Engage!- Chapter 11

21 Feb

This chapter discusses syndication, illustration and aggregation.  This is also where my social media cognition stumbles and eventually drops off.

Solis talks about creating seamless streams of content from one network to the other (for example, posting on tumblr, which then gets automatically tweeted, which then gets shared on Facebook… I think…) to increase your brand’s SEO and SMO.  That’s all fine and dandy, until you mess up the process and all of the sudden you’ve got the same post coming through multiple times and getting lost and sending users in a circle until they eventually want to just throw their computer out of the window… at least, that’s what I want to do when trying to figure out how all of this works.

I understand that this idea of syndication is meant to make things simpler and flow more smoothly, but I personally find it a lot easier to keep track of things when I do everything manually.  Of course, there is a reason I am not a social media strategist.  But it really does seem to be a lot more complicated than it should be, getting people to navigate your web content.  Guiding users to the endpoint, a destination or “hub” that Solis says needs to be determined in the beginning, reminds me of a lab maze where every piece of cheese represents a useful click on a web page to eventually get you, the rat, to the goal.

When you get down to it, you just learn so much about how calculated successful social media plans really are.  And I don’t think I can ever do anything like this with my life.  I just like to post clever things and cynical social commentary on Facebook.  Even with all of this evidence in front of my face, I just find it really hard to give in and accept that this is the way things are going to be now.


Let’s talk about Pinterest.

16 Feb

In the ever-changing online world, there always seems to be a new craze that everyone is jumping for. The current flavor of the month? Pinterest. Everyone is talking about it. As it turns out, Pinterest is the fastest growing website, ever.

I will admit that even I have recently become addicted to the website, which is unusual for me-I try to abstain from getting myself involved with every new social network and internet trend.

However, I am still trying to figure out it’s professional merit in the fields that use social media the most: PR and journalism.  A quick search on the site for “journalism” pulls up some interesting, humorous images and a few book links.  At a quick glance, nothing catches my attention as particularly helpful or useful on a local level–it’s nothing you can really use to find sources or get your work out there, as there are no local “networks” to connect to.

Journalism Warning Labels- these come up multiple times in the "journalism" search

A search for “public relations” seems to yield a little more useful results.  There are a lot of book recommendations and interesting infographics pertaining to PR and social media that have a lot of “quick and dirty” sort of information.  It links to books, informational sites about what PR actually is and successful PR agencies.  It also brings up Edward Bernays and Ivy Lee near the top of the page of pins–the fathers of PR.  These alone would provide fledgling PR students with some must-have information about their field.

Maybe it’s because Pinterest is just getting started that it doesn’t seem to yield many professional-field results.  It’s core user base seems to mostly be crafters, home decorators and foodies.  It is quite a fantastic place if you’re looking for cute DIY organizing ideas or great recipes.

Only time will tell if Pinterest will grow to be as useful as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIN in the professional world.  Facebook did not start out with any professional merit… It had to earn it.

One thing is for certain: Pinterest is something to keep a close watch on.

“Engage!” Chapter 9

14 Feb

This chapter has a lot about online videos and how to use them to promote your brand without being super obvious about it.

The most interesting thing I took away from this section of the chapter is that, “there’s no such thing as viral videos or viral marketing.” This is interesting to me because it seems that TONS of companies are abandoning traditional marketing (Don Draper would be out on the streets if he tried his tactics in today’s world) and going for the “viral” approach.

Even in television commercials, many companies use home video testimonials instead of the standard filmed customer review.  They do this to make the testimonial seem more honest and legitimate.  Half of the time, in the more typical commercials, you’re never sure if the person proclaiming the greatness of the product is genuine or just an actor.

But the reason I found it interesting that there’s no such thing as “viral marketing” is because you always forget that it’s the people spreading the video that make it go viral, not the video itself.  It seems like all your video needs to do is provide a good laugh and it will be an instant hit.  And with all of the coverage these viral videos get, it makes sense for millions of people to be trying really, really hard to become the next viral video star.

Brian Solis makes good points (as he usually does) that it’s about how you market your video that makes it go viral, and not JUST the content.  SMO in video tagging is really important because it allows viewers to reach your video through their searches.  It’s also important to be genuine and honest in your videos; if viewers can tell you’re staging something to get a lot of views, or being pushy/obvious in your brand promotion, they won’t want anything to do with it.

And the point of a video isn’t just to get a million views… it’s to get a message out to people! You don’t want to just have a video that’s funny for five with no real meaning.  People want something that they can relate to, that will stick with them.

Blog Evaluation

9 Feb

The blog I chose to evaluate is called PR In Your Pajamas: Practical Publicity for Entrepreneurs.  I found it on an online list of the top 100 PR blogs.

PR In Your Pajamas was created as a DIY public relations blog, to help small businesses and people interested in doing their own PR.  It was created by Elena Verlee, and entrepreneur and founder of the PR agency Cross Border Communications.  She boasts 20 years of “brand building experience” and has worked with both start-up and large scale businesses.

