MSVU Social Media Course Blog

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“This is not a sponsored post”

Quick shout out to Brian Solis at PR 2.0 for being oh-so-relevant once again.

In his post on May 26, titled This is Not a Sponsored Post: What You Need to Know About Sponsored Conversations & the FTC, he touched on the subject we had debated briefly in class yesterday: companies paying bloggers to write favourably about them without a disclaimer.

As consumers look to bloggers  as both peers  and experts, they take their opinions into account when making buying decisions. Because of this social capital,  marketers and advertisers are beginning to view bloggers as potential “brand ambassadors” for their products.

Enter the “veil” that online communication can provide – increased anonymity, and a lack (thus far) of guidelines about who can write what, what can be said, etc. This ease means that marketers can, and have, commissioned bloggers (or posed as a blogger themselves) to write favourably about a product and/or brand.

The ethical issue about whether or not a blogger should disclaim sponsorship was raised in class, so for all of you that were biting your nails about what can be done about this, I’ll let Mr. Solis do the speaking:

“…that’s all about to change. Under new guidelines proposed by the Federal Trade Commission [FTC], brands and/or bloggers may be held liable should either the FTC or scorned consumers deem that the actions or claims misguided their decision and/or misrepresented actual performance or efficacy.

So, it looks like we might see some laws cracking down in the social-media-scape! Refreshing, especially with all of the government red tape that seems to block action when it comes to the ever-changing internet.

I’ll let Bri close this one off for me:

“With or without the new FTC guidelines, the practice of disclosure is not an option when the potential for significantly damaging customer relationships in a very public spotlight is at stake. Unfortunately, it’s not at the forefront of many of our marketing programs.”

Very interesting. Any thoughts?


June 2, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | 1 Comment

I’ll put my virtual foot in my mouth…

Foot in MouthWow! Just hours after my May 25th weekly blog review, Hey SocialMediaGroup, Update Your Darn Blog…,  SMG’s Founder and CEO Maggie Fox replied:


“You’re right – you’re right! We have been struggling to keep our blog relevant and updated. The irony of course is that the reason it’s been such a challenge is that we’re so busy with REAL client work, and our clients take precedence over self-promotion, fortunately/unfortunately (depending on your perspective).

Nevertheless, thanks for the poke – you’re right, we should be setting a better example!”

I was floored. I certainly did not expect to receive a response from SMG’s CEO–let alone such a quick and thoughtful response. While I poked at SMG in my orignal post for not setting a good example for social media newbies, I must say that they set an incredible example in responding to my post:

1. The response came straight from the CEO–it made me feel like my opinion really mattered to the organization.

2. Maggie Fox acknowledged my accusation, and offered an explanation as to why their blog hadn’t been updated as frequently as they’d like.

3. They reposted my blog entry as a comment on SMG’s blog, for all their viewers to see. This shows that SMG has nothing to hide–not even harsh criticisms from student blog-monitors like myself. (This also created a link to our class blog from SMG’s website–promotion for us, woo hoo!)

4. Fox acknowledged my comment once again on SMG’s blog, promising to do “a better job of getting [their] insights out there.”

5. Since then, SMG has posted several new articles which I look forward to reviewing here!

I definitely understand where Maggie is coming from. It’s a huge challenge to keep a blog updated and relevant, especially when you’re busy. Between classes, part-time work, family affairs and fighting the flu, I have to confess that I haven’t posted to our blog in a week (sorry DeNel). (Lucky for you guys, I’ll be bombarding our blog airways over the next few days with an array of thoughts and arguments to make up for my recent lack of input.)

Which brings me to an interesting question: why do we put social media on the back burner? In both my case and Maggie’s, we neglected our blogging responsibilities when more pressing responsibilities arrose. Why is blogging less pressing anyway? Is it because the online world isn’t as tangible or real? Does this present problems for companies striving to communicate and meet deadlines in the virtual world?

June 2, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Twitter and discovering psychic ability… SERIOUSLY!

As a follow-up to one of my last posts, I’ve decided to take plunge and make my very own Twitter account (click here to follow me!).

Listening to our guest speakers yesterday and participating in their Twitter activity made me think of Twitter in a whole new light. The whole idea of using “hash tags” to organize tweets and thus participate in discussions really piqued my interest.  I was aware that they existed, but seeing them used in practice with the Kermit Card example really opened my eyes. As a new speck in the “Twitterverse”, I’ve decided to approach this new technology as a learning tool.

