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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!

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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