You ever get up in the morning with a taste for something specific? It can be eggs and bacon, fruit, or maybe a plain bagel with cream cheese. Well I woke up one morning ready to open up a brand new box of Honey Nut Cheerios that has been in my pantry for about a month. So I open up the box only to see that the cereal bag is ripped open! But I wasn’t angry yet.
So like the social media expert I’m becoming, I took to Twitter to ask a little over 200 followers of mine if its smart for me to eat some cereal that was ripped open. I got an overwhelming response from my followers telling me to not eat my favorite cereal because it’s just better to be safe than sorry. But I wasn’t angry yet.
Then I thought, hmm Honey Nut Cheerios and the Cheerios brand has been around for a long time and I am sure that General Mills cares a lot about their consumers. So in true fashion, I found Cheerios on Twitter and tweeted to them my dilemma and that I was not happy, expecting them to answer me quickly and to help resolve the problem. But I still wasn’t angry yet.
The day go by and I check my Twitter to see if Cheerios responded to me only to find out that they did not respond to me at all! NOW I’M ANGRY! I have been a customer of theirs ever since I was a kid and General Mills and the Cheerio brand didn’t think enough of me to at least answer a tweet. I am a firm believer that if you ignore a problem it’s only going to get worse. Cheerios made a huge mistake. It is definitely not my fault that my cereal was already open. As I looked at the Twitter page, they have not a lot of followers and only a few hundred tweets. At this point, I am NOT cheering for Cheerios.
-Orlando P. Bailey
Social Media allows people, celebrities and companies to do so much to reach friends, fans, and consumers. As I often talk about, I believe that social media is the human extension of any brand, company, and celebrity. One of the cool features of social media that Brian Solis highlights in Chapter 6 in his book, Engage; The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web is the power of photo sharing. “Online photo sharing encourages views and interaction around images, transforming pictures into social objects.” (Solis 2011) There are certain stories that a photo can tell with a small caption that a speech or televised message could never get tell. Ever been on Facebook on a Sunday when everyone is coming down from the fun filled weekend? I have. Just by photos you can tell what club your friends went to, what they had to drink and even if they cut a rug or two on the dance floor.
It’s the same concept with companies and brands. Chapter 6 also dealt with networks and audiences. Smart companies know who their niche audience is and what networks they are a part of. Solis adds, “As pictures, as well as all forms of media, are social objects, the advantages that result from extended interaction and visibility far outweigh controlled distribution.” There is a certain power that pictures have that no other form of media has. Pictures are so much easier to share and send. Solis draws examples from seeing pictures of CEOs and executives attending company fundraisers and parties. Seeing those kinds of pictures also help humanize the company which a lot of company’s lack these days.
In addition to pictures knowing how to get people to look at and share your pictures in key. Solis talks about social networks for social media networks also known as a social dashboard. Solis defines social dashboard as “a dedicated microsite either within an existing corporate website or hosted at a dedicated URL that aggregates the disparate corporate social profiles and media – presenting them in one visually rich, easy-to-navigate destination that promotes outside connectivity and onsite interaction.” I do have personal experience with social dashboards phenomenon. There was a site called Meebo and allowed me to connect to all my instant messengers at once. There was a time when I had a Facebook, Myspace, Skype, Yahoo Messenger, and America Online Instant Messenger. My computer became so slow trying to jumpstart every messaging system when I would boot it up. When I found Meebo, it allowed me to do it online and erase the messengers I installed that was slowing down my computer.
Once again I learned a lot from reading chapter 6 and 7. Solis has a way of making me see myself in what he says and gives practical tools that I can put into use right now!