When I logged in to our blog today, this thought was solidified for me by what came up on the home page: A link to Richard Wiseman’s blog, a blog that is helping conduct the first ever scientific Twitter experiment! (To follow this experiment on Twitter, click here)

According to Richard, “The experiment will examine the possible existence of ‘remote viewing’ – the alleged ability to psychically identify a distant location.” The entire experiment will be conducted over Twitter, using only Tweets to communicate. I’m sorry, but I just think this is SO COOL – I will totally be following this, and I highly recommend that all of you do, too. If this experiment is successful, it will provide researchers with a whole new way of conducting social and scientific experiments – we’re witnessing history in the making!

To reiterate, I now interpret Twitter as a fantastic learning tool.  Of course there’s a lot of (often useless) noise to avoid, but I think that by following the right people and being involved in the right conversations, there is a tremendous amount of value in such a technology.

June 2, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material, Really Relevant Interesting Stuff | 1 Comment

“Ragan Select member…”

I was a little disappointed while following my blog this week. I found that the blogs that were posted were mostly fillers for the site, though there was some interesting posts, I felt that the stories did not catch the eye and were not that relevant to me.

I began to venture out of the main page and came upon more posting. I thought to myself I have reached the “Ragan Jackpot.” There were posts that I felt were really interesting for all audiences. When I went to go click on a post called Poll: Government sites slow to adopt social media written by Lindsey Miller, (which I thought we be great information for our Wiki), I would not access the post because I am not a “Ragan Select member.” Unfortunately, I do not have the money to become a member therefore unable to read the blogs that are most interesting to me. I understand that this company makes a profit to have these stories on their blogs. However it would be nice if the everyday folk could get a chance to read it. Maybe after a few days, all the blogs could be archived allowing all audiences to read them.

Just a thought…

June 2, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I Bless the Cell Phone Coverage Down in Africa…

What do we rely on our cell phones for today? To text friends, to talk to family, to take pictures, to listen to music or to play games on when we’re bored. What if we relied on our cell phones for something more? What if cell phones were our only way of being supplied with money? What if without a cell phone, our family couldn’t afford to put food on the table or aquire clean water?

Unfortunately, this is a reality in many third world countries. Living in Western Society we don’t even think twice about how lucky we are to be able to walk down any street and go into a bank. We don’t think about how lucky we are to be able to use online banking, or to take $20 out of an ATM.  The use of mobile banking to people in third world countries is almosty a crucial part of their survival and well being.

Think about the husbands who have to travel miles away from their wives and children in order to find work. How will they get the money they earn back to their families? Certainly not by walking back home.

A recent podcast on SXSW spoke on this issue, which is something that I truly had never even thought about, but is obviously a huge problem for developping third world countries.

There are 2 billion unbanked people in the world today, and about 1 billion of those unbanked people have access to mobile. Third world countries have taken this information, and have become the most innovated countries in regards to expanding on mobile banking and mobile payments, Africa being the largest contributor.

With mobile payments, working spouses are able to make transfer payments to their spouse’s cell phones back home. A great example the podcast uses is if a husband is working in a mine far from home, he is able to transfer his received funds to his wife and kids.

This technology doesn’t stop there. Mobile phones in these countries are actually starting to take the place of currency. It’s safer to be carrying around a cell phone than a bunch of cash. Consumers are using these mobile transfers to pay merchants, and entrepreneurs are able to transfer funds to laborers who are, for example, building homes. Airtime is also taking the place of currency in these countries. People are trading cell phone minutes for goods and services, which shows how precious airtime over there really is.

A panelist from the podcast states that the GSM coverage in Africa outdoes the electricity coverage by a significant amount. This means that yes, maybe these third world countries aren’t as “up on the times” with social media tools a we are, but it’s because they simply don’t have the type of coverage that we do. They are however, doing the best they can with what they have.

I certainly wouldn’t know how to make a mobile payment or transfer. Maybe the folks in Africa can teach ME a thing or two?

I think Toto sums it up… “It’s gonna take some time to do the things we never have, oooh”


June 2, 2009 Posted by | Really Relevant Interesting Stuff, Review of Monitored Site | , | 1 Comment

Social Media… Where do we start?

I have to say that I found today’s class very interesting. Social Media has so many avenues and opportunities, but where do you draw the line? When do you end? Where do you start? Social Media brings up so many questions on the way we communicate.

After class, I was thinking of our conversation on government communications. Having done two co-ops at the federal level, I have seen bureaucracy at its best. The process to get a simple snetence approved is so tidious. It makes me wonder if even baby steps will change how social media is integrated in the work being done. With Social Media moving at lightning speed and governement moving at the speed of a turtle, there is a total disconnect. If proceedures don’t change, I feel that it is difficult for governement to join the social media world.

Just look at our province. Yes parties are using social media. Are they doing a good job? NO! This is probably in part due to the proceedures they have to follow. Think about it. Social Media sites like Twitter are being updated every second but it can take two weeks to get a release or a letter , speech approved.



June 2, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | Leave a comment