strategic communication

“Write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow.” – Lawrence Clark Powell

Archive for the tag “mobile”

Hype up the Crowd

A common theme throughout these blog posts is the power of a crowd. Businesses either thrive or suffer based on strong public opinions. Social media, blogs, and mobile phones allow people to not only have access to breaking stories, but to contribute information to the stories as well. Crowds can actually be used as valuable resources of both information and product promotion.

In its basic definition, crowdsourcing is pulling a wide amount of information from a large group of people. In many instances, this is conducted from the Internet. A Wired article describes an example of crowdsourcing by describing an instance where a project director, Claudia Menashe, was able to go to iStockPhoto and search through thousands of photos uploaded by users. Menashe then chose as many photos as she liked, each one only costing a small fee. Instead of relying on finding a professional photographer, she went to a place where thousands of users willingly posted their work. This process was easy, inexpensive, and productive. With more sites thriving on communities and allowing users to upload original content, there is a good chance anyone can find useful information. Photographers are motivated to keep posting their work because of the idea of being chosen. This enthusiasm means unlimited resources for those searching for the perfect stock photo.

Paul Lewis explains in his TED Talk instances in which crowdsourcing helped The Guardian obtain necessary details on two different stories involving causes of death: Ian Tomlinson and Jimmy Mubenga. Both deaths were the result of something happening in font of witnesses, and in both instances the whole truth was being withheld from the public. Lewis and his team went to Twitter and received first-hand accounts of both causes of death. One bystander actually had video proof of police brutality causing the death of Tomlinson. These situations show that professional journalists have struggled with not having all of the resources for their stories. Their knowledge can be limited to time and space if they do not know how to effectively seek out information. Luckily, the Internet has created global communities and offers sites where people can share information quicker than ever. Lewis and his team were able to find first-hand accounts just from inquiring on social media.

Sometimes it may seem that crowdsourcing is too good to be true. There are instances where crowds are responsible for misinformation, such as the spread of hoax stories. The article “Who the Hell Writes Wikipedia, Anyway?” shows that experts take time to write majority of the content on its pages. Professionals who work for the site simply edit links and conduct minor tweaks, but the bulk of information we read was written by someone from the crowd. Chances are if someone is taking enough time to write an encyclopedia article on the subject, one must have a strong background in the matter. Many may take comfort in the statistics that show most people who take time to post online are highly educated professionals. However, it is up to the person seeking out information to always double check any sources.

One of my friends wanted to see what happens when one attempts to update Wikipedia. He found an article on a public figure and made a change on the whereabouts of this person. Immediately, he received an e-mail regarding his change. The e-mail asked for more information on why he made the change, and if he had any sources or proof. My friend realized that the posts are constantly monitored for accuracy. He chose not to respond to the e-mail, and his edit was removed. While Wikipedia is frequently debated on its basis of a credibility, it is using crowdsourcing to obtain information just like major news sources will do.

Because there is no limit to the possibilities that can come from a large group of people with freedom and a voice, it is important to implement crowdsourcing in an appropriate strategy based on achievable goals. Businesses looking to promote their product and keep up with current trends would be best advised to use an open call strategy inviting everyone to participate in the gathering of information. Using the Internet for an open call would be the best way to attract a large crowd. One study specifically mentions the concept of Co-creation along with open call crowdsourcing. Co-creation not only asks customers for their opinions on products, it actually involves them in the process and makes them feel like they are part of something with a purpose.

American Idol owes its long-run success to crowdsourcing. There was a time when it was the most popular, high-rated show on television. They premised their show on the fact that anyone could audition to be the next big pop star. Those uninterested in the spotlight still had the opportunity to choose the winner by casting their votes each week. The producers behind the show went to the crowd for resources: participants, voters, commentators. So many shows took this idea and created their own reality show with voting such as The Voice and Dancing with the Stars.

Last year, American Idol took the concept of crowdsourcing and co-creation even further. Relying on its own popularity as well as the fan bases of Coca-Cola and singer Carly Rae Jepsen, the ultimate user experience was created with the Perfect Harmony Project. Each week leading up to the American Idol finale, viewers were able to use Facebook to vote on song lyrics for Jepsen’s new single. Not only was this project a goal for increasing viewership, but it also served as a productive way to create something new: a song. Their strategy was also smart in that they relied on the motivation of the crowd, but did not give the crowd complete control. Voting on pre-made lyrics was a much more organized approach than having thousands of users attempt to come up with their own words.

