Social Media and my Louis Vuitton bag

I want to begin writing today by reminding you how limited my social media skills have been until two-three weeks ago when I started getting exposed to the convergence culture. You will soon understand what I mean.

I recently read a couple of very interesting chapters in Shirky’s “Here Comes Everybody” book about  modern society adopting new technology. Amongst other things, the author tells a story of a woman who lost her cellphone in a cab, and later had her phone company store copies of her information on its servers and transfer it to her new phone. Once the information had been transferred, she discovered that her original phone was actually found and “repossessed” by a young girl. The woman knew this because the girl was using it to take pictures of herself and email them to her friends; the same pictures were also sent to the lady’s new device. Victim’s brother, aggravated by the situation, started his own blog addressing the situation (after they were able to get in touch with the girl who refused to give the phone back) and sharing his disappointment and anger with a vast audience. As most of my readers are familiar with the outcome of the story (NYPD got involved, the girl got arrested, phone safely returned to its primary owner) I would just like to re-emphasize that the situation exemplified how the old limitations of the media have been radically reduced, with much of the power accruing to the former audience. As Sharky puts it, it demonstrates how a story can go from local to global in a heart beat.

Why am I talking about this? Because reading about Ivanna associated me with a recent unpleasant experience I had, and because I wish that I acknowledged the power of social media earlier than I did.

Back in December, I was flying to Serbia for the holidays. My luggage was checked in at JFK Airport in New York, and even though the flight wasn’t direct (I was flying through Paris), the bags were sent to Belgrade. Upon my arrival to my hometown, I realized that neither I, or the other passengers who flew from the US had received their luggage. It got delayed at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, and Air France promised to have it delivered to our houses in the next two days. Frustrating, but not unusual.

Two days later, I received my bags. However, a Louis Vuitton purse I packed inside one of my bags was MISSING. All the other content was there, neatly folded as if it had never been touched. In other words, somebody SOMEWHERE (where? America? France? Serbia?) conveniently opened my luggage, pulled out the indisputably expensive product shining back at them, and sent the rest of the stuff back to me. To say the least, I was in state of shock that something like this would happen, and uncertain of what to do. Unfortunately, I waited too long to report the item as missing and when I did, Air France customer representative kindly told me that they wouldn’t reimburse me. They did apologize, for the luggage getting stuck in Paris, but they failed to mention ANYTHING about my bag getting stolen while under their property and care.

  I wonder, if I knew what I know today, just a month later, would I have had a similar outcome with the woman whose phone got returned? If I started a blog, a facebook discussion, posted a bulletin board for everyone to read about my experience, would it have made a difference? Sharing my story with the world would have been the simplest way to take advantage of the new social tools and perhaps to entice collective action.

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There is no conclusion to the story, just a reminder to all of us getting acquainted with the world of social media-anything that changes the way groups function will have profound ramifications for everything from commerce and government to media and religion. Ask Shirky!

Why am I here today and what next?

Having graduated from college in the United States, completed four internships, and worked full-time at a New York City corporate communications firm, I sometimes have to pinch myself. I grew up in a part of the world where such opportunities were rarely possible, if ever. Though I’m proud of what I’ve already accomplished, I certainly have a sense that the best is yet to come and although my education and work-related experience have been fulfilling, I feel the immense need to further advance my knowledge and broaden my opportunities and personal expectations.

From an early age, it was evident that I would mature into becoming a communicator of some sort. In elementary school I naturally fell into the role of advisor, where fellow classmates came to me for advise and council when in need. During high school, I attracted a diverse-ranging network of friends and in university I evolved to non-chalantly seeking ways to contribute towards a smile on the face of a colleague or friend. I spent my time actively surrounding myself with others to avoid the displeasing feeling of being alone. I excelled amidst an audience because these are the moments I am most comfortable with myself and my full potential is reached. During the second year of university, I knew that I needed to take on more responsiblity and decided to implore my skills with a business partner to open a Karaoke bar located in Greece. Studio Bar Karaoke specializes in launching new talent while providing entertainment and opportunities to those wanting to enter the world of show business. It’s main concept is to help clients gain recognition and experience growth by creating branding, lifestyle events in search of establishing effective platforms for success.

I see myeself one day with a burgeoning career as a global communications specialist who will endorse her activities for the benefit of others in this global community of ours. A goal of mine has always been to apply a branded franchise model to the night life business. And naturally, one of my long-term goals involves becoming a part of the national campaign towards restoring the Serbian image. Sadly, for many reasons, my country’s reputation has been sullied in recent years and Serbia’s steady progress seems to go unnoticed. Quity simply, I’d like to change that.

As far as how social media “fits” into my short and long-term goals, the answer is simple. Learning how to handle and get the most out of this tool will allow me to achieve my objectives in a more efficient manner. Next week, I start a new internship at a boutique PR agency whose clients range from New York’s most established night clubs, to hotels, fashion designers and celebrities. During my interview process, my supervisors emphasized to me the importance of social media in their every-day work. To say the least, I now realize just how much I underestimated the power of facebook, twitter and blogging itself. Fortunately, I am given a chance to redeem myself. My new journey begins next week and I look forward to keeping you posted on my progress.

And don’t forget, social media success begins with each one of us!

Tech-savy? Not me.

I usually find relief in writing, yet the problem I have is that I cannot be creative unless I am inspired. I don’t know if this falls under the category of  having “writer’s blog” but I’ve been struggling with it for as long as I can remember. I truly admire journalists who, when on assignment, can tune in and restlessly come up with a 1000 word article. In a similar manner, aren’t we PR professionals met with challenges when crafting press releases, or agendas for clients? Either way, I have a long way to go before I master my writing skills or reach the level where I can at ease face the everyday challenges of written expression.

Another challenge I am faced with in the ever-changing world is the relatively new concept of social media. I recall 2-3 years ago all of my friends opening up their Facebook accounts, and I refused to do the same as I failed to see the potential of this powerful site. Soon enough, I succumbed to temptation and to this day remain addicted. Facebook not only allows me to keep in touch with dear people, but it also enables me to find people I have long lost touch with in all parts of the world.  Fortunately or unfortunately, facebook ocassionally becomes my obsession and a perfect site for wasting time that could be used in a more efficient way. To my credit, facebook remains the only true addiction for me in the social media world. I am a relatively new user of Twitter and until now, have failed to absorb the true meaning of this medium, and its benefits over other social sites. However, I am willing to commit more to exploring it, and it will be interesting to see what conclusion I come up with.

Overall, I must admit that I am quite technologically challenged. In other words, I do not handle blogs and similar novelities with an ease that I should, which is why I am thrilled to be a part of the social media class. I am excited to learn about all the new things that are present in the technology world, and am ready to equip myself with the knowledge of how to use such tools to my benefit. This is going to be a long journey, and a beginning of something that I might not yet be aware of.

Until then, my name is Sara and this is my first attempt of writing a blog :)! I hope to keep you all entertained, and most of all, I hope that my experiences will benefit each one of you in a special way.

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