Friday, December 14, 2012

How to get 1 million followers?

If there is anyone whose advice on social media we should take seriously, that person is probably Richard Branson. The man is the founder of the Virgin Group of more than 400 companies, several nonprofit initiatives, lives an incredibly adventurous life and looks like a rock star. Recently, he set up a new record, becoming the first LinkedIn influencer with more than 1 million followers. Guess who his next competitor is? Barack Obama, with half as many followers. He is a huge advocate for social media and urges other CEOs to get engaged as well. Although building up a follower base of 1 million followers might be easier when you can tweet about your adventures from places like Antarctica; I bet we can also have good use of his advises. Let’s see what he recommends on online communication:
-        He truly believes in personal contact with costumers. Even as a CEO, he often travels on Virgin flights or visits Virgin gyms to directly talk to the people who use the services and learn from their opinions. He does the same on social sites: he makes sure he reads related comments and tries to reply (!) to as many people as possible.
-         His second advice directly follows from the first. When writing a blogpost or creating online messages, he recommends to talk as you would talk to your friends or colleagues as ’everyone loves a personal touch’.
It couldn’t be more simple, could it? In case this does not seem enough to become a million-follower woman/man, then go check out more of his posts here.

The Sons of Maxwell

While many are still pondering upon the usefulness of social media, there is one thing we definitely have to give to web 2.0 tools – they lead to a more transparent world. It is not necessarily always to our benefit – probably we don’t like the fact that before going to a job interview the employer already checked our Facebook profiles. (Although it is our choice to decide which photos and information we make public.) I would say though that most often social media is fortunately on our side. Marketing strategist and managers who are responsible for customer services could tell stories about how much these new tools changed their jobs to the customers benefit.  Before social sites existed, we were dependent on well-designed, catchy commercials which could tell us pretty much whatever they wanted about their brands. If it was not true, we had to learn it the hard way. If we were disappointed with a brand/service/company, we could tell it to a bunch of our friends but that was certainly not enough to change anything.
Now we are more connected than ever, which means if we are able to use these new tools the right way, we can be more influential than ever. The setting for businesses has changed: it is not a corporate giant and a defenseless costumer facing each other anymore. My favorite example for this new relationship is the songs entitled ’United breaks guitars’. You might be familiar with the story because the saga of the Canadian musician whose guitar was broken by United Airlines employees was a big hit in all mainstream media channels a few years ago. The story is simple; United mishandled Dace Carroll’s baggage and broke his guitar. The guy went through all corporate bureaucratic channels to get compensation for his damage but the company never admitted its responsibility. Finally, he got so frustrated that he promised United to write three songs about his story if they would not refund for the broken guitar. And so he did. The first song became an immediate hit on Youtube and within 4 days of its online release, United’s stock market price fell by 10%.
By the way, Carroll’s band is named the ‘Sons of Maxwell’J

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Framing! Framing! Framing!

Now it comes to the end of fall semester, and it’s always one of my traditions to look back before I draw a perfect circle for it. We had many inspiring discussions in Social Media class, which gave us a better understanding about the magic of social media tools. To take one step further, social media platforms are not only known for its effectiveness and efficiency in terms of disseminating information, but also regarded to have great potential to influence people’s behavior.

Information, regardless of ways used to deliver message, can change people’s mind and thus change their choices in live. Everything is a framing issue. That reminds me a fantastic point my classmate Matthew Gress brought up in class: people should create positive message online if they want to reach out to a lot of people. In his words, “how can you ask people to ‘like’ a picture about a fire?” As a matter of fact, how to organize information to help raise as much public attention as possible is an essential life skill nowadays. 
The movie about Pat Tillman, a football start who died due to friendly fire in the Afghanistan war when he was serving the U.S. Army, is a good presentation illustrating that “Media contain ideological and value system.” The government framed the casualty as a flag-waving heroic event that Tillman was died for saving the lives of fellow soldiers during an ambush by the Taliban. It worked pretty well. Many U.S. citizens felt incentivized to serve their own country. Therefore, we can see that media message not only reveal value but also help build value system. 

Moreover, in my point of view, audiences don’t have much power to negotiate the meaning of information presented in media. Negotiations are processes in which people deal with information using their personal value. It supposes to be a struggle before people make a decision on whether to take the value incorporated into media message.  Nevertheless, I am disappointed to find out that nowadays audiences are easily manipulated. Just like many other people who believed Pat was died for heroism without a second thought. 

To conclude, social media can be useful tools to attain goals, as long as people use them in a correct way. It is always good to understand the target population before reaching out to them. Based on the knowledge about what your audiences believe and what they like, then frame your message in a way that cater for their preferences. I think people would be more likely to take actions on things which they originally believe in.  

Monday, December 10, 2012

Social Media Saves Lives and Unite People

Trapped under the rubble after an earthquake in eastern Turkey, two teenagers called for help in a way that reflects how modernity has transformed even the furthest reaches of this country: they tweeted.

A television reporter saw the online message soon after the 7.2-magnitude temblor on Sunday and informed the AKUT Search and Rescue Association. Twitter has a location feature that allows users to pinpoint their exact co-ordinates. Within two hours, a search team had extracted the young men from a collapsed building.

Turks do not yet rely on such technologies as much as the Japanese, who reportedly tweeted their earthquake earlier this year at a rate of 1,200 mentions per minute, but social media users have made impressive use of their networks: shaming companies into donating help, publicizing calls for supplies and encouraging thousands of people to offer their homes as temporary shelters.

When a former media adviser to the Turkish Prime Minister, Ahmet Tezcan, wrote on Twitter that he would give his Istanbul residence to a needy family, he started a movement that attracted 17,000 similar offers within eight hours.

“I was sitting at home, watching TV, and I asked myself what I can do,” Mr. Tezcan said. “I’m living in Ankara but I also have a house in Istanbul, which I use for short visits. So I decided to say on Twitter that I could voluntarily give my house. I put it up there, and many people started responding saying they would do the same.”

After the initial rush of offers, city officials in Istanbul set up a 24-hour hotline to register people who want to give their homes to people displaced by the quake.

Returning from a visit to the quake zone, Ahmet Ercan, a leading geophysicist, concluded that the initial phase of the response had gone relatively well.

“The rescuers were very successful this time,” Mr. Ercan said. “The victims used Twitter and mobiles to alert people about their location, which really helped.”

This news story is from The earthquake really helped people of Turkey unite again in such disaster. Also, this story shows how using social media effectively helps victims to get rescued at the time of the disaster and aids and necessities to be distributed quickly and in an organized manner.


Buzz Worthy Media in 2012

The most buzz worthy moments of 2012 were mainly focused around social media from viral videos to election parodies.  The viral videos from YouTube created numerous celebrities such as “honey boo boo” and “Psy” who both became pop culture spectacles when their names and videos were blasted all over the internet.  The use of social media in these two cases made relatively unknown people, pop culture phenomenons, which they have been able to capitalize from.
The second most powerful buzz worthy moment as related to 2012 was the election and how the two opponents used social media for their campaigns.   The use of social media in the 2012 election was focused on the numerous blunders and parodies about the topics discussed in the debates.  The social media network was able to reach out and get people involved with this tactic.  Many people who did not have an interest in the debates and election were more likely to follow social media than the factual information from the news agencies.
In 2012, social media proved to be the most efficient manner to spread information to the largest amount of people.  As social media continues to grow and people continue to join the various forms of social media, it would seem there will be no end to what is shared on the internet.  As the year comes to end it make you wonder what will be the new trend in 2013 or who or what will become the new phenomena.   The world of social media will only continue to expand and new forms of social media that will be introduced in years to come are an excitement to hope for!

