All posts in Ryerson

Week 10: Social Media and Nonprofit Organizations

Each week a question is asked to the students of Digital Media in Practice – A course in the Ryerson MBA program.  The question relates to assigned readings and focuses on different aspects of digital media.

This week we reviewed Building the Charity Brand Community, Seth Godin on the tribes we lead, and Clay Shirky: How social media can make history.

What is a brand community? What are tribes? How can not-for-profit organizations use web 2.0 social media tools to build brand communities?
Essentially, a brand community is a group of individuals who rally around a concept, organization, or company.  Hassay and Poloza refer to brand communities as “groups of people with feelings of shared well-being, shared risks, common interests and common concerns centered on the consumption of a common object”, which is just a convoluted  way of identifying a group of people who like the same products.  A great example they use is the tribe or brand community that surrounds Harley Davidson.  Not only is this such a successful brand that it is not uncommon for people to tattoo the logo on their bodies, but it brings people together to share something they enjoy doing.  Harley owners are friends with other people who ride Harleys.

Not for profit organizations can use web 2.0 to build brand communities by allowing people who already have an interest in their brand to meet each other.  Seth Godin talks about how the web has created more silos (in a positive way) in that there is something for everyone.  If there is something that you are interested in, somewhere on the internet there is probably already a group of individuals who have put time and effort creating a community around that interest – and they would be more than happy to include you.  Not for profits can leverage this by tapping into those interested individuals and inviting them to be part of a larger group.  Seth Godin also speaks about finding people who are already interested and embracing them rather than trying to change the mind of an uninterested individual.
According to the assigned readings and short videos, what other benefits are there to not-for-profit organizations that choose to use social media?

A significant benefit that not for profits have is that they often succeed because they are honestly championing a cause.  This fits well with the motivations of people online since people feel that they can do a little bit of good without a significant contribution – like sharing information with someone in their network who would benefit from it.  Not for profits have the potential to encourage a very large audience to each make small contributions, which can be a winning combination online.

Week 9: Social Media Technology and Government

Each week a question is asked to the students of Digital Media in Practice – A course in the Ryerson MBA program.  The question relates to assigned readings and focuses on different aspects of digital media.

This week we reviewed Citizen Involvement in the Digital Age and Q&A with Rory Sutherland: An advertarian’s take on the world.
Are social technologies creating a shift towards a better functioning model of democratic involvement? Or is this just an illusion?

This is a wonderfully optimistic idea, but technology alone will not shift democratic involvement. Governments need to have an online arena to interact with constituents, but expecting technology to solve community involvement is unrealistic. While there are obvious benefits to using digital media in government, there are two major areas that I have concerns with.

1. Exclusion of Certain Groups
Moving online to interact with the general population is meant to widen the audience and have meaningful conversation with a variety of citizens. If relied on too heavily however, the exact opposite can happen. An online web forum, or public profile on social media are great tools for citizens who already use those tools, but totally shuns the individuals who are not in those spaces. Quite often the people who are most likely to interact online are not representative of the entire population. This can become dangerous especially when a specific political issue could benefit from consulting a group who is not involved in that online space. For example, it would be a poor decision to use Facebook to consult the public on pension reform.

2. Unbalanced Voices
The other danger about online public consultation is ensuring that the voices are actually representative of the larger group. Online it is easy to make it seem that your opinion is shared by hundreds or thousands of other people just by screaming loud enough. (I know lobbyists have been doing this since the beginning of time, but it is even more pronnounced online).

According to the articles, how can governments best leverage web 2.0 technologies to meet the needs of their communities?

The main concept that I took from
Citizen Involvement in the Digital Age by Dan Bevarly and Jeffery G. Ulm is that it is important to build public dialouge in any way possible – and online is a great way of doing that. The web allows a large part of the population (but not everyone) to contribute to public debate in a way that is not ownerous – at least when compared to attending a town hall meeting.

Rory Sutherland spoke about how online interactions can bring out the honesty in people because of their anonimity. This stood out for me and I think this concept could be very useful when governments are looking for honest, clear feedback about programs or initiatives.

Week 8: Social Media in Business (part 2)

Each week a question is asked to the students of Digital Media in Practice – A course in the Ryerson MBA program.  The question relates to assigned readings and focuses on different aspects of digital media.

This week we reviewed chapters 7 through 10 of  Marketing 3.0.

This week, write a blog entry detailing a case study of a social media in business success story.
The social media success story that I have chosen to focus on can be seen in a presentation here.  The presentation is titled “Social Media in Higher Education” and is listed under week 8.

Week 7: Social Media in Business

Each week a question is asked to the students of Digital Media in Practice – A course in the Ryerson MBA program.  The question relates to assigned readings and focuses on different aspects of digital media.

This week we reviewed chapters 7 through 10 of  Marketing 3.0.

