MSVU Social Media Course Blog

Just another weblog

How do you define success?

And then there was one- one final post on course related material. The final reading, Social media ROI- a calculator for not for profit campaigns gave us four steps for building ROI models for online communities. In light of what I’ve learned through applied learning in our client project, one step in particular really resonated with me: Identify what success looks like in the online community.

I believe that success in the online community is not necessarily all about dollar bills. Of course, this is all relative to your client’s brand recognition. If, for example, your client is virtually unknown, then it’s unrealistic to expect online users to give to your client’s cause. I know this sounds commonsensical, but so many not for profits nowadays are jumping on the social media bandwagon because, well, everyone else is doing it.  However, without an existing online presence, worthy causes risk sounding like disreputable beggars. Too harsh?

  Success in the online community is similar to campaigning for voter support. If you do not first promote yourself, your platform and what you stand for, you simply are not going to receive the riding support needed to win the campaign. Similarly, without an online presence, social capital and established relationships with people of similar interests and beliefs, then you are not going to get the kinds of funds needed to make a decent ROI. Thus, success can also be defined as establishing a network of like-minded individuals, cheerleaders if you will, you believe in your cause, so much so, that they are compelled to take action.  As some of you have already indicated, social media may not be the greatest way to raise funds, yet is effective in generating cause awareness. Essentially, it’s all in how your not for profit defines success.  Awareness and brand recognition where none existed before is pretty darn successful in my eyes.

June 20, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material, Really Relevant Interesting Stuff | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Get Up, Stand Up: Stand up for Your Rights!

Online privacy issues have dominated the news both nationally and internationally for the past few weeks. Coverage has ranged from Bill IP21C (Way to represent Matt!) to Iran’s chokehold on civilian Internet access. Since hasn’t updated since May 24 (Seriously, guys, get with it!), I’ve decided to blog about what these issues mean for us as users. I’ve also thrown a light article in to the mix to help validate a few of my points.

So, as the story goes, the city of Bozeman, Mont., has invoked a human resources requirement that has job applicants forking over tons of personal information. The requirements include, but are not limited to, “…any and all, current personal or business websites, web pages or memberships on any Internet-based chat rooms, social clubs or forums, to include, but not limited to: Facebook, Google, Yahoo,, MySpace, etc.” The etc. here includes email passwords by the way!

Bozeman Attorney Greg Sullivan defended the requirements in the media, stating that a number of the positions (Police, Fire, lifeguards) require people of “high integrity.” So, they conduct these types of investigations to “make sure the people that we hire have the highest moral character and are a good fit for the city.”

While I admire the effort this city is going to ensure it has the finest town council possible, I feel that it’s a tad ludicrous. I mean, it’s a bit like allowing your employer to snoop around in your underwear drawer. Sure, the town would like upstanding citizens to serve the municipality, but where does it end in regards to background checks? It is really necessary to have access to personal email and websites? When did the disclaimer “this is not a reflection of XYZ organization“ expire? Did Bozeman miss the memo that grants civil liberties to ALL, and not just those outside of civil service?

For me, all of this dialogue around state officials demanding personal information and pushing bills that allow authorities to take personal information from ISPs is a blatant violation of the constitutional amendment. Are we shifting toward a communist type approach to Internet governance? Are we moving toward a state-run-media like China?

Just Friday, it was reported in the New York Times that the Chinese government had ordered Google to take down its Google Suggest application because it gave search results with “suggestive implications.” Alike their Iranian counterparts, Chinese computer users are also outraged by such government censorship. What’s more, the Chinese government has also announced plans to “force computer makers to install Internet censorship software on all computers sold in China after July 1.”

Again, I get that there are good intentions behind these outlandish requests, such as limiting pornography, but aren’t adults capable of making their own choices as to what they should or should not view?

My dear colleagues, it seems that sadly, our privacy is being threatened, and that the line between being secure and being invaded is incredibly blurred. My hope is that our friends in Iran and China continue to fight for their online rights, and that we Canadians blogg and tweet like nobodies business to have our online voice heard- we will NOT be silenced!

June 20, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material, Really Relevant Interesting Stuff, Review of Monitored Site | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Here, there and everywhere

It’s fascinating to see how social media, viral marketing and on-line technologies are becoming prevalent in almost all of the PR courses I’m taking this semester. Whether it’s media relations, employee relations or our co-op placements, these electronic tools are becoming a huge part of how we conduct business as communicators.

