MSVU Social Media Course Blog

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We only have a six month life span…

This week on Community Marketing Blog, things havent changed much. The first story hasn’t been updated in over a two weeks. Where are the blog-off contestants to keep the page current? Needless to say, there is no mention of the blog-off contest on the blog. After exploring the blog a bit more, I found that other stories on the feed were more recent however having an out-dated feed as the first story throws off the reader.

One of the recent post however caught my eye. The Wild World of Blogs was posted on May 29, 2009. Throughout this article, the author discusses blogs and their lifespan. According to Rich Brogan, a blog has a lifespan of six months. This got me thinking, why do blogs only last six months? Due to the nature social media, we know that every day new technologies are being created making the virtual world very complex. This can sometimes make it difficult to keep up with blogs. If you think about it, blogs are expecting us to automatically fall in love with a blog and stay connected. Unfortunately, we are only human and sometimes its difficult to update blogs daily. Bloggers need to be thinking creatively and have deep thoughts. Are we asking for too much?

I thought this article was relevant since we are using a blog for this course.

That’s all for now,


June 1, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | , , | Leave a comment

You Tube, Obama and Paris Hilton

While monitoring my blog this week I  came across a piece about the effect that You Tube had on the most recent presidential election ( The fact that You Tube was even involved in the debate demonstrates what a powerful tool it is in our world today.

The article made me think of a project that I did on politics and crisis communication last term, and how sites like You Tube are changing the dynamic for almost everything in the world of politics. For the project we examined the political sparring between Obama and McCain and focused on the McCain advertisement that compared Obama to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.

As a response to this ad, Paris Hilton created her own mock election advertisement which was distributed on the internet and had countless hits on You Tube. This made me think; if Paris Hilton is able to have her voice heard when it comes to a topic that she has nothing to do with, like the presidential election, does this demonstrate that anyone can have their voice heard in this new age of technology?

This could be seen as both a positive and negative thing. Is it bad that just anyone can put their opinions out there and gain followers? Or is this a whole new platform for free speech?

June 1, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | | Leave a comment

Shel Holtz on Social Media Campaigns

In a recent blog post by Shel Holtz called Organic Social Media vs Marketing Campaigns, he outlines what successful campaigns should and should not have.

I found it interesting after reading a some posts critical of social media, specifically that social media isn’t conducive to campaigns. The idea that social tools should be integrated into business rather than marketing is an ideal I would like to subscribe to. In the interest of authenticity I think I would like to see an institution become more social rather than marketing to me via social media forums. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some social media campaigns (when they are done well)  but I would much rather see a company attempt to become the complete circle that our guest Ben showed us. Of course that is only an ideal.

What I’m learning now is that there are people who are online to simply uphold the reputation of their company and help people with issues or provide information, basically to make sure people are talking trash. This is transparent but not wholly authentic. At first it feels nice but something about it  feels unnatural, like the person who walks into your conversation laughing along with you but you don’t really know who they are.  

Ugh, I digress.

I’ll get back to Shel’s tips on effective social media campaigns. What makes Shel  an authority on what makes good social media campaigns? Well because he is the ‘division coordinator for the social media category of IABC’s international Gold Quill Awards.’

The most important factor Shel sites for a successful campaign is to ‘tap into a community with a call to action the someone would actually want to do.”  

Here are the other points Shel made.

  • Give people in existing communities something they’ll actually want to talk about
  • Provide a call to action that will be of genuine interest to those you’re trying to engage
  • Make it easy for people to share what you give them
  • Invite your employees who are engaged organically talk about the campaign
  • Listen to what people say about the campaign and make mid-course corrections
  • Be authentic. Yes, it’s a campaign, but it’s also interaction between your company and individual customer.
  • Hope this helps everyone planning their campaigns and strategies!



    June 1, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

    Don’t let the applications get the best of you

    I was surprised to notice the subject matter of recent posts on the Buzz Bin, as it relates directly to my previous post about participation in online activism and the question of whether or not social media can really create an impact. In the most recent post on the Buzz Bin, Livingston discusses the Causes application on Facebook and puts a new spin on the old phrase “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. The main point of his post is that it’s the people behind social media that drive it, not the tools themselves. Along with that is the idea of quality over quantity. While Facebook Causes may recruit large numbers of passive, Livingston maintains that small amounts of active participants are the ones that will in the end make a difference.

    Livingston actually used his birthday as a way to raise funds for the Clean Energy Coalition with a goal of raising at least $500 for the cause. On the eve of his birthday he raised $452, which increased the amount of donations by 50% in only two weeks. Way to go Geoff! He goes on to make the point that had more people done the same thing, even more money would be made which would substantially impact the organization. Livingston concludes his post with a great comment “Social media that involves commitments works best when people drive the initiatives as opposed to software programs”.

