academic, Analysis, citizen journalism, digital natives, digitalage, digitalutopia, Media, Social Media, technology

Social Media Marketing: A necessity in today’s connected world

We are the so-called ‘Digital Natives’ after being brought up alongside advancements in technology and mobile technology. We are connected and through our vast networks we share with others all elements of our daily lives. We explicitly inform those who are in our circles of the good, the bad and the ugly times in our lives. This sharing is not limited to facets of our personal lives albeit our aims are usually to promote ourselves as influencers across social media platforms. No sir, the world of commerce also spreads through all social media platforms thus we share our thoughts and experiences via using and consuming goods and services. Social media marketing is defined as………

Social media marketing (SMM) is a form of Internet marketing that utilizes social networking websites as a marketing tool. The goal of SMM is to produce content that users will share with their social network to help a company increase brand exposure and broaden customer reach (What Is, 2014)

Cited in Shelly Palmer

Cited in Shelly Palmer

What is the golden rule with regards to social media marketing?
If I was to describe social media marketing in one word however I would say that it is all about reputation. Think about this for a moment. The world is so connected and news travels fast that it is paramount that an organisation implements an online reputation management plan. Even if a company finds it difficult to measure results with regards to return on investment of their SMM efforts, reputation will always have to be managed effectively. It is the one piece of criteria that needs to be constantly monitored. Companies must recognise this to ensure their company and brands do not build a bad reputation on social media platforms. You can view some companies failures on twitter here and a key point to take away from these failures is to ensure the team in charge of social media spaces are competent with crisis management and know how to generate engaging content. Another . It is crucial to set up a Google alerts to monitor where your name or brand is being spoken of online as well as other tools like twitter search. Before going into depth with social media marketing and how it can be used towards your overall marketing strategy, check out the trends set for 2015 in SMM.

A good reputation is more valuable than money (Publilius Syrus)

Cited in Flickr

Cited in Flickr

Creating tangible results from the intangible……..
The network effects of social media is that platforms like Facebook and Twitter became extremely popular in a short space of time. What did marketers do? They hopped on the social media bandwagon pushing products and aggressively competing against rivals for market share and expand their reach. The social media ethos is to be human. The strategy of simply pushing products through your pages does not work on its own. You need to create engaging content and converse with users of such platforms. How do you know content is engaging? How do you measure effectiveness of posts and campaigns? I am not going to mention all the tools available to monitor and measure. There are so many available (some of which will be free) and a majority of them measure similar aspects with slight differentiations. One area I would recommend measuring is your Share Of Voice (SOV). This measures mentions of your brand versus competitors brands which you can learn more about here. Again, with regards to content you share, you can measure sentiment, albeit,  done manually. This will give you a ratio of good, neutral and bad mentions. Google analytic’s, Facebook insights, Twitter analytic’s and Simply Measured analytics are good starting points for measuring efforts on social media platforms. However as pointed out by Miller (2012), do not focus too much on ‘vanity metrics’, instead, look for site stickiness and total page views  of your website as well as click-through rate (CTR). This is what you want users of social media sites to do: You want them to be redirected to your very website to conduct purchases.

Cited in No Waste Marketing

Cited in No Waste Marketing

Social Media Marketing is in many ways different from traditional marketing (creating content, being human and conversing heavily with users). However, the fundamentals of marketing have not changed. Every marketing plan has a social media marketing plan as part of overall marketing strategy. Because users of social media platforms demand new content on a regular basis, I think that a strategy (long-term) is more of a guide line that will direct your company online while social media marketing is more about the tactics that you use to engage with audiences. The SOSTAC model can help you plan your social media strategy. Another useful tool for social media marketing is setting up a Google Calendar for publishing content, shares, Tweeting, Blogging and so on. this will allow your social media marketer to stay on top of all social media platforms effectively be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.

To conclude, marketers need to test many social media platforms to see what platforms their target markets and segments are using. Sometimes, a company may find the majority of its audience on Facebook or Twitter while others may find that their audience is a younger demographic thus Instagram is the more widely used platform of their audiences. IKEA have leveraged Instagram in an interesting way by creating a catalogue through the application which you can read more about here. Finding new ways to leverage platforms will help you stand out from competitors. Another interesting concept that you should be looking at with regards to content you share in your marketing efforts in ‘evergreen‘ content (Colligan, 2011) which means that your content has a longer ‘shelf life’ per-say. Finally, Facebook’s new algorithm may force companies to rearrange their paid media arrangement which may have strong implications for smaller organisations with limited marketing budgets.

