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The Grand Social Media Experiment. We learn by doing.


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Is social media really helpful for organizing?

The value of social media for organizing is common knowledge in many instances, most notably the Arab Spring. But how useful is it now?

In this post I look at social media from the perspective of someone starting an ad hoc lobbying group, wondering what channels, if any, could be helpful..

I want to campaign to change some laws when the Legislature is back in session in 2015, assuming the upcoming election results in bodies receptive to the changes I intend to propose. Unfortunately (and fortunately) one person can’t dictate the laws (although I think I’d do a great job dictating the laws, others would probably disagree).

I am sure others would love to see the changes I would propose in my campaign and would help demonstrate the need for the changes, including some who would help with lobbying. Some people would have stories to tell which would be more effective than a whole boatload of facts and statistics in persuading members of the Legislature to approve the changes. The question is, how do I find these others? It will not help to find the disgruntled, those who will piss and moan but not do anything, I need to find those willing to act.

In theory the beauty of social media is that you can use it to find other like-minded individuals. It would seem Facebook would be perfect for the job. With Facebook algorithms as they are now is that the posts from a new page with few Likes may not make it to the news feeds of users who have Liked the page. I’m not in a position to pay to boost posts for my ad hoc non-profit lobbying group. So what would be the point of using Facebook?

Twitter might work, but the number of active users is small compared to Facebook and I am not sure it will help me find my target market.

Examining the other major social media channels I am not sure they would help, as I note in the following paragraphs.

The issue is not one which lends itself to pictures, which eliminates Pinterest. Even if it were I’m not sure my target market would find me. The lack of pictures probably also puts Instagram out of the picture.

It’s not a work or professional issue, eliminating LinkedIn as an option.

The number of people reading brand new blogs is small, so I’d have to find ways to drive traffic to the posts Which comes back to Facebook and Twitter.

Clearly I need to research other, less well-known social media channels. Is there one that would do the job?

The power of social media is not all it’s cracked up to be.

JE


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Social Media and the “Spiral of Silence”

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,

“To talk of many things:

Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–

Of cabbages–and kings–

And why the sea is boiling hot–

And whether pigs have wings.”

From The Walrus and The Carpenter by Lewis Carroll

We share the belief that the internet broadens public discourse and adds perspective to discussion of many topics and issues by offering the freedom to share opinions more or less anonymously about many subjects, including cabbages and kings. Through the give and take we can become more informed. A new study by Pew Research Center of what they call the “spiral of silence” refutes that belief. Pew found that Facebook and Twitter users avoid using the sites as outlets for discussion of political and controversial issues when they fear that followers will disagree with their views. The idea of the “spiral of silence” goes back to pre-internet studies of communication.

The issue in the new study was the Snowden-NSA revelations, which were fairly new at the time the survey of 1,801 people was conducted, when the general public still knew very little about the scope of the surveillance. Division of opinion on the issue was more or less even.

People were less willing to discuss the Snowden-NSA story in social media than they were in person; 86% of Americans were willing to have an in-person conversation about the surveillance program, at a dinner with family or friends, a community meeting or at work, but just 42% of Facebook and Twitter users were willing to post on those platforms.

Pew found that “people who thought their social media friends disagreed with them were less likely to discuss the issues in face-to-face gatherings, as well as online forums.” People were more willing to share their views if they thought their audience agreed with them.

The reluctance to express opinions others may disagree with may follow from human need for and attunement to the approval of others, reading cues to see if others agree with them. Active social media users get more of these cues and be more aware of the extent of difference of opinion.

How well the findings can be extrapolated to other social issues, such as the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, is another research questions.

There are other reasons people may be reluctant to share their views on an issue. I they may have seen posters who held minority opinions being ostracized, ridiculed and bullied online. Or they may fear that their posts will be found later, for example, by prospective employers.

There are aspects of the social and political climate in which people share opinions depends on several other things, such as their confidence in how much they know, the intensity of their opinions, and their level of interest.

A final consideration is that the internet has proven not broadening but polarizing, with people finding and using sites they agree with rather than seeking out and learning from opposing opinions.

There are many sensible reasons why people don’t share opinions, both on and off the internet. Yet it’s disappointing that the internet isn’t the tool which could broaden public discourse but doesn’t. I hope Pew will undertake more research to see if there are ways around this problem.

