MSVU Social Media Course Blog

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Social Media…is it dead?

Upon checking out Livingston’s Buzz Bin blog for the last time (for this course), it was interesting to find him talking about BlogPotomac – a “unconference” held in DC focused around social media and marketing sponsored by Livingston Communications. The event was held on June 12th and generated a great deal of buzz (mostly positive) on Twitter and numerous blog sites. However, Livingston stated on his latest post on the Buzz bin that the final BlogPotomac will be held in October. One of the reasons why Livingston has chosen to end the conference, is because of his claim that social media is dead.

 At first this statement might seem shocking and make you think “no its not! Its just beginning!”. Livingston explains the statement by saying that from an innovators perspective, widespread adoption of social media. Because the technology cycle has been maturing towards social media, Livingston claims it is no longer a new and unique type of communicate. Livingston also reaffirms that this doesn’t mean social media will go away, there will just be more of a focus around the future of social.

 After thinking about this further, i have to agree with him. Social media has become so integrated into our lives that it feels like nothing surprises us anymore. We may stumble upon a new tool that makes us go “hmmm…this is neat” but overall, we have adapted to social media. I think back to a time hen people would ask “what’s a Blog?” or “what’s Facebook?” – and that was when social media was new. Nowadays, if social media isn’t part of your daily life, you have at least heard of such tools as Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.

When thinking about this I can’t help but think about Apple, and their constant slew of new products always coming out. When the iPhone was introduced, the initial response was overwhelming, but now Apple could put out various new versions of the phone, with one or two different features, but we will never embrace the new versions as much as the original iPhone.

 Personally, I know for sure that social media will not slow down, and it will only become more and more common in the everyday lives of individuals and the corporate world alike. The future is bright, and more and more tools will be introduced to us. We may not be surprised when this happens, but we will for sure keep embracing social.

 What do you guys think? Any thoughts on the future of social media?

 On an ending note, I’d like to say how enjoyable it was following the Buzz Bin for this course. I will for sure keep checking back!

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June 22, 2009 Posted by | Really Relevant Interesting Stuff, 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

To text, or not to text: that is the question.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.

Shakespeare wrote sonnets in iambic pentameter.

Did u know ur def like summer?
Ur so cool and I ly4e.

We write text messages in two-letter slangameter.

This week on Spark, Nora Young recaps a texting experiment they did with Al Rae (artistic director of the CBC Winnipeg Comedy Festival). In response to a New York Times article that reported some unbelievable statistics about teen texting, Spark challenged Rae to start texting as much as the average teenager. Neilson Company reports that at the end of 2008, American teens were sending an average of 2,272 texts a month. That means almost 80 texts a day. 80!

Rae stepped up to the challenge. After a few texting lessons from his daughter he attempted to become just another regular text message maniac. After a few weeks of non-stop texting, Rae didn’t quite reach an average of 80 per day; however, he did come away with an interesting perspective on text messaging. Rae said that after a few days of texting he felt a strange disassociation with the world around him. Rather than spending time fully interacting with other people, he was “subtitling and paraphrasing” his life, and publishing “a glib version” of himself.

A few Spark listeners/readers sent in their own experiences with teenage texting:
-One parent found her two children texting each other about the meal while sitting together at the dinner table.
-One high school student was sending 2000 texts a month and a significant portion of those were sent between 1am and 3am.
-A parent received a phone bill for over $500 accumulated during less than a month of texting by her teenage son. He was averaging 200 texts a day.

I’ve been a little slow getting into the world of text messaging. Right now, I’ve got 100 free texts a month and that is usually more than enough for me. When I think about teenagers who send 80 texts a day, only one thing comes to mind: communication overload. Is there such thing as TOO much communication? Too much connectivity? I think that text messaging is redefining our boundaries of availability and our standards of communication. We’re expanding quantity and downsizing quality. It’s a 24/7 world and it’s getting hard to separate ourselves from the technology we’ve created.

Texting isn’t just a teenage trend, but some of the effects on teenagers are a little startling. According to this article, physicians and psychologists have said that excessive texting is leading to “anxiety, distraction in school, falling grades, repetitive stress injury and sleep deprivation.” Instead of going to sleep or even finding a few minutes of peace and quiet at the end of the day, teenagers are interrupted by a beep, ring or vibration that is calling for an immediate response. And many times, where you find a teenager thumbing away on an unlimited texting plan, you can also find a parent leaning face first into a BlackBerry. I could write a lot more about this article and the effects of text messaging on teenagers, adults and families, but instead I’ll recommend that you read the article and leave you to think it over.

To text or not to text? That is the question.

June 21, 2009 Posted by | Really Relevant Interesting Stuff, Review of Monitored Site | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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 Papyrusnews.com 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, YouTube.com, 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

“social networks spread defiance online” – NY Times

Well guys and girls, this is supposed to be my traditional comment on my monitored site. But unfortunately my site has not been updated since May when I was originally assigned to Prof. Wesch’s blog. So lucky for you, I won’t be talking about YouTube or Anthropology today.

Instead I want to talk about how social networks are spreading defiance online. That’s right; I’m talking about the article in Monday’s New York Times. I found the link on Prof. Wesch’s blog.

Just so you know what I’m talking about: “As the embattled government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appears to be trying to limit Internet access and communications in Iran, new kinds of social media are challenging those traditional levers of state media control and allowing Iranians to find novel ways around the restrictions.”

Yup, the government has limited the country’s access to the Internet and has tried to stop Iranians from using Twitter to form groups and organize protests. Basically it comes down to censorship. This is really quite depressing if you think about it. These social tools are what’s keeping Iranians focused and positive and providing them a way to communicate with one another during such a trying time. The government was restricting the media coverage regarding the election so the only way the stories were being told and heard were through social tools such as Twitter. These tweets were being re-tweeted or “echoed” across the world.