Last week, in my media relations class we had a student YouTube day, where every student had the opportunity to teach the rest of the class something. I chose to speak about how bloggers influence mainstream media using a video featuring Bad Pitch Blog co-founder Kevin Dugan. Dugan had many interesting points, including how bloggers are becoming official sources and experts as they, unlike the journalists of today, have the time to focus on one beat at a time. He also discussed how bloggers are changing the news curve by extending the traditional peaks or breaking news to include pre and post-analysis of media coverage. It’s amazing to see how the blogosphere is broadening how we define official sources and conduct media relations! Likewise, it’s exciting to think to about how we can use this knowledge to help organizations conduct accurate media monitoring and extend its brand visibility and audience reach. 

Last week, I secured my final co-op with Natural Resources Canada (NRCan). One of the reasons I applied for this position was because it offered the opportunity to use many of the tools I’m currently learning about in this course (wikis, blogs, video and other multimedia). I was pleased to learn that NRCan has its own version of YouTube called NRTube and has an internal wiki that they say gives wings to employee ideas. Furthermore, I was informed that Facebook and other SMS are not blocked from the server and that employees are encouraged to use the tools they deem necessary to achieve their communications goals. I’m so excited to be able to hone the skills I’m learning this semester in, what I see as, a progressive national institution. Having the ability to choose the best medium to reach your audience, as opposed to being limited to traditional communications tools allows for more effective strategies and targeted audience reach. It was also refreshing to hear my new employers say that just because these tools are available to employees doesn’t mean they’re always the most appropriate vehicles. We are all learning that there is no point in using these tools just for the sake of doing so. The message must lend itself, we must have interesting video and material that is relevant to the target audience. 

One of the most important things I have learned about blogger relations and increasing your online presence is to remain relevant. I know I have so much more to learn about social media, but I am thrilled with the foundation this course has provided. I can already see how the knowledge I’ve gained is starting to transpire in other courses and how it will allow me to remain relevant to future employers. 

Muchas gracias Dr. D!

June 14, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material, Really Relevant Interesting Stuff, Review of Monitored Site | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Online technologies:The good with the bad- we gonna work it out

It seems June has been a busy month all around. has yet to post any new content for this month. So, in following a common trend, I went through some old contributions and found something that peaked my interest, and hopefully it will yours as well.


Back in April, Papryus blogger Sonja Lind commented on how discussions around online technologies seem to focus on the negative and what’s bad about electronic mediums. She referenced cyberbullying and the loss of human connection. Likewise, we, as a class, have also discussed whether or not the internet is making people antisocial or allowing individuals to hide behind their online persona. Lind acknowledges that these are valid arguments, but counters her statement with a link to a good news story about how an American teenager was able to save a British teenager’s life through the use of Facebook. Supposedly, the British male send a private message to American girl saying that he was going to hurt himself. The girl, not knowing his address, told her mother, who then called local authorities. The police called in a “special agent” from the British Embassy who then narrowed down the suicidal teens location. He was found after four attempts, haven already taken an overdose, but still conscious. 


This is truly an inspirational story.  It not only shows the power, reach and good qualities of such social media tools, but also reiterates some of the points Kim raised in her post “iTube, weTube, we all scream for YouTube,” specifically, that the internet does have a heart, compassion and humility.


It is so easy to disregard the fact that an actual living, breathing, feeling human beings on the other end of your electronic exchange. Computer generated messaging have become quite common and users have become pretty skilled at filtering out a lot of targeted messaging. Don’t get me wrong, this is a necessary skill to have to avoid information overload and media bombardment. Nonetheless, I think this article emphasizes the overlap between online and offline and the impact these relationships can have. In this case, it saved a young males life. Had the teenage girl dismissed the message, he might not be alive today. I think it also highlights the importance of good blogger etiquette and treating people with dignity and respect despite lacking the face to face exchange. As common sense as it may sound, we must not forget that behind these technologies are someone’s sons and daughters, real people with real problems, who just might need a virtual shoulder to cry on. 


I’d like to leave you all with a song I’m totally obsessed with lately, musical preferences aside, I think we can all appreciate the message: let love prevail. 🙂



June 14, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material, Really Relevant Interesting Stuff, Review of Monitored Site | , , , | 3 Comments

Everybody get footloose!

One pink toe at a time


Today’s guest speakers were really inspiring. Both Calum and Rob had two different presentations, yet both shared a love for social media and especially Google! I found Calum’s insights on niche marketing to be quite enlightening in terms of assessing your client or organization’s needs. His expert tips not only showed us how we can make personal profit, but also, how we can generate more revenue for our organizations. I know, we’re communicators and not financial advisors, but at the end of the day doesn’t it always come down to the bottom line? And if we have more revenue, we have more money in our communications budget for social media tactics! Approaching social media from a business perspective really emphasized how important it is to have a solid understanding of new technologies as they unfold. I admit, I’m still freaked out buy the enormity of the blogosphere and the uncertainty around how social media will impact the internet as we move forward. However, I think Rob offered some great advice when he said that we don’t have to dive into using all of these tools at once, just dip one toe in at first and feel our way around. I don’t know Rob’s exact words, but it helped ease some of my anxiety and fear that employers expect us to be completely fluent in all of these social media tools. It’s overwhelming, yet incredibly exciting! So, here I go, one brightly pink painted toe at a time!



