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Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

Do you have the answer?

Adam Zand (@NoOneYouKnow) commented on a previous post I made and suggested that we co-present a panel at PodCamp Pittsburgh 3 about how SM is a lot like high school. It didn’t happen due to Adam not being able to make it down from Boston and well, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to jump into my first PodCamp with a presentation.

I’ve been revisiting that ever since, when I see all of the tweets in my Twitter stream about “Top 50 Tweeters,” “Help me get to 5,000 followers!,” or “Who’s the hottest blogger?” – junk like that. Sadly, it really does seem that social media sites are progressing into popularity contests.

Why? I thought the purpose was to create relationships and share ideas, not make it about who has the most followers, comments, linkbacks, whathaveyou. True enough, there’s some vanity involved when we check out our Twitteranks, Twitter Grades, and utilize other web sites that tell us just how we measure up against our fellow social media users. It kind of reminds me of Snow White’s wicked stepmother who consulted that magic mirror to know she was still the fairest in the land. Is that really what we need to keep ourselves going?

There are incredibly smart people out there who are utilizing social media for great things, but why are only a few people called rockstars? Why can’t we all be rockstars?

What you’re doing is just as cool as what I’m doing. We might want different outcomes, but I’d like to think we could all be on the same social level, without trying to one-up each other. I don’t think, however, we can truly be social as a whole until we get rid of the labels and all of these self-serving motives (and yes, I know we all have self-serving interests in a sense) that do little more than try to inflate online social status.

I’d like to take a line that those High School Musical kids so cheesily, yet happily sing: “We’re all in this together.”

They have a point.

Do you agree? What are your thoughts on social media and popularity?

You can also feel free to email me your thoughts and I will post them in comments under anonymous or any way you’d like.

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UPDATE 10:47 P.M. – Looks like the folks behind Motrin are taking notice of the outrage.

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While watching the Penguins win over the Buffalo Sabres last night, I checked my phone to tweet and see what everyone else was yakking about. I noticed that there happened to be a huge uproar concerning Motrin and there was little I could do to find out due to a) not having an awesome iPhone or Blackberry/smartphone in general and b) I was at a house party, so … you know. When I got back this afternoon, I could see that there was much outrage by many moms on Twitter about a new advertisement on the product’s official site.

After monitoring the Twitter steam for a while at Motrin and #motrinmoms, I finally decided to watch the video to see what all the hubbub was about. Honestly, after watching it, I can say that I’m not wholly offended. I’ve watched it numerous times since then as a way to continue analyzing it, but nope … still nothing. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have children that I tend not to take any real meaning out of it. I think I’m in the minority here, but maybe not.

You can watch it and form your own opinion, but whereas many see the tone as condescending, I’m more convinced it’s supposed to be tongue-in-cheek. Additionally, I can’t help but think I could relate and might secretly have the same thoughts whenever I’m a first-time mom, too. Am I wrong for thinking that?

There’s strong focus on buzzwords such as “supposedly”, “things”, “official mom,” and so on. While we can argue over the context of those words, it is my humble opinion that “things” refers to the swaddles, swings or whatever you want to call them and NOT babies as some seem to think.

Many are calling it a PR nightmare. At this point, we don’t even know who is on the team that formulated this concept. I’d be interested to see if some of the team members are moms who may/may not have had experience with babywearing and thought that they could share their own experiences in a semi-humorous fashion. How would the perception change if this comes to light? A focus group may have helped, but again, we don’t know if they put it through the proverbial wringer before making it public.

It could have been helpful for Motrin to have a Twitter presence right now to deal with the backlash, but how can one person (or a few people) possibly engage on a personal level with hundreds of angry parents at once? How would you do it? I’m unsure that having a social media presence at this particular moment would have really helped the situation.

You can argue with me that then I don’t get it. I do, but this whole wave of social media platforms is still very new and companies are slowly starting to catch on. While we can bitch and moan that it would be so much easier if every company utilized social media, I think it’s imperative that they monitor and understand what’s happening “now” before taking the plunge. Having a presence just to have a presence isn’t always the best thing if your company has no clue and is more or less utilizing these platforms as the opportunity to spam or quite simply broadcast and nothing more.* Now, this situation might show the company (which is part of the Johnson & Johnson family) that social media engagement could be helpful in the future and I’m sure they will be paying more attention to it.

