Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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November 17, 2014

Is social media losing the “social” component to it?: Not necessarily

There are a lot of benefits for Twitter for students, professionals, and even professors. It provides a virtual community where people are able to share perspectives, brainstorm ideas, and network with others sharing the same interests and perspectives. I have found Twitter as my go-to platform nowadays – more so than Facebook. Was it like this for me a year or two ago? The answer would be no.

I have used Twitter only for my social media classes as a form to engage and interact with my students and professionals outside of the classroom. I’ve been able to connect with many great professionals all around the world and formulate very good professional relationships. Twitter has been a very prominent tool for me as a social media professor.

However, weekend discussions with some fellow professionals got me thinking about where Twitter is going as a conversation platform on social media. Is Twitter turning into the anti-social media platform for 2014 and 2015? We have seen other platforms arise this year that claim to be the anti-Facebook, like Ello has done. However, is this a bigger issue and topic to cover than just focusing on one platform? Is social media turning into an anti-social media platform?

A PR professional I had the chance to meet and talk to this summer is Stephen Waddington, who wrote a great blog post about how we don’t talk on Twitter anymore. Instead of focusing on the conversation, it’s about the promoted content by brands based on certain demographics and psychographic information collected on you by social media analytics companies.

Essentially, we are actively engaged in promoting ads, content, and updates from brands and individuals who want to present a certain image of themselves online. On the other side, we are seeing how users are taking to getting their opinions out to the masses – some positive and some negative. Kelly Mosier (Director of Digital Media for Nebraska Athletics) shared this link yesterday on Twitter which also sparked a lot of discussion online pertaining to the role Twitter is playing in the social media sphere.

Social media has allowed us the opportunity to connect and engage users – but it is easy to comment and state certain feelings and reactions in the comfort of your home behind your smartphone screen. Cyber bullying, antagonism, and extremely negative reactions targeted to both brands and individuals are just some of the things we are seeing right now on social media.

While providing a strong and positive reputation online is key – we have to ask the question – is this really what is going on? Are brands and individuals being authentic and transparent about their updates?

These behaviors we are seeing on Twitter primarily may have been there (ex. sports reactions, etc) – however, what we are seeing now is that not only are they open to everyone to see, but are shared, reposted, and even cited in news articles now for everyone to be aware of.  With social media – people are able to reach, talk, and say whatever they want to you at any time, any place, and at any format.

As social media professionals – and professors – we have to continue to teach and discuss how social media is a platform for great opportunities and conversation, but we also have to be aware of how others are using it that may impact our respective communities and industries. Education is more important than ever – we talk about how the tool shouldn’t necessarily be the rule – but this is a bigger issue than social media.

I think we are at a crossroads here when it comes to social media.Yes, I do believe there is a social aspect still to social media, but we have to look at what that exactly means. We are seeing people still coming together and engaging with each other, but there are some conversations or actions we may or may not want to see, and we are able to due to the content being shared and discussed from our networks and communities. We have to be more active – and protective – of ourselves and what we want to be exposed to. Filters, lists, unfriending, unfollowing, and even taking digital sabbaticals to some degree are just some things to think about. However, don’t feel you have to abandon a platform completely due to a few people making noise.

With this being said, I personally feel there are more positives about social media than negatives. If you have a balanced perspective of the tools out there and what to expect, you will not be as blindsided with some of the comments and incidents you see.  However, all we can do is lead by example and treat others like how we would like to be treated. Sometimes this works, but there are times where this does not work.

Hope you all are having a great day.

Best Wishes,
Karen

August 31, 2014

Exploring the growth of PR and Social Media strategies implemented w/ Snapchat

Snapchat has of course become a go-to app to reach a particular audience community to start creating a conversation. It appears wherever there is a presence or new opportunity to reach a particular audience, brands are right there to reach and establish a presence. However, Snapchat is also about making sure to pitch to marketers how their app could help them out. So, as you can see, both parties are part of the equation and result of why this chat mobile app is growing in popularity.

Snapchat allows you to create “Our Story” to collect collections of photos based on particular location or event. This of course has been labeled to get into Twitter’s territory a bit, but it does add a new twist to the growing popular app we are seeing not only among teenagers and young adults, but by brands, athletic events like the World Cup, colleges and universities, and nonprofit organizations and initiatives. Here’s a great infographic from Marketo that showcases the potential for this app for brands. Here’s an early campaign using Snapchat by the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) to check out as well.

However, like all new apps and we have seen this being brought up with all of the associated apps and platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Vine – there is another side to Snapchat and we need to be aware of what are some of the risks associated with this app.

And yes, as a public relations and social media professor and researcher, I do have a Snapchat app and account set up, but have not used it yet.

Why? I have been waiting to see what others have done with the app to see what are some good practices to note, what are some things that have not worked, and explore great examples of how this app has been used strategically to align itself with the overall brand mission, vision, and community.

However, it’s been great to chat with some of my students who are very enthusiastic and engaged on the platform as well as fellow professionals in the area (Taylor Loren and Chris Syme are very engaged on the platform and share their insights on a regular basis on social media).

