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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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, digital natives, digitalage, experiment, Media, Social Media, technology

Man survives 48 hours without technology….

So what is technology fasting?

It actually is harder than it sounds. It involves giving up a number of different devices for an extended period of time (in this case 48 hours). You can give up  your phone, laptop, tablet, email, internet and so on. You can give up all or some but the idea is simple: You need to gain an understanding of how much you rely on technology. I am going to level with you people. I did not want to do this and I really was not going to do this. However, I lost my phone over the weekend and I came home the following morning to realize that my laptop needed to be repaired.There is a growing body of research which indicates that technology fasting can benefit you substantially and according to  another blogger Richard Louv (2012), getting in touch with nature while fasting helps reboot the brain and excite the senses which you can read about here.

How I will break the experience down for you: I will talk about the pros and cons of not having the devices. Additionally I will break down the time of the fast in sections of 12 hours each. For example, the first 12 hours, the following 12 hours and so on. In this day and age I would rather call these devices necessities.  Before going into the details of the experience, I will give you a clear picture of my dependence on the two devices.

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Chapter 1 : Starting life without a phone : 0-12 hours

It was about 6pm by the time I realized that I had lost my phone at the festival. Therefore I am going to talk about the first 12 hours without a smart phone. The disadvantages became abundantly clear from the beginning. I could not contact my friends during the festival, I could not take photos of the fun filled evening and so on. However the advantages definitely outweighed the disadvantages on an emotional level. I could roam the festival at my own pace, make new friends, bump into people I knew and go see the acts that I wanted to see instead of stuck in a group for the evening. You can see my list of pros and cons in greater detail here. The major disadvantage of not having a phone at this point in time was that I could not call my friends to find out how to meet them after the festival ended. Eventually, I did find them though it did take some exploring.

Chapter 2: Wake up Call: 12-24 hours

Cited in Raw Girl Toxic World

Cited in Raw Girl Toxic World

The following day it dawned upon me that I would have to fork out another few hundred euro for a new phone. I also realized that I had a lot of work to do with regards to college assignments, event organizing and so on. I thought I would turn on the laptop until I was told by my brother that it was out of action and it needed to be repaired. I let the fact of not having either device sink in for a moment. Not only could I not do basic things such as check my email accounts or social media sites, I could not commence any work on any assignments.
So what did I do? I improvised. I starting digging through the leaning tower of college books I had accumulated over the years an found material related to my modules which I could use as substitutes of not having devices to access the internet. This still let me limited to extent. I could not access materials for assignments. Once I came to the realization that I could not do much work, I had to find other activities to fill up my day. I decided to make dinner for the family and let me tell that I had forgotten how therapeutic cooking was. It really helped relax me and I started to remember different techniques I picked up from cooking with my father (who use to be a chef). I made a beautiful Chicken Tarragon with fresh pasta and homemade garlic bread.  Then it hit me. The fact that I spent a considerable amount of my time on devices trying to communicate different messages simultaneously for different aspects of my everyday life, I had forgotten one of my hobbies. This was where I started to realize that there may be a point to this fasting idea. If it helped me to start picking up old hobbies, who knows what it could do if I gave it up for another day.

Chapter 3: The Book Case: 24-36 hours

I was never a massive fan of reading as an activity outside of academic stud. I’m not like Kanye West or anything who is famous for saying “I’m a proud non-reader of books”. However, without a phone or a laptop I was limited to television or  a book. There is only so much television I can watch, especially when channels generally repeat old episodes that I have seen countless times. So I decided to pick up a book called ‘I am Legend’. I remember buying this book after going to the cinema and seeing the movie starring Will Smith. I actually bought the book at the time because I was dissatisfied with the movie but I guess I got distracted or lost motivation to actually read it. Back to the matter at hand, I sat down in my room, put on some music and started reading the book. Surprisingly I got half way through it before putting it down that night and read the rest the following day. I came to the conclusion that reading actually helped me relax and get ready for a good nights’ sleep and I woke up at a reasonable hour which is very unlike me. In fact I found out that using laptops etc is not a good idea before bed which you can read about here.

Chapter 4: The Calm: 36-48 Hours

By this stage, I had not really even thought about my phone that was lost nor did I think heavily about when my laptop would be returned fully repaired. I went out in the evening to get some fresh air and call over to friend. Because I had no phone meant I had no music to listen to for the duration of the walk but that didn’t seem to bother me. Instead I just enjoyed the peace and quiet as I walked up the streets. It actually made me think about how much I am usually surrounded by noise and bright screens. It was almost like a snapped out of a zombie state and back into the real world. I think during the last few hours of this fast I really reflected on how much I rely on technology in general. It has made me think about cutting down the amount of time I spend on my devices especially due to the health benefits that such a commitment can produce.