In the short term, I see an official statement being issued in response to the backlash and the ad will go *poof*. I don’t think a boycott will have any detrimental effect on the brand. Those who haven’t bought the product in the first place, probably won’t anyway and that’s more than likely due to the cost or loyalty to another brand.

While I do agree that the ad is a bit tasteless tacky (again, I don’t see it as offensive), I don’t believe they intended to piss off an entire market. They tried to reach moms in a way that they thought they’d be able to relate, but obviously it backfired – back to the drawing board. I’m looking past the controversy on a personal level because at the end of the day, the product works and to me, as a consumer, that’s what matters.

*I know this might sound pretty contradictory to several posts I made previously about businesses utilizing social media, but I don’t believe every company will find value in all social media tools. Participation ultimately needs to be structured according to what type of conversation they’re looking to have – hence, I just throw out suggestions.

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While at the PodCamp Pittsburgh afterparty, I had the opportunity to meet David Fisher (@Tibbon) and have a chat about social media over a Smores martini (me) and a cheesesteak (him). As I recounted my own struggles the past year with consistent blogging, David offered up some great suggestions and advice to amp up my posting and continue to expose myself to different facets of social media while I’m looking for a new position. So, I’m starting another series called Social Media 101 (as I said – one of many) to examine how companies are utilizing social media or could they could be using social media to engage their stakeholders. Thanks, David!

My first topic is Kennywood Park.

Kennywood Park, located near Pittsburgh in West Mifflin, PA is one of the oldest amusement parks in the country. From its humble beginning in 1898 as a small trolley park, Kennywood has grown over the years to become a unique park marrying both rides from days of yore with those of the present and future. It’s an institution that conjures memories from Pittsburgh’s older crowd who now take their children and grandchildren, reminiscing of their youth while making new memories with the next wave of Kennywood thrill-seekers.

My goal is to share my thoughts about what I think Kennywood could use to its advantage when considering Web 2.0 community-building as part of its public relations strategy. Plans may already be underway, but I’m just going to pretend we’re working with a clean slate.

Twitter

Twitter is probably the most popular microblogging site right now and allows its users to connect and communicate in real time. Most users are those who have a vested interest in social media and technology, but major corporations have also started to catch on to Twitter and utilize the service as part of their communications strategy.

Kennywood is on Twitter (apparently), but there are zero followers, zero following, and zero updates. It’s quite possible that the park decided to hold its name until it figures out a game plan, but the account may have been created by someone not officially affiliated with the park. Either way, it’s time to put the service to use. How can the park do it? Here’s some ideas:

  • Sneak peeks and major announcements – Include your friends. Announce a new attraction or initiative as it simultaneously goes out via traditional media outlets, OR build suspense and make your friends the first to know. This is going to help create buzz and establish a word-of-mouth movement both online and offline.
  • Trivia and fun facts – Capture the joy of the amusement park experience by creating a trivia contest or posting fun facts about Kennywood and the amusement park industry.
  • Make memories – Part of Kennywood’s messaging is about making memories. Encourage friends to share their stories and engage in conversations about what makes Kennywood unique and why they return year after year.

Facebook

There are 116 groups on Facebook that make some sort of mention of Kennywood, yet none are officially administrated by the park. Instead, dozens of employees and fans have taken initiative to create community around the park, whether its a means of organizing trips or discussing favorite attractions and quirks. Hundreds of individual users also mention the name Kennywood in some capacity in their own profiles.

A close competitor in Ohio has a Facebook presence although I am unsure how many, if any, pages and groups are officially affiliated with the park. There is one page, however, created by a fan that is most impressive with more than 29,000 fans.

Here’s an opportunity. Fans of Kennywood are obviously there and would surely rally around an official page or group. All it takes is an intern, for example, to invite his or her friends and the power of word-of-mouth will take over. Facebook has the capabilities of importing information from other platforms, which makes it easy to link many social networks together.