What are the potential benefits of web 2.0 social media applications in a business context?
The most significant business benefit that comest to my mind about social media is the ability to give your customers the opportunity to speak about your brand – this is assuming that you have a positive reputation with your customers.  For a company that cares about its product and its customers, social media can act like word of mouth recommendations on steroids.  Using another example from the world of post secondary education, when current students publicly display positive (or negative) messages about their school, they are broadcasting a very powerful message to prospective students.
Along that same thought, social media networks allow the message of a company to be spread wider while becoming more focused – in a perfect world anyways.  Any time a Facebook user shares a link about some specific service or product, all of their connections will see that message.  Since they are in the same social arena there is a higher chance that they will share the values / opinions / likes as the original poster and act on that recommendation.
Social media applications can be used as a quick way to gauge customer opinion and gather feedback.  My Starbucks Idea is the most cited example, but there are numerous other uses.
Finally, speed is an incredible benefit for businesses.  If an organization has a large following in the world of social media, important messages can be distributed quickly, VERY quickly.
How is communicating with customers using social media technologies different from previous customer-oriented communication?
Timelines and response time shifts when communicating using social media.  Most businesses are used to interacting with customers during their regular business hours.  In the world of social media, customers will interact with the online presence of a company at every time of the day and night.  If not resourced properly, a comment posted at 5:01pm on a Friday can spin out of control all weekend until 8:30am Monday.
The communication style, or voice, is also a lot different when using social media.  It is generally accepted that a company can be more playful in comparison to traditional formats.

Week 6: Social Media Trends

Each week a question is asked to the students of Digital Media in Practice – A course in the Ryerson MBA program.  The question relates to assigned readings and focuses on different aspects of digital media.

Readings this week included Consumer behavior in online game communities: A motivational factor perspectiveE-Tribalized Marketing?: The Strategic Implications of Virtual Communities of Consumption, and a TED video – Evan Williams on listening to Twitter users.

How can we design our social media marketing plans to ensure the engagement of our target audience?

Listen, be honest, and find influential people.

When designing a social media marketing plan, the starting point should be listening to the target audience.  Find where your audience is interacting, what kinds of conversations they are engaging in, and who is influencing the community.  In E-Tribalized Marketing the point is made that one influential person can change the minds of many others online.  Understanding who these influential people (or blogs) are is crucial to the success of a social media marketing plan.

In a previous project of mine, the goal was to engage prospective students and convert them into applicants of a specific college.  Opinions and experiences of current college students are typically very influential to prospective students, so it was crucial to interact with current students for this project.  This also addresses the importance of honesty and transparency.  The main reason why current students are so influential to prospective students is because they are a neutral third party.  They are not selling a product and will not see any gain if they convert a prospective student into an applicant and are willing to share their honest opinions and experiences.

What tips can we gain from the readings to help us understand how to engage people from both a social and an entertainment perspective?

From the readings we learn that there are to main factors (relationship with the product and social relationship with the network) that impacts how people interact online.  E-Tribalizing identifies four types – tourists who are not deeply tied into the network and only have a passing interest in the brand, minglers who have strong social ties by are not overly invested in the brand, devotees who are deeply invested in the brand but less so in the social attachments, and finally insiders who have strong social ties to the group as well as strong interest in the brand.

The readings also highlight the impact that people can have on brands.  Individuals now have an incredible influence on a brand that did not happen before large social networks.

Week 5: Social Media Strategic Planning

 

Each week a question is asked to the students of Digital Media in Practice – A course in the Ryerson MBA program.  The question relates to assigned readings and focuses on different aspects of digital media.

This week we reviewed parts of the books Social Media Marketing and Marketing 3.0, as well as slides prepared by McDonald, Evans and Li & Bernoff.

What does a social media strategic plan look like?

A good starting point – as highlighted by McDonald – is that a social media strategic plan should compliment the current strategy of the business.  It seems obvious, but a key component of a successful social media strategy is that it must align with the objectives of the organization.  Being authentic and and allowing consumers to “own the brand” will encourage them to tell your story.

In addition to being consistent with the other efforts of the organization, it is crucial to understand how it is different from traditional methods of PR / marketing / corporate communication.  One main difference is that consumers have the ability to announce their feelings about a brand in a very public space.  It is worthwhile developing a Social Media Policy (or increasingly common Social Media Guidelines) to build some rules of engagement.

Considering employees of the organization is another important part of developing a strong social media strategy.  If the people closes to your brand are happy (or unhappy) they will let the world know.  In this space, trust must be earned.

A similarity to traditional communications practices is consistency – both in tone and visually.

Should social media strategic plans be different for different types of organizations?