    It’s very interesting to think about how we as a society may feel like we have lost control, when really; a single person can drive social media and really make a difference. An example of this could be media queen Perez Hilton. He frequently posts “worthwhile cause” posts, which help to promote certain charities and efforts. Imagine how much money he could raise for these efforts if he set fundraising goals like the one Livingston did. This just goes to show the importance of never forgetting about the initiative behind the cause, and not just the tool we see and use frequently.

    June 1, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | 1 Comment

    First Life versus Second Life

    It seems that the general concensus about second life is that people prefer their first life.  I have to question whether this is because it’s a new world and sometimes we’re hesitant to “new” or if it’s because they genuinely value face-to-face communication.  Personally, I can see how Second Life could become so addicting it actually because your First Life.  I spent so much time worrying about whether the tint of my skin was right or the tilt of my eye that I completely lost myself in the “game” for lack of a better word.  I wanted to shop, I wanted to sit in front of night clubs and make money for it, I wanted to meet on the beach and grab a tan while we discussed how we were going to help the MSVU Grad program through social media.  And then I realized that I wasn’t real.  It was a very strange sort of epiphany. It made me realize that just as my world can sometimes revolve around facebook, my world could very easily begin to revolve around Second Life and how well my avatar is living.  And I don’t necessarily thing that’s a bad thing, to a certain extent of course.

    I have friends who are really huge World of Warcraft players.  Quite literally their worlds revolve around. She is a registered nurse who worked at the QEII, he was in school to become an actuary.  They were married, living in Clayton Park West, had a great car and thriving.  She called out of work and no long has a job, he failed 8 out of 10 classes and they spent their entire day and night on WoW.  It sounds made up but I swear to you, it’s 100% real.  They spent so much time living in the virtual world, worrying about their avatars’ world that they forgot to worry about the real world and how their own life was going.

    But then I started to think about it from an organizational point of view.  I’m preparing to help launch a new pyromusical competition in the USA and as I thought about what Second Life could do for us I started to get excited. I don’t know a lot about the logistics of it yet but I’m fairly certain it’s possible to open your own business. And I’m fairly certain that I would be able to reach an entirely different audience on Second Life that I may never have been able to tap into other wise, people like my friends who rarely leave their computer rooms let alone have the ambition to venture out and experience the real world. If I  could hook them on the idea of pyromusical fireworks via Second Life, how could they refuse the real thing?  That’s if I can figure the game out long enough to actually succeed though.

    I guess all in all I’m on the fence. I absolutely see the addiction, both for personal reasons and professional.  But I have not only imagined the draw backs but seen them. Ultimately I suppose the old addage is correct, “everything in moderation.”

    June 1, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

    Teen Second Life

    Given that everyone had such strong opinions on Second Life, I decided to do a bit of research on it and discovered that there is also a Teen Second Life (TSL).  It’s basically the same idea as the original, but targeted towards 13 to 17 year olds.


    Many people posted blogs saying that they were a bit uncomfortable with different aspects of the Second Life world. I originally thought that introducing this to the adolescent world create a whole new set of issues and concerns.


    However, as I learned more about TSL I discovered some articles listing some positive aspects of the program. One of the more in depth articles can be found here –


    The article is written by a school librarian and talks about how her and other educators have ‘taken up shop,’ on TSL and really shows what a huge phenomenon this virtual world really is.

    June 1, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | | Leave a comment

    Finding Middle Ground

    This week on the Hobson and Holtz report our friends Neville and Shel addressed the age old issue of attorneys versus communicators.  It always seemed to me that this hate we have on for attorneys just plays into the cliche of the rest of the world hating them as well. But after tuning into the podcast it started me thinking what a conundrum it must actually be to be sitting in a room with a CEO, a team of lawyers and you trying to tell everyone to fess up when they mess up.   I always tried to have an empathetic point of view when we had discussions about the evils of lawyers.  I mean, it’s their job to make sure the company isn’t screwing itself legally by saying “I’m sorry you felt that way”  while it’s our job to make everyone understand that there are much further reaching organizational image implications beyond the verdict of a trial.

    I guess their podcast really got me thinking.  And I’ve come to the conclusion that everyone needs to learn how to compromise.  We always think we’re right. They always think they’re right.  The reality is the that “right” is probably somewhere in the middle.  Yes, we understand the importance of taking responsiblity when things don’t got as smoothly as planned.  This was clearly illustrated when Exxon wasn’t upfront about their oil spill years ago. To this day my mother, and I’m sure countless others, won’t buy gas from any station that is associated with Exxon.  However, the lawyers probably have a point when they say “If you apologize because someone got their feelings hurt, you’re going to look guilty and pay out millions.”

    Now really, I don’t personally have any experience in attorney/communicator debates, but it’s something to think about.

