Social Media and Campus Communication

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I suppose this perhaps is an expected post this evening.

Around 4pm today I was at work and checked my school email, as usual.  There was an email from the University Police:  This is the University Police Department.  Please shelter in place until further notice.  There is a possible dangerous suspect on campus in Langsdorf Hall area.  We will update you as soon as possible.

There were subsequent email alerts with updates and directions for all students about the situation.  Eventually classes were cancelled and evacuations were order. Immediately I contacted all my classmates to make sure they were safe if they were on campus.  It’s a scary, yet all too common of an event these days.

After confirmation that all were safe, I further wondered about the emergency communication process for alerting students, employees, and faculty on all Universities.  Are they reviewed on a yearly basis?  Are updates and changes only done after situations occur on campuses?

On the news this evening the communication director for the President of Cal State Fullerton came out and made a brief comment about the situation.  When asked how the students, employees, and faculty were alerted, he responded simply:  Through our social media – campus emails, the school website, Facebook, Twitter.  I went through the school’s individual social media platforms and discovered in fact there were alerts in all areas.

With safety of great concern, it’s nice to see social media spreading news quickly and efficiently about a campus emergency.  If an individual happened to miss the information in one area, there were an abundance of other areas to be alerted of the emergency.  News spread quickly, not only through initial posts, but through re-tweets, shares, and of course texts amongst classmates.

I wonder if there will be changes that will be made to the process after all are safe and sound and Cal State Fullerton is back to business, as usual.

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Winter, Where O’ Where Are You?!

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snowymaine

Snowy Maine.

The semester is coming to a close.  Another semester of graduate school has come an gone.  It has flown by….even as week after week I found myself exhausted from juggling one too many items in my life.

My classes seemed to overlap and intertwine as the semester went along.  While they were three distinctly separate courses, I found ways to apply knowledge from one class to another and with hope that knowledge will extend beyond my graduate education.

I’m an older graduate student – so I have been out in the work force for many years.  My undergraduate degree and subsequent schooling was not just yesterday.  I know what I want to do in my life and what I don’t want to do.  I had a different career path and I’m ready to take on my new career with optimism and a sense of accomplishment.

Bringing my life experience to the classroom and my studies gives me a perspective I wouldn’t have had I done this in my early twenties.  Thank you for another great semester!

And as a side note, I still am missing the east coast and a snowy winter…

Business and Brands – Start Your Pinning!!

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I’ll admit, I have not joined the Pinterest world.  Yet.

Pinterest has been busy!  There is lots of buzz about the Pinterest’s new business accounts.  There is opportunity for businesses to not only to make money, but also generate awareness for their products and services.

On November 14. Pinterest announced the launch of Pinterest for Business.  Businesses are now free to create commercial accounts on this social network platform.

Research firm comScore reported that the site grew to 26.7 million unique visitors up from 3.3 million in October 2011.

Acknowledging that there is a strong connection between browsing pins on Pinterest and actual purchasing.  Retailers have been paying close attention to the referral traffic coming from Pinterest. The business accounts at Pinterest are easy to set up.  As well, Pinterest shows their commitment to businesses in assisting them covert their personal accounts to business accounts.

I’m looking forward to spending some time on Pinterest and seeing what I can stumble on!

pinterestbiz-3_o

An order of food and social media to go.

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Is it possible to go through our days without checking-in, searching, tweeting, updating, Facebooking, or instagraming? Are we capable of simply carrying out our life activities without notifying, alerting, and sharing?

I’ll admit – there are many times during the day when I check my phone, check-in, search, and tweet.  Often times I’m a lunch, on a break, or standing in line somewhere.

Today’s consumers have a tendency to learn about food from the experiences of others around them than from the brands themselves.  This constant communication enabled by social media has allowed the eating process to be a bit more intimate.

Currently 49% of consumers interviewed by The Hartman Group learn about food through social media networks.  The food-centric Americans turn to social technology to satiate their eating habits.  The millennials take the lead for the generation that texts and tweets while they eat.

As social media technology advances, I’m curious to see how this will continue to affect the way we communicate with each other about our eating experiences.  Will we forget to be social and interact personally?  Or will technology take over all social aspects of dining?  Only time will tell.

Flowtown-Dine-and-Dish2

Celebrities, Advocacy, & Entertainment, oh my!

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It’s been a semester of talking about theories, entertainment, and social media.  I am often thinking of how to connect all the dots.  How do they interrelate?  How can I sum up my semester?