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Notice how the ads enhance crowd enthusiasm by reiterating that they helped create a new song! The countdown for the poll also pushes for voters to participate quickly to ensure their vote is submitted.

Businesses can adapt similar strategies by having their consumers vote on new products. Some can even try holding contests in which customers create their own product to be sold by the brand, similar to Lays chips and TOMS Shoes. Customer excitement is valuable when using crowdsourcing, because the enthusiastic individuals will be willing to do their best to achieve the company’s goal.

It is important to promote organizations in a way that will get crowds excited. Businesses should focus on how their product can be used in everyday life. Does their product work well in social settings? Does it work for the greater good of the world? Does it make people feel better about themselves? One way to find out answers to these questions is to ask the crowd. Once a community is established about a certain product, the organization can then involve that crowd in a variety of promotional activities. If a crowd is passionate, their own motivation will go a long way for the success of an organization.

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Using Social Media to Stay on Top

Social media has become more than a place to connect with friends, relatives, and strangers. It has become a habit–something to scroll through while passing the time. Whether individuals are waiting for a friend to arrive for lunch or taking a study break, social media is available on computers and a variety of mobile devices. A recent Business Insider report found that Americans are spending most of their Internet use on social networking sites. With so many people spending hours scrolling through newsfeeds, it only makes sense that businesses use social media to share information about both their products and their company. Businesses that post consistent, professional content will maintain strong relationships with customers.

Many online communities thrive on the concept of homophily, that is people wanting to engage with others similar to themselves. Someone who has just joined a sorority may feel compelled to “like” Total Sorority Move on Facebook. Perhaps a recent graduate wants follow @PostGradProblem on Twitter. While some content on these sites may irrelevant to the user, this target user finds comfort in knowing there are thousands of others in similar situations. It would be a business’s advantage to have relevant ads posted on these pages. Companies ranging from apparel, collegiate items, and even recruiting firms would be very attractive for users in these groups. These social sites also share links to other websites that will peak the interest of this age group. Individuals who are loyal to these groups and continually post comments can have enough influence to change how organizations look at advertising. Alexis Ohanian of Reddit explains in a TED Talk that an organization determined to stop the hunting of humpback whales achieved this goal because a group of Internet users got really involved with voting on the name of a whale. Content from businesses that is displayed on popular social media sites will get noticed, and people will respond if it sparks enough interest.

This morning I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and in the middle of all the GameDay tweets and hashtags, an advertisement from HomeGoods from August 29th appeared. I do not follow their twitter account, yet there was a tweet blending in with the rest of my newsfeed. This is an example of a Promoted Tweet, a tweet that can seamlessly appear in a home screen to all non-followers. Promoted tweets can be created based on location, interest, or device.

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As you can see, HomeGoods is advertising their app because I am looking at Twitter on my phone. The organization understands that a Saturday morning during college football season where Twitter hashtags become trending topics is the perfect time for advertising. The ad did not pop up or flash, but still caught my attention in my newsfeed because it was so different from the surrounding tweets.

Shoe Carnival’s Instagram has recently posted pictures of students in school hallways in honor of back-to-school specials. This morning they posted a picture of shoes with the caption “Where are you headed this weekend?” followed by hashtags. Many users will respond to the question simply because it is nice to feel that one can connect with a national company. Over Labor Day weekend they tweeted a picture of corn on the grill as if at a cookout. Although no shoes were present in the picture, the post was still connected to the company’s profile and showed they are aware of holidays and traditional practices of the public. This account has mastered the social media strategy of personality which is effective for a family-focused company.

Strategic communicators know that using social media is one of the most effective ways to reach a wide audience. Last week I mentioned DiGiorno Pizza participating in live tweeting and becoming a trending topic. It should be a goal for businesses to have popular hashtag trends related to the success of their product and customer satisfaction. If a company tweets information followed by a hashtag and that tweet gets favorites and retweets, it has potential to be shared with consumers outside of its inner circle. Furthermore, users can produce their own tweets using the organization’s hashtag and reach an even wider audience. Trending on twitter in a positive light will improve an organization’s reputation and allow millions to see their brand or product.