    June 1, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

    Second Life, Last Choice

    In one of my Introduction to Public Relations classes, we had a brief introduction to Second Life. Our professor seemed pretty into it and from that brief introduction I could see that it had potential to be a great social tool if not a professional one. The video she showed us lauded it as a great business tool and the way to communicate for the future. At the time (only two years ago) it seemed so futuristic and beyond anything I might do in my PR career. I don’t feel that way anymore.

     After getting to try it out for myself in class this past week I have formed some new opinions on this unique social media tool. I feel like Second Life isn’t quite “there” yet in terms of being a great business tool. Perhaps I merely need more experience with it or something. However, upon first inspection, I don’t think I would enjoy or feel very professional meeting with people through this portal. Especially since there are other technologies today that could substitute using Second Life. For example, video conferencing and Skype are better alternatives. With such alternatives one can better put a name to a face and the meeting becomes more personable though the group may physically be miles apart.

    Growing up with two brothers I was exposed to many video games. My least favourite of these were role-playing games. Starting out in Second Life I was immediately turned off because it felt like just another RPG to me. I can see this being great for someone who is into those kinds of games, but I could not get into it. I do understand that there are benefits of Second Life for PR professionals. If my job called for this type of communication I’m glad that I’ll be able to have a background in it, but it definitely would not be my first choice.

    June 1, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | , | Leave a comment

    “Laptops make a good school better, but they don’t make a bad school good.”

    asus-eee-pc-901Since I started following, I’ve really had to work to expand my ICT vocabulary. Geez louise, techies really do speak in a whole other language. This week, the “collective site for news and commentary” focuses on the Asus EEE PC and its many benefits to grade school children in the United States. Within the post, Papyrus founder Mark Warschauer links to a primary research report he wrote for One Laptop Per Child News (OLPCN). The report details a case study in which all grade four students at a particular U.S school were each given the Asus EEE PC 901 to use during classroom hours. Over 150 interviews were conducted with students and teachers and more than 650 hours were spent observing classroom behavior with these notebooks. In a nut shell, Warschauer boils the finding down toLaptops make a good school better, but they don’t make a bad school good.” Ultimately, the study concluded that the notebooks enhance a good school by “facilitating more and higher quality writing, allowing the practice and development of 21st century learning skills, encouraging high student motivation and engagement, and assisting effective integration of technology in teaching and learning.” Conversely, it does not fix a bad school in the sense that time wasted surfing the net is time lost learning. Overall, I found the report interesting and was impressed with the positive commentary Warschauer and the OLPC project received.

    Surprising however, was one comment that suggested that these notebooks are not conducive to the educational system in India. At first, I viewed these economical little notebooks as a solution to helping the developing nations advance their ICT skills. Yet, Atanu Dey believes that the notebooks are simply too expensive considering some schools in India do not even have blackboards. He believes it comes down to “sequence” and that the notebooks must be put on hold for now. While I can’t help but accept the harsh reality of educational funding in India, I do not believe that waiting is the answer. At the rapid rate new technologies are being invented and adapted, the children of India are sure to be left behind the times and the technologies that fuel the economy of their generation.

    Have a read! What do you think?

    June 1, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | , , , , | Leave a comment

    Why have a Second Life?

    Upon exploring Second Life in class on Wednesday, it felt most of my time was spent learning to use the software, create my own avatar, and communicate with others. While I consider myself moderately computer savy, this was all new to me, and to be honest, was quite overwhelming. My immediate observations were that it felt like an online game, like World of Warcraft. The focus of my first couple hours on Second Life seemed to be around the creation of my own avatar, which right away I realized was the primary focal point. Julie Rak emphasizes this when she says “if Second Life has a gaming objective, it is this game of identity itself” (2009).

    Personally, I have never really thought too much about an online identity. It’s an organic thing for me to try to represent myself properly on all the social media tools that I am involved in (I list the same interests, post the same pictures, etc). But Second Life is evidently different in that it requires you to create an avatar of yourself and you appear in a world as a representation of yourself. Of course this may not be much different than posting a profile picture of yourself on your facebook page. However there were many aspects of Second Life which I felt limited the creation of an identity, such as the names made available to you. Also, though there is a wide range of appearance features to choose from, people may feel that their avatar doesn’t properly represent them.

    With my initial insights in mind, I also admit that I am still new to Second Life and feel I will need to do more exploring before I choose to embrace (or not embrace) its full potential. I can understand why people would become so involved on second life for personal and social purposes, but  the idea of meeting on second life (for work or school purposes) seems a bit forced and bizarre to me. I recognize that tools like second life make life easier for people and businesses, I also feel like the whole environment may be distracting and may take away from a quality conversation.

    Yes, I am one to constantly chat on msn (with friends, for personal use), and I realize that second life is only a more elaborate version of this, I just can’t seem to wrap my head around meeting people in a professional context on second life. I feel like tools such as Skype would be much more effective, as you can actually see/hear the real person and get a better idea of who they are. For me, I feel, this much better then an avatar of Sarah Sapphire.

    June 1, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | Leave a comment