Chapter 5: Conclusion

I think the technology fasting was beneficial but I don’t think it should be a simple 48 hour experiment. Not only should it help you realize your dependency on technology but it should serve as a starting point to help you reduce the amount of tie you spend everyday on the different devices and platforms. I still have no phone and I actually am a bit glad I don’t have one for the time being. It means I  am not on social media sites as much so I waste less time aimlessly checking news feeds and more time utilizing online resources with purpose and scope. There is my two cents and to wrap it up, here is a song that rather aptly applies to the point of this post. ENJOY!

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academic, Analysis, digital natives, digitalage, digitalutopia, Experience, Media, Social Media, technology

Immediate Media

Okay people, back to basics:

What is Media?

Communication channels through which news, entertainment, education, data, or promotional messages are disseminated. Media includes every broadcasting and narrow-casting medium such as newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, billboards, direct mail, telephone, fax, and internet. (Business Dictionary, 2014)

Ethics with regards to the use of media is constantly being challenged by different stakeholders who have a concern over the power of its presence. I am not here to get into a heated debate regarding that subject matter. I am here to breakdown how I am exposed to media on a weekly basis.
In today’s integrated world (with regards to communication), it is as simple as typing a message and clicking send for the receiver to view the message and instantly communicate back with you. Media can be communicated through an array of platforms/devices including the internet (via smart phones, laptops, tablets etc), newspapers, radios and so on.

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Online (Usage 65% of Total Weekly media spend):
My exposure to media on this platform has the highest ranking. After all I am one of many who grew up with it. I access the internet through two devices.

1. Smartphone:Unless you have some bizarre reason to be using a Nokia 3310 (which I call the ‘Builders Brick’), you more than likely have a smart phone. These devices have revolutionized how media is presented to users. I use my device on a daily basis be it checking E-Mails, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Asos or other useful applications. However I believe I spend too much time on this device like most people in this day and age. This was also cited by the Mail Online (2011) who warn smartphones were taking over peoples lives as more interesting content is released online. Fabian Hemmert (2014) points out that there is an existance of Smartphone Zombies which you can learn more about below:

2. Computer/Laptop: Similarly to my smart phone, I use of my laptop to check emails and log in to my social media pages. However I use this device largely for academic purposes. My media exposure is still high in this regard. After all, my course is Business an Management therefore I am constantly researching different companies websites, case studies and their official Twitter and Facebook accounts.

My exposure to media therefore is mainly through social media. As aforementioned I use an array of social media applications. Social media allows us to network, create and share content. To simplify it for you I have broken my exposure to these down.

i) Facebook (Usage: 30%) : I check this account daily primarily to check my messages, private group pages and comments left on posts. When I have time, I check my news feed for interesting articles or stories.For instance I was on Facebook the other day and I came across a post titled ’20 Things Bartenders need customers to stop doing’. Of course being a Bar Tender this was interesting to me. Likewise any news regarding the beer or spirits industries also catches my attention. My point being is that I am not just exposed to friends posts but companies posts be it selling a current product or marketing a new product. It is worth pointing out that I use Facebook for academic purposes e.g. If I miss a class I can get someone to inform me whether anything very important was covered and so on.

ii) Spotify (Usage: 20%) : I use my Spotify account as much as possible.I am in constant search of new artists, albums, songs and Spotify really set the status-quo with their application. Not only did the company create a platform that makes it easy to find new music but merged the idea with social media. Obviously if you have the free version of Spotify you are exposed to advertisements every few songs you play. Some ads are relative to me and some are not. For example, I may here an advertisement for a concert being held in Dublin (which I am interested in) and then I will hear another advertisement relating to insurance (but I do not drive therefore I don’t tune in to what the advert is telling me). I think advertisements through this form of media engages me as a listener/user/consumer but I filter the information I receive and only remember those adverts that are relative to me. According to KnowThis (2014), there are four levels to perception which effect how consumers filter information presented to them. These levels will be defined noted by KnowThis (2014) and applied to the to examples of adverts I was exposed to through the Spotify app:

  • Exposure – sensing a stimuli (e.g. hearing both adverts regarding the concert and insurance)
  • Attention – an effort to recognize the nature of a stimuli (e.g. recognizing that these are both adverts)
  • Awareness – assigning meaning to a stimuli (e.g., lively advert for the concert/ humorous advert for insurance)
  • Retention – adding the meaning to one’s internal makeup (i.e.Filter out the insurance ad/Retain Concert Advert)