Having a positive reputation online is extremely important because of how fast information spreads on the web. One bad comment can be seen by thousands of users and ultimately destroy any credibility the organization holds. One of the backlashes of social media is the amount of deception and fraud behind accounts that anyone can make. Twitter has become a competitive news source but fake profiles are easily created and have the ability to spread false information. Fake profiles for celebrities or politicians can often skew the opinions of users who blindly follow them. Twitter attempts to solve these problems by providing a blue “verified” check mark next to legitimate profiles. The check mark certifies that tweets are from the user or the user’s team, and accurately represent that user’s views.

Many businesses are not only using social media to promote their brand, but to promote their company itself. LinkedIn has become increasingly popular for those looking for jobs, but many recent graduates don’t have enough information or experience to make their profiles stand out. Organizations are posting open job opportunities on Facebook and Twitter because it increases the chances of the job being seen or shared by users. For example, Phi Mu Fraternity was hiring a chapter consultant for the 2014-2015 year. Information about the job and how to apply was listed on their official Facebook page. Since it is a national organization, Facebook was an efficient way to reach as many members possible. Local organizations can also use social media for recruiting. Research Triangle Park, located in North Carolina, has a Twitter name @WorkTriangleNC. Every Tuesday they use the hashtag #TriangleTuesdays and post about 10 open positions for companies in the area. Once every job has been tweeted, the account will tweet a link to the complete list of jobs mentioned throughout the day. This makes it easy for job searchers to see what is available. Anyone interested in working in RTP can have access to this information just by following their account. The account is especially beneficial for those looking from out of town who do not benefit from local word-of-mouth information.

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Social media is a unique platform because everyone has access to post anything they want. Organizations, along with their members, must keep in mind that information posted on social media has the potential to be seen by millions in a matter of seconds, no matter the location. Those who establish a trusted reputation will retain a consistent following, ultimately keeping their products and their company on top.

Disconnecting from the Wall

Greetings from 30,000 feet in the air! I’m currently on an airplane and this is my first time blogging strictly from a mobile device: my iPad. Before now, I used it only for entertainment purposes such as social media, Netflix, and games. I told myself I would use it for my undergraduate classes, but it has served other purposes. This week I am attempting to keep up with emerging trends by completing my blog post as if my iPad were my primary device. I downloaded the WordPress app and so far it’s the same as the website. The fact that I can access my blog on multiple devices, from anywhere, is what emerging media is all about. It is amazing how WiFi is available on airplanes. Clearly mobile influences have a lot of pull on what assets should be available to customers. As of the beginning of this year, 90% of American adults have a mobile phone and 58% use smartphones. Chances are a person will have his or her phone with her at all times, and 67% frequently check their phones for messages even if they do not hear an alert.

Smartphones and tablets have changed everything about how we access information. When it all boils down, a tablet is like a large smartphone while a smartphone is like a small computer. It all comes full circle. Yet tablets are increasingly the most popular device. Tablets are just large enough to offer a desktop-like feel, but mobile enough to take anywhere like a phone. I remember when the smaller the phone, the more popular it was. Today, smartphone screens are getting bigger, almost competing with some of the mini-sized tablets. Phone carries are realizing that more people are spending time staring at the screens of their mobile devices.

The following picture is one that shows just how much mobile media has consumed its users.

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TV is not enough. Individuals are consuming so much information from both television shows/news stories, as well as news/social media on their phones. Organizations should consider this information when promoting their products. If a nationwide event such as an awards show or sporting event is happening, companies should know that people will use their mobile devices post about it. “Live tweeting” has become a popular pastime for those who wish to share their opinions about such events on Twitter. Most live tweeting is posted using the Twitter app on a smartphone or tablet. During the live performance of The Sound of Music with Carrie Underwood, DiGiorno Pizza brilliantly joined the conversation on Twitter. Throughout the show, the brand took song lyrics and quotes made popular by the movie and replaced them with words that relate to their product.

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Not only was this hilarious, but it made DiGiorno Pizza a trending topic on Twitter with users across the country tweeting at them. Some may think these silly tweets were a risk of not looking professional, but they succeeded in participating with their customers. They understand their target customers’ interests by checking the trends on Twitter and making their product noticed. The younger generations are actually the future of how business will be conducted through mobile, so it is important to get their attention now.