Remember that social media marketing is not a perfect substitute for traditional marketing. Companies should try and find a perfect ratio to suit their needs.

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academic, Analysis, citizen journalism, college, Experience, Social Media, students, University

NUIM? No bro, it’s Maynooth University, got it?

Where do I begin?
Ah yes, after completing the leaving certificate in secondary school I decided to ‘hop on the friend bandwagon’ in fear that I had to be with my friends to enjoy college. My first choice: Computer Science and Software Engineering…….yeah I know……

I chose this thinking that I would enjoy the challenge. Fate however is not without a sense of irony!!  The course enjoyed my suffering more than I enjoyed the course. So I dropped out, started a new course and transferred back to Maynooth when it was possible to do so.

Second Time Lucky!!!
After transferring back to Maynooth I reaped the benefits of the new library, great proximity and a great module variety. The only weak point (which is not the university’s fault) is the nightlife! God I just don’t see a point in going out in Maynooth. I feel like I am back in a teenage disco every establishment I enter (sorry Roost, Brady’s, Mantra in advance) so my final year in college in consisting of study and society involvement. Despite this set back, the MSU do work hard to provide the college students with top-notch events and have always done so.

Let’s get back on track:
What is great about this college? Well the people are great, the grounds are beautiful and the modules are interesting. This year (my final year) I have taken modules like sustainability and social media (which is my reason for writing on this topic) but the most interactive and interesting module is social media. Here are some photographs I took of the castle just outside the South Campus.

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Get Involved!!!
I am not the first person to say this nor will I be the last but the university experience is student-generated. In other words don’t expect everyone else to make the experience for you. It takes self commitment and eagerness to be part of a wider community. The more people you meet, the bigger your network becomes at university. This applies to all college life and thus it applies to Maynooth University. I know people who literally go into college, go to class and then go home. This is not what college is about. You spend your days working on academic writings or studying as well as attending classes but ultimately you need to get involved in extra curricular activities on campus. For instance, I am the events officer of the Maynooth University Business Society. So from running social nights out for members to raising funds for charities I am kept busy while at college. This involvement looks great on a C.V. as well as developing new skills and characteristics needed when entering the working world.  If you are thinking about applying for Maynooth University, here is a link to the great range of clubs and societies available to join.

To conclude, Maynooth University is a fantastic college that provides students with great resources to aid study and ongoing learning. The only negative aspect of the Maynooth Experience is the off campus night-life available which is limited and to be frank nothing special.

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Analysis, citizen journalism, digital natives, digitalage, digitalutopia, experiment, Media, Social Media, technology, utopia

Because reality doesn’t matter anymore……

A digital utopia you say? Well lets break this down. When I think of digital, I think of the year I spent doing computer science and recall all those one’s and zero’s in different arrangements, a language of the digital or virtual realm. Utopia of course sounds like paradise or somewhere pleasant. Combine those two words and you will get a digital space that is perfect. This is both a phenomenon of today’s world and the dreams of some who believe it is inevitable or the solution to many worldwide problems such as fighting for democracy and equality for all. However as long as a gap between the rich and the poor exists, digital equality will not exist (Crimethinc)

Crimethinc defined the digital utopia as:

It would integrate all human activity into a single unified terrain, accessible only via additional corporate products, in which sweatshop and marketplace merged. It would accomplish all this under the banner of autonomy and decentralization, perhaps even of “direct democracy.”

There is a big divide on this idea of a Digital Utopia. Groups like Chrimethinc are the opposition of such an idea while other believe it will bring prosperity and unity to world that is divided on so many different issues. The following video should help put this idea in perspective for you courtesy of Tedx Talks.

What do I really think?
You see personally the idea of a completely connected world reminds me of some sort of Sci-Fi movie, like the Matrix. It seems odd that everything in my life would be connected. I like the idea of having an ‘offline’ life so to speak which a lot of people take for granted. People seem a lot less sociable than they once were since smartphones, tablets and so on dominated their lives. I think everyone has a few friends who will go to the pub with you, order a drink and sit amongst the group but instead of engaging in the group conversation, they are busy on Facebook in another group conversation with people who are not even in the same physical space. Therefore, I think people are too attached to the virtual world seeing themselves as brands and wanting to market themselves to the world either consciously or unconsciously. There will always be a divide in the idea of its existence. One side I can imagine the people thinking that a digital utopia would bring peace and would benefit all while on the other side I can see those who want to detach from the virtual world and be ‘free’.