Jonathan Zittrain, a professor at Harvard Law School (an Internet expert) said “As each new home for this material becomes a new target for censorship, a repressive system faces a game of whack-a-mole in blocking Internet address after Internet address carrying the subversive material.”

I encourage the class and DeNel to pay close attention to this story as it develops. I have a feeling this will bring light to social media issues we have not thought about before.

June 17, 2009 Posted by | Really Relevant Interesting Stuff, Review of Monitored Site | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

R.I.P Traditional Communication Tools

As this is my last post on my monitored site, SXSW, I was anxious to write about something SUPER cool to end it with a bang.

As I browsed through the latest updates to the site, I came across a clip of another award that was given out- Category: Blog – Sites that revolutionize the power of publishing by providing regularly updated content of a personal or professional nature.

This award went to a blog called The Bygone Bureau, Which was created by two college seniors. It’s basically an online newspaper which has over 2000 contributors. Many of them have not even met the two creators of the site.

In the interview after winning the award, one of the creators was asked if he thinks blogs will someday take over print newspapers. He responded “I really, really hope that newspapers don’t go away.”

Well, I really, really hope newspapers don’t go away either. In fact, I really, really hope that cd’s don’t go away (although that’s looking more and more of a possibility) and I really, really hope that comic books don’t go away, or person-to-person conversation, or bank tellers, or telling secrets to friends, or books, or dvd’s.

What I’m getting at here is that after 5 weeks of monitoring my site, looking back at all of my posts, they have almost all had to do with technology replacing mediums that have been around for ages! This goes for a lot of our class posts as well.

I think the progress that technology has made in such a short span of time is amazing. And amazingly scary.

I mean, I’m all for technology. I can’t live without my cell phone, can’t go anywhere without my iPod, checking facebook has basically become  part of my everyday life and yes, blogging is fun! I just find myself moving forward and not looking back, not taking the time to stop and think about just how much technology is advancing.

I hope that someday social media and traditional forms of communication can live in harmony, pleasing everyone. I would like to still be able to wake up in the morning and check the morning paper over coffee. Because I know myself too well, and a mug of coffee over a laptop just wouldn’t work.

What are your thoughts on technology replacing traditional communication? It’s EVERYWHERE!

On a side note: I will definitely still be keeping up with SXSW as often as I can. I suggest you all take a look at it too!

Hilary

June 16, 2009 Posted by | Really Relevant Interesting Stuff, Review of Monitored Site | , , | 1 Comment

Wikis and Tracking Social Media

Myself like many others in the class, began to think a lot about wikis as a academic tool. Upon completing the wiki and following it over the weeks, it was really interesting to see how it grew in content. While this was a great opportunity to learn how to use a wiki, there were some downfalls. The wiki as a tool isn’t the issue – its how we use it. I agree with the majority class that the wiki would best work with small groups, and have each group be in charged of a particular section. That being said I do feel it will always be important to keep up with the collaborative aspect of the wiki. Similar to communications plans, consistency and roles should be key in achieving an effective final project.

 In terms of the Political Analysis, it was very interesting to see the different ideas and recommendations for the different parties, and it really encouraged me to look more at what the parties are doing to connect with us. The wiki provided a free space to add information, however I almost feel like the paper component would have resulted in more critical thinking (about the issues, are they portraying their platform properly? Etc, as opposed to ascetics).

 Martin Delany as a guest speaker is always a treat. I had previously heard from him in research methods, so it was very insightful to learn about evaluation about social media. Throughout this degree we are very heavily focused on tactics, as opposed to research (preparation) and evaluation/measuring. One part of the lecture that stuck out to me was his emphasis on participation in social media, and the importance of doing something that pulls people in (T-Mobile). Who would have thought that such an easy initiative would have such huge results? Social media is meant to be used to help achieve this.  

 His suggestions on how to track social media (benchmark, traffic, engagement, brand, sales, loyalty) provided some great insight that I know I’ll take with me on any social media campaign I become involved in. As frequent users of social media, you can become accustomed to assuming you know it all, when really, there is so much more out there and more ways to evaluate it than you may have previously thought.  For me personally, I know I’ll be sure to check out the tracking tools Martin mentioned, such as tweet deck, blog pulse and google trends to help track any social media efforts I do for projects, as well as future professional efforts.

  All in all, great learning experience in using the wiki and great lecture from Martin!

June 15, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material, Really Relevant Interesting Stuff | 2 Comments

The List of Change

Last week, the Buzz Bin announced the launching of the List of Change – which ranks the top English-language change or cause related blogs. The great thing about the List of Change is that any blogger can submit their URL to potentially be part of the list. The List of Change is a collaborative effort between Geoff Livingston, programmer Shannon Whitley and Beth Kanter— a leading change blogger.

 The Team developed the initiative to help out the not for profit sector through creating a single point of aggregation for change blogs, which will help bloggers promote themselves and also benchmark their performance. The List will follow an opt-in ranking in which bloggers must submit their URL to become part of the ranking. The List of Change has no profit motivation, with no corporate affiliations, and it is the hopes of the team that the list will eventually move to the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s site. What a great initiative Geoff!

 Geoff updates that as of June 10th, the list includes 125 change blogs – 115 of which were added over the span of one week. The team still hopes to add to the List and improve on its function but for now the List will be used to help promote the 125 blogs.

 The List of Change is a great example of the power of blogging. While some people may feel like a blog is just that – a bunch of text someone puts online everyday, we often forget about all the bloggers out there that are trying to make a difference. Often times, the only reason we forget, is because we don’t know about them, and this list hopes to change that.

 To check out the List of Change click here!

June 15, 2009 Posted by | Really Relevant Interesting Stuff, Review of Monitored Site | Leave a comment

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