Retail companies are increasing their e-commerce sales. Buying departments are hiring individuals specifically for e-commerce merchandising and sales. Most e-commerce purchasing is from consumers using a PC. Even though it appears everything is becoming more mobile-only, we cannot deny the importance of current PC users. The PC is still used in offices and homes, and people use it for more than just browsing-they are viewing products and shopping. Marketing teams can send e-mail blasts or display ads on their site to ensure PC users are getting the deals. However, to increase traffic to their sites it is important for businesses to have a mobile presence.

Last week I discussed the benefits of media convergence, and converging to mobile is an excellent business strategy. Companies are becoming more efficient in using mobile as a marketing tool. This article describes the benefits of businesses using mobile apps to personalize an experience for their consumers. When a consumer downloads and opens an app, the app enables marketing teams to pinpoint the location, purchase history, and shopping patterns of the customer. This information allows direct targeting for what the customer is looking for from the store.

One of the most fascinating market trends is the feature of geofencing. Geofencing is a location-based service and can be used by businesses to not only promote themselves, but keep customers away from competitors.

Here is a scenario to give you the full effect of strategic geofencing:

Let’s say Company A is an established business with great customer satisfaction. It is connected to customers through an online store, social media, and it’s own app, Suddenly, Company B builds more stores in the same locations as Company A’s stores, and it’s their biggest competitor. How can Company A stay on top?

Geofencing allows certain alerts to be triggered based on location. If a customer enters a certain barrier around the store, that customer will receive an alert (in form of an app notification, e-mail, or an ad display on another app) with a coupon. Instant coupons? Why not go into the store and take a look around? However, it is important to not overdo the alerts and annoy the customer. Integrating coupons and sales information seamlessly, such as providing rewards for checking into the store location, is very effective with mobile-savvy consumers.

Alerts are a great way to get sales information to the customer as long as they are not spamming their phones. Again, understanding purchase history can increase customer satisfaction. If there is a sale for a certain product, alerts should go to everyone who has previously bought that product in that location. Relevancy with specific, personalized ads makes all the difference in whether or not a consumer will read an alert.

To take geofencing a step further, Company A could create a barrier near their competitor’s location so when customers are somewhere near Company B they will receive sales information about Company A. Location services are powerful and should be used strategically for promotions.

Mobile technology is absolutely necessary for future success of businesses. It does not have to be the only used technology just yet, but businesses must understand that mobile technology is changing everything about consumer interest.

I’m bloggin’ it

Just like that: I have a blog.

My name is Rachel, and I am currently working towards a Master’s degree in Strategic Communication through Troy University. I am excited for the opportunity to discuss emerging media through a blog because it provides an opportunity to explore another tool in the digital age. This summer I am interning in the Human Resources department for Shoe Carnival, Inc. as an assistant to the Corporate Recruiter. My primary duties include developing a pool of qualified candidates by reviewing resumes and conducting pre-screen interviews, and recommending the strongest candidates to hiring managers. The most significant factor throughout the hiring process is communication. Relevant written information presented on a resume along with the quality of a phone conversation determine an applicant’s chance at getting the job.

The world of strategic communication and emerging media is constantly expanding. There are so many trends, topics, and cause-and-effect discussions that arise when diving into how emerging media affects today’s world. The purpose of this blog is to contribute to the conversation. Each week I will post on topics relating to strategic communication and emerging media. I will provide sources from articles, journals, and videos in order to comment on the ever pressing digital age, and what it means for society. If there is a hot topic in this field that evokes questions and discussions, I will be blogging about it.

If you are interested in following my weekly updates or would like to join in on the discussion, feel free to bookmark this page at https://rmscib.wordpress.com

Why a blog? Why communication? Emerging media is changing many of the ways we reach out to one another. in 2012 42 million blogs were published in WordPress and 329 million people claimed they viewed a blog. Blogs are becoming increasingly popular due to accessibility and the lack of restriction on length for posting compared to other online sites.  Businesses can share information with their consumers, and people can use blogs to express whatever they want and put it in the mercy of millions of strangers on the Internet. Some may find posting on the Web terrifying, while others are too busy updating all of their other apps that put their information into cyberspace.