In case you are a beginner on Snapchat, here’s a great guide from Mashable and make sure to read Chris’s guide to Snapchat marketing on Social Media Today as well. Both are great resources and readings to share with students, colleagues, and others who are interested.

Other resources you may want to look at include:

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,
Karen

May 20, 2014

Is Social Media turning into “Rented Media?”

For every one of my classes – both online and offline – I try to share some professionals to follow and be aware of when it comes to social media. There seems to be a lot of professionals out there who really have made a mark for themselves, and one of these individuals has been Scott Monty

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Scott was the pioneer of social media for Ford, and really set the tone for how businesses, agencies, and professionals use social media as part of their overall strategy but also be the focus of establishing a voice and relationships with audiences. However, Scott recently made his announcement known he was leaving Ford after six years. Of course, this caused a lot of people in the social media and PR community to take notice and voice their reactions to it.

Of all of the articles I read on this topic, I found the interview with Scott and AdWeek to be particularly interesting and enlightening. In particular, the role and current status of where social media is right now in society and in business. In many ways, social media has been transformed in many cases as another marketing platform where it is all about getting the message across, and the one that seems to suffer from this model is the presence of engaged dialogue and relationship management.

Another point that Scott raised in the article in AdWeek stuck me – and should also be noted by fellow professors, students, and practitioners – is the term that is being used for the major social media platforms. Instead of what we have considered to be “earned media” for social media purposes – Scott talked about how social media is sometimes being referred to as “rented media.”

Is this where social media is going? This is why it is crucial to not have your entire online presence on one of these sites – you want to make sure to connect them to an ultimate online hub that you control – like your website or blog even. Social media can be viewed as extensions of your online presence, but these communities, relationships, and discussions are all happening on someone else’s property – whether this is on Facebook, Twitter, Google, and others. We have to realize this as being the trend for the future and have to prepare strategies to address these for businesses as well as for our own personal brands.

Again – I think one thing to note here is that social media first and foremost –  is about being social – if we did the same things we do on social media in real life like promoted tweets, ads, and even sponsored content and hashtags – how would they be received? I am not sure they would be successful. However, if we come in with the purpose of being a partner in the community, listening and attentive to the content in which is being discussed on a particular topic, and provide out point of view and thoughts across, that may work. Trust, loyalty, and commitment do not happen over night or through a span of paid advertisements – they come with stories, human interaction, and relevancy that is both received and provided by the content, services, and experiences that can be shared by others.

I have found Scott to be one of the very few professionals in the social media realm who has been transparent, authentic, and engaging with all audiences online – no matter if they are high profile professionals, or even professors like me who ask questions or comment on current trends and topics. I wish him the very best and look forward to see what his next adventures lead him. Thank you for all you have done so far for the social media community. Good luck and keep us posted, Scott!

Hope you all are having a great day! :)

Best Wishes,
Karen

March 29, 2014

Let me take a #CardinalSelfie: Insights & Lessons from UofL’s Latest Social Media Viral Campaign

Selfies are pretty much everywhere – and it is interesting to see how they have been incorporated not only for personal uses, but also of course in social media strategies and campaigns. There have been some pretty successful ones recently. For me as a social media professional, it’s interesting to see how this viewpoint and perspective has captured pretty much everyone from large brands to celebrities.

One of the things we have here at UofL that is pretty cool is a group to come up with ideas, strategies, and possible campaigns that could potential turn viral for the university. Why do we do this? Well, it’s to create engaging, visual, and entertaining content that is branded and part of the UofL brand as a university, community, and family in essence.

We had done the UofL Happy video a few weeks ago, which of course went viral – so the question came up in the group. Like Anton Ego said in the movie “Ratatouille” – okay, what does the chef (or group) have that is new?

No pressure, right? However, this is what makes me excited to be part of. Coming up with ideas and new ways of thinking that can be applied that no one else has done. Pure awesomeness in my opinion! :)

Well, after looking around and seeing what we could come up with, I saw that there was a new song that was actually called “Selfie” by The Chainsmokers that came out and one of the things I thought would be interesting would be to see if UofL could incorporate this somehow.

I added a link to the video and shared this with the group, and this began the second viral video campaign for the university. Jeff and his team did an exceptional job with this by remixing the lyrics to be tied to the players of both basketball teams at UofL and asked the UofL community for selfies displaying their pride in UofL. More than 400 selfies were incorporated into the video I believe – ranging from students, fans, faculty, student-athletes, celebrities, and even media personalities who are part of the Louisville community.