For more information on the study visit:

http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/08/26/social-media-and-the-spiral-of-silence/


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Biz Stone on Believing in Yourself and Creativity

Biz Stone, the co-creator of Twitter and author of Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of a Creative Mind, advocates believing in yourself and using your creativity.

Biz Stone's book coverBiz took a cue from an old Bugs Bunny cartoon in which Wile E. Coyote guest starred. Wile’s business card gave his title as “Genius.” Biz named his blog Biz Stone, Genius, and wrote about the work going on at his imaginary company, Genius Labs.

His advocacy of believing in yourself and using your creativity goes along with his belief in creating your own opportunities, which I wrote about in my last blog post. In this post I will share five messages I distilled from the book.

  1. You must believe in yourself, even when it’s hard.

“When you are starting a company, you sometimes have nothing more than an idea. And sometimes you don’t even have the idea – just the supreme confidence that one day you will have an idea . . . Then you make a business card and give yourself the title Founder and CEO.”

What does this have to do with creativity?

“Believing in yourself, the genius you, means you have confidence in your ideas before they even exist. In order to have a vision for a business, or for your own potential, you must allocate space for that vision. … Inventing your dream is the first and biggest step toward making it come true. Once you realize this simple truth, a whole new world of possibilities opens up in front of you.”

  1. You cannot use up your creativity.

“Creativity is a renewable resource. Challenge yourself every day. Be as creative as you like, as often as you want, because you can never run out. Experience and curiosity drive us to make unexpected, offbeat connections. It is these nonlinear steps that often lead to the greatest work.”

  1. You need an emotional investment in your idea/what you’re doing.

After leaving Google Biz and his business partner started a podcast business (although they weren’t known as podcasts at the time). Neither man listened to or recorded podcasts.

“We lacked something that is key to [success] . . . emotional investment. If you don’t love what you’re building, if you’re not an avid user yourself, then you will most likely fail even if you’re doing everything else right.”

  1. You can’t rely on technology.

“The greatest skill I possessed and developed over the years was the ability to listen to people . . . What that taught me . . . was that [what changes our lives is] a triumph not of technology but of humanity.”

  1. You can’t just work hard:

“[This book is] a story about making something out of nothing, about merging your abilities with your ambition, and about what you learn when you look at the world through a lens of infinite possibility. Plain hard work is good and important, but it is ideas that drive us, as individuals, companies, nations, and a global community. Creativity is what makes us unique, inspired, and fulfilled. This book is about how to harness the creativity in and around us all.”

I intend to keep these five points in mind as I start looking for work.

JE


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Social media and Fundraising

turtle and the hareI was talking with my friend the other day. She was explaining how her employer is asking her to come up with some creative fundraising ideas. Let us see, the last time I checked she was employed as a Radiologic Technologist. Has there been a change to her job position? The answer-no.  Apparently, the health care center she is working for is experiencing financial hardship. Therefore, I asked my friend, “What creative fundraising ideas have you thought of?” The answer- a turtle race. What the what? Yes, it is a creative idea. However, will it bring in the cash needed for a health care center? How is a turtle race associated with a health care organization? Well, a few people I know may remind me that some turtles carry salmonella, and that may indirectly benefit the clinic. However, I do not think that is the kind of “exposure” the clinic needs.

Which brings me to the question. How can a non-profit organization utilize social media channels for fundraising activities? How can it go beyond just asking for donations and posting their events on social media? I am here to tell you I found seven ways to utilize your social media channels. If you follow these tips, you will likely increase your fundraising efforts by a whopping 40%. Listed below are the tips and tricks I found on social media.

networking imageUse what information you have already at your fingertips. Valuable information is located in your email contacts list, volunteer databases, and your volunteer databases. Use these tools to help spread the word about your fundraiser.You need to know what your organization stands for. What are its personal and/or professional values? Think strategically. What organizations share similar values? Align your organization with these organizations.