Digital media has offered hundreds of platforms to keep individuals connected, but are they really communicating?

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George Bernard Shaw’s quote is like a punch in the stomach. How many times have I or my peers texted, posted, or shared something without getting the intended message across? I can think of numerous situations in which miscommunication actually amplified what would have otherwise been a small problem. There is a sort of block that comes with digital conversations as opposed to face-to-face or phone conversations. Web-based content is open to interpretation in terms of how the reader establishes tone based on the writer’s word choice or use of punctuation. It is my hope that as I continue with the Strategic Communication program I will learn strategies that I can share on this page in order to improve communication as a whole.

This discussion of digital media raises an essential question: Are traditional media dying?

Traditional media includes television, newspapers, magazines, and radio. Today more people are discovering that for every form of traditional media, there is a digital media format. Online radio, online television, and online news are topping the charts with high consumer demands. With so many options for instant news, one may be quick to think there is no hope for traditional media. However, when the Internet is in a frenzy over the next big story, there is  a need for the credibility of traditional media. Traditional media are not giving up the fight just yet, rather they are picking up a new strategy to stay relevant.

I want to start this topic with a personal experience from the beginning of this week. The world was faced with the news of the tragic death of actor Robin Williams. The first word I received about this news was a text message from a friend on Monday evening. Once I read it, I immediately pulled up my Google app on my cell phone and typed “Robin Williams.” Only one article came up stating that the actor was found dead. I refreshed the search results and the article was gone. I refreshed again and there were four articles all claiming he had passed away. My mom was in the room with me, and when I told her the news she grabbed the remote and turned the television to CNN. We waited about ten minutes and sure enough: breaking news announcing his death.

When I think about that sequence of events, I realize how much of an impact digital media has as a source of information. A text message, to a Google search, to an online article was the path I took to confirm the news was true. My mom chose to go straight to television. Each of us had our own method of finding the most credible source, and it is interesting to observe the mediums we chose. There is significance in the fact that my mom is part of a different generation and that she chose television over digital media.

A Pew study found that while television news sources have consistently been the most widespread, only 34% of viewers were younger than 30. In fact, 29% of people under the age of 25 did not receive any news (traditional or digital) in a single day. My mom is in the majority age group of those who prefer to get their news from television sources and generation needs traditional media. When finding out about Robin Williams , she still thought to turn to the TV even though she has an iPad, and I read her details from an online article. I stopped searching for confirmation of his death at the article, while she went one extra step to one more, faithful source. Watching CNN turned into an hour long event as we watched the details come together, and I realized I had put my phone down in order to focus on the reporter’s information. Suddenly, television news became my credible source and was what I used for material when continuing the conversation with my friend.

The 18-25 age group, commonly referred to as Millennials, is the turning point for traditional media. Another study in 2012 showed that 33% of Americans under the age of 30 used social media to get their news. When interviewing Americans who are active on social media, 36% (a 17% increase) stated they received news from social networks.

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Whether users are active on social networking or not, the graphic above shows more people are exposed to some form of news on a social networking site. However, a study by USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism reported 51% of users of social media users recognized that a only very small portion of news posted on sites such as Facebook or Twitter is completely reliable. This recognition is important because these users must turn to another news source to find the most accurate details. A survey by Knowledge Networks claimed “60 percent of people said they turn to an established outlet as their “second source” to learn more.”  Established outlets such as CNN or the New York Times are still valuable news sources, showing that traditional media are oftentimes useful for accuracy checks.

Statistics have shown the beating traditional media has received in the last five years, yet traditional media are not totally obsolete. Newspapers are now charging for online, digital content. An online newspaper offers the same printed content as a physical newspaper. People who read online newspapers know they are reading a newspaper and can distinguish newspaper articles from other web articles. Some argue that a newspaper is still a newspaper even if it is online. So far, there is not a frontrunner in online news that started completely online. When nationwide or global events occur, long-running news sources such as the New York Times, CNN and Fox News are used both offline and online because they have established credibility.

In what appears to be a completely digital world, traditional media are not yet “dying.” Media are re-inventing their original content and purpose into a form that Millennials will appreciate.

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