Smart Cities
Are these cities just the beginning of a digital utopia? Maybe we should consider for a moment that a digital utopia may not just be a virtual realm. Perhaps it coexists online and offline, that is, it will be integrated into our physical homes, transport, infrastructure as well as our social communities online. These smart cities are becoming more prevalent with the surge of technology enhancements. Just think that you could control all household appliances, entertainment, security and so on from a tablet on a wall in your house. It would make life extremely easy. But wait, these already exist. Countries like South Korea have adopted smart home technology. This is just the beginning of a digital utopia.

What next?
After considering this phenomenon, I thought what if social networking became more personal. People already share aspects of their lives through various social media platforms. Imagine this was integrated in real-time and space of our lives, that is, live footage of your day and what you were doing. Imagine your life was like The Truman Show. Scary isn’t it? Breech of privacy has sparked the idea of a digital dystopia.

 

 

 

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Analysis, citizen journalism, digital natives, digitalage, experiment, Guide, Social Media, technology

Citizen Journalism: A Pillar of Understanding

Cited in Vanity Fair

Cited in Vanity Fair

The very term Citizen Journalism reminds me of another term known at Citizen’s arrest which in fact dates back to medieval ages where the law enforcers encouraged ordinary citizens to catch law breakers.
Today, ordinary citizens are encouraged to report what they see or what they gain an insight into and share it with the world that has become so gracefully connected.Before going into this in more depth; ask yourself this question: Why do you trust/not trust citizen journalists?

So what is this ground breaking phenomenon? 

Citizen journalism is whereby ordinary citizens report on issues which matter to them and according to The Guardian (2010), the BBC began collaborating with a citizen journalism group known as Global Voices who are a community of writers, analysts, online media experts and translators who give insights and reports from developing countries. You can learn more about this community here.

I’ll put it in layman’s terms:

Essentially, anyone can now upload content online whether it is through a Blog, YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr or other platforms that is of a journalistic nature. Mobile devices such as smart phones have given rise to this phenomenon as well as the likes of newspapers being under financial risk (Nikkanen, 2012) due to the rise of the digital age. This gives viewers faster, and perhaps more up to minute information on developments that concern the said viewers (Fuller, 2014). For instance I can upload a video whereby a large riot occurred in the city centre of Dublin. I could develop on that video and explain what is happening, why it happened and the aftermath of the event a lot like a journalist would capture it, perhaps less professionally. The point being, there exist pros and cons to this form of journalism which need to be understood and its only natural that there would be a divide in thoughts with regards to it. Here is a short video discussing the phenomenon that is Citizen Journalism:

So what are the advantages of Citizen Journalism? Noted by Fuller (2014), the following benefits can come from this type of writing. 

‘Gives another perspective on news or concerns’. Because anyone can report and provide insights for viewers, these journalists are somewhat more connected as digital natives which is part of the global community. Therefore viewers may be more interested in what a normal citizen has to say on topics being discussed online.
For instance, I read a post on the Global Voice which makes contrasts and comparisons between the ongoing Ferguson dilemma in the U.S and what is occurring in the Ukraine. Some shocking similarities were made between justice, human rights and the level of police force used in both locations which are oceans away. You can read more about this here

Cited in Brand Watch

Cited in Brand Watch

‘It helps to get local citizens more engaged in issues affecting their lives’. A prime example would be the recent marches and protests due to the introduction of water charges in Ireland. Videos were uploaded to YouTube showing Gardaí using excessive force during peaceful protests by citizens who stood witness. This did not only show people what was occurring but it also sparked more people to get involved in such matters by joining the protests and rallies.

‘For activism’. Of course citizen journalism can help shed light on issues effecting people’s lives but it also has a domino effect creating activism in a given society. The recent Ferguson dilemma which saw a spread of activism across the U.S is a perfect example of how videos, micro Blog’s and other content can connect people concerned and give rise to an aim of bringing about political, social and legal change. Noted by Buckley (2012), citizen journalism can help shed light on current affairs in society and give viewers ongoing information of the affair in question. Activism can generate much discussion between the citizen journalists and the viewers of the reports which also bring about trending hashtags etc providing a pool of opinion and discussion on such matters.

Citizen Journalists can report on affairs or occurrences that mass media may have no access to or may have missed a portion of a story or event. For example, when the earthquake effected Japan causing the displacement of much of the population and of course the loss of human lives, mass media only had so much information to use when reporting the disaster. People who were trapped due to flash floods and so people trapped video recorded much of the occurrences on hand-held cameras or phones. When these were released, viewers had access to raw footage depicting the sheer gravity of the situation. Additionally, a former news caster Jun Hori revolted by tweeting uncensored material regarding the displacement of 80,000 citizens and the clean up of the area where the nuclear spill occurred (Fukushima) which. Jun Hori explained that ‘“I am a newscaster, but I couldn’t tell the true story on my news program” as the  company restricted commentary on the affair. Due to be restricted warned on what he could report by his supervisors, he quit and set up his own citizen journalism website. He noted that this disaster and censorship surrounding reporting of the event shows that there is a need for people to be proactive in retrieving and releasing information. Nikkanen (2012) mentions that citizen journalists take on tasks previously undertaken by professional journalists but come under pressure from hostile governments. You can read more about his astonishing story here.