Social media and the Tao: a fable for control freaks from Mr Splashy Pants

I bet that many organizations are reluctant to give social media a try because they are afraid that it will be impossible for them to control the content on the platform. And let’s admit it: they are absolutely right. Engaging people, encouraging them to participate means that you will no longer control the message.
But that does not mean you will no longer reach your goals either. Mr Splashy Pants (a humpback whale who rocketed to web stardom) has not only saved his peers life but taught Greenpeace the most important marketing lesson of the web 2.0 era: It is ok, to let control go! Yes, that means things will not go as you planned. They might end up going a lot better.
So now take a deep breath, and check out the true story of Mr Splashy Pants in this 4-minute Ted-talk by Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian.

A creepy post

 I am sure you all read one of those self-help books that ask you to think about the kind of speech you would want to hear on your funeral, and then advise you to live your life accordingly. Well, this Ted-talk will put that old commonplace into a new perspective. Adam Ostrow in his short speech reveals that now we are close to the moment when it becomes possible to create our ’live avatar’ after our death, based on our past social media presence: our posts, pictures and videos.
Now (the data is from 2011) there is 48 hours of video uploaded to Youtube every minute, 200 million tweets posted every day and an average user posts 90 pieces of content per month. The implication of this is that we are archiving our lives as no other generations before. At the same time, technology is improving faster than ever. Computer programs can now analyze insane amount of data and researchers at MIT are experimenting with robots who can interact like humans. Ostrow raises the logical question: what if we put this two together? We then can create robots who can act based on  the characteristics of a specific person with the help of the digital data she has provided during her lifetime.
So if ever in doubt about how to guide your online presence, just think about this prospect. If you feel you need a little help in seeing where you are heading, just go to The program (based on your past tweets) will show what your next tweet is likely to be. If you don’t like it, change your twitter ways, until it is not too lateJ

Suing People Using Twitter for Insulting

The mayor of Ankara, Turkey’s capital city, is suing 600 people for insulting him on Twitter, according to the Turkish daily, Hurriyet.
In a television interview transcribed by Huriyet, the mayor, Melih Gökçek, described the basis of his lawsuit. “It’s me who tweets, not someone else in my place and I sue those who insult me,” Gökçek said.
“There are about 600 people now that I’ve sued,” he continued. “In the beginning we weren’t able to catch them with the speed of social media, but now we can. We caught approximately 80 percent of those who have insulted me. When you give their names and accounts to police, they find themselves in front of prosecutors. But if they apologize publicly, then I say they’re young and forgive them.”
Gökçek’s legal grounds are derived from Turkey’s Article 301 which makes it illegal to insult the “Turkish Nation,” a term which can include government entities such as Gökçek.
The mayor is apparently proud of the legal action, though. After one columnist tweeted “Melih sued 600 people who insulted him on Twitter,” Gökçek retweeted it.
According to the other sources, the mayor searched the one of the people who insulted him on Twitter. After the search he discovered that the insulter was college student and disclosed her phone number on Twitter and said that such an action was not appropriate for a college girl.
This story is interesting and funny because we did not encounter such an investigation before on the social media. Also, disclosing phone number, and consequently personal identity, of the person who insulted him gave rise to reactions on the social media.

Implication of Studying Online/ Offline Lives

Picture. Our social networks differ online and offline. 

The study of 61 million Facebook users in social influence and political mobilization (Robert M. B., Christopher J. F., Jason J. J., Adam D.I. K., Cameron M., Jaime E. S. & James, H. F. A 61-million-person experiment in social influence and political mobilization. Nature 489, 295-298 (2012)) shows that transmitting behaviors is more likely to happen through close relationships, both online and offline. The indication of interactions between online and offline social networks and behaviors also reminds me of a study I did in 2010.

Our study is about the impacts of social economic factors, age and online participation on web users’ civilized and uncivilized behaviors, in order to understand the Internet mobs and online conflicts. We thirteen researchers analyzed more than 60,000 posts/ comments from 588 users in one of the major Chinese Political online forums named “Kaidi Community- Cat eyes Forum”. The social demographic variables data of each user were selected from an online survey conducted by one of the  forum users.

