New Beginnings

Fireworks #1 from Camera Slayer

I can’t believe this is the final post for social media class. I must say starting my own Twitter and blog page was a bit nerve racking at first. It was my first foray into the social media world and I wasn’t sure how I would fair. Surprisingly, the creation of both sites was very easy and the instructions were user friendly.

By my second post, I became very comfortable with the various techniques and skill set needed to make my blog not only functional but interesting. I also credit Professor Laurel Hart for making the transition seamless for those of us who are technically challenged when it comes to this medium. Although, I had some issues coming up with blog topics at times, I found that adhering to the 300-400 word count was no longer a challenge as time went on. Just a few days ago, I was looking back at my earlier blogs and I couldn’t believe how much I’ve grown from the first post.

Creating and writing my blog made me feel like the editor of my own paper. I had complete autonomy over the images and links that I chose to use. It really is liberating when you have the opportunity to do and say what you want. My most recent post on the food truck revolution received a comment from a local food enthusiast who covers food trucks within his neighborhood. It was definitely exciting to see another person share the same interests.

 I am still a bit indecisive about whether or not I will continue blogging.  This requires a great deal of time and commitment in order to do it successfully.  What I am certain is that I will continue to tweet.  I’ve become a huge fan of bit.ly and using it at this point is second nature to me.

Social media class has given me a new found independence and confidence. When I venture out to look for job opportunities in the public relations sector, I will be more prepared to handle positions that have a social media component.

The New Age of O

Oprah by nayrb7

Leave it to the queen of media Oprah Winfrey to start a major trend. Since leaving daytime television to start her OWN Network, Oprah has found new ways to engage her television viewers through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Skype. Through these mediums she is able to get live unaltered comments and questions from her fans. Oprah’s social media strategies have been analyzed and written about by notable online publications such as Mashable, Social Media Today, and social media expert Chris Brogan.

So what is the secret of Oprah’s social media strategy? Well, since the beginning of her groundbreaking show 25 years ago, Oprah understands that we as human beings have a strong need to connect with  each other. Whether it’s sharing a recipe or getting advice on life altering events in our lives, communication is the key. Knowing that there are other people who have endured similar trials and tribulations helps us all gain strength and comfort. This is what her Lifeclass series brings to viewers around the world and social media is giving viewers a chance to discuss their issues in real-time. It’s almost like having a therapy session without paying the expensive hourly rate.

The rule of engagement is another powerful component in Oprah’s approach.  Through social media, Oprah is keeping her audiences stimulated and interested in the various issues that are being discussed.  Online viewers get a  behind–the-scenes look of the show during commercial breaks. As noted in a recent Social Media Today article, social media is vital in helping businesses build a sustainable audience base. Oprah has integrated this tool into every facet of her media empire.

 In addition, Oprah manages her own Twitter account; no one is allowed to tweet for her. Bloggers also play an integral role in the success of her Lifeclass.  Bloggers are more passionate about their issues and have a strong following. It is this word- of-mouth marketing that is helping to expand the Oprah brand.

So what have we learned from Oprah? Be sincere, be authentic, and be passionate. If you use the right medium, you can create a lasting impression that will eventually change lives!

The Food Truck Revolution and Social Media

Gandolfo's at Dallas Gourmet from BetterBizIdeas

Some of the most innovative use of social media campaigns is from burgeoning entrepreneurs in the food trucking industry. In the past few years, there has been a growing demand to provide city dwellers with gourmet eats that are easy on the wallet. Facebook and Twitter are being used to create business and develop a devoted customer base.  Even The Cooking Channel has featured a group of noteable food truckers from around the country. Many are using social media to inform customers about their location and weekly specials, so that they stay in touch with customers wherever they are.

 These trucks have gained such popularity that it is causing stiff competition for some brick and mortar eateries within their vicinity.  The mentality of many loyal customers is why spend an exorbitant amount of money at a five star restaurant when you can get a gourmet meal at rock bottom prices.

In a recent conference conducted by South by Southwest Interactive, a panel of experts talked about how food truckers  can promote their businesses through various forms of social media.  The panel identified some key components that are essential in ensuring success.

1.Transparency – Show the origin of the product. It is important for customers to know about how the dish was made and the local ingredients used to make it. This helps people feel connected with the process.  Also include photos, they are equally important. Everyone wants to see what their eating.

 2.Offering information in real time- Use social media to inform your customers of any changes in location or menu. Keeping them well informed will also create a sense of trust between business owners and customers.

 3.Cultivate a community –Develop a community of fans.

 4.Genuine tactics- Utilize Facebook, Yelp, and Twitter. Start with a small group of devoted customers and expand. 

The Lardon Food Truck from Sklathill

  If you are interested in finding a food truck in your neck of the woods, visit foodtruckdirectory .com. Bon Appetit!

