MSVU Social Media Course Blog

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“Plug it in and Change the World” : Making Moments with Social Media

The day before C.C. Chapman spoke to our class via Skype he posted a great podcast on Managing the Gray. What I’d like to pull from the podcast is what I think could be one of the most important lessons we’ve learned about social media.

Inspired by a presentation by Ze Frank at Webstock in New Zealand, Chapman discusses creating moments through social media. For Chapman, his moment was when I guy came up to him after following the podcasts and explained that he had quit his high level executive job to follow what he really wanted to do because of Chapman’s discussions on following your passions. Definitely a jaw-dropping moment. It’s certainly easy to forget the kind of reach you may have through social media and the impact what you’re saying might have on people. I think Chapman put his thoughts on the subject very nicely so here’s the quote from his podcast:

“I’m sitting here in Massachusetts with a microphone in my Mac and I’m talking into it but the words that come out of my mouth every so often can really affect somebody. And that’s a moment. That’s when you realize, ‘wow.’ And that’s why I’ve always treated this medium as something different. And while people are out there- whether it’s podcasting, Twittering, blogging, whatever it is, while most of it is just throwing stuff out into the ether you never know when something you throw out is going to resonate. When that’s going to create a moment for yourself or somebody else.”

I think this is an important lesson for us if we are to continue using social media in the future. We must recognize that we will, potentially, hold a great deal of power in our hands and what we tweet or blog about or podcast may actually impact someone’s life one day. The idea of creating moments for people makes social media take on a whole new meaning for me. No longer is it about just getting your name/business/product out there. It’s about reaching the masses and creating your own moments and moments for others.

In closing, the song “Electric Feel” by MGMT. The lyrics were probably not meant to be about social media but I think it fits! If “electric”=computers and blogging, and “making electricity” and “changing the world” =making moments then it works, right?!! Take a listen and enjoy! It’s been great blogging for you all 🙂

“All along the eastern shore, put your circuits in the sea

This is what the world is for, making electricity

You can feel it in your mind

Oh you can do it all the time

Plug it in and change the world

You are my electric girl”

June 21, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material, Review of Monitored Site | Leave a comment

The Next Step After Second Life??

In keeping with the feel of Second Life and creating “online” identities: Is this the direction we’re heading? I hope not! Cool interactive site though if you have time to play around with it. Choose your Surrogate.

June 21, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material, Really Relevant Interesting Stuff | , , | Leave a comment

Ethics in Search Engine Optimization

I’m feeling a little behind with my post here, but I just want to say what a great class Monday was! Unfortunately, co-op interviews kept me from Wednesday’s class but by reading the posts, it also seemed just as thought provoking.

Calum Nairn has to be one of the best speakers we’ve had this term. He seems to very much enjoy what he does for a living. I always love watching or listening to people who are passionate about what they do. It gets me very excited about the subject too. I guess that goes back to the Passion post from Managing the Gray I talked about before. Passion is certainly contagious and I think I caught it from Nairn.

I was trying to think of a way to sum up everything he showed us in this post but I don’t think that is possible. Thinking back it’s hard to figure out how he was able to fit everything in the hour and a half he had with us!

One of the more prevalent topics that sticks out to me is about search engine optimization (SEO). That he is able to keep his sites at the top of the Google search is quite an incredible feat. I feel very privileged to have such information now. It kind of makes me wonder though: who else knows this and who else is controlling the information that we receive when we naively Google something on the internet? It may be silly of me but I always thought that the top of the search results meant that it was the most credible source or the most viewed or something along those lines. I will view my results with a little more caution from now on.

Having this knowledge and let’s say “power” that’s associated with SEO is a little troublesome. It’s kind of like, is it ethically right to skew these results to make my organization be number one? Does it make it right knowing other people in similar organizations will do it too? As much as I would want my site to be popular based on merit is it wrong to use SEO to achieve my own agenda?

To answer these questions of course I had to do a Google search. Interestingly enough there is a Code of Ethics for Search Engine Optimization. Please take a look!  Once again I naively chose the first option but hey- it works!

What are your thoughts about ethics and search engine optimization? Do tell.

June 15, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | , , | 3 Comments

If Social Media Were a Small Town That Nosey Old Lady Down the Street Would be Facebook

This week on Managing the Gray my eyes were shocked to behold a brand new podcast by our pal (you’ll be meeting him via Skype tomorrow) C.C. Chapman. As always, the podcast impressed. One topic that stood out the most for me was a presentation he did called Social Media is a Small Town.

