Posts Tagged ‘social media’

End of a Beginning

Just when I got accustomed to “forcing myself” to write 500 words each week, the social media course is approaching its end. To say the least, it was an intense journey.

  

What has blogging really brought into my life? To begin with, it has forced me to use my imagination, and think outside the box. Each week, I tried to come up with a topic that wasn’t consistent with my usual domain, and to explore things that I would normally not think about. Reading my classmates’ posts enabled me to see the world from their perspective, and to grasp at different ways a similar topic can be approached.  I always acknowledged the impact social media is having on the world we are currently a part of, but my blogging experience has given me a taste of how ‘powerful’ it can be to input and edit information for the whole world to see. I might not always say the right things, or have the correct approach to things I blog about, but my writing has been genuine in terms that it was honest, perhaps gullible at times, and always with the intention to spark conversation and engagement amongst those who cared to read it.

I was petrified of the technological implications this course brought along, but I feel more powerful as a PR professional having had the ability to experience and create some of the social media platforms.  At the beginning of my social media journey, I was worried about the technical adaptations I was never aware of in the past, but as the time progressed, my main consideration has been content. To my credit, I think that has been reflected in my writing over the past three months.

My biggest fear, at all times throughout this process, has been that of self-evaluation in terms of following. In other words, I was skeptical of whether people would care to skim through my website, read a line here and there, and at most, make some sort of a comment. To this day, I am afraid of the impact anything I say has on the society. The bottom line is- does anybody even care? If there is no following, what’s the point? Until today, the point was to pass the class, and get that check mark for maintaining a presence in the blogosphere on a weekly basis. But what happens when nobody expects you to say anything, and you are at liberty of exposing your mindset with the external world, at your own choosing?

Completion of the social media course will not signify my so-called resignation from the blogging world. I intend to maintain my presence, and provide perspectives and opinions to those interested in reading.  Hence, this is just the end of a beginning. Beginning of what? Stay tuned.

Should Facebook Have a Panic Button?

When thinking about social networking sites and security issues, I always remember the unfortunate cases of girls that would meet guys online (or vice-versa), agree to meet with them in real life, and then go missing until their lifeless bodies get found days later. Tragic and scary, to say the least!

A couple of months ago, a 17-year old British student told her mother she was spending the night at a friend’s house and instead made plans to meet with a boy she met on Facebook. Unfortunately, the young girl never returned home, as  her teenage “date” turned out to be a 32-year old sex offender, who raped and murdered her. The monster (who goes by the name Peter Chapman) eventually confessed and was jailed for life in March this year.

In the wake of poor girl’s murder, her family was joined by British child-protection advocates in demanding that Facebook install a so-called panic button on its pages that would enable people to access information about Internet safety topics such as cyber-stalking and sexual abuse. “It’s like a burglar alarm on your house: It tells anyone coming into that environment to engage with you that you’re protected”, said Jim Gamble, the head of Britain’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center. According to a recent Times article, MySpace and Bebo already have panic buttons. So why isn’t Facebook following in their steps?

           

Facebook had previously said it would not install a “panic button” on its main pages, but would develop its existing system and would install links to organizations including CEOP on its reporting pages. Last week, Mr. Gamble announced the agency had received 252 complaints about Facebook during the first three months of the year-with 40 % of them about the potential grooming of children. Although Facebook has maintained that its abuse-reporting system is strong enough, the recent UK developments on the site’s existing system will allow members to report abuse directly to the CEOP instead of through Facebook’s internal system. In other words, when British Facebook users click on “Report/Block” person tab, a pop-up box will appear providing a link to the CEOP website.

“If the proposal is that we should put the button on every single page of the website, we’re quite clear that that isn’t the quick-fix solution that will actually make users of Facebook safer than they are today”, says Richard Allan, director of European public policy for Facebook. However, in the words of Mr. Gamble, “ if you’re going to operate a business that encourages people to frequent your public place so that you can advertise to them, then let’s look after them while they’re there”.

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As the saga continues, Facebook spokeswoman Debbie Frost said that the company will be donating ad space worth $7.7 million to cyber-safety groups over the next two years. Regardless of the initiatives taken both by the social networking sites and cyber-stalker protection, people first need to be EDUCATED about online safety. Raising awareness amongst Internet-users and ensuring that the safety lessons learned in real life be applied online is an absolute MUST and the initial step to over-coming and avoid tragic situations.

        

Optimizing a Press Release for the Social Media

 

    

In duration of our recent class discussions, we spoke about ways to make our press releases suitable for bloggers and the overall demographics of social media. Our recent guest speaker, David Rosen, engaged us in some interesting questions regarding the ways we have to think about shareholders in traditional and social media.  Furthermore, he raised the concern of social media being a “current trend” which has enabled PR profession to reach its golden hour. But what happens in 5 years when everybody will be able to use this medium? Do we move concentrate our efforts on something different, or will our credibility and efficiency decrease? These are some powerful questions that require a lot of thought and that cannot be approached without doubt.

Amid the ongoing speculation on how to effectively convey our clients’ messages to social media, I compiled a short, comprehensive tips list. We all know that social media contributes to organization’s visibility, sales, investors and long-term marketing, but what are some of the most effective ways to approach the influencers, and get our clients covered by the Web 2.0 community? We are at a challenge of driving our messages deep into online audiences by optimizing press releases for search engines and social media. In terms of press releases, it is inevitable to enable our constituents to find our news online so that press releases can be seen at the critical moment when audiences are looking for relevant information and are most open to the messages we are providing them with.