  1. Listen to your customers, and act on it. Too many organizations are inactive on their Facebook and Twitter channels. By interacting with your customers, you are better able to increase connections and build relationships.
  2. Show how your customer’s gifts and donations helped make a difference. When you post videos and pictures on your social media channel, you further engage the customer. Once they see these images, they may be compelled to give more.
  3. Empower your network. Let your volunteers, donors, and employees help. Offer suggestions and provide direction. Your network will use their network to support your event.
  4. Social gaming is huge! Create a fundraiser that benefits social gaming.
  5. Create a call for action. Everyone needs reminders. Be sure to include a call to action after a few social media posts. Some suggestions include phrases such as “like” “share this”, “spread the word, please”, “get your early-bird event tickets”, etc.
  6. Host a contest. Contests increase participation and expand your network. Do not forget to choose the winner of the contest based on number of likes the contestant received.

http://causera.org/nonprofit-journal/7-ways-to-use-social-media-for-fundraising/

Hope this helps. Your questions and comments are welcome. Good luck. 🙂 #MA

algorithm strip


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Oh, those algorithms (Part I)

algorithm strip

Thanks to cartoonist Stephan Pastis for his wordplay — even on the days his comic strips make me groan.

Facebook’s constant tinkering with its algorithms has taken us back in time, not to Internet 1.0 but to intrusion marketing.

TV ads exemplify intrusion marketing since they intrude on your television show. The ads are the time you use to get something to eat, use the bathroom, retrieve something from another room, or channel surf. A marketer could segment its marketing during the Saturday morning cartoons, but not so much during prime time. The ads you did see would be from an advertiser intruding on your time with their message, whether you wanted it or not or whether or not you were in their target market, a potential customer..

In contrast, the internet brought us permission marketing, where you could give a company or organization permission to send you something that it wanted you to see. Ideally it was a one time thing, but often you got added to an email list and got regular emails, often too frequently.

Liking a page in Facebook gave the company or organization permission to provide information in your news feed.

In an article on Insidefacebook.com on August 15, 2014, Mary Long explained some of the changes:

So in the past few years, Facebook has begun to change and modify the way users see news and information in their feeds and organic reach suffered, naturally. Facebook unveiled an algorithm designed to help populate users’ News Feeds with topics and information relevant to their likes and interests.

The algorithm examined how a user interacted with the items on their newsfeed and extrapolated what similar items could be brought in to meet those interests. And while this all made sense for end users – it ticked off brands …

(My italics)

So now we have not real people hoping to reach the people who would be interested in a company or organization, but algorithms intruding without permission. The problem is it hasn’t “all made sense to end users” and they may not get “topics and information relevant to their likes and interests.”

The algorithms “examine” a user’s last 500 interactions. There are three problem with this “judgment” that algorithms won’t be able to “understand” and act on:

  • It may not be the subject matter that interests a user but a specific company at which a friend or relative works, in which they own or are contemplating buying stock, contributing or volunteering or which they wish to study or learn about. Users may be very contentedly lurking and not appreciate any changes.
  • It may be a question of time – how much interaction any user has with any item in her news feed depends on how much free time she has available and where her priorities lie at any given time.
  • It may be the level of interest; a user may be passionate about some interests and lukewarm on others, but may want to maintain the lukewarm interest for a time when that interest will be a higher priority.

Facebook may be putting itself out of business by using its algorithms to intrude on users’ news feeds rather than allowing each user to give permission as he or she sees fit.


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The Benefits of Utilizing Social Media

Businesses need to be competitive in today’s marketplace. One of the best ways to remain competitive is to have your company engage on their social media channels. While some businesses are still a bit skeptical about this methodology, others have jumped on and enjoyed the benefit.

I found a great blog that stresses the point I made above. In Kristina Cisneros’s blog, she states the best way for a company to remain competitive and enlarge their customer base is to engage on social media. Because I am a novice, I have taken liberties to summarize Kristina’s blog on the, “Ten Benefits of Social Media for Businesses Every Skeptic Should Know.”

Here are ten benefits of social media engagement for your business

  1. Learn about your audience by engaging in Social Media

Utilizing Social Media channels makes it easier to find out whom your audience is. With tools like “Facebook Insights” in Hootsuite, you can learn the most used languages spoken among your social media audience, as well as their age and gender. This knowledge will help you cater your message to your target audience.