Being from a small town in Newfoundland, I could totally relate to what he was getting at with this presentation. He says, there is often a small town mentality associated with social media. To me, that means it’s all about generating a conversation or dialogue with your publics. In a small town, everyone knows everyone else’s business. If you want to know what movie to rent you will ask your neighbour. Growing up in a small town can often be cumbersome especially if you are a private person; but, if you’re into social media you want people to know your business! (or at least want to know other people’s business)

Chapman says growing up in a small town has helped him excel in this world of blogging and podcasts and social marketing. I would have to agree with him there. Small towns teach how to spread information whether you want to share or not. I guess it all comes down to transparency. In a small town, the flow information is often inescapable. If you are to be successful in the social media world you need to realize that information must be truthful and passed along the right channels and to the right people.  In every small town there is the one nosey lady down the street who knows everything and shares it with everyone she speaks with. In our social media world she would Facebook or Twitter. Tell her a secret and within seconds all of your friends will know.

So, who agrees? Who in the class is from a small town and can see how this has helped them with social media? Or conversely has it hindered you? Let me know!

June 15, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | , , , , | 3 Comments

Are we becoming social media experts?

Another week and still no new post from Managing the Gray. Instead of going on a tangent of my own about how this “social media expert” isn’t adhering to some basics of blogging, I found a rant Chapman did himself and would like to share it with you all.

In response to several emails asking, “How do I become a social media expert?” Chapman posted a video message. He seemed pretty frustrated with the question because as he says, social media is really no different than become an expert at anything. As we are in a social media class, I guess trying to learn this very thing, I thought it would be interesting to examine his response and see if it measures up to how we are learning to be such so-called experts.

 His advice consists of the following:

-work hard and keep yourself up-to-date

-just like anything else, you have to practice it

-if you’re in it because you think it’s hip or cool or it will be easy- then get out

-be passionate about it

-make it a part of your life, your job and then push forward

 I think as a class we are on our way to becoming experts. The most a class in social media can do though, is give you the basics and introduce you to everything in the hopes that you will continue use of it outside of the classroom. With presentations from people who work in the field of public relations (such as Ben Boudreau, Harold Simons  and others) we get to see how important social media is becoming in public relations and just how interesting it is. If you’re ever going to be passionate about social media, this class will do it for you. If after taking this class and you’re still indifferent to it, then perhaps you will never become a social media expert. At the end of this term I don’t think we will all be experts, but I think we will have solid foundation to go out on our own and pursue social media without fear and reservation. 

My question for you all is: do you think you’ll pursue social media further after this course ends? Do you hope to become a social media expert?

June 8, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | , , | 4 Comments

Embrace the Internet but don’t leave some employees behind

To gauge the importance of the Internet for the field of public relations we need not look any further than our classes this week. Without new technologies made possible through the internet, such as Skype and Twitter, we would never have been able to speak with Harold Simons in such a personal and effective manner and we would not have gotten the real world, real time experience of Ben and Kimberly’s Twitter experiment. 

The reading for this week by Paul Christ discusses the need for public relations professionals to embrace Internet technologies or be left in the dust, so to speak. I think, thanks to this social media class we are being taught very important and applicable lessons for our future careers that will certainly give us an edge as we search for employment in the future.

Rogers Plus internal communications strategy embraces the Internet in the way that Christ’s article suggests. One of the primary reasons offered by Christ as to why PR practitioners need to embrace Internet communication is because it is now one of the main ways people receive information. As an organization one must examine where their stakeholders get information and provide it through that portal. Simons did a great job with that. As most of Rogers Plus employees fit the 18-24 demographic they would most likely get their information via the Internet. By providing employee information via the ning site, he has made the information available in a way that they will most likely use.

Further, the Christ article, though it doesn’t speak to internal communications specifically, suggests that using the Internet helps to “develop stronger relationships with stakeholders [as] they can tailor their services to meet stakeholders’ needs.” This is evident through the initial success of the Rogers Plus employee site.  They found out what the employees needed from them and provided it through a custom site made especially for employees.