Absolutely!  Just as a traditional strategic business plan will vary depending on the type and size of an organization, so should a social media strategy.  It is important to consider the expected audiences, unintended audiences, and sensitivity of information.  The social media strategy for a College or University will be very different than the strategy for a fur coat manufacturer for many reasons.  The expected audience of a school’s social media presence is younger, well educated individuals, who are much more likely to be sophisticated users of the web.  This allows schools to expect that students will be willing to interact by posting photos, videos, comments and links.  In addition, almost no one is morally opposed to the idea of education – meaning that there is a relatively small risk of a protest of negative comments.

A fur company on the other hand would likely have an older customer base, less information to publish, and a much higher number of vocal opponents.  I would be willing to bet a dollar that applying the same social media strategy to both of these organizations would be less than successful.

What are best practices when developing a strategic plan for social media adoption?

Evans has identified key areas to consider when developing a strategic plan:

  • Goals – start by defining goals, are you trying to improve engagement? create awareness?
  • Audience – understand who your audience is, how technically literate they are and what needs they have.
  • Content – what content are you distributing and how does your audience expect to receive it?
  • Promotion – how will your audience find your content?
  • Policies – how will interactions be monitored? how will they be moderated?
  • Measurement – what is the definition of success? how will it be measured?
  • Resources – who is doing the work? what about when it grows?
  • Refinement and Iteration – analyze, plan, act

Week 4: Social Media Measurement

Each week a question is asked to the students of Digital Media in Practice – A course in the Ryerson MBA program.  The question relates to assigned readings and focuses on different aspects of digital media.

This week we reviewed Successful Web Analytics Approaches, and Web Analytics 2.0 (which is an awesome book by the way).

How can we measure the success of a social media campaign? What factors do Kaushik and others tell us must be considered when looking at the raw numbers?

Alright, so I am a little behind this week. Something about buying a house or something? I will have something insightful here soon – probably.

For now, my main ideas to think about are:

  • identify what you are going to measure before you start the project – it is easy to get sidetracked once data is coming in
  • large numbers of followers/fans/whatever else mean nothing if they are not actually interested in what information you are putting out, especially if they are not even human! (Im looking at you fake spambot xxx twitter accounts!)
  • have a reference point, something to compare to – how do you know what “good” is?

Week 3: Challenges of Social Media Technologies

Each week a question is asked to the students of Digital Media in Practice – A course in the Ryerson MBA program.  The question relates to assigned readings and focuses on different aspects of digital media.

How are the views about social media expressed in the Young and Quan-Haase article different from those expressed in Joost and Schulman documentary? Which do you think is more accurate? How should we, as social media experts, be thinking about identity theft and privacy in the context of using social media for our businesses and client outreach?

The assigned readings for this week focus on trust and what people are willing to share online. The articles, Information Revelation and Internet Privacy Concerns on Social Network Sites: A Case Study of Facebook and Development of measures of online privacy concern and protection for use on the Internet deal mainly with identifying what information people are willing to share on social networking sites and what measures they take to protect their information.  The film Catfish takes a different approach to online privacy and focuses on how easy it is to be manipulated and deceived online.

While I believe that the level of deception shown in the movie Catfish is absolutely possible, it is not an accurate representation of the typical social network user.  The movie illustrates how easily people can be manipulated and impersonated online.

There is no way to entirely remove the threat of identity theft and breaches of privacy.  It is important to be both critical of content that we consume, and cautious of the content we contribute.  When consuming content – reading, viewing images, listening to audio – it is crucial to be critical and skeptical.  Since there is no way to control the accuracy of information online, individuals must analyze content at a deeper level.  Caution when uploading or contributing content is also important.  Sharing information is an important part of building networks, however disclosing personal information to a wide audience can be dangerous.

Week 2: Social Media and Consumer Behaviour

Each week a question is asked to the students of Digital Media in Practice – A course in the Ryerson MBA program.  The question relates to assigned readings and focuses on different aspects of digital media.

This week we reviewed Pew Internet and American Life Project, Evans, Chapters 5-15, and Desperately seeking the consumer.

Identify one of your favorite social media campaigns…

I think the most clever social media campaign was Ikea’s use of photo tagging. For more info check the link on Mashable or watch this video ->.

Why? It used a feature of Facebook in a novel way to turn it into a game and saw great results. In short, the goal was to “tag yourself” in a photo of a Ikea showroom to win the item you tagged. The real value in this is that all of your Facebook friends (who you presumably had a good relationship with) would see a photo of an Ikea room every time they viewed your profile. This allowed Ikea to “borrow cool” from these users and share something in a fun, interesting way.

For a totally different reason I really enjoyed the Mr. Splashy Pants campaign. The idea behind this was to encourage people around the world to choose a name for an adopted whale – innocent enough. What actually happened is people chose the ridiculous but hilarious name “Mr. Splashy Pants”. Alexis Ohanian does a better job telling the story than I do, so watch this…