One of the terms I find most problematic when reading online content is the phrase “in real life” as a means to distinguish online activities from face to face “real” experiences. While we can’t substitute our online participation for the ones we engage in as part of the physical world, to suggest that they are entirely separate from the moments that define our physical experience seems like a fallacy and generally incorrect. We cannot divorce the person we are online from the person we are, period. There’s a certain overlap and fluidity between our online personas and the people we believe we are “in real life”. However, behind their screens, users sometimes forget this fact, adopting a bold callousness in their online interactions, and these characteristics combined with the anonymity of the social web allow users to say things that they might not say otherwise. While there may be truth in their comments, users frame conversations differently online and as communicators or producers on the social web, it’s important to recognize the shift in paradigm when discussing users; there are of course the “good” – engaged individuals and communities who positively contribute to discussions, the “bad” – those that can be typically classified as bullies or trolls, and the “untapped” – those that provide valuable insight through seemingly negative packages.
I’ve been working on a lengthy post for this week and initially wasn’t planning on writing a second one. However, with all the fresh, innovative technologies and ideas coming out of South by Southwest (SXSW), which just wrapped its interactive portion on Tuesday, I couldn’t wait to share. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to attend the festival in person but here are a few stories I’ve seen trending online and I’ve gathered my favourites.
Taylor Swift is undoubtedly one of the biggest pop stars in the world right now and I debated whether or not I should write a post centered around her because if felt like click-bait. Peruse any pop-culture site and you’ll find an article, photo, mention, anything really as an excuse to use Taylor’s name because mentioning her generates a boost in traffic. She’s on top of her game and people are responding with their “likes” “shares” and comments. All of this is fine to an extent but being a new, unknown blog, numbers aren’t my main goal and I don’t want to write about her for the sake of a few additional views. I wanted to scrap this post but the reality is that Taylor, or the people on Team Swift, have done an exemplary job using the social web and present a fascinating case study, one that I obviously can’t resist.
Full disclosure here, since the release of her album 1989 I’m what you would call a “Swiftie”, so I’m glad to see her not only succeeding but owning the moment so well. By all accounts, she’s a kind and talented person and her work speaks for itself. I’m not questioning her success or her intentions. Instead, I’d like to unpack the ways in which Taylor and her team have used the social web to accompany her re-branding as a bona fide global superstar and examine the ways in which she uses various channels to share content, focusing specifically on her Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr accounts. While her other profiles share similar content as the three outlets I’ve chosen, I’d like to focus on Twitter which she joined in 2008, Instagram which joined in 2011, and Tumblr which she began using in 2014 because these are the channels that demonstrate the most interaction between Taylor Swift and her audience, with Taylor messaging fans, commenting on their posts, and reblogging their content. There are so many elements of Team Swift’s social media presence to discuss but for the sake of brevity, I’ll focus on what I believe is their greatest strength: tone and targeted messaging.
Is anyone out there?
I won’t be upset if there isn’t. After all, it has been more than two years since my last post. But if by chance there is a reader sticking around, I want to say hi (!) and thanks.
I have to admit that this – my return to blogging and this blog in particular- has come as a surprise. This site was born as a school assignment and was supposed to end along with the class, slipping in line with countless other abandoned blogs and online projects. But I’ve hesitated to delete this site, periodically coming back to check the traffic and read old posts, and now I’ve worked up the courage to start writing again, this time without the class syllabus to provide structure and guidelines.
Much like traditional forms of communications and public relations, social media initiatives need to be regularly monitored and evaluated. Although this task is a bit more difficult to do than with traditional media- new technologies, changing metrics, and a much larger platform- it still needs to be done. Three benefits for doing so are as follow:
1. The social web is a big place and conversations can occur across various platforms. Monitoring your organization’s social media programs allow you to identify where these conversations are happening as well as the key players, and lets you better understand your audience.
2. Social media monitoring is a key component in reputation management and helps your organization track both the good and the bad. What is the general sentiment towards your organization and what can you do to maintain or improve those perceptions?
3. Determining ROI and finding out what works and what doesn’t. Is their value in your current social media program? Are you concentrating on the correct forums?
By now, most people on the social web are familiar with the hashtag symbol (#), which helps tag keywords in a tweet, allowing others to search for and find that content. Hashtags are simple to use and effective for search optimization, helping to improve keyword searches and connecting users with similar interests. They are important. However, in a bid to push content to more viewers, some users have taken the hashtag to a whole new, and very annoying level, by tagging #every #single #word.
via Brian Solis
Brian Solis’s conversation prism is an excellent infographic, illustrating the diversity and availability of platforms on the social web. Although this image, most recently updated in 2010 is still relevant,* it needs to be revised to reflect the growing popularity of sites such as Instagram and Pinterest. These platforms allow for users to upload and share photos, and the success of both sites demonstrates the increasing preference for visual content, as opposed to straight text. However, focusing specifically on the latter of the two platforms, for all of Pinterest’s success, public relations practitioners are still debating the merits of this site. While the marketing potential is fairly evident through Pinterest’s ability to drive ecommerce, public relations professionals are still trying to figure out how to harness the power of this platform and its many users. Though its path isn’t clearly laid out yet, I believe that Pinterest has the ability to be a useful public relations tool but its use and purpose requires a bit more planning and creativity, and as always, context is key! What are your thoughts? Is Pinterest a useful tool for public relations practitioners?
*Brian Solis is updating the prism!