Archive | April, 2012

Buzzwords?

10 Apr

It seems like the word “buzzword” is a buzzword in itself these days.  Every couple of days there seems to be some new word or phrase circulating the media.  I’ll hear it on NPR during my morning commute to school, I’ll see it on Twitter and Facebook and my various news websites while I’m online, I’ll hear it on CNN when I get home from school and again at night when I watch the newest episodes of The Daily Show and the Colbert Report.

Especially in the political realm, buzzwords are like pieces of gum.  You pull one out in class and everyone perks their head up, trying to get a piece.  Someone coins a particularly witty word or phrase and all of the sudden, it’s everywhere.  A couple weeks ago, someone called Mitt Romney an Etch-a-Sketch.  I don’t even know the full story but I know that something about Mitt Romney and an Etch-a-Sketch were somehow related.

And I know that Etch-a-Sketch sales jumped something like 1500 percent after that particular buzzword started making its way through our conversations.

Buzzwords are a dream come true for social media analysts.  And for any company that might profit off of that word, as in the Etch-a-Sketch case.

When buzzwords are really active, it’s easy for researchers and analysts to measure what everyone’s talking about–with a simple search of the buzzword, they can catch up to the most current conversations happening about a topic.

Of course, my lack of education on the history of the great Etch-a-Sketch Revival that just happened is quite telling in itself.  People are using these buzzwords, but do they really know what they mean?

Sure they can spark a conversation, but how in-depth are the conversations surrounding these buzzwords?  With how fleeting they are in our rapidly evolving language, my guess is that they do not promote deep, sustainable conversations.  They’re just buzzwords.

Like a little bee.  They buzz by, you swat them away, and they’re gone. Until the next one comes along.

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Remember “Kony 2012”?

5 Apr

No? You don’t? Let me remind you.

About a month ago, Facebook and Twitter were lighting up with a new video and trending topic. “Kony 2012” was everywhere.  It was Invisible Children’s latest attempt to acquire money and enough public support to finally go after Joseph Kony, the man responsible for the abduction of Ugandan children to build a brain-washed army of children.  The video made a very emotional appeal and people were up in arms, ordering their bracelets and printing their KONY 2012 posters, ready to paint the town red and “make him famous.”

The video topped over 100 million views in six days, making it the most viral video in history.

As with all trends, the Kony 2012 movement and the Invisible Children ogranization faced much criticism.  Claims were made that only 30% of donations made to IC actually went to the cause and the rest went towards video production, travel and their pensions.  The tumblr “Visible Children” went almost as viral as the Kony video did and just as quickly as people had posted the video calling their Facebook friends to action, they were taking the videos down and slamming Invisible Children for being dishonest, money-hungry, ineffective co-conspirators with the Ugandan government.

Who’s to say what’s true or false?  I haven’t bothered to research the claims made against Invisible Children or the financials they’ve posted on their website in defense.

What I do know is this: nobody is talking about Kony 2012 these days, except maybe to comment on how no one is talking about Kony 2012 these days (like me!).

Take a look at the Google trend for the word “kony” during the month of March 2012.

Mentions of "kony" during the month of March 2012, compiled by Google Trends

As big of a movement as it started out as, as genius an employment of every facet of social media the Kony 2012 movement had the potential to be, it took less than a month for the world to give up on it.

And what happened to Jason Russel (the man narrating the video)?  Word on the street is, he had a mental breakdown after all of the criticism he and his organization faced.

Invisible Children posted a sequel to the original Kony 2012 video, but it didn’t amount to much.

Much like the Kony 2012 movement as a whole.

“Engage!” ch 18

3 Apr

In this chapter, Solis discusses the Conversation Prism and how the most important part about online communication is LISTENING!

One of his statements in this chapter that really stuck with me is the aphorism, “A happy customer tells several friends and an unhappy customer tells many more.”  That’s totally true! Even in my own experience, I’m way more likely to write a BAD review than a good one, more willing to warn people where NOT to take their business than to strongly suggest that they take it to a particular place.  I thought this was a good point for him to make.  Businesses need to be listening to these conversations because, like it or not, they’re going to be apart of them.  And they have about zero control over what is said about the company.  The only way they can change the conversation is to change their behavior.

The Conversation Prism itself contains a social map, which maps out the virtual social landscape from Yelp to StumbleUpon to flickr and about a million websites and networks I’ve never even heard of.  It’s really interesting when you look at the map and think about your own personal online landscape.  If I were to map out my own online social world it would consist of Facebook, Reddit and my email.  Up until this class, where I was forced to join and participate in Twitter, that’s all I did with my time.  I didn’t venture to any other social networking sites except to read a  blog or two.  I wasn’t active on any of them.

Any semblance of simplicity listening might have completely vanishes when looking at this map.  From the millions of blogs to the billions of tweets, from the discussion forums to the review websites, there is an endless supply of channels that need to be monitored. Businesses really need to have a plan for this.

Solis outlines what business and brands need to do to find the important conversations taking place about them and how to target their communication to influence the conversation (since they can’t outright edit them) to go in the direction that they want.

With time, the social landscape will only become more complex.  If they don’t start sooner or later, brands are never going to quite be able to manage and master the task of active listening.  Which sucks for them, because without being able to listen… they’ve pretty much already lost.