The blog gets updated regularly, twice in the last week, and contains a lot of information about using social media for public relations.  It is easy to read and navigate, perfect for looking up quick tips.  It also has a “start here” page, which has a nice list of quick links to important posts, explaining what PR is and how to use it effectively–good for learning new information or being refreshed if you’ve been out of the game for a while.

In addition to information geared solely to PR, Verlee uses the blog occasionally for posting information relevant to the success of ALL endeavors.  One of her recent posts featured a book titled Triple Your Time Today:  10 Proven Time Management Strategies to Help you Create and Save More Time! The post talked about how maximizing our sleep can ensure a more productive workday, contributing to the success of your business.

The author makes herself easy to reach by providing a contact page including a phone number and links to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.

This blog provides useful information within the content of the posts as well as through links provided within the template.  There is a list of resources on the side of the page which includes information on coaching, links to PR case studies, PR resources, time management and a slew of other helpful links.

While I think this blog is effective, it seems that there are already so many out there like it.  I haven’t seen anything new and different that this blog provides that I couldn’t get anywhere else.  It lacks the enthusiasm required to really put this blog on the map–it ranked 49/100.  One of the elements of a successful blog that Brian Solis mentions in his book, Engage!, is that that it fills a void or solves a problem.  Unfortunately, I do not think this blog really does that.  The blog contains useful information, yes, but it is nothing that can’t be found anywhere else.

Overall, I think this blog’s ranking (49/100) is suitable.  It’s a decent blog with good, easy to find information but it does not bring anything new to the table.  It would be something I could keep in mind if I needed a quick, crash-course on PR but as a whole, there isn’t a whole lot to keep me engaged and checking back regularly

Engage: Chapter 6 and 7

9 Feb

In chapter 6 of Engage!, Brian Solis discussed the importance of images in social media.  I agree that photo uploading is an integral part of any online communication.  The ubiquity of smart phones and their ability of upload images to Facebook, Twitter and Flickr on the go have completely changed the way we interact.  No longer do we need to describe where we are, what we’re doing or how much fun we’re having.  We can SHOW everyone, instantly.

I thought the number of how many photos are uploaded to Facebook was ASTOUNDING.  One billion a month!  But then I think about how often I upload pictures–at least 10 from my trip to Bell’s Brewery this weekend–and it’s totally believable.

I also thought that JetBlue’s use of their Flickr account was innovative and efficient.  A great way to get the word out about upcoming events and news… A picture is worth a thousand words, right?

In chapter 7, Solis talked about dashboards and social networks.  While I fully understand the concept of a social network, the dashboard is a little confusing to me.  Looking at the image provided for the Chevy VoltAge dashboard, I do not see any difference between a dashboard and a regular webpage.  Maybe these days websites are so interactive that they all follow the dashboard model?

Solis did give EXCELLENT advice in this chapter: “Do not make users create new login credentials.”  I tend to stay away from logging into accounts from my Facebook because I don’t like all of the connections, but when I want to log into a news website quickly to post a comment, it’s great when I don’t have to create an entirely new account.  I think it’s important for brands and businesses to remember that the easier it is for users to contribute to their content, with convenience and quickness, the more success they will have.

Engage: Chapter 4

31 Jan

In chapter four of Brian Solis’s Engage!, “The New Media University 101,” he discusses the influence of blogs, podcasts and wikis.

The interesting thing about blogs, as he points out, is that people severely underestimate the amount of effort a successful blog requires.  Many assume that just because their blog is out there, people are reading it. Many companies also assume that consumers are reading their corporate blogs.

The facts about the lacking credibility of corporate blogs (pg 26) were interesting, but not surprising.  As a consumer and very active user of the internet, I can relate to the skepticism.  I would much rather read a blog where I know the information is honest and not simply pushing a particular agenda or product.  Much like how newspapers really have to strive for objectivity, corporate bloggers need to maintain their dignity and keep their blogs informative rather than persuasive if they wish to be taken seriously.

Another thing that I’ve noticed in my personal experience with blogs is the language (not something discussed in this chapter, but still important to be mindful of).  I think a successful blog should read professionally.  Sure, they can have more of a conversational rhetoric, but they still need to maintain their formality as a business.  The writing style within a blog should reflect the public’s perception of their brand.  For example, references to popular internet memes would complement a geeky tech blog quite nicely–they  would not fare as well if referenced within the blog of popular outdoor equipment giant, Patagonia.

When it comes to wikis (pg 31), Solis discussed appropriately the user-based content control of Wikipedia pages.  As far as credibility goes, I generally accept the information on Wikipedia as accurate.  As Judy Breck discusses in her “golden swamp” concept, open-content is self-vetting.  Companies need to be fully aware of the public’s perception of their brand for this reason–it is inevitable that in a consumer-generated ecosystem, consumer opinion and experience will prevail.