 

  1. Social media helps you to target your audiences more effectively

“Geo-targeting” allows you to send your message out to a specific target or demographic based on their location. Additionally, Facebook and Twitter have tools that help you communicate the correct kind of content to your target audience. Hootsuite is an excellent resource to target by ‘Location’, ‘Language’, ‘Age’, ‘Relationship status’, ‘Interested in’, and ‘Education’ on Facebook, and ‘Country(s)’ on Twitter. For instance, if you would like to send out a specific message to millennials in a certain demographic, “Geo-targeting” would enable you to do so.

 

  1. Social media helps you find new customers and expand your reach

Social networks like Twitter assist small businesses by locating their current customers and/or potential customers. For instance, let us say you are opening a new teashop in the neighborhood. Just create a geo search in Hootsuite to find anyone tweeting about needing a cup of fresh hot tea within your area. After locating those tweeting about tea, you can start reaching out to them, and invite them to come try a hot cup of tea at your new teashop.

  1. Social media delivers instant feedback on your customers’ perspective

Social media provides you with instant access to your customer’s feedback. This free valuable information provides you with insights from your customer’s perspective.  This is a prime opportunity for you to engage with your customers. Ask them what they like about the product, how often they use it.

  1. Utilizing social media for business improves your company’s market intelligence. This allows your company to sneak past their competitors.

With social media, monitoring you can gain key information on your competitors, your market intelligence. Just create search streams in Hootsuite to monitor any references of your competitor’s name or product. Based on the results, you can improve your business offering.

  1. Social media can help increase website traffic and search ranking

Utilizing social media for business increases your website traffic. It allows you to direct customers to your website. In the event your customers like the information and want to share the information, your search rankings will rise higher on Google.

  1. Sharing content on social media is quicker and easier

With the help of social media, sharing content got easier and faster. Just share this information on your brand’s social network accounts. The hardest part is getting your customers to share the content with their followers. It will be easier if your social media content aligns to your brand, and interests your audience.

  1. Social media saves you money by generating leads

Social media is an easy way to generate leads. Hootsuite promotes two types of content via Twitter Ads: ungated (free content requiring no email address for access) and gated (free content requiring an email). Sharing gated content on social media is a great way for any company to generate leads.

 

  1. Social media allows you to create positive relationships with your customers

Social media is great for creating meaningful relationships with your customers.

 

  1. Social media increases brand awareness and reach

Social media for business has allowed companies to increase brand awareness and reach of their brand at little to no cost.

#MA


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Learning New Skills- Affordably

knit The chilly nights are leading to cool mornings. I love this time of year! It is not officially fall, but it is close and I can feel it. My perennials are starting to show the signs that summer is ending. I may need to start covering them at night to keep them warm.

What about you? Have you started to feel the chill in the air? Around this time every year, I get the itch to bring out my yarn and knitting needles. It is a rewarding experience to see the work in progress get longer, bigger. Moreover, it feels great to get a head start on a knitting project have it finished and wrapped up for a Christmas gift.

Have you taken knitting classes? I know the classes can be expensive. Another downfall is you only have access to the instructors during class time. How annoying! What do you do if you do not have the money to take classes? What if your knitting class is over and you are stuck because you have a question regarding a new stitch you want to learn? Better yet, you are stuck with the stitch you are working on right now.

You could buy another knitting book. But then again, you are paying additional money that you did not want to spend. Trust me if you bought the book, it would sit on your bookshelf and accumulate dust. You know why I know this, personal experience. I cannot tell you how many knitting books I have bought. One knitting book had a better layout. The pictures were better in the other book. The one thing all knitting books have in common is they do not provide three-dimensional images of what a stich should look like. Do not waste your money!

I am here to tell you Social media is the best teacher you could ask for. Save your money, and learn in the comforts of your own home. Social media is free and available 24/7!  I found the best instructional guidance on You Tube. These videos provide three-dimensional images of how to create the stitch and what the stitch should look like. Moreover, you are able to pause the video while you are creating the stitch. How awesome is that?

To get started, I am providing you with an active link. http://youtu.be/mgwi3xgZzlk

If knitting is not your thing, you may be interested in learning how to crochet. The information I provided above applies to crocheting as well. Do not waste your money with buying instructional crochet books. Save your money and learn on You Tube.

Hope this helps. Any comments or suggestions are appreciated. Good luck 🙂 #MA