It was an election year filled with an abundance of political ads, mudslinging, ultimate levels of immaturity, silliness, signs at every corner, and celebrities spouting their opinions as if they were experts on politics.  It was rather exhausting, although, I am content with how it all ended.

In Sayre & King’s textbook, Entertainment and Society, a chapter on advocacy, political activism is discussed.  In the age of Web 2.0, we find that everyone is a content provider, everyone is an expert….and politics is not exempt from this area.

Celebrities are everywhere during the lead up to the election.  They are hosting fundraisers for politicians, they are publicly supporting their favorite politician, cause, or policy.  They are using their status as a celebrity to share their “incredible amount of knowledge” (hard to show sarcasm in writing) to tell us who we should vote for or what cause we should support.

They are Tweeting, Facebooking, Pinning it, and shouting it out from every corner.

Rock The Vote was established in 1991 to “engage and build political power for young people in our country”.  http://www.rockthevote.com/about/ While this is an excellent way to involve young people in the electoral process, the celebrities that come along with the process often take over and the purpose becomes hidden.

As well, the Rock The Vote “Will Will Video” appeared in September 2012 to kick off the election season.  http://FunnyOrDie.com/m/77kb  (warning there’s a couple of R-rated words in there…)

Sayre and King eloquently described this era as a “sea of change for entertainers and their engagement in the electoral process”.  While I understand the importance of involving young people in the voting process, I wonder if individuals who actively listen, watch, and engage in such information from celebrities – let it  affect or sway their decision when it comes time to vote.  Do individuals vote based on information they personally researched (or based on their values) or do they merely wait for Miley Cyrus or Pink to tell them who and what to vote for?

Are those of us study communications immune?  Does our awareness allow us to look beyond the content that celebrities produce and think for ourselves?  I am aware and I do my research prior to voting….however, I wonder if I am ever swayed in my opinion by celebrities and not able to acknowledge it.  Awareness and media literacy is certainly an essential in today’s Web 2.0 world.

Facebook Wants You…and Your Photos.

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Facebook rolled out its Photo Sync yesterday, Friday, November 30.

Facebook was already taking in millions and millions of images a day and I’m sure with this new program that will dramatically increase.

I saw the banner asking me if I wanted to “Get Started” with the Photo Sync process.  I immediately declined.  Enabling the photo sync would automatically upload every photo I take, store them, allow me to easily select which ones I want to share, and apply tags automatically with approval.

I’m not a big fan of this option and my reasons for declining it are simple.  I want to have control over which images go from my phone to Facebook.  I can make those decisions myself, without the aid of Facebook. I like thinking before I post anything to Facebook, especially when it comes to images.  I like the control and discipline of not posting whatever without intent behind it.

I will maintain my level of control over my images Facebook.  Thank you very much.

SpongeBob Square Pants and Branding!

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Earlier this semester I had blogged about advertising and children.  I wrote about how children are the new focus of marketing campaigns.  This topic has been reoccurring for me this semester in one of my graduate seminar courses.

McDonald’s and it’s golden arches have stood out among the sea of fast food entities and has much success over the years in marketing towards children.

Another prime example of a brand with successful marketing and branding tactics directed at children is SpongeBob SquarePants.  SpongeBob, created by American marine biologist, Stephen McDannell Hillenburg,  celebrated his 10th birthday in 2009.  This is a milestone that very few characters on television have a chance to celebrate (Hampp, 2001).  Far beyond his success and longevity on television, SpongeBob has grown into an $8 billion dollar a year retail for Nickelodeon.  There are more than 700 license partners worldwide (Hampp, 2009).

Marketers associate the products and activities they want to sell with entertaining characters to increase interest in those products.  Successful marketing campaigns use branded characters to appeal to children and youth.  Rights to use popular television characters, like Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants, help sell a variety of products.  For example, SpongeBob can be found just about anywhere:  Colgate Toothpaste, Nickelodeon Suite Resorts in Florida, clothing, cereal, Kraft Mac & Cheese, and Vtech and Leapster Computers.  That little yellow sponge is everywhere!

Marketers associate the products and activities they want to sell with entertaining characters to increase interest in those products.  They use the same characters in online marketing campaigns and in television advertisements

Emotional connections  are built with children in mind by capturing their hearts and minds through characters on TV.  Cartoon and licensed characters are a highly successful marketing strategy when it comes to children.  Using SpongeBob to endorse products consistently keeps children engaged through themed toys, clothing, accessories, movies, television programs, video games, and countless other consumer goods.  Products traditionally purchased by adults such as food, travel, and clothing are now being marketed to children.  Although children have been targets for advertising since the advent of mass marketing, the intensity and frequency of children’s current exposure to commercial messages is unprecedented.