Comment Log

30 Jan

Blog: Resonance; The Social Wavelength Blog, post: “#McDStories to ‘Dear Shameful’: Social Media is NOT easy for brands”
Comment awaiting approval!
“This is a great article that contains good advice for how to avoid social media gaffes….” I forgot to copy the comment before I added it and I can’t see what I wrote until it’s approved! I mentioned how important it is for brands to make sure that their social media communication runs smoothly, and especially liked the tip about factoring social media into the budget: just because the sites are free to use does not mean they don’t need to be professionally maintained!

Blog: State of Search, post: “Five Ways for Local Businesses to Grow their Twitter Followers and Business”
“This blog is so helpful! I started using these tips for the small business that I work for! Keep up the great advice :)”

Blog: Emily Stark’s class blog, post: “Viral media”
“Everyone is totally jumping on the viral bandwagon these days and trying to start some “buzz”. Volkswagon saw a lot of success at this year’s Super Bowl as a result of last year’s. They released a teaser trailer for their commercial this year. Yeah, yeah, it worked I guess. But COME ON!!!! A TRAILER for a COMMERCIAL?? Really? And it worked!
Ladies and gents, we’ve passed the point of being annoyed by commercials. Now we want to see commercials for upcoming commercials.  Good grief.”

Blog: The Brand Builder, post: 10 Things You Still Need to Know About Social Media/Social Business

“Great points! I like how all of them are straight and to the point– I like your tone. Sometimes you have to lay it all on the table and if these things are news to anyone, they’re doing it wrong!
I particularly liked the first point: social is what you ARE, not what you DO. If you don’t care about customer relations in real life, putting yourself on the internet is not going to make one difference. Social media is a TOOL, not a cure-all for crappy service/products.”

Blog: Dee Eunice, post: “Facebook the Changes”
“I am also annoyed with all of the rapid changes Facebook makes, but look at it this way: if they aren’t evolving and keeping up with the times (they are a-changin’), someone else will take its place. The reason Facebook became the new Myspace is because it literally became the NEW Myspace. Myspace maybe could have stayed on top, but they got too comfortable.
The customers/users control the market these days. Facebook must know what we want better than we do, because if they weren’t giving it to us, we’d just find it somewhere else. We all seem to hate the changes, yet we stick around and eventually just stop arguing.”

Blog: Solo-E.com, post: “How To Sell Your Services Using Client Success Stories”

“Just make sure your success stories method doesn’t backfire like #McDStories! Monitor carefully and honestly.”

Blog: Six Pixels of Separation, post: “The New Media Diet

“That is so true about the banner ads… I’m not sure why marketers thought that making them more invasive and annoying would make me more willing to click on them. The only reason I could imagine an increase in traffic would be from accidental clicks on the ad when trying to hit the moving X to close it!
As a “digital native” I urge marketers to try harder. COME AND GET ME!”

Blog: The Anti-Social Media, post: “Why Won’t Google+ Die?”

“I don’t know why people are still holding on to G+. Internet hipsters, I think. Too cool for Facebook but too stubborn to realize their ship is sinking.
G+ isn’t going anywhere! Still!”

Blog: Spin Sucks, post: “The KONY Video: What Worked and What Didn’t Work”

“It seemed as though Invisible Children put all of this effort into the video and then just kind of let it fall flat on its face.  Then they made a sequel video touting “awareness” as their main goal and down playing the lack of real action.  Internet activism at its finest.
Great analysis of the campaign!”

Blog: Ashley Hutcherson’s class blog, post: “We Never Mixed Business With Pleasure… Well Until Now”

“I would never take a job that asked that of me! I would turn them down and kindly tell them to screw off haha. I don’t think they need to go that far. If they can find my Facebook on their own and want to look through it, fine. But they’re certainly not getting my password nor will I log-on for them and let them peruse through all of my stuff. No way!
I don’t think this kind of stuff is important in new hires. Standard job interviews worked just fine 10 years ago. They can work just fine now.”

Blog: Kaitlyn Horbal’s class blog, post: “Can Social Media Split Families Apart?”
“Oh boy! I love how things that happen on Twitter are SUCH A BIG DEAL! I can’t even believe some of it is newsworthy… I remember it was a huge deal when Katy Perry unfollowed Russel Brand haha. Ridiculous!
But yes, people need to keep their family drama OFF OF THE INTERNET! I’ve seen a lot of crazy stuff on my newsfeed. People sometimes forget how public it all is. Use more discretion!”

Blog: Anthony Forte’s class blog, post: “Trayvon Martin and Social Media”

“Sometimes I think social media can do more harm than good. People, strangers I mean, are investing too much time into trying to re-construct Trayvon’s character, looking to justify his death. The same goes for Zimmerman, trying to either prove his innocence or demanding prosecution.
People fail to realize that it doesn’t MATTER what Trayvon posted on his Twitter before he was shot and killed. It doesn’t MATTER how nice and put together Zimmerman looks in a suit. All that matters and all that is relevant to the case is what happened that night. And people really should just stay out of it because they don’t know what happened.
And that dude with the hoodies comment needs to just shut his mouth. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. And I watched the first three seasons of Jersey Shore…”