June 8, 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

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

Use your wiki but scrutinize it too!

Like Katia, I too found the article on the student wiki hoaxe to be a little alarming. I also use Wikipedia fairly regularly and mainly in part to its prominence near the top of Google searches. However, I rarely, if ever take the information found there as an academic source for scholarly research.  

Perhaps, what is most concerning about this case study and wikis in general is the ease with which contributors can manipulate the reader. Large corporations or product and service providers for example may (and do) use these wikis to promote themselves and sell their products. Instead of providing unbias information, these corporations are making pitches and vying for our consumer time and dollar. Of course this is expected of any business concerned with the bottom line, but it is when it done covertly that it becomes unethical and shady. The consumer or reader has a right to know who is publishing this information so as to be able to evaluate the senders intentions in disseminating the message.

It was refreshing however to hear that the administrators of the wiki that featured the fake quote noticed the lack of attribution and removed it from the site. It’s nice to know that we have these sorts of watch dogs, guarding or at least filtering out some of the questionable material. What’s more, being analytical and continiously questioning content and attribution is really our only safe guard against being dooped like the journalists in the article. Red flagging questionable content is a courteous action we can all take to forewarn our online peers.

May 24, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | | Leave a comment

Social Media and Social Divide

I was a little stumped by this week’s contribution on, the assigned blog I’ve been monitoring for class. It’s a little elusive as the author Mark Warschauer doesn’t really offer his thoughts on Campbell’s Law or any new developments in relation to digital learning. However, the post is thought provoking and worth exploring a little further!  In fact, it’s so short I will share it within my post so you too can digest and provide your insights:


“The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decisionmaking, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.”
Campbell’s Law, put forth in 1976 by Donald Campbell, prominent American social scientist and president of the American Psychological Association”


For those of you unfamiliar with the term Social indicator, it’s basically a term used to describe various “measures of social conditions and change” within society. Examples of such social indicators used within Canada are social class or status and statistics on standards of living, education, welfare, and health- generally social issues that are recorded and measured over time to evaluate and analyze any societal changes. My initial reaction to Campbell’s Law is to agree with the notion because when you quantify social indicators such as social status you are pitting people against one another. Instead of providing data and measurement for positive changes in society like increased public funding to social services, the indicators put people on a scale and divide, thus distorting and corrupting the process as sited by founder Donald Campbell.


On the other hand, when I view this in relation to social media sites and online personalities Campbell’s Law sort of loses its persuasive strength. For example, with personal disclosure up to the individual blogger things like annual income and level of post secondary education are unknown unless the individual chooses to say so. Therefore, everyone is given the same social power. It is up to them to earn this power or enhance it based upon their insightful and relevant contributions to the online world. What’s more, as the mind(s) of the machine, implied in Elizabeth Barrette’s poem Meetspace, we have the opportunity to access this power and craft the reality we desire. Perhaps, one without societal divide, gender and sex biases or one focused on the physical body or first impressions. 


Hmmmm…what do you guys think?



May 22, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | , , , | Leave a comment

SNSs- the ideal versus the reality

 The assigned reading “Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship” written by D. Boyd and N. Ellison provided a comprehensive overview for those of us new to the SNS scene. I was particularly captivated by the research and analysis presented on the cultures that emerge within these sites. For example, under the subheading “SNSs Hit the Mainstream” the authors provide an insightful background on the birth and growth of MySpace, detailing how the SNS was able to expand its ‘social capital’ by way of Friendster’s “alienation of its early adopters.”  The article names indie-rock bands as one particular group that converted to MySpace and prompted other SNS users to adopt the site in spite of Friendster’s homogenous and strict profile regulations.  This is a perfect example of how sub-cultures are formed and how the required or intended system can sometimes result in an emergent or rebellious system, different from what was initially intended.  MySpace did not seek out indie-rockers or bands specifically, but because the SNS offered a more flexible regulations it was able to create a virtual haven for ambitious musicians, groupies, promoters and industry associates to converse and exchange ideas and dialogue.  Viewing SNS through the cultural lense allows for interesting discoveries about humans as a collective cohort. I look forward to learning more.


Until next time,


May 15, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment