Posts Tagged social media

Social Media Plan for Mad River Glen

Below, please see the Prezi I developed based on my final project this semester.  I developed a 10 page social media plan for Mad River Glen, recommending four specific platforms to focus efforts on.

Enjoy (and let me know if you’d like to see the full plan)!

It won’t embed– so check it out here: Mad River Glen’s Social Media Plan on Prezi

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My thoughts on Millennial Makeover

In Millennial Makeover, Winograd and Hais depict a true idealogical realignment.  As with the five major realignments they outline, this one stems from a big moment in history— 9/11, but only in conjunction with the technological developments that both complicate and simplify life for our generation.

Being a millennial myself, I thought it was a great read.  I agree that our generation seems more group oriented and also more focused on social impact than previous generations— but then again, maybe everyone is at this young age, before they get jaded.  I found it interesting that Winograd and Hais specifically tied these attributes to the democratic party, and the 2008 election certainly demonstrated that as young people connected to the campaign via social media and voted in droves to elect President Obama.

Like many of our readings this semester, the book emphasizes the importance of utilizing emerging technologies like social media in order to reach millennials.  As the generation most likely to embrace technology, innovative thinking and strategy is critical in order to win us over.  As campaigning, fundraising, and lobbying strategies have already been changed drastically by the ways of the millennials— is realignment the next step?  The authors sure think so.

After this month’s recent Planned Parenthood nonsense, I look forward to the future, which the authors identify as a time when “the power of social issues to drive our political debate will wane” because the electorate will be much more socially tolerant and accepting as a whole.

Of course, the book came out before the 2008 election— and it predicted correctly that the Dems would win, with Obama as their pick.  As millennials continue to vote and mature as candidates and participants of the political arena, their reach will only expand (the book points out that we’ll make up a large share of the electorate by 2016), and if the consensus effect continues to play a role in decision making, its likely that many will be on the same political page.  As a fairly liberal democrat, I would be very interested to hear what someone of the opposite perspective would think of this book— I think I’ll pass it along to my brother to see how his interpretations differ!

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Social Media Engagement and Impact

Prof. Rosenblatts series on Frogloop are a great summation of some essential social media concepts, tools, and best practices.  Check them out here: Measuring the Impact of Your Social Media Program, and Rules of Social Media Engagement.

Here are a few important concepts, defined in brief:

Influence: the measure of strength for your social media program.  Can be broken down into three concepts:

  1. Engagement: the interaction among people
  2. Reach: the size of your audience, how many people see your social advocacy messages
  3. Driving web traffic: this is a great metric, but most people will see your messages and not click on any links.  This is why it’s important to ensure the message is conveyed -entirely- in the post itself.

Tools: the best and worst part about Twitter is that it works best when used in conjunction with multiple other tools.  Some are obvious, like bit.ly to shorten and track links, but some are just as useful, but less visible.

  • Retweets: RetweetRank.com and SocialMention.com will give you an idea of your reach via Retweets.
  • Influence: Klout.com and Twitalyzer.com can give you a idea of your (and your competitors, partners, etc) level of influence compared to others.
  • Audience Size: TwitterCounter.com helps you analyze audience size and growth, MyTweeple.com lets you identify who among your followers are influencers.
  • Hashtags: Hashtags.org helps to get an idea of who is using hashtags, and how frequently.
  • Impressions: BackType.com tells you how many times a link appeared on someone else’s screen.

Utilize Twitter: Influence can only increase by using Twitter “correctly:” #FollowFriday participation, Retweets, hashtags, and Twitter lists should be used when appropriate.

So, with all of the great info from the Frogloop posts, I decided to research my own Twitter presence: @laurenlaughs.  My Klout score is 35, and the tool tells me that I am an explorer:

You actively engage in the social web, constantly trying out new ways to interact and network. You’re exploring the ecosystem and making it work for you. Your level of activity and engagement shows that you “get it”, we predict you’ll be moving up.

I laughed at my influential topics: David Baldacci (an author who I like, but I have probably Tweeted about like twice), Washington DC, (obviously), Fort Reno Park (I like the summer concert series there), and Facebook.  I’m a bit skeptical of the tool, as it said I was listed on 25 Twitter lists when the number is actually 37.

According to Twitalyzer, my Impact score is .6%, which places me in the 45th percentile.  I’m a Social Butterfly- someone who is active within their individual network.  They guessed that I was female, between 21 and 24, and lived in Washington, DC, all of which is correct.

