently the site is to change to follow the social media tools talking about Skittles. When Chapman did his podcast in early March the site opened on a Twitter page. An article on Clickz: News and Expert Advice for the Digital Marketer says that the site will utilize Facebook, Wikipedia and Flickr as they have YouTube and Twitter.

 A quote from MARS (who owns Skittles) spokesman Ryan Bowling says,  “In this day and age, where the consumer is extremely influential, the content for our Web site is really based off consumer chatter and beliefs about our brand.” He goes on to say that by directing consumers to these social media sites, he is showing them what people are saying about the brand and not what the organization itself is saying about the candy.

 In Chapman’s podcast, he seems a little hard on the site. He questions why they would ask consumers to enter their date of birth and wonders whether or not this new format is a little to tech-savvy and confusing for most consumers.

In response to his critiques about age, the Clickz article states that he site requests users to input their dates of birth due to a company-wide policy. Bowling says “We don’t market to anyone under 12 years old. That age screener is to enforce that marketing code.” This makes sense as social media sites are often not censored.

 I also disagree with the notion that it would be confusing for most users. Skittles is utilizing the most popular and viewed sites on the Internet today. These sites are intentionally made to be straightforward so the general populace of Internet users will be able to navigate them. I would actually go so far as to say that this format is even helpful to consumers as the site is in a format already quite familiar to them.

 Thinking about this idea in relation to social media marketing as a whole I have some reservations. I think it works well for Skittles because it is a fairly new idea. If more brands were to do it I think it would lose its appeal. To me social media is all about coming up with the latest idea and using new technologies in an innovative way for your brand. Skittles has certainly done that. As Chapman says in his podcast, it’s about the buzz- and in the world of social media, there is certainly nothing wrong with creating some buzz.

 Please check out the site. I would love to hear your thoughts on it!

May 31, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | , , | Leave a comment

Hinson & Wright: Social Media Overtakes Porn

Okay, so this title is misleading. On the Institute for Public Relations website, an article published on March 13, 2009 is titled as such. So, reading it, you’d think you were about to head into a tirade of how Social Media has encompassed all corners of the public realm and pornography was simply just something that was bound to get noticed.

Curious as a kitten, (because who wouldn’t be curious how porn is being affected by Social Media?) I clicked on it to read. Save for the first paragraph that mentions that porn is being sent through the internet via social media, there is very little about pornography in this article. Instead, they speak of how non-traditional methods are being used for the average American to find information. Newspapers are a thing of the past and few people are turning on their local television stations (as we can see even here in Halifax as CTV struggles to make a slice of profit against bigger corporations and cable companies). Today, people seek their information on their own time, through the comfort of their computer screen.

In their research, they found that 93 per cent of people polled used social media (blogs or otherwise) in their workplace. I find it interesting that it is such as high number. The reason for my intrigue is because as a co-op student who completed three federal work terms, facebook and blogs were blasphemous. To even speak of it as a possibility in the workplace was to get a big red letter pasted to your forehead. So my quesiton is are more organizations being open to social media and the benefits it can provide, or do they even realize that their employees are skulking around on the internet using social media?

The article states that in terms of accuracy and credibility, traditional media methods get the highest score. What can we do as PR practitioners who have a desire to use social media in the workforce to create, maintain and promote credibility in social media when any Mr.Smith can put in his two cents worth?

May 31, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Second Life

Experiencing Second Life for the first time, but not virtual realities, has given me some reservations regarding using software and applications such as these for professional use. Second Life has been used for professionals meeting for quite some time now, and I had heard of it being quite useful in the past. However, applications such as IMVU have been used for non-professional applications for years as well. Being associated with programs such as these give me reservations as a future PR practitioner because A) it is impossible to use your real name, and need to have a pseudonym. Additionally, you are able to create characters that look nothing like your real life self.

Why does this matter? Well as PR practitioners, don’t we continually and strongly promote honest two-way communication? It seems that without the transparency of a one-on-one meeting, this application seems almost fake.

However, I feel that with certian guidelines or an understanding of these limitations, Second Life can be used to benefit PR practioners, and ultimately, organizations as a whole. Multi-nationals that have satellite offices who spend thousands of dollars on expensive plane tickets for meetings could utilize this program and save money in a hard-hit economy. As long as there are rules, and guidelines in place for using Second Life, I feel there is much potential for utilizing it in an organization.