MySpace

You can also find a page on MySpace, but I’m uncertain if it’s official. It’s very bare-bones, but has the potential to reach the 18-34 demographic. The unfortunate aspect of the site, however, is that there tends to be a lot of spam at times (though it has significantly decreased in recent years) and the administrator of the profile will have to carefully monitor who is being “friended” since not all profiles are exactly “family friendly” or legit.

YouTube

The site featured two podcasts, but they recently disappeared. What I do like is that Kennywood has its own video devices called KTube, which allows users to share their memories with others and K-Clips, where users can create their own “videos.” I would also recommend a presence on YouTube to allow for easy sharing and commenting. In addition, the Park can easily gauge just how many people are watching videos, subscribing and “friending” their channel.

Miscellaneous

Flickr – There are more than 8,500 tagged photos and one group dedicated to the park. A presence on Flickr would help contribute to that conversation and showcase fan photos on a consistent basis.

Blogging – Not every business has to blog, but it could be an opportunity for guest posts from fans, historians and staff so that everyone can learn a little more about Kennywood’s history and what makes it unique.

Social ads – Myspace and Facebook are offering ad placements, which could benefit the park. Maybe it’s a special promo code for discounted tickets, or a generic ad for Phantom Fright Nights. Either way, the appearance of the Kennywood logo is bound to attract more attention than most of the ads we typically see on these sites.

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The important thing to keep in mind with any SM venture is that a little time and attention should be devoted each day to make the community better. It doesn’t necessarily mean that a dedicated position has to be created, but someone must be diligent in monitoring and contributing to the conversation. I don’t advocate deleting user-created content unless it’s spam, obscene or abusive toward other community members. It’s a learning experience for everyone. Positive comments generally outweigh the negative and there’s always a way to turn those negatives into positives. The trick is remaining open-minded and willing to implement change.

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PodCamp Pittsburgh was not only a public forum meant to talk about social media, but also create it.

While we were off learning in the Sunday morning sessions, Chris Brogan led the charge to create a community-oriented blog that would showcase the best of Pittsburgh from the perspective of its most ardent supporters – its residents. Enter OMGPittsburgh.com.

It’s still in the infancy stage with the lack of a unique header (it’s coming) and just a smattering of posts, but what I can tell you is that already, its authors are sharing community news and their views on what they believe makes this city so great. I even took a moment to briefly recount my little journey here and why I’ve come to adopt Pittsburgh as my home.

The great thing is that whoever wants to have a voice can sign up for an account and post away. I’m not sure how many are signed up currently, but I think it is the hope of the blog’s organizing team that there will be at least 100 contributing authors.

Wow. Think about all of the different viewpoints and stories that could be shared by 100 people. This is something that Pittsburgh needs – an active voice beyond the tourism bureau and tucked away forums. Pittsburgh still struggles, in a way, to position itself to those outside of the city as a place that is growing and thriving. We know it, but not everyone else does. Therefore, it’s up to us with this initial grassroots effort to get out the word and make a case for our city.

Pittsburgh was thrust in the national spotlight recently over the whole Ashley Todd debacle. People, upon hearing the initial story, might have been quick to judge our city as violent and unsafe, but sites like Shopping Bloomfield (the neighborhood where the “attack” happened) and OMGPittsburgh (among others) will tell you differently. Take a look and give us a shot.

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I had the pleasure of attending the third installment of PodCamp Pittsburgh this past weekend at the Art Institute. This was in fact my first unconference of any type involving social media and I must say that I was pretty impressed with the minds who came together to discuss how they’re using social media tactics for business or their daily lives.

I can’t really say that I learned too many new concepts, but what I do know is that I can be doing a lot more when it comes to my own little branch of social media, whether it’s blogging more (as I said I’d do) or exploring other tools such as podcasting and vlogging.

There were so many great sessions and it was hard to pick one for every time slot. I suppose I could have used the rule of two feet to swing into simultaneous sessions, but I can’t say I felt the need to leave the sessions I sat in on.

Here’s a brief recap of some of the sessions I attended:

Cynthia and Mike talk about blogging best practices.

