Sunday, February 27, 2011

How social media effects the relationship between company and consumer

Chapter 6 of Groundswell, a book about how to cater social media to your specific needs, the author places an emphasis on how companies need to create a presence in social media in order to truly listen to the needs of their consumers.

The chapter highlights the recent shift in the relationship between companies and consumers because of the encompassing nature of social media. It has shifted any company's ability to gain access into the thoughts of their consumers.

Before consumers were actively voicing their opinions on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and Yelp companies were relying on market research to gain consumer feedback. Market research however, while helpful, really only operated as a one way communication tool where consumers answered questions asked by the company. While this gave the company more control over conversation content it also limited the scope of the conversation. Consumers were only giving their opinion on what they were asked about, not necessarily what they really wanted to say. Companies were missing out on some of the most helpful information, the stuff they didn't know to even ask about.

Social media has completely transformed so many avenues of communication, including business. We are living in a rapidly changing society where the consumers have more control than the companies. The power is shifting and I predict it will only become more consumer driven in years to come. Social media's influence on society is only beginning.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Putting "word of mouth" on the back burner

As a part of a semester long project exploring social media I decided to dabble in predicted social media trends for 2011. After doing a little bit of research on what other bloggers thought would become "mainstream" this year I noticed several mentions about entertainment check ins.

Popularized by Foursquare and Gowalla the idea of "checking in" really took off in 2010. Now that concept is predicted to transition from checking into locations, to checking into entertainment. Several new sites have emerged that allow you to share what you are doing, but not in 140 characters, by checking it.

This idea of of checking into entertainment allows you to share what movies, television shows, and on some sites even what celebrities you are talking about, book you are reading, video game you are playing, and even wine you are drinking. We no longer to need to share our opinions verbally, we simply check into them. From there if your Facebook or Twitter account is connected to the app then these sites will automatically share what you are checked into with your friends and followers.

Right now as I begin to play around with this concept I am experimenting with Tunerfish and GetGlue. Tunerfish an extremely simply to use website that operates much like Twitter. At the top you see an empty box that asks, "What are you watching?" you simply answer that question and see what others are watching right then and there too. You follow people with similar tastes to learn about other shows, movies, or viral videos you might enjoy. I enjoy the simplicity of Tunerfish, but it isn't as well-established as other entertainment websites.

GetGlue on the other hand is probably a leader among new entertainment check-in sites. GetGlue offers you to check into much more than Tunerfish. It is a more encompassing website in terms of the vast number of "entertainments" you can check into. The site has also been growing significantly since 2010. It is more popular than Tunerfish and has more of a chance of becoming one of the big names in social media then Tunerfish.

As I play with these new sites and others like them, I am curious but also cautious. While I find it interesting to share and learn about new entertainment on the web, I am careful to not discredit the old-fashioned way of spreading trends, word of mouth. Even though these new medias are fun and convenient and let's not forget the basics and lose ourselves on the web.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A fine line between public and personal tweets

If you follow the American Red Cross on Twitter you would have seen this HILARIOUS tweet Tuesday night. This gem was left up for an hour before someone working for the Red Cross received numerous phone calls about the tweet.

Gloria Huang, a Red Cross social media specialist is responsible for this tweet and claims it was the result of not being familiar with HootSuite, a brand management service that will assist you with social media.

While confusion could be to blame, it sounds more like to me that Gloria was just too excited to "#gettnslizzerd" after work to focus on which twitter account she was suppose to be updating.

Luckily for her the situation was not a Twitastrophe. Her excited tweet was joked about in later tweets and the whole thing blew over fairly quickly. But for at least one hour the whole world wanted to party with the Red Cross.

Influencing Influencers

In reading several articles and studies concerning the new phenomenon of consumers becoming primary market influencers it's amazing how this simple concept is and how few people realize it.

I consult the Internet every single day even when making simple decisions. Where to eat? Best happy hours? Almost immediately I scroll to where I can find how places were rated. Star systems or consumer comments are often the driving force behind many of my daily decisions, and I never thought twice about it until now.

According to Nielsen’s 2009 Global Online Consumer Survey,  results about the most influencing factors in online shopping yielded that 90% of consumers trusted recommendations from people they knew personally, 70% trusted opinions from other consumers posted online and
70% trusted brand websites.

These results suggest that obviously people are most likely to trust their friends over strangers and brands. But oddly, well known, trusted brands are not any more influential than total strangers who merely post a couple of sentences on a website.