May 31, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Eureka! My lightbulb moment

The required reading Social Networking Technology: Place and Identity in Mediated Communities really emphasized the overlap between on-line and off-line ‘communities,’ and the fact that the two are inextricably related. Honesty, before starting this course I viewed the two as completely different and separate worlds. This may sound like a very narrow minded way of looking at it, but I truly saw the on-line as merely a tool that I used to complete tasks relevant to my off-line, real life objectives and certainly not a ‘community’ that I was a part of. However, the qualitative analysis conducted on the exchanges between two, open access Myspace users made me reevaluate these sentiments. Specifically, Benedict Anderson’s original concept of ‘virtual togetherness’ is what made me realize that I am part of a ‘virtual community.’ Let me explain. I am a transfer student, studying away from my native province. I mainly utilize the SMS Facebook to stay connected with close friends and family back home. Despite our geographical distance, I absolutely feel a sense of belonging to these people, especially in relation to our pre established off-line relationship. They send me invites to events I am unable to attend and share photos of new happenings in their daily lives to keep us connected and maintain a ‘shared sense of togetherness’ as stated by Anderson. I now understand and support the hypothesis that new and unfolding forms of virtual communities are not stand alone or isolated from off-line communities. They are, as concluded in the reading, “delicately interwoven.” So, while I’m finally able to see the connection between on-line and off-line communities and reign in the abstract on-line, I still can’t help but wonder: 


Are SMS’s like Facebook a ”symbolic resource” for interpersonal communication, as the reading suggests, or evidence indicating that we’re reverting back to the traditional methods of communication?

May 31, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | , , , , | Leave a comment

Still like my real life

As the world becomes revolves more around technology, people are finding more way to communicate and also express themselves/be themselves. There are many different programs found on the Internet these days were people are given the opportunity to have an “online” life.

In Wednesday class, I was very interested in creating my own avatar, (changing my hair, clothes, body). I also enjoyed exploring the different worlds, flying and interacting with the class. However, like Bethany mentioned, my online world began to be uncomfortable when I started to meet other people. I was caught in the middle of a conversation with two other avatars (that I didn’t know) talking about a girl across the room. I started to wonder if they looked and acted the same way offline.

I am open to new ways of communication, and I do understand that technology is making it easier for people to meet for personal and for business reasons. But I also think that it is important that technology and personal interaction (face-to-face) need to work together. In the reading The electric self: doing virtual research or real in second life, by Julie Rak

 It describes Second life as a place “where it is possible to interview for a job in the offline world (but as your online persona)” Personally, I believe that interviews should be kept face-to-face to actually meet. Anyone can be whom that want on the internet. Sometimes when meeting face to face you learn more about a person. 

I leave you with this question. In a few years, will Second Life be “real life? Will personal/ face-to-face interaction matter anymore?

May 30, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | Leave a comment

Living (With) A Second Life

It is three days later and I’m still thinking about Second Life and trying to decide how I feel about using it socially and professionally. As I ponder the social ramifications of Web 2.0, I can relate to a few other comments that have been made.

When we finished our class experience on Second Life I sort of felt like I do when I sit down and watch a reality TV show. In a world where we all have so many REAL issues to contend with every day, there is obviously a societal cry for an escape from our own reality. So we’ve created TV shows where people are on display 24/7 and we are told that they are ‘real’ people living ‘real’ lives. Deep down I don’t think we have ever believed this, but yet, reality TV has not gone away. In fact, it’s become more popular.  Often we pretend not to enjoy it, or talk about how fake and unbelievable these shows are. But don’t we still watch them? Isn’t it sometimes easier to watch Jon & Kate Plus 8 and make up our minds about their lives, their insecurities, their relationships, their ‘reality’, instead of addressing our own?

So then I think about Second Life. We are creating avatars in a world where we know that we are always on display. We pretend that it gives us freedom to be anyone we want to be, but judgement prevails and stereotypes are often perpetuated.  

At the beginning of “The Electric Self: Doing Virtual Research For Real In Second Life”, Julie Rak cites an interesting quote:

In one way or another we all have this hope. The yearning to transcend, to reach up, to let go of our skins and find a new place without sorrow and loss. Virtual worlds have the capacity to promise that redemption, to entrance us, to make us forget ourselves until it’s too late.
—Tim Guest, Second Lives: A Journey Through Virtual Worlds (351)

I guess I feel the same as I do about Facebook, Twitter and other social mediums. Second Life can be a good tool when it is used to enhance and not escape reality. Second Life is innovative and promotes creative communication. But it also provides an opportunity for people to mask their real life issues and live within their very own virtual bubble. If we don’t understand how to live a first life as confident, intelligent and compassionate individuals who promote equality and acceptance, we certainly won’t get it right in a second life.

May 30, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | , , | 1 Comment

The now now now Generation

The blog I am following, Entitled, follows two women who are basically my age maneuver through their jobs as the new Generation Y employees.

They discuss the new challenges faced by both Baby Boomers and Generation Ye’ers to learn to work together.  Are people our age entering the work force there seems to be misconceptions about our drive and capability to figure anything out on our own.

People often call our generation the “now” generation, saying we always want something right this instant and get bored if we don’t get it right away. This is somewhat of a true statement because with technology we are able to get things right away. Waiting was no something we had to do a lot of growing up.