The study finds that social classes (based on professions) have no significant effect on online civilized behavior, but the specific uncivilized behavior varies with different social classes. Uncivilized behavior increases with ages. It also grows with higher monthly income among online users from middle-class. In addition, online participation (measured by log-on times) does not affect the users’ performance in online discussions.

Both of the studies indicate the mutual influences of people’s online and offline social networks, behaviors and personalities. The indication also shows the complexity and the limitation of studying only on people’s online or offline lives.

Back to the two studies mentioned before, for further research on social influence in voting behaviors, I would suggest a closer look at social demographic factors of the 61 million Facebook users, such as their ages, races, genders and social classes (could be measured by education and professions, both can be obtained on Facebook), and how the different factors affect the transmission on political behaviors via online and offline social networks. For the further study of Chinese internet mobs and online conflicts, the researchers should also consider the online and offline interactions between web users and the effects of these relationships on online personalities and behaviors. 

In the end, social science researches are about to understand humans and their behaviors in the background of the changing environment.

11 best practices for twitter

When working on our group project, Paulina has come across a book that seems to be really useful: 'Social Media for Social Good' by Heather Mansfield. The book is a how to guide for nonprofits to ’spread your message instantly and easily-even on a shoestring budget’. It guides you through all of the important web1.0 (the static web), web 2.0 (the social web) and web 3.0 (the mobile web) tools. Although I only have the book for a few days and haven’t had the chance to read it yet, it is quite well-edited so even skimming through the taglines was helpful for our project. As Twitter will probably be the most important tool for a while for online nonprofit campaigns, let me summarize here the 11 tips she recommends for using Twitter. (In case you plan to work in the nonprofit sector, I do recommend you to buy the book – or you can also borrow it from meJ
So here are Mansfield’s eleven Twitter advices:
1.       Find your Twitter voice – have personality and build a community (Engage, don’t just push content).
2.       Track your links!
3.       Don’t tweet only your content!
4.       Retweet and reply often
5.       Follow on a 1:1 ratio (This means if you have 1000 followers, you should follow Twitterers. This sounded tough for me, but she lists good reasons to do so. Most importantly, you will get more followers if people see you follow back.)
6.       Create Twitter lists to organize the chaos and build partnerships (You can do this simply by going to ’Lists>Create a list’)
7.       Use hashtags strategically and with authenticity (Don’t clutter too many hashtags in a message!)
8.      Tweet four to six times per day (Most people only browse in real time, therefore the lifespan of a tweet is only about 90 minutes).
9.       Use ’Favourites’ to bookmark future retweets and feature your most important tweets! 
10.   Use Twitter to build your e-newsletter list
11.   Design your Twitter Profile to match your organization’s online branding
I think this list will keep any start-up nonprofit organization busy for a while, but in case you need more, check out her blog here.

Tweeter, fast communication but better?

Getting involved in tweeter culture demands speed in many ways, being quick has to be present if one really wants to understand how 140 characters can express ideas in fast and simple ways.

When I was following the presidential debate this need to be fast was more evident, while I was thinking about writing something, a quicker user thought the same and wrote in other words. From this experience, I learned to think in a more confident manner with a louder voice, and write automatically the first idea that came to my mind, without any possibility that someone could judge me –allowing me to be free and transparent.

“Real time” is the issue behind the tweet; you can systematize any experience, and elaborate hypothesis about a topic, but to share it in the moment is the more valuable element present in tweeter platform. Those ideas don’t represent a conclusion, they are only the different expressions of human thinkers, they invite us to be a part of the huge global village.

We can communicate faster in twitter, very concretely, and very resume, but is that really better? Sometimes it could cause many misunderstandings. Either extreme is not good, an excess of description or simple ideas invite us to research more; that’s the clue, to wake up an interest in the different fields flowing around cyber space.