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!

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.

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!