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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.


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.

The Art of the “Tweet-Up”

15 Mar

I’ve recently been turned on to the latest medium for in-depth conversation: Twitter, believe it or not! Yes, the website that forces you to chirp out your most profound thoughts and ideas in 140 characters or less can actually be used to have great discussions.

Tweet-ups, twitchats, tweet-meets, whatever-you-wanna-call-ems generally take place at a scheduled time, once a week.  They have a host and a corresponding #hashtag.  The host asks questions and every one partaking in the tweet-up tweets the answer with the hash tag.

I call this post “The ART of the Tweet-Up” because there is some  serious skill involved in keeping up with these discussions.  As instant as Twitter wants to think it is, it’s not as fluid as an oral dialogue.  You still need to wait for all of the Tweets to go through and if you’re a little bit behind, they’ll be on question 5 before you can get out the answer to question 2.  Not to mention all of the side chatting going on, all with the same hashtag.  Forget trying to multitask or doing more than one discussion at a time because you’ll get lost in an instant.  And maybe apologize to your regular followers because they’re about to be BOMBARDED with fragmented responses.

But after you work out all of the kinks (thank god we did some practice tweet ups in class… I’d be a lost little bird without being shown how they work), they’re seem to be very promising!

I found one that I have been following weekly called #journchat.  I’ve yet to add to the discussion because I want to become familiar with the style of questions and the usual participants (so that I don’t look like an idiot).  They seem to be a great way to network and gain followers with similar interests (both professional and otherwise) and stay up-t0-date on the current conversations.

I look forward to participating in Tweet-Ups in the future.  They are a great resource.  I encourage everyone to find a weekly Tweet-up related to their field.

“Engage!” Chapter 15

13 Mar

In this chapter is where I see myself as a digital middle child.

There are our parents and older siblings who see no reason to cultivate a digital reputation and persona.  Then there are our younger siblings who are already doing this and sharing EVERYTHING, with no misgivings.  Then there is myself and a lot of people my age.  We go about our business, sharing what we like to share but still resisting in someway.  We’re half committed to the the idea of having our entire reputation and personality displayed online, and have trouble coping with the fact that this is how we will be judged in our future, professional endeavors.

I like to express things and share but only with people who I know are looking.  For the most part, I have the privacy settings on my Facebook as high as I can get them and I don’t post anything personal on my Twitter.  I don’t really use any other social networking sites so when you search for me, there is not a whole lot that comes up.  Mr. Solis would probably think that’s a bad thing, but I don’t like the idea that someone is going to form an entire opinion on me based on a few things that I post.

I think that even if I DID share everything and foster a perfect digital reputation that allowed people to see everything I wanted to see as a professional, people still would not get the same impression of me as they would face-to-face.  I don’t like all of this talk about creating digital personalities.  Sure, they’re convenient but I really think we should still encourage face-to-face interaction!!!

I’m really stubborn about that, too.

Social Media and My Productivity (Or Lack Thereof)

7 Mar

A lot of discussion has been going on about employees surfing the web while they should be working and how much revenue companies are loosing because of it.

A quick Google search tells anything from $200 to $800 BILLION.  That’s right. $200,000,0000,000 to $800,000,000,000.

That’s a lot of zeros.  Could that be right?

When I think about how much valuable homework time I lose by just taking “a quick break” to check my Facebook (fast forward one hour and I’ll knee-deep in the comments section on a particularly good thread on Reddit, my homework long forgotten) for every hour (or less) I spend actually working and it seems about right.

Having the internet at my fingertips constantly, and having it be required for a lot of my homework, does absolutely NOTHING for my productivity.  It was a lot easier for me to get things done before MySpace and Facebook took over my whole life.  There was a point in my youth where I would open up a new tab in my web browser and instinctively type “,” even though I already had a tab open on that website and intended to go somewhere else.

But those days are long gone…  Now, I instinctively type “facebook.”

But what brings this up is a study that I just read that makes the very bold statement that surfing the web while doing work can actually make you MORE productive.  Apparently, taking a quick break to browse the internet can be just as refreshing as going out and grabbing a coffee, if not more refreshing.

Allowing employees to check out the websites they want (like Facebook) for a couple minutes allows them to return to their task restored and ready to keep working.

I guess this makes sense.  Once I finally drag myself back to my homework, I work a lot more diligently.

But of course, this could be because two hours have passed and I have no choice but to work diligently lest I miss my deadline.

Engage!: Chapter 12

6 Mar

I know that when I become a professional and start putting myself on-line not just for purposes of entertainment, I need to develop a “personality” for the brand that I end up creating for myself.  Solis stresses that it’s important that it’s important to be consistent with the professional personality- that is to say, let’s not mix business with pleasure.

It’s a good idea for companies’ employees to have two online personas/profiles: professional and personal.  But even with your personal profile, you have to be aware that if it is public, you likely that you will just naturally be associated with your profession and the company you work for.  While you will have your own personal space to technically say “whatever you want” it’s important to be mindful of the link that people will ultimately make between you and your job.

It’s also important that on the professional profile, everything that is said is devoid of any REAL LIFE personality of its user, if in conflict.  Every attribute and characteristic within each posting needs to be in line with that of the company.  While you are on your employee Twitter account, you are a direct representative and spokesperson for the brand for which you work.  The stuff posted on that profile may be tightly controlled, and it probably should be.

The best way to avoid mixing up business and pleasure is to just keep everything separate.  Don’t post about how hungover you are on your work Twitter or bash your boss on your personal Twitter, and I think you’ll be alright.