Check out my spotify starred list here:

iii) Twitter (Usage 20%) : After recently setting up a Twitter account, I see what the hype is all about. I used to think friends were just being rude if they were on their phone instead of engaging with the group conversation going on around them but now I think social media platforms such as twitter can be addictive. I can see my usage of Twitter steadily rising especially when I start to follow brands I am interested in. Therefore I feel I engage with brands a lot more on this platform than any other. The more I engage, the more frequently I visit their online stores or retail outlets in the busy streets of Dublin.

iv) Instagram (Usage 15%): I’ve had an Instagram for a good while now. As a user I am exposed to the marketing and selling of different products on a weekly basis. Products can range from fashion to food or beverage based. I think companies can engage with digital native to large extent using this platform. Additionally I use Instagram to share photos with the community and I search for specific areas of interest be it fashion or scenery. I engage with companies to a certain extent on this platform. I would usually leave comments under their posts to give my opinion on a product etc. IKEA (who I follow) is a prime example of using Instagram to market its products and hats off to them in their efforts. They have basically created a ‘website’ if you will by giving each  2014 cataloged item their own account which you can read more about here.

v) Other Platforms (Usage 10%): These include applications such as ASOS, Pinterest, Tumblr, Songkick, LinkedIn etc which I use interchangeably depending on my free time  during the week where I can simply sit back and browse through each of them. Being a dedicated follower of fashion I would spend more time using apps such as Asos and I would regularly order from them too. The ease of purchasing through your smart phone or laptop reduces the effort involved in finding items in stores, checking for sizes and so on. Hell, just early today I bought a suit online.

vi) Email (Usage 5%): I usually check my email account daily for updates or important dates to keep in mind (How easy has Gmail made organizing the different aspects of our busy lives?). However I am exposed to promotions such as Groupon, Grab One etc which I would browse through every so often to try and locate something I ‘actually’ need and not simply buying out of impulse. I think companies are focusing less on email to market or sell their products and focusing more on their applications for smartphones. They seem to integrate their app with sales, marketing, news forums and feedback making it a useful platform for users and customers.

Television (Usage 25% of Total weekly media spend)

Back when having a laptop or a computer was considered a luxury, Television was more dominant with regards to how many people used it. Today it is used in conjunction with other forms of media such as Netflix and so on. I spend about 25% of my weekly media spend using this platform. Now with Digital TV I can skip advertisements between shows, movies etc so I only watch what I want to watch. I will still expose myself to certain marketing efforts if they appeal to me or if they add some value to my research in college. For instance, I have always been a fan of alcohol advertisements such as the famous Guinness or Bailey’s adverts. Therefore I believe television advertising is still relevant in today digital context as the adverts still persuade me to purchase certain products. This is also noted by Forbes (2013) who covered a business article stating that traditional marketing is still alive. Despite this, I am watching less television as I have access to laptops, tablets and smartphones. The main two reasons I would use my television is for games consoles or Netflix. For what I pay, Netflix is worth it. Where it lacks in movies it makes up for in TV Series. Obviously the only form of media I expose myself to with regards to Netflix are shows, documentaries and movies. Documentaries however may deter me from buying certain goods such as Coca Cola or KFC. The same thing can be said about social media. If a negative story is posted by a reliable source regarding a good or product I may stop purchasing that good or product. On  the opposite end of the spectrum if a company is sponsoring a sport or event it will stay with me for a long time and would stimulate me to purchase their goods or services. But I am easily influenced so to each his own is what I’m trying to point out.


Radio (Usage 7% of Total weekly media spend)

I barely listen to the radio. This could be because I do not drive. I do listen to it if there is a heated debate taking place on the likes of 4FM. Certain stations suit my taste in music. For instance, I loved Radio Nova when it first appeared on the radio waves but grew tired of them as it felt they played the same playlist everyday. Certain radio presenters have great senses of humor while others would put me to sleep with the lack of life in their voice. Companies advertising through the radio catch my attention if there is a chance to win a prize or enter a competition. Although if you live in the Republic of Ireland, I think you will all agree that we need to ban the Eurocycles/Eurobaby radio advert that pollutes the airwaves.

Magazines (Usage 3% of Total weekly media spend)

I buy one issue of Total Film or Empire every week to keep up to date on new releases or whatever is in the works within the film industry. I have never ordered anything from magazines but I like to look through the state of the art home entertainment systems such as new advances in surround sound etc. Usually I use the magazines to look at verdicts regarding new releases. If the movie has gotten poor reviews I will wait for it to leave the cinema and be uploaded to Netflix. But if a movie has gotten a lot of praise I will take the time to go and view it in the cinema. Despite purchasing these magazines on a weekly basis, I don’t think it will be long before I start subscribing to an online magazine instead of roaming the shelves of shops searching for the latest issue. This was also noted by Forbes (2014) who mentioned that most magazines are moving online to eliminate printing costs.

If you have an opinion on this, please leave a comment with your two cents on the issue.

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