What does this mean for the future of public relations, marketing, and advertising? How can they regain control? How can they influence the influencers?

As a communication student I fear for future employment opportunities. I fear for the fleeting importance of my degree. I wonder if years from now when I'm talking to my grandchildren I'll have to utter the words, "back in my day there were these things we called commercials..."

However as an average American consumer, I think maybe this will be a revolution in terms of the production of honest products. Maybe the fear of truly satisfying customers will result in better products. Maybe this is what we need as a driving force for manufactures to strive to create the best products possible and not crap glorified by advertisers and wrapped in the perfect P.R. package. Maybe this is a step in the right direction.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Read Write Web responds to the demise of

Last December Read Write Web wrote a response to Yahoo!'s decision to close the bookmarking tool Before reading the article I was not familiar with Del.icious at all. Their obvious opposition to the demise of this website made me wonder how I hadn't been utilizing this program before.

When learning more about the features of I realized that my favorite time-killing website, StumbleUpon operated a lot like, I just wasn't utilizing it properly. I actively browsed through the millions of websites tagged in Stumble without contributing my own. I didn't realize that StumbleUpon operates from user recommendations. Having realized this now I fully intend to become a more active stumbler.

Now that I realize the potential usefulness of StumbleUpon, I think of the dozens of times I could have utilized it more, especially academically. When I read RWW's description of it reminded me of a more organized version of StumbleUpon, and again I was reminded of the countless number of academic sources lost because of unorganized bookmarks. I was also reminded of the hours spent finding said sources, when I could have had sources find me via So much wasted time.

I was relieved when I noticed the RWW article had an update saying that Yahoo! would not be shutting down, simply selling it. It would have really been a shame if I hadn't gotten to utilize this tool.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Managing Tweets 2.0

I first got my twitter account in 2008. I quickly realized that unlike Facebook, Twitter was a less-personal form of social media. You didn't necessarily need to be friends with someone you were following. So when I began increasing my list of people to follow I learned how obnoxious and spam-like some people were, so without hesitation I "un-followed" them.

If following people was so impersonal, I assumed un-following them would be similar, and not as malicious as the dreaded "de-friending" on Facebook. However with today's introduction of My6sense for Twitter, I'm beginning to think otherwise.

My6sense is a feature of Google Chrome that will track your online reading behavior in order to gain an understanding of your online preferences (much like an RSS feed). Once it gathers this information it will bring stories it thinks you will prefer reading to the forefront of the stream and while burying stories you are likely to be uninterested in.

This week My6sense introduced a component for Twitter. It is used on Twitter in the same fashion as Google Chrome, however it buries tweets you are unlikely interested in.

When I first heard about this concept my initial thought was if you feel the need to "bury" uninteresting twitter accounts, why don't you just unfollow them and only follow people whose tweets you enjoy reading? Or has Twitter become so personal so that "unfollowing" is now considered unfriendly twitter etiquette?

Is Twitter the new Facebook?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Social Media: The New Driving Force Behind a Revolution

In the last couple days we have watched as a modern day revolution in Egypt unfolds. Hundreds of thousands of protesters have rallied together to express discontent with current Egyptian government policies. Yet more so then the political issues at hand, social media has been at the forefront of conversations pertaining to this revolution.

On January 28th, the Egyptian government, in attempt to prevent a massive number of protesters from gathering, shut off the country's internet and cellular networks.

It is monumental events like this that truly highlight the engulfing presence social media has on our modern day society. We are no longer participating in our father's revolution.

In his article featured in The New Yorker, Malcolm Galdwell compared civil rights protests to more recent protests such as the 2009 protest in Moldova, sometimes referred to as a the "Twitter Revolution". He provides an opinion that discredits social media's role in any revolution. He claims that word of mouth generated by the necessity of change has in the past and will remain in the future as the only necessary driving force behind a revolution.

This idea may exemplify the more genuine way to spark a revolution, but with tools, such as Twitter, we are now able to cause a global stir almost instantly. You are able to rally millions of people within hours, as oppose to months. It's truly phenomenal how fast social media works.

Social Media Changing Romance

Today I stumbled upon this little gem:

This video takes that old joke about men's blatant disregard for romance and gives it a 21st century make over. Social media legitimately makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for men to forget important dates any longer.

But let's not single out men. Has social media put an end to everyone's favorite excuse of simply forgetting? Between Facebook's birthday reminders and event calendars, and endless Twitter hashtags it seems as though that might very well be the case.