With all this in mind I still wonder: what does Rogers Plus do if a new employee doesn’t have access to the Internet? We (especially those of us who embrace social media like us) like to think that everyone we are trying to reach with our messaging has access to the Internet; but in reality that is not quite the case. As mentioned in a previous class, upwards of 80 per cent of Nova Scotians are without high-speed access. Is it really reasonable to expect that everyone will have the ability to do this training from home? This got me thinking about my own experience. When I started work at the NSLC, I had to do online training modules similar to the Rogers model. The option wasn’t even provided for me to do them at the work place. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but thinking back I now realize the importance of providing another option to new employees so that messaging gets across clearly and so that the organization doesn’t make anyone feel left out. More than that, employee training isn’t an optional message. If the message isn’t getting to those who absolutely need it to do their job then as a PR professional you have not done yours.

Any suggestions as to how to bridge the technological divide between new employees? Perhaps a shared employee computer at the work place providing access to the site?

June 5, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | , , , , , | 1 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

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

“Meat or mind?” Who are you?

I really enjoyed the poem, “Meetspace” discussed in our last class. I think Elizabeth Barrette poses the issue of identity during these “online” times in quite a provocative way. More than talking about self-identity, Barrette deals with the issue of gender identification. Of course, gender identity isn’t a new issue in society but with the prevalence of the “cyberspace” world a new dimension has been added.

 Before, gender identification was based mostly on physical appearance. People would assign an individual as male or female depending on how they look physically. Now, however, people can create online identities that can be male, female or even gender neutral.

More than gender, this division of self can manifest in other forms. An example mentioned in class was of people who are very comfortable communicating online but then are super shy when it comes to face-to-face contact.

 So, I guess the question that comes from all this and from Barrette’s poem is: Who is the real you? “The meat or the mind” as she puts it- your online persona or the physical self?

This has great implications on the world as a whole. Even though there are still a great deal of people in the world without internet access, I feel for certain that kids growing up in this cyber generation are sure to face a whole new set of self identification issues. Adolescents face enough of an identity crisis without have to try to define themselves on Facebook or Twitter at the same time. 

I believe there is no real right answer to Barrette’s question. I think that both the online persona and the physical “meat” of a person are all parts of an individual. Some people spend their whole lives asking themselves “who am I?” The cyberspace world is just adding another layer to this and spicing up the debate…. who are you???

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

“Are You Passionate?”: How to generate and harness passion through social media

What are you passionate about?

When most people answer this question they tend to err towards the typical responses of family, friends, music,  peace, war, politics and so on. In Neil Young’s 2002 song “Are You Passionate?” he asks “Are you passionate? Are you livin’ like you talk?…. Are you loving it?Can you ever get enough of it? Is it everything?” Of course this song is not about passions generally (it goes on to talk about war) but those few lines give a nice overview of what passion is to people. If you’re passionate about something you’re actions will reflect your passion and you’ll want to share it with others. I don’t want to go so far as to say that passion consumes people’s lives entirely and can be “everything” to them; but sometimes when people are passionate about something it can become a main factor in their life. For example how some people feel about a particular charitable cause or political injustice often plays a major role in how they live their day-to-day lives.

Passions can play such a large part in people’s lives. So how can we as communicators get people passionate about the products or services of our organization through social media channels so that they share their passion with others?

The latest podcast post on Managing the Gray deals with passion. C.C. Chapman, recently gave a presentation about passion and how to best use it in a social media context. I like the example he gives about the latest movie you’ve seen and how it’s likely you were swayed into seeing it probably because of a friend’s recommendation more than the print ad. Passion is contagious and that is why it is important in social media.

He speaks about how to leverage social media and how to get consumers to be passionate. His recommendations include:

  • Asking fans to share their thoughts instead of waiting for them to respond
  • Keep it simple- you want the portal to be accessible to as many people as possible
  • You cannot buy passion but it can be fueled- hold an event, offer incentives to get consumers’ opinions
  • Listen to the consumer and what they’re saying about your product and the competitors (tools like Radian 6)
  • The more voices you get the better the story is going to be
  • If there are people within your organization who are passionate about it, get them to share their stories too
  • Let consumers tell their own stories, don’t try to translate it to corporate speak to fit your messaging
  • Give it time to grow

I agree with Chapman that passion has great potential in the world of social media. I mean, isn’t it true that the reason most people start blogs is because they are passionate about the topic they blog about. For example, my roommate blogs about her vegan cooking and follows several other blogs on the same topic. I like the suggestions he gives about harnessing such passion to the benefit of an organization but I feel like it doesn’t really address how to create such passion in people but rather how to address it once it already exists.

Any ideas on how to get people passionate about a brand or product?

May 24, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | , , | 3 Comments