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There are obvious disadvantages to citizen journalism. 

To become a journalist, one needs to do a course, study in the field of journalism or receive some formal training. Therefore we need to ask ourselves what formal training have citizen journalists gained? This was noted by Fuller (2014) as one of the cons of citizen journalism. Personally I believe you don’t need training or degree to inform the online community of an issue that you share through Blogging, Micro Blogging, Video Blogging and so on. You are simply the voice, the listener is your audience. I also think that I would listen to a citizen journalist on current affairs but perhaps not issues relating to science etc which require expertise in the field. I would listen to a professional in a field regarding affairs that surround their area of expertise.

Because anyone can become a citizen journalist, ones opinions or interpretations can be biased and inaccuracies of information can exist (Kirkwood, 2013) . I can understand how this is a disadvantage though opinion and critical analysis of situations are valuable facets. Personally, I think that this is an opinion to deter people from relying on citizen journalist reports. Coined by Nikkanen(2012), citizen journalism has become nearly indistinguishable from professional journalism as technology allows immediate transfer of knowledge and information between digital natives.

And so………..

This new phenomenon is clearly becoming more of a normality in today’s society. While I appreciate the reporting by citizen journalists, I still think that professional journalism is required for non biased reporting. Additionally, I find curator journalism astounding and to have a paramount effect on citizen journalism is future years. Curator journalism was also mentioned in an article by Nikkanen (2012), stating that these journalists organise, interpret, fact check and join together posts of citizen journalists to make sense of the abundance of information from several sources for the online audience. Basically, professional journalists taking the credible information of citizen journalists towards their own publishing. Despite this sounding like stealing, it is more of a collectivist approach to information gathering and publication. BBC Brazil blog follows this approach by tapping into social media for news stories . Finally Citizen Journalism allows for the exposure of the truth. A prime example of this is Wiki Leaks whose goal was to release confidential information or records that could be of interest in the public sphere. You can read more about Wiki Leaks as a form of citizen journalism here.

I feel that my own opinion nor other opinions of writers were enough to encapsulate this new phenomenon. I met with an acquaintance Mr. Kim Farrelly to get another insight into the concept of Citizen Journalism. The following is a Q&A with Kim:

Q1. Have you shared or reported online with regards to current affairs of otherwise?

A1. Yes, as a professional photographer I occasionally get paid to take photos of events under a brief from the photo editor.

Q2.Do you think we can trust the information provided by people in the public sphere?

A2. Generally people are trustworthy, however a good gossip in a public sphere can lead to misinformation.

Q3.Because of the digital age, traditional journalism is being challenged and somewhat compared with citizen journalism. Do you think professional journalism will die out and be replaced by citizen journalism?

A3. I don’t think that traditional journalism is being challenged. Print media is for sure. The values that a professional journalist should have would and should never be under threat. There are aspects of the professionalism that will always remain so I don’t see citizen journalism replacing those.

Q4. Search for the truth. Does the case of wiki-leaks as a form of citizen journalism compel you to seek the truth of events?

A4.  The singular and most important part of journalism is fact checking. Leaks from people in their work place have always been a huge part of reporting on events and scandals. These people are vetted and put on record by very experienced professionals. This is a process that is being washed away in recent times by the need to get more competitive in the marketplace by the main new outlets and the drive to get the report out ‘as it happens’. Pushed further by social media as a news stream, this instant news goes without this layer of experience and that is a dangerous shift that could all too easily lead to the control of the news as without true investigative journalism there are a lot of actions out in the world that might never get to light.

Q5. Why is it important for regular people to inform the online community of events? Do you think mass media is censored and journalists are simply following what to report on?

A5. There are always interests to be found in any business, whether they are financial or political, opinions are published based on fact but usually fall on one side or point of view. So I think that there is a place of the ‘regular people’ to report on events as long as point 4 is given the chance to work. The search for truth is often a questionable one.

Q6. Would you encourage people to participate in citizen journalism?

A6. Yes I would, but it only takes the word of two men to hang one – so there has to be responsibility for all and recourse for all too.

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