-Orlando P. Bailey
Having read chapter 4 of Brian Solis’ book Engage, I have concluded that blogging is a cultural phenomenon and an effective tool if done correctly. I like to think that blogging is the human extension of any brand. People don’t want to be bombarded with advertising and marketing when reading a blog but want to see and read a humanized piece of literature. Solis uses Ford Motor Company as an example, “Ford, for example, often introduces us to the people behind the story, allowing customers to make a human connection.” (Solis 2011)
In class we watched a video of Brian Solis interviewing Ford Executive, Jim Farley and Farley explained why it’s so important to get the human side of Ford out, whether its “Alan Mulally making a phone call to a new Ford customer” or “telling the story of a Ford dealer who has always sponsored a little league team in his community.” Solis stresses that this should be the essence of blogging. “Blogging for the sake of blogging, even with the best of intentions, is meaningless if the internal team cannot communicate an organized infrastructure.” (Solis 2011)
In addition to providing some insight to a company about extending the human side of their brand through blogging, Solis also offers advice for the regular person who may want to have and launch a successful blog. I have come to understand to have a successful blog with a loyal following; one would need to successfully be loyal to other blogs in the blogosphere. “Comments on other blogs are a form of both participation and unmarketing. Be sure to pay attention to relevant posts around the blogosphere and contribute relevant comments on both your blog and elsewhere.” (Solis 2011) When I read this I was really taken back. I have never thought to approach blogging this way. Of course everyone wants a successful blog with faithful readers, and now we have the key. We need to be the participator we want to see. This is a very unique way of marketing without sounding too generic on other social networking websites trying to get people to read what we write.
To be for the blog by the blog but to have a successful one there are some components that must be embodied. “What’s the cause? What’s the intent? How can we fill a void and, more importantly, how can we help solve problems? What should readers take away from the blog? Why should anyone link back to the blog?” Blogs are a valid piece of literature and media and should be substantiated in whatever subject matter of the writer’s choosing. If you’re a foodie writer, tell the readers why apple pie is good for them or not so good for them. Just an example. I believe a humanized blog is a blog that people care about, care to read and most importantly, care to engage.
Now that the presidential campaign season is full swing social media has a special part to play in electing a new commander and chief or re-electing our current president. There are some that say that social media elected President Barack Obama in the 2008 election. I would have to agree that the Obama campaign definitely used social media to their advantage. The ads, emails, pictures, videos, and donations all played a part in electing the Senator from Chicago in 2008. An interesting thing that I saw in the 2008 that I don’t think has been in any presidential campaign season prior was online debates. Video sharing website Youtube hosted several debates in the campaign season where Americans got to take part and ask the questions they wanted answered by the candidates. Citizens got to send in videos of themselves asking questions and if they measured up, the candidates would get to answer them. People also got to tweet their questions. What a way to engage!
In addition to all the Youtube debates, almost every campaign has a page on Facebook and an emailing list. At any time throughout the day people are able to receive campaign messages or inspiring citizen stories from their favorite contender. Through those mediums, folks can get involved with working with the campaigns, registering people to vote and responding to posts and emails on all social networking websites.
The idea of using what everyone does every day (i.e.) Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube to reach the core of Americans is now being embraced by politicians and being used to their advantage even taking a former Harvard Law graduate along with Michelle, Sasha, Malia, and Bobo all the way to the White House.
There are a lot of words that come to mind when I try to ascertain social media and its potential effect on society. Everybody from Wikipedia to Webster’s New World may have a definition of the term “social media” but as the term evolves so does the words we use to define it. In our textbook “Engage” Brian Solis references social media as the, “New Media University.” The New Media University term implies that the world is potentially students of all things media. As students “we learn through everything we read and practice.” (Solis tried his best to stress the importance of words. With a new world evolving faster than any of us can keep up with, the words we use to define and describe it is of the upmost importance. Solis highlights words that may have been applicable to define social media in the past but have now become obsolete, “As with anything, words become meaningless if overused and under practiced.” I believe the reason why words and definitions come and go out of style is because of how social media users leave their footprint. In chapter 2 Solis provides the reader with a list of the “peer-to-peer influence and collaboration in social networks and blogs.” (Solis 2011) The list statistically categorizes social media users based off their online behavior. Some folks are spectators, some are critics and some are conversation list and so on. As user ship broadens so does The New Media University and the words we use to define it. I would say that those categories listed above are grades that the University has issued to us “students”. Solis talks about using social media to our advantage, the question then becomes are we receiving a failing grade or are we passing? According to Engage 68 percent of us are spectators. In my opinion, we can do better.
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