Again, I laughed at the influential topics selected for me, especially since none of them overlapped with what Klout identified:

blogging clothing culture fashion geography of the united states marriage mass media Public Relations Industry wuphf.com

Overall, I think these tools are great for quick, topline analysis, but that nothing can beat actually familiarizing oneself with a user as a way to gauge influence.  I look forward to trying out more of these tools in the future.

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Engage! Business + Brands + Social Media

Brian Solis’ Engage! is a great study of the current social media landscape. For those who are sold on the importance of businesses engaging on social media platforms, it takes things a step further by looking at the tenets of the business world, like customer relationship management, social media policies and standards, and vendor relationship management. Solis approaches social media keeping sociology, anthropology, and ethnography in mind.
Engage!

Similarly to Groundswell, Solis emphasizes the importance of a strategic approach to social media: just joining in order to establish a presence is not just elementary, but a recipe for disaster. He emphasizes that social media is used not just to reach out to customers, and not just to reach out to potential customers: focusing on Social Relationship Management (SRM) is what it boils down to. Just like in Groundswell, Solis celebrates the end of traditional media as the gatekeepers to communicating with the public.

One thing that Solis’ book excels at is the organization of social media– both visuals and lists help to explains sometimes complicated theories. There are many useful lists and outlines in the book– a collection of four P’s and four C’s as adaptations of the marketing mix, a list of social search tools, and an outline for corporate social media policies, to name a few.

Anyone who has dabbled with social media strategy has seen the Conversation Prism, but I had never thought about who to attribute it to. I enjoyed actually reading an explanation of it, because my previous encounters with the prism were more of a demonstration of the complicated nature of social media.

Solis’ Conversation Prism helps to map “the conversation” by cataloging social networks within certain categories (i.e., social bookmarking, blog platforms, and forums). The epicenter of the prism is the organization, which must listen, strategize, and execute social media tactics. The second circle is the workforce, which represents the fragmented nature/reality of social media within very large organizations, where different departments (i.e., customer service, marketing, and PR) will require varied involvement in an organization’s social media activities. The third circle is the actual conversation: where the interaction and engagement actually takes place.
Conversation Prism

What I learned from the Conversation Prism is emphasized throughout the book: various factions within a large organization will want to participate in social media activities, and they all have legitimate reasons to do so. Without a central “hub” or group to facilitate that participation, fragmented communications will become a reality, only diluting the potential power of social media rather than harnessing it. One thing that really spoke to me in the book that helps to address this challenge was Solis’ example of Intel Insiders, their social media board of external advisors that serve as a sounding board and a guiding force. This is definitely something that Mad River Glen and other organizations should consider when developing social media plans. Cognitive diversity is pronounced across social media platforms, and people outside of the company with varying experiences and expertise can serve as a mini focus-group and produce a wealth of ideas.

Here’s a quick look at the Intel Insiders program:

Beyond the social media board of advisors, there are several important lessons for Mad River Glen in Engage! For example, rather than segmenting the What’s New page of their website by social media platform, they could use a tool like FriendFeed to develop a lifestream, which would integrate updates and provide more of a realtime look at what’s going on across different platforms. In several places throughout the book, Solis mentions transitioning the online relationship to real life. For Mad River Glen, this would be a breeze– anyone who is engaging with them on social media is likely to be a skier. Using Meetup.com could help facilitate this.

Overall, I found Engage! to be similar to social media itself in that it was disorganized and a bit overwhelming. At times, it felt like I was reading a series of diary/blog posts rather than a sequential book. At the same time, underneath the somewhat confusing and overwhelming surface of the book, Solis shared some fantastic insight and demonstrated his clear knowledge of the social media realm. Despite some shortcomings, I think the book is an essential read for any social media pioneer within a large or small company– from defining ROI to establishing a conversation index, Solis’ expertise is worth sharing.

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Internet access among diverse audiences

Something quite powerful that was mentioned in this week’s videos is the idea that social media is literally flattening the world.  As smart phones and Internet access are more and more prevalent, outreach to wider audiences is more and more possible.

Recent events have highlighted the absolute importance of Internet access when it comes to reaching repressed audiences.  The State Department’s recent announcement of a policy on Internet freedom, covered by The New York Times shows just how important that is.

The State Department announcement re-affirmed their support of the free flow of information (though NYT points out that Wikileaks is a glaring exception to this affirmation), and highlights the types of services that it will support in an aim to prevent oppressive governments from limiting the freedoms of its citizens via the Internet.  These include:

  • Circumvention services, allowing Internet users to work around firewalls
  • Training so that relevant parties can secure email from surveillance or wipe cell phones if they are in danger

It will be interesting to see how the U.S. government’s public support of Internet access for all plays out.  This research could also help the government innovate its practices in crisis situations or other instances in which Internet access is especially strained.

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Organizing Groups and Online Capabilities

In Clay Shirky’s book Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, one theme is central: technological developments have made groups much easier to develop, organize, and sustain.

Groups that could have never existed before now thrive online.  Someone in Ann Arbor, Michigan can interact with someone covering the Grammy’s red carpet on Twitter.  Someone in Birmingham, Alabama can comment on an NYC fashionista’s planned outfit.  And so on, and so forth— interaction is like it has never been before.

Working together has become easier in leaps and bounds.  Coworkers can build projects using an online Wiki rather than navigating a complicated shared computer drive.  Individuals interested in niche topics, like collecting marbles, can share knowledge instantaneously rather than only at an annual meeting.  This has implications not just for social purposes, but for political and societal purposes as well.

Shirky points out that “before,” in order for an idea to be explored to its full potential, someone had to believe in it enough to fund it. Now, the Internet allows the public to collaborate, work, share, all on projects that would not be possibly without it.  As he points out, “most of the barriers to group action have collapsed, and without these barriers, we are free to explore new ways of gathering together and getting things done.”  Established leaders are no longer required— even if they make things easier.

In fact, it’s likely that this capability of the Internet to simplify group activity is one of the reasons why it spread.  Shirky says that “our basic human desires and talents for group efforts are stymied by the complexities of group action at every turn,” thus it’s no surprise that online tools like Doodle, which help groups identify scheduling opportunities, become so popular.

One of the most interesting implications for the opportunity that online organizing presents is the increase in the wealth of content available.  Shirky’s classification of journalists as the traditional gatekeepers, and of media executives as business people who must make difficult decisions about what news warrants coverage is important— and as he points out, losing relevance each day.  The ease of online publishing presents opportunities for extensive coverage of things that never before received attention— obscure sports, time-consuming investigative stories, breaking news in developing countries, and so forth.

But as the content increases, the difficulty becomes uncovering and curating the worthwhile content.  Shirky points out that much online conversation occurs within small groups and, though anyone can find it, is not intended to be public facing.  On top of that, low-quality writing is prevalent, as is bias.  But beyond that, so much good content is out there that it actually becomes overwhelming.

Shirky asks an important question when he asks how a journalist is defined these days.  On a more basic level— who gets press passes?  Are bloggers more important VIPs than the traditional media?  A recent study showed bloggers more influential in the entertainment and technology realms than mainstream publications.  Personally, Shirky’s idea that “the old division of amateur and professional is only a gradient rather than a gap” really struck a chord with me.  I think that influence is gaining more and more importance— more than prominence and professional title.

Here Comes Everybody is an important read— it assumes familiarity with digital tools and instead looks at the societal implications of it all.  With current events in Egypt and other countries relying on social media for organization and communication more than ever before, Shirky’s points only become more relevant and important. I really enjoyed the book, and can’t wait to see how groups continue to evolve as platforms and the digital realm change rapidly.

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Social media on a local scale

One of the most important things about social media in the political realm is that it allows people to connect on a local level.  Even when a politician is traveling, they can access social media platforms on their phones and laptops.  Even when time is tight, they can quickly send a tweet or share an article via a blog post on the fly.  On a local level, the low cost/barrier of entry is a great opportunity for politicians.

This opportunity for direct connections is a brand new concept— one that allows politician and constituent communications like never before.

Josh Sternberg’s 2009 Mashable article How Local Politicians Are Using Social Media gives many great examples of this, with the emphasis that “ultimately, the strongest aspect of social media is the human element.”  The power of social media is that it can bring together people who would not otherwise be able to connect, with much less effort and money than other initiatives.

I think that what the Mashable article demonstrates is the importance of being where the people are.  Determining the platforms that your audiences use is essential to reach them.  Only the very dedicated would actually join a social media platform dedicated to a specific politician or political issue, but if a politician is able to join platforms like Twitter and Facebook where their audiences are already active, they can easily communicate with them.

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