Here was the video that was finally created and launched yesterday by UofL:

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What did we learn from this campaign? There are a few takeaways here that we can look at from a strategic point of view of social media in my opinion:

  • Social media is a team effort, especially for launching viral campaigns: This was not a one person effort – but a huge team was involved in brainstorming, helping out, and contributing to the overall vision of the campaign. We had a great leader for this group with Jeff who really set the tone for this campaign, and it was fun to see how this was developing over time.
  • Understanding timing is of the essence: When it comes to viral trends, you want to get on board with it as soon as you can. Planning, strategizing, and organizing people and how they can help contribute to the overall vision was key.
  • Branding and tying back to university is key: I did have a concern when I saw the lyrics with this song and made a comment on how we may want to remix this to fit UofL – it’s about connecting the dots and making the bridge for the viral trend back to the brand. Those that have been successful have been able to do this and created a great overall experience for everyone.
  • Anyone can “cook” or have a great idea: This is one thing I have shared with my students and I thoroughly believe – anyone can come up with a great idea. You have to evaluate, monitor, and consider all of the elements that are available to you while trying to think outside of the box. What makes viral stories emerge as prominent factors is that it’s all about the creativity and engagement that comes with a great story.
  • Always have Plan B for ideas for social media videos: One thing is key to remember, you always want to have a few ideas in your back pocket that you can share with your team to help generate the brainstorming aspect of the campaign. While this idea worked, there were several others that we could have implemented. The more ideas you have, the more opportunities you have to engage your team to come up with others down the road.

Overall, this was a fun campaign idea to be a part of and congrats to the team and UofL for another great effort for a social media viral story! Looking forward to see what we come up with next.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,
Karen

 

March 24, 2014

6 Social Media Trends from #MarchMadness

It’s been an eventful and emotional March Madness this year! From Cinderella stories to major upsets, it’s been quite the overall experience for NCAA Basketball.

One of the major elements we are of course seeing along with great teams and players is the growth of social media strategy and implementation for universities who are participating in the tournament, primarily on Twitter.

We have incorporated a lot of social media strategies and campaigns for the University of Louisville this year when it comes to March Madness. UofL has being using their established their social media hub and have been working hard to come up with some innovative and creative campaigns for fans, media, and the UofL community to participate and get engaged in. Stay tuned to what we all have planned coming up to our game in the Sweet Sixteen!

How has social media been used so far in #MarchMadness? There are a lot of strategies and campaigns that have been utilized, and here are just a few of the trends we have seen from a social media perspective:

  • Becoming the platform to go to to respond to fans after a loss and upset: After Wichita State lost yesterday to Kentucky, they went to their various social media platforms and sent out a message to their fans and those who have been supporting them this year. We also saw this when Dayton beat Syracuse as well in the tournament – fans, media personalities, and others got on social media and shared their initial reactions with the world.
  • Rise of Selfies: If this year’s March Madness shows anything in terms of emerging trends, then it would be that of the selfie. From Coach Martin from Tennessee posting an epic selfie after winning their game to advance to the Sweet Sixteen to the President of the University of Dayton taking one while crowd surfing after their upset win, it seems to be  all part of the strategy for creating content that people can share and discuss with each other. UofL has created a campaign dedicated to this as well called #CardinalSelfie, which you can check out here with the photos from fans and others showing their Cardinal spirit during the tournament. So – in case you needed some tips on how to create a selfie, here’s a short video on how to do that. :)
  • Infographics and Data Visualization on the Rise to be part of the story: We all like interesting statistics and information, and info graphics for March Madness have created this for teams to utilized and showcase their information in a  visual manner, like this one from Mashable. Whether it is about providing information about brackets or updates from the team’s games, these will continue to be part of the digital strategy to produce information that is visual and relevant for social media strategies.
  • Evolving lessons and best practices for brands: This is an event that creates a lot of opportunities for brands in terms of sponsorship, but a lot are of course monitoring and listening to what event they can get involved in to tap into some real time marketing opportunities, which can be seen here. However, there is a time and place for this, which is one lesson KFC learned just a few days ago during March Madness.
  • Establishing influence by having exclusive content and engaging fans on social media: There are many accounts and the NCAA has been proactive in addressing the role of social media in March Madness by of course setting up branded content and incorporating it into their app. However, we are seeing also the rise of posts on who to follow on social media for the latest and updated content. However, these are not just media personalities, but others that have established themselves with creating engaging and even interactive content for social media. I
  • Social media is getting integrated into everything: It’s almost to the point where social media has to be aligned and connected to all traditional aspects of strategic communications nowadays, and we are seeing this clearly not only with the teams, but also with traditional media. Sports Illustrated put fans on their cover and tagged them with their usernames, which does show again the prominence of social media in society. Also, this is an opportunity for universities to come up with their own branded content whether it is established hashtags, logos, and photo contests to engage, interact, and showcase the personality of the team and university to the online community.

In summary, there are a lot of lessons to be noted for March Madness so far, and we are not even done with the tournament. I am sure we are going to look at these trends and see what we can do to improve these and even integrate them in other forms of social media campaigns. Major props to all of the teams – great work! And, got to of course give a shout out to the UofL Athletic Department and social media team for doing a great job with all of the content, updates, and visuals they are sharing to keep all of the fans updated!

It’s been an exciting time to be a fan of basketball, especially being at the University of Louisville! Looking forward to the game this Friday against Kentucky and Go Cards!

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,
Karen

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