Blogging 201: Blogging Best Practices – Led by Cynthia Closkey & Mike Woycheck, Co-Founders of Pittsburgh Bloggers

Before you start blogging, it’s important to think about your intended goal. Is it for creative expression? Community support? Discussion? From there, you must keep in mind that content is king. Cynthia and Mike also provided tips to help keep that mantra going and the audience involved:

  • Update as often as you want people to visit.
  • Post on a schedule so readers will know to look for it
  • Have consistence in your blog’s tone and style
  • Be upfront about your identity
  • Be clear as to what you will moderate when it comes to comments
  • Attribution is important

Grassroots Podcasting – Led by the Wrestling Mayhem Show and Should I Drink That?

It was a rumble of the minds mixing wrestling and beer enthusiasts alike as the discussion centered on how their respective podcasts started and how they manage to keep them going on a grassroots level.

The entire session can be summed up with this video:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

As an aside, Should I Drink That? has been nominated for the 2008 Podcast Awards so please have a heart and vote for them under the Food and Drink category. If not, I’m sure a nice fellow from Wrestling Mayhem Show won’t hesitate to break legs. 😉

Old + New, Unite! Using Social Media in The Arts – Led by Mike Cuccaro of The Black Sheep Puppet Festival and Kim Chestney Harvey of The Pittsburgh Technology Council

I was very excited to attend this session as someone who has worked in the arts. As the Pittsburgh arts scene is growing, social media provides great opportunity to connect and grow the arts patrons of tomorrow. Mike spoke about the platforms he’s using to promote the 10th anniversary of The Black Sheep Puppet Festival, among them Twitter and YouTube.

Kim, on the other hand, spoke about the Art & Technology Initiative, which is a collaboration of regional businesses and artists. Combining forces with some of the biggest cultural forces and technology companies in the city, this will be an exciting venture for the arts. I’m curious to see what happens. A kick-off event is scheduled for January 2009.

Community as a Full-time Job – Led by Walt Ribeiro

I selected this session on a whim and I must say that it was the best that I attended. Walt has so much energy and fully believes in what he’s doing. We learned that, if you want to venture into social media as a full-time job, it’s not going to happen overnight. Walt shared his story noting it took months to transition into creating community full-time. It’s important to know the audience and cater to them. Once sponsors come into play, you should make it a habit to create content everyday so they’ll know you’re reliable. Make yourself accessible and approachable. Walt’s key message: You’re not building a fanbase – you’re building a friendbase.

The Art Institutes: Social Networking Strategies – Led by Jamie Sterling & Kimberly Blackstone, EDMC

It’s my belief that social media can also help higher ed. institutions engage with their stakeholders, which is why I’m thrilled that EDMC has ventured into social media. Jamie and Kimberly gave a little case study on what they’ve been doing thus far. The Corporation has decided to target an 18-34 age range and is seeing an excellent return on its investment of a little time set aside every day to monitor its pages and engage with stakeholders, namely prospective and current students.

The Art Institutes in social media by the numbers –

  • Facebook – 2,767 fans
  • Myspace – 2,459 friends, 5,585 video plays
  • YouTube – 1,005 video plays, 45 subscribers, 14 friends (since Sept.)
  • Twitter – 56 followers (since July 31)

With continued work, I believe that the Corporation’s efforts will serve as an excellent example for other regional colleges and universities looking to break into social media. Keep it up, folks!

Chris Brogan, "Mayor of PodCamp," speaks to the Saturday morning crowd

Chris Brogan, "Mayor of Podcamp"

In addition, several sessions did live tapings, adding to the spirit of the weekend:

Chris Brogan Constructing Blog Posts and Content (recorded by Brandice)
Walt Ribeiro – Your Weekly Music Lesson with Walt

Dawn Papuga & Missy Sorg – Social Networking/Media 101

Find more content tagged with PCPGH3 here.

There was swag. There were drinks. There were laughs. What was most exciting was meeting some of the coolest people behind the social media movement in Pittsburgh, many of them on the organizing committee for this year’s PodCamp. Funny people, very passionate about the cause. Many people, myself included, wondered what would happen beyond this event since it was a first for quite a few of us. Fortunately, the organizers are keeping things alive with a series of meet-ups until next year’s PodCamp. The first will be held on Nov. 19 at the Firehouse Lounge in the Strip. Hope to see y’all there!

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