Popular, well-known characters and celebrities are used to build marketing campaigns using psychology principles that persuade children they need a product and in the process convince their parents to purchase it.  As well, advertisers use characters and celebrities from shows like SpongeBob SquarePants to successfully reel in children.  Marketing SpongeBob to children aids in the start of the consumer socialization process at a very young age.  This is the start of the process where parents and marketing build the foundation for creating consumers at a very young age.

American children are bombarded with messages from advertisers beginning at a very young age.  Many advertisements that are directed towards children focus on familiarizing them with engaging characters.  This type of advertising has proven extremely effective, as children show excellent recall and recognition for characters seen in ads.

With the success of engaging children with television characters and in turn having those characters present messages about products, there is a level of familiarity or comfort.  Children ages eight to ten show excellent recall and recognition for characters seen in advertisements and through adults, both becoming familiar sources of trust (Danovitch, 2010).  With this familiarity, children are able connect with these characters and easily desire to be a part of anything SpongeBob has to offer.

SpongeBob’s marketing successes have gone beyond selling toothpaste and t-shirts.  Successes have moved into the entertainment education arena.  There is an integration of education content into entertainment vehicles for children.  With the trust factor guiding the integrated marketing process there are Internet games intertwined with education content.  Marketers are increasingly building brand awareness and loyalty through video games.  To some the notion of using cartoon characters like SpongeBob, causes some to cringe, while others support it.  Regardless of the many views towards using games and entertainment as part of education, television and cartoon characters have found their niche in the education world.  Understanding and awareness that there is a built-in market appeal for characters such as SpongeBob, Rug Rats, Sesame Street, McDonald’s and their ability to stand out on a shelf among other education offerings is a key component for marketers.   The focus remains on the mechanism and marketing, rather than the content of such products.   Websites sponsored by Nickelodeon leading the pack for education interlaced with the Spongebob name.  Aside from various SpongeBob interactive educational websites, Leapster and Vtech Computer have jumped on this education bandwagon as well.

There is a lack of healthy skepticism when it comes to edutainment regarding education.  This is especially true with children who immediately relate and connect with the character connected with the interactive game or product.  Often times this type of educational entertainment is viewed as purely play and insufficient in terms of actual learning taking place.  There are various views regarding on the level of learning that takes place, implying the level of engagement is strictly with the branded SpongeBob character.

Children are vulnerable to marketing because they lack the cognitive skills to understand the persuasive intent of television and online advertisements.  The new stealth techniques can undermine the consumer defenses of older children and adolescents.   Today, children live and grow up in highly sophisticated marketing environments that influence their preferences and behaviors.  Using SpongeBob and other well-known brand characters to promote, enhance, and encourage entertainment as part of education has proven successful in many arenas.

spongebob#

http://adage.com/article/media/nickelodeon-s-spongebob-8b-kid-franchise/137866/

Storytelling and Engagement

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Have I mentioned that I love stories?  I love storytelling.  I enjoy the process.  It’s where I can engage, learn, and connect with another individual, product, brand, or service.

Sometimes storytelling comes in a variety of formats.  Sometimes it is a non-verbal process through a series of images.  Sometimes it’s through telling and others are through listening.

I am a big fan of NPR.  I spend a lot of time with NPR as I sit in traffic.  It’s how I engage, listen, deal, motivate, learn, understand while I sit in traffic.  Some of the stories I listen to enrage me, other’s motivate and make me feel better, while other’s dig deep and hit a very emotional spot for me.  Storytelling is effective.

The Moth

StoryCorps

In both my graduate seminar on entertainment and my social media marketing classes there has been lectures and discussions on stories and the act of storytelling.   Discussions and lectures on storytelling have been approached at different angles, with the same end result.  It’s a way to connect and engage with your target audience.

I think of brands, products, and services with this same type of storytelling power.  I feel a connection to them.  I am more likely to want to spend my money with a business whom I connect with.

Entertainment & Education ~ Together As One!