Zappos.com: Social Nirvana

Zappos HQ Tour bylowlevelrebel

Zappos.com  is an online retailer that is truly utilizing social media to put its customers first. The website has a user friendly approach, which allows customers to peruse the website with ease. Zappos boasts an array of social media components that keeps the most demanding fashionista entertained with a multitude of choices. Their tweet wall, weekly fashion newsletters, and blogs keep customers engaged and informed. At the core of their success are their social media values. They have adopted three core social media values of transparency, authenticity, and value. Essentially, pleasing the customer and making sure the shopping experience is first rate with their 24 hour customer service assistance.  Employees are encouraged to send cards and gifts to their favorite customers as a way to establish a more emotional connection.  Zappos believes that social media should be used as a tool to build  strong personal relationships with their customer base.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, by ManoelNetto

  Tony Hsieh, Zappos’ CEO encourages  a participatory culture, where employees can tweet about their ideas and experiences with the company.  Hsieh is not tucked away in a corner office. He is constantly on Twitter talking and interacting with customers not just about the website but the daily inner workings of the company. All employees including Hsieh sit in open cubicles with the rest of the staff to promote an egalitarian environment where hierarchies do not exist .  An open door policy helps to foster creativity and innovation. Zappos recently has been recognized by the online business community for using social media as a business strategy to motivate their corporate culture.  Websites such as social media examiner and social media explorer applauds  Zappos for their efforts.

 Zappos is also extending a helping hand to other companies that are interested in enhancing their business with social media.  The Zappos Insights website was created to help businesses find a culture that will work for their organizations. They offer training bootcamp, specialized online curriculum,  and a wide array of tactics that will help to replicate the kind of success Zappos has experienced in the past few years.

The New Age of Advocacy

Advocacy Now by Erutan

Social advocacy is at the root of all the social movements that we have witnessed throughout history. We’ve seen advocacy in its finest form  from the civil rights movement, which brought about change socially and politically to AIDS awareness, where groups such as ACT UP took to the streets to demand change for people suffering from HIV and AIDS. Despite the fact that social media wasn’t a part of our lives at that point and time, the voices of the people were heard loud and clear. The Twitter of yesteryear was word of mouth and good old fashion pounding of the pavement.

Online Advocacy by Matthew Burpee

Today, advocacy has taken a new form through social media. Twitter , Facebook, and blogs are used to galvanize communities and create awareness globally. The keyboard is now an instrument of empowerment. Advocacy groups are enlisting the help of organizations such as Socialbrite.org  to attract and maintain supporters. Politicians are also taking a part in this as a way to make their positions known to their constituents. On a personal note,  I am following a few of my local politicians on Twitter to get a sense of what issues matter to them the most . It helps me to become well informed about local issues and I ‘ll get a sense of  what the prevailing  campaign platforms are  from politicians, if and when they decide to run for reelection.

It seems that the key ingredients to online advocacy are to be passionate and engaging to your audience. If your passionate about your cause and it is demonstrated in your writings and in all that you do, people will be more eager to learn about the issues that you care about. Without that element of passion, your issues will not resonate with your key audience base.

As always, please let me know what you think.

Consumers Know Best

Companies are jocking up for position on a daily basis to find  new customers who will help to enhance  their financial and social visibility in the marketplace.  As social media continues to play a vital role in commerce, consumers are  taking an active position in how products are viewed and sold.  Today, there are boundless opportunities for consumers to rate items and give their unsolicited testimonials. The customer service component is key for survival in this everchanging global economy. The most powerful commandment in the world of  e-business is Know Thy Audience.

Although consumers have the freedom to write reviews and make valid contributions, they cannot claim ownership of the information. The content is in the hands of the company and is kept in what computer industry professionals call “silos”.  In “Cluetrain Manifesto,” Doc Searls proposed a new frontier for consumers that is called Vendor Relationship Management (VRM), where consumers have autonomy over their information. Consumers can manage their own relationships without the help of the larger business community.  Personal information will be controlled by the individual and content is yours to manage.

I personally think that this is a very exciting new possibility for the future of the Internet. The  overwhelming concern for many is  that  private information might be sold to the highest bidder.  In the world of the VRM system that will be  virtually nonexistent. The consumer will be able to track their searches without fearing for the worst.  As with any new invention, there will be some hurdles to overcome. The old adage of there is no progress without struggle holds true for everything in life.  I am sure that there will be some difficulties in implementing this new technology, but I am certain that we will all be better off in the long run.

As always, I am inviting you to add your comments and suggestions. I would love to hear alternative points of view on this topic. See you next week.

Social Media Frenzy

With the advent of social media, the role of professional  communicators has become increasingly complex. Public realtions experts must be able to navigate the treacherous waters of this everchanging technological landscape.  News events happen at such an exceedingly high pace that there is no room for error.  Twitter, Facebook , text messaging and other various forms of communication are now the norm in our society. A skilled  public relations professional must be able to use these tools wisely to bring information and also quell the flames of an impending scandal.

Communicators are no longer just purveyors of information, but the guardian of a  company’s image. In today’s tech driven environment , it seems as though you must have a detailed statement prepared in the event of a disaster.  More than ever, public relations experts have to utilize these  mediums to their advantage or be trampled by competitors.

At times, I feel that this new wave of technology can be a bit overwhelming .  It  has become more of a juggling act to keep everything in balance.  News whether good or bad will always make the headlines. More often than not, it is  the scandalous and controversial new stories that will capture our attention.  A decade ago,  we had more control over how information was  consumed and distributed. Now, the average person can create their own news bureau. I am not saying that this new medium isn’t a great way t0 communicate with families, friends and colleagues. The challenge is to maintain control over privacy and other  pertinent information.  There is a great deal of good that has come out these forums. People have the freedom  and power to create  new ways to communicate and express themselves individually, but it must be done with respect and care.

Please let me know what you think. Feel free to share your thoughts and comments. They are all appreciated!

Previous Older Entries