Headlines

Must be short and succinct to gain most weight from search engines.

Keywords

Find out the keywords for which your client’s site is optimized. Using important keywords that the shareholders CAN RELATE TO improves the visibility of a message and increases the chances that the message will be found.

Link keywords

Include a URL for readers that may want more information, and link keywords to relevant web pages.

Create a tweetable headline

Add relevant #hashtags to give a message greater search opportunity. This way, audiences can interact with the given news via sharing sites, Twitter, digg, delicious, and blogs.

Integrating social media efforts into a press release shall with no doubt deliver more visibility to keyp messages, and will allow stakeholders to understand the larger picture of whatever it is you are trying to convey. I am certainly not an expert in the field, but have recently come to realize that while search optimization engines such as google do a fantastic job tracking documents, social media gets the appropriate followers. And let’s not forget that it gives that extra mileage out of each dollar spent.

  

 For more useful information on the topic, feel free to visit www.prnewswire.com

Social Networking and Web 2.0 for Charities

In the words of Allison Fine  in Momentum : ” The Net-Gen is plugged in, moving at Internet speed, and open-minded because they are coming into contact with so much information and so many different people from different places. The world is truly open to them and for them. The Net-Gen is ready to make social change happen. Are activist organizations ready for them?”

                                            

Social media without doubt has had an impact on the way we communicate with each other, conduct business transactions and approach opportunities that knock on our door. Following some reading I did regarding the non-profit organizations and their embrace of this technological phenomenon, I came to the following conclusion:

1. Social media can help non-profit-organizations engage their constituencies and deepen engagement from supporters.

According to the Nonprofit Social Network Survey Report conducted in March 2009, social networking has become an integral part of non-profits’ online strategy. Of the 929 respondents, 74.2 % have a presence on Facebook, and 30.9% have one or more social networking communities on their own website.

2. A number of NGO’s have been successful in using social media to change their cultures, and improve their programs and services. In her blog, Beth Kanter mentions the example of American Red Cross that began its social media campaign in 2006 by organizational listening strategy, which allowed them to take the input of their vocal critics and implement necessary changes for success.

3. Tremendous opportunity for non-profits

According to the Social Media Club and the Society of New Communications Research, trust in social media is significant among social media savvy would-be donors. 61 % of those aged 30-49 trust social networks and blogs to provide important information, as is the case with 44% of those 50 years or older.  Among 30-49 year olds, social media use is also very high with 91 percent of users participating in social networks, 81 percent participating in blogs, and 56 percent participating in message boards. Among those 50 and older, 94 percent participate in social networks, 78 percent participate in blogs, and 60 percent participate in message boards.

Social media can not only help non-profit organizations approach their audiences in a timely and cost-efficient manner, it also allows them to establish necessary support for successful campaigns. Furthermore, it allows for promotion of networking and fundraising, conveying their goal through visuals and sounds. And let’s not forget that it enables the above-mentioned organizations to get closer to younger generations and get them involved in their efforts.

However, a non-profit organization (or any organization for that matter) must be ready on all levels before implementing a social media campaign. For example, there is no purpose in creating a presence on facebook or twitter if one’s website hasn’t been updated in three months. In a similar manner, social media can help if it is used to target the audience that use it. So, if the group an organization is trying to approach does not use iPhone applications etc. what is the point?

A couple of useful points that I came across:

1. Pitch the right social networks

2. Prepare to lose control

3. Find an “expert” to help you.

4. Make a good first impression.

5. Know who is already pretending to be you. Farra discussed this in her presentation, with a vivid example of big duck domain that was already taken on Facebook.

6. Think of social networking as an investment in the future.

And let’s not forget what Clay Shirky,author of Here Comes Everybody said:  organizations of all kinds no longer have monopoly on coordinating or organising.  The Internet is good for short sharp shock organising, whereas institutions can provide continuity. @clayshirky : “tools get socially interesting when they get technologically boring”.

Social Media and Institutional Investors: a “New-Born” Relationship

 

In his book The Credible Company, D’Aprix credits the most important upsides of technology innovation for communication professionals to be  the ability to deliver unfiltered news to employee public almost instantly and provide for a more democratic information exchange between leadership and employees. Furthermore, he elaborates on the usage of social media and the fact that it has provided its users with the ability to broadcast their views and ideas without the usual gatekeepers. In other words, everyone now has the capability to be both author and publisher.

An article by Chris Daniels published in PRWeek discusses the impact social media may have in decisions of institutional investors and analysts, and finds its role to be very limited. In other words, a recent poll of investors and sell-side analysts found that only 4% ranked “new media” as the top influencer when making investment decisions. However, this does not diminish the power and influence of new media among many constituencies. According to the previously mentioned survey, 58% stated that they believe new media will become increasingly important in helping them make investment decisions.  See full size image                                    

Acknowledging the power social  media has on today’s generation, and it’s potential impact on today’s organizations, it is of uttermost importance to be aware of the challenges it imposes on the communication profession. Information professionals are at challenge of determining how to use and manage information from social networking sites and deliver them properly to a skeptical audience of employees and investors. Undesputable is the recognition that technology has opened up a Pandora’s box and revolutionized the way we interact in corporations and the ways in which we will do business going forward. It has also raised expectations about the role of internal communication professional relating to effective information management and delivery.

Social media might not serve as a direct source investors and analysts turn to (after all, it doesn’t carry the same credibility as more traditional communication tools) but it is certainly becoming a stepping stone that initiates conversations and creates frames.

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.