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Recently in my graduate seminar class we had been discussing the extent to which entertainment has seeped into all areas of our lives.  Entertainment directly and indirectly meshes with our personal and public lives.  At every corner we turn, we are being targeted, marketed and focused on.  Education, religions, politics, children, morality and spirituality all are fair game in this entertainment based society.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/04/what-isnt-for-sale/308902/

Our class was reviewing an interesting article by Emily Moyer-Guse, entitled “Toward a Theory of Entertainment Persuasion:  Explaining the Persuasive Effects of Entertainment-Education Messages”

Toward a Theory of Entertainment Persuasion

In reading Emily Moyer-Guse’s article on the persuasive effects of entertainment education messages, I immediately thought of  the variety of entertainment education available to the public.   The article makes mention that “entertainment-education messages may be more effective and persuasive than overtly persuasive messages in certain circumstances”.  This includes everything from basic children’s television shows to social campaigns for change.

With children’s televisions shows, I think of my childhood.  Growing up in my house, we didn’t have cable and we were mostly limited to watching PBS.  Everything from The Electric Company to Sesame Street. While The Electric Company is no longer on television, Sesame Street remains.  Sesame Street is a great example of persuasive entertainment education with lessons on being different, sharing, respect for other’s feelings and property, grieving, and manners to name a few.  These episodes involve the viewer with the characters allowing for transport, involvement, and identification with the story

On the other end of the spectrum is adult persuasive entertainment education.  This can range from individual television episodes to social campaigns for change.  One example would be the (RED) Campaign for the AIDS epidemic in Africa.  http://www.joinred.com/ This campaign focuses the story of the power of individuals to make a change.  Encouraging the current generation to be the one who makes the change for an AIDS free generation  Featuring (RED) products from apparel to accessories, a portion of the proceeds are donated back to the campaign to fight AIDS in Africa.  Their mantra of “as a consumer you have the power to make a difference” encourages individuals to make conscious choices when they are spending their money.  The (RED) campaign uses products and clothing as a platform to educate the public about AIDS in Africa, while attracting (persuading!) them through the use of a story in connection with consumerism.  (I am not 100% sure of the amount of money that makes it back to the actual cause, nor am I advocating this campaign, I’m just using it as an example!!)

In charity models like (RED), the organization isn’t asking individuals to go out of their way to do something they wouldn’t normally do or buy what they wouldn’t normally buy.  It also capitalizes on the pleasure of shopping and spending money while making people feel good about it, partially countering the inherent regret of spending money.  The model of donating a portion of proceeds as opposed to straight giving lets the target donor input their own self-interest of purchasing and using a product into the altruistic equation.  Additionally, displaying such products makes the purchaser look good while both raising awareness and incentives others to do so, in an effort to be and look charitable and feel part of the movement.

This is one example of many of the purposeful use of entertainment media as part of an organized communication campaign designed to educate and persuade viewers about certain social issues.

There are several theories that can be connected with these practices – such as Social Learning Theory – where the characters in the movies, PSAs, television shows, etc. can play a role model for the audience.  As well, Cultivation Theory show that media shapes how people view the world in terms of media shaping the way people perceive issues and events.

Persona!

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Persona.  At first thought, persona seems like a simple item to address in focusing on the target audience of your product, service, or brand.  It’s not the act of simply creating  imaginary characteristics based on stereotypes.  Rather it’s an involved process of researching the demographics, psychographics, and technographics of your target audience.

Asking essential questions is the place to start.  Who is your message designed to reach?  Who would your product or service benefit?  Who would be purchasing your brand?  Humanizing a target audience will help your business identify and connect with the segment you are reaching out to.

Moving away form the act of making arbitrary decisions about what you and your company “thinks” is the best action to take.  Moving towards the goal of determining what your target audience wants, needs, and expectations from your service, product, or brand is a step in the right direction.

Through research with supporting statistics, locate and determine who your targeted persona is.  Looking at the age, gender, careers, goals, interests, struggles, and individuality all combine together to create a story which further identifies a specific persona.  Once all of the details have been finalized and firmed up, your persona will be a strong representation of who your company needs to reach out to and connect with.

In a graduate seminar class and my social media marketing class, the discussion of personas has been a topic of interest.  No longer is it effective to make assumptions regarding the needs of your target audience.  Rather taking the time to listen, research, and determine the characteristics of users of your product or service will bring greater success to your marketing strategies.

Often times there will be an overlap of the personas and their characteristics.  This overlap will further assist in determining the relationships amongst the variety of personas.  This overlap is a commonality is a shared goal amongst your target audience – your product, service, or brand.

Persona!