This said there are a lot of misconceptions about our generation in the work place stating we are spoon fed and lazy. I along with the Entitled bloggers do not feel this is true. There is a more work, life balance with our generation but this does not mean we are not able to handle working more than one project at a time or are slower at completing a project.

I am glad to be a Generation Y’er and see many benefits to being from a generation who works hard and believes they can find the answers to their questions right now.

May 29, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | 1 Comment

Are your grandparents on Facebook?

This week while monitoring IMR I came across a piece about seniors going online, Are you on Facebook? Seniors and new communication technologies ( The article features some interesting facts, like 46% of all seniors over the age of 65 are active internet users.


We always talk about the impact that the online world and social media will have on our generation, but what about the impact that it’s having on other generations? The video that accompanies this article takes the viewer inside an old age home where the residents are being introduced to different technologies. The seniors are embracing this new technology, rather than trying to hide from it which I thought was very cool.


The article goes on to talk about different forms of online technology (Facebook, MySpace, Online Communities, Avatars, etc.) but all from the point of view of a senior citizen. It’s an interesting perspective on social media from a totally new angle. It’s definitely an article worth checking out. 

May 29, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | 1 Comment

“Making a pitch? Try following rules for dating” the does and don’ts.

This week on my blog, I found a post that relates how to make a pitch and the rules about dating. The author keeps the tips short and humorous, but also interesting points which helps further and former media relation practitioners.

The following are the tips:

1. Call, baby: If you are going to pick up the phone and call, have something intelligent and interesting to say. Know a little about the person you are calling. With reporters, be ready to reference a recent article; with a potential date it is always helpful to be aware of the win-loss record of their favorite team. 

2. Do not make it all about you: Ask about what the reporter is writing (or what the date prospect is working on) … and better yet, what else they read. This will get you to interview (date) No. 2, rather than leaving you dead in the water after the first. 

3. Know when to walk away: Recognize the disingenuous Call me back later. Journalists, like some people you date, will sometimes lie in order to let you down easy. Get your lie-dar going and always be straightforward with journalists (dates). They appreciate it. 

4. Do not use any stupid pickup lines: Have a point. Say it. Enough said. 

5. Do not filibuster: We have all sat across from the guy/gal/not-sure-which talking on and on and on … and on. That is the last thing a journalist wants to hear on the other end of the phone or during the lunch he took the time to have with your client. Deliver your message. Illustrate it. Move on to the next one. Repeat. (Dates like that as well.)

6. Make that date already: Set up the interview, and get the heck off the phone. Never dillydally or think the strength of a relationship is measured by the how many minutes you spent on the phone. You both know why you are talking — in both cases.

7. Be considerate: Never — ever — call during deadline or when the date is in the shower. Or at 5 p.m. on Friday. Or in the middle of the night (date wise). Offer to have your client do the interview over the weekend if it helps the journo out. Be flexible with both parties!

8. Do not compromise integrity: If the story does not fit, or if you could never see yourself with this guy or gal for more than a couple of shoddy minutes, do not try to make it work. Walk away and look for the better fit now. 

9. Make a lasting impression: Position the client appropriately, and personalize your story angle. Talking about the CEO as the CEO is not going to get you anywhere. Use first names. With dates, use nicknames. 

10. Show intelligence: Nobody likes an idiot. I have said what everyone is thinking.


Personally, some of these points seem like common since, however I believe that it is important for all PR professionals to know the do and don’ts about making a pitch. I would just add one more tip though… Don’t be too needy. Being needy just turns people off in professional and personal encounters and makes them think “maybe this person isn’t so secure..

Can anyone else think of any tips to add???

May 28, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | Leave a comment

Moving religion closer to the masses

To keep up with the Internet boom, religions from around the world are moving their practices into the cyber-world.

In the Net Effects blog this week, Evgeny Morozov mentions Al-Sadiq Al-Othmani, a Moroccan expert of Islam living and has brought his work in the Islam religion to a broader audience in Brazil.   Morozov says that for many Islams living in Brazil it can take up to 12 hours to reach a mosque. Othmani saw an opportunity and put his sermon online he was able to reach thousands.

“To our surprise, the sermon got 800,000 hit in just one week,” said Othmani.  Morozov mentions Othmani has since established an online magazine introducing Latin Americans to Islam.

This article shows that it is not only the business world that is taking advantage of this new avenue of communication but religions are also using social media to connect with believers in today’s world.

After a little investigating, I discovered it is not only Islam using online resources, but I found everything from Christian Facebook groups, Buddhist blogs, Muslim Twitter lists and Jehovah witness web sites. It seems most religions are jumping on the online bandwagon.

Is this a good thing for religions? Can the same faith be felt in a virtual community vs a real life religious community?

Your thoughts?



May 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment