What I know now

“It’s PR that needs to be creative. It’s PR that needs to be new and different. It’s PR that needs to be original. The best way to establish a brand is to create a new category, and creating a new category requires creative thinking of the highest order.”

–  Al & Laura Ries

So we’re coming to the end of my graded work. On Wednesday 1st May this blog will be handed over to my university lecturer to given a mark. I’ve really enjoyed writing a blog on an academic level as opposed to for myself or for an audience interested in fashion. I’ve learnt a lot that I never imagined both about myself and involving PR and social networking that I’m going to share now

– Not only is Facebook Addiction Syndrome real, but there are over 350 million sufferers.

– 575 pictures are liked on Instagram every second

– 76% of employers search their prospective employees online and some demand facebook log in details

– That facebook and instagram didn’t really change their photo copyrighting policy that much

– I can research and locate appropriate sources to use in blog posts.

– I can still bring across my personality in a professional blog.

– Although I don’t share everything on twitter I’m far too interested in other people’s lives.

– Facebook’s advertising doesn’t make the clients that much money unless they’re a multi million business.

– My writing style has developed so much from writing as a hobby.

The obvious thing I’ve found is that in todays social networking driven world, PR and brands cant survive without using Twitter, Facebook and others. It is no longer acceptable to brands to dictate to customers, they need to feel valued and get their opinion across to the brand too. As Dave Folkens explains “Human connections made possible by listening and replying via social media bring the audience closer to a brand and softens the barrier that exists when people feel as if they’re talking to a company that views them strictly as a potential sale.”

I’d like to thank everyone that has read, commented on and shared these blog posts as well as everyone who has supported me in my first year at university. I look forward to exploring and learning more about Public Relations in the next two years

References

Contentfac.com (2013) The 50 Best PR Quotes of All Time. [online] Available at: http://www.contentfac.com/damn-i-wish-id-said-that-50-of-our-favorite-pr-quotes/ [Accessed: 25 Apr 2013].

Wallblog.co.uk (2012) Social media statistics 2012: from Facebook and Twitter to Instagram and Pinterest [infographic] | The Wall Blog. [online] Available at: http://wallblog.co.uk/2012/11/05/social-media-statistics-2012-from-facebook-and-twitter-to-instagram-and-pinterest-infographic/ [Accessed: 25 Apr 2013].

Du, W. (2007) Job candidates getting tripped up by Facebook. [online] Available at: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/20202935/ns/business-school_inc_/t/job-candidates-getting-tripped-facebook/#.UVBgv1u9XQQ [Accessed: 25 Apr 2013].

Holiday, R. (2012) Why I Lost My Faith In Facebook Advertising – Forbes. [online] Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ryanholiday/2012/05/17/why-i-lost-my-faith-in-facebook-advertising/ [Accessed: 25 Apr 2013].

Instagram.com (2013) Terms of Use • Instagram. [online] Available at: http://instagram.com/legal/terms/ [Accessed: 25 Apr 2013].

Toprankblog.com (2011) Social Media PR – 3 Ways Public Relations Has Been Changed by Social Media. [online] Available at: http://www.toprankblog.com/2011/02/social-media-changing-pr/ [Accessed: 25 Apr 2013].

Sell! Sell! Sell!

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In other posts I have talked about what social media means to our lives and our privacy at work, although the latter post was based around employment I haven’t really focused too much on what social media means for PR companies and businesses. Its been common knowledge for a long time now that social networking is the ultimate resource for companies wishing to get there name out there, finding people to work with and interacting with their customers. There are so many ways that this can be done as the Internet evolves but I’m going to explore the main ones.

In earlier years of social media, brands were somewhat unaware of its potential to influence. It was seen as a general public way of being sociable as opposed to a way for companies to promote products.  However now the “top two” (Twitter, Facebook) are seen as an integral part of a brands promotion and networking strategy. It’s no longer acceptable for a company to just use email and website, customers want more information, exclusives and to feel a sense of connection that only a simple networking site can give you. An infographic published by Pardot, they recommend spending that spending just thirty minutes a day on social media can give you your maximum exposure, an easy concise way for you to socially network from the office when you have deadlines.

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 So starting with Facebook, “the place for friends” as the tagline says. What was once for friends and family to share pictures of their children and uteruses (if there ever was a place we wanted to see that), has evolved into that and somewhere or companies to gain for followers, share products and run competitions. When an individual likes the page it shows on their profile and friends newsfeeds, it’s an Internet word of mouth in a way. To get interest and more numbers they share images, events and competitions, the latter of which is done through a “share to win!” system where the follower shares an image with the details to their newsfeed. This means the page is shared to more users who in turn will follow the page to be in with a chance of winning.

If you’re willing to pay for the social networking exposure there are advertisements available, however there is no filter for the pages in which ads will turn up on meaning your product could be linked to an insulting and unsuitable page or movement. There is also a lot of argument about how Facebook adverts are expensive, not fully functioning and do not always give you back the right return revenue, however there are no real figures for this as more users are signing up but not reporting as the system is so confusing so as Ryan Holiday states “ As they grow, even more businesses give their money to experiment in destined failure.”

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Twitter, is a great place to for a company to be professional with a personal edge. As with Facebook, Twitter is an easy way to get a message out but on this platform you are able to send short concise messages, have conversations and get the balance between a professional company and a personal brand posting images from the office, updates, answering questions and interacting with followers. As Andra Picinu puts it “All these people are potential customers, so you must help them get used to your products and services.”

The greatest function on twitter in my opinion is the retweet function, which in a quick click allows users to share your update; this could be an image they like, news they find exciting or a competition. The easiest way to gain popularity on twitter is to follow and tweet those who have influence such as celebrities or journalists. If they like a company they will interact with you and you avoid the managers and costly endorsements that you would normally have to pay. If you are a small business, twitter is an excellent place to get your name out there even if it’s just to your peers. There are countless hashtags for business from the self explanatory #business to local trends such as #northeasthour, which although is one of many in the country it is the most popular and has helped many companies

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In my opinion another top way to promote your product is by working with bloggers. With approximately 200 million blogs online you are guaranteed to find a set of bloggers for your product, even if it is something sexually obscure (use your imaginations), so if you’re selling a handbag simply Google “handbag blogger” and you are sure to find something. The easiest way to do this is to offer them a sample or giveaway, as a significant percentage of bloggers are not in high paying jobs they will jump at the chance for a free gift! The important thing when doing this is to look at viewing figures, this can be time costly but Google analytics can make this so much easier for you.

To make your relationship with bloggers smoother here are few tips coming from an experienced blogger:

  • We have lives outside of blogging; don’t expect us to be always able to access our emails.
  • Bloggers are trying to make a career too so don’t expect them to sell your product for free.
  • They are not obligated to write good things about your product, freedom of press applies to bloggers as well as journalists.
  • Use BCC in email, we don’t want to see you’ve sent the same email to 15 other bloggers, and if we work in a similar field you’ve just given away your database!

Alternatively you could set up your own blog, to share your own news stories and give customers a fresh approach to your products. A great success of this is Sarah from Temporary Secretary; after graduating university Sarah set up her own jewellery website in the north east which in its own right gained popularity, but after setting up her own blog about her daily life, fashion and of course her business she became known widely as a respectable blogger winning awards and using the blog to promote her website as well as connect with bloggers who became customers (which is how we first met!).

With all this in mind its no wonder that PR companies and brands are creating positions to solely focus on social networking. It can be easily expected that within the next decade companies that do not have an online presence will not survive.

References

Pardot (2013) Rock Social Media in 30 Minutes a Day [online] Available at: http://www.pardot.com/infographic/rock-social-media-30-minutes-day-infographic/ %5BAccessed: 21 Apr 2013].

Holiday, R. (2012) Why I Lost My Faith In Facebook Advertising – Forbes. [online] Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ryanholiday/2012/05/17/why-i-lost-my-faith-in-facebook-advertising/ [Accessed: 21 Apr 2013].

Create Hype (n.d.) Blogger Publicity – How to Promote Your Products with a Blog Giveaway. [online] Available at: http://createhype.com/blogger-publicity-how-to-promote-your-products-with-a-blog-giveaway/ [Accessed: 21 Apr 2013].

Virtual Social media (2012) 5 unique ways to use Facebook to promote your business. [online] Available at: http://www.virtualsocialmedia.com/5-unique-ways-to-use-facebook-to-promote-your-business/ [Accessed: 21 Apr 2013].

Make Use Of (2010) 10 Innovative Ways To Use Twitter For Business. [online] Available at: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/10-innovative-ways-to-use-twitter-for-business/ [Accessed: 21 Apr 2013].

TempSec (2013) Temporary:Secretary – UK Fashion and Style Blog. [online] Available at: http://temporary-secretary.blogspot.co.uk/ [Accessed: 22 Apr 2013].

So what’s wrong with it?

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So far my blog posts have been about the good things involved in social networking, granted my last was about employment but that focused on lax privacy which is managed by the individual not the website. So now I get to focus on what isn’t so great about social media, I know this doesn’t automatically strike us as a cheery subject but please keep reading if only for the fantastic video at the end by the wonderful Isabel Fay.

My first issue with social networking is privacy, while the major two Facebook and Twitter do have the option to private your account, this is still lacking on Tumblr. In order to privatise your profile you have to make it password protected and your friends need to enter this password to view your posts, not only is this ridiculously inconvenient, but passwords are easily forgotten and there is no way a person could remember the password of every blog they follow on Tumblr. Along with privacy there is blocking users, again facebook has working actions to block and report a user but Twitter still hasn’t worked it out. You can block someone but as I found out this person can still see your tweets and tweet you; the only difference is you don’t receive the tweets in your mentions. So really the only thing that happens is that you don’t see the often-hateful comments about you.

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As in the previous post one of the issues with social networking is down to us, I’m talking about over sharing. Logging into Facebook you see every pregnant person sharing the inside of their uterus or parents documenting every moment of their child’s life, then from other friends, countless drunk photos which are there to embarrass them for years to come. Then there’s twitter, which allows you to share your life in 140 characters or less, as well as allowing you to share exciting things about your life it also gives us the sense that everyone wants to know about our lives. What we had for dinner, what time we got up, what shows we’re watching; they can all easily be found by looking through our profiles and I can find out this information about numerous friends just by scrolling through my feed. As an example a quick scroll shows that friend A is watching David Tennant’s new drama, celebrity B just had a breakfast burrito, while friends C, D and E are working on university work and dissertations. In fact when I tweeted that I couldn’t see what everyone was eating for a change, two friends tweeted me their meals (A healthy chicken salad and a not so healthy but delicious cake!) But that also shows my need to know everything about everyone’s lives because of social networking, so it’s really a vicious circle!

Late last year Facebook and Instagram caused a stir as they announced that if your photos weren’t private they owned the copyright to these images, this led to a lot of users protesting and threats of lawsuits. In response in the terms and conditions renewal of January 2013 the announcement was reworded

“Instagram does not claim ownership of any Content that you post on or through the Service. Instead, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service”

So although Instagram and it’s parent Facebook don’t own your pictures they still hold the license to reuse them, which doesn’t sound that different from the original claim.

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The Internet allows so many people access to a variety of blogs, people, videos, images and articles but you don’t necessarily have to be open about who you are to do this. There are two sides to this coin, the first ultimately more positive. There are many reasons people blog anonymously; to protect themselves from harm, if it’s a particularly risqué subject, or more commonly if they are leaking information. Two of my favourite bloggers of all time Belle De Jour and Fleet Street Fox both remained anonymous for a long time, they are also two of the most well known anonymous bloggers and in gaining fame and notoriety they both revealed their identity before anyone else could. One is a blog by a prostitute, the other a London journalist. Brooke Magnanti (Belle) is now a research scientist and a campaigner for sex worker rights whilst Susie Boniface (Fox) still writes for her blog, has a book deal and gained massive respect during the Leveson enquiry. However neither of these women regrets anonymous blogging, Magnanti even famously told the telegraph “Anonymity can save your life.”

But onto the bad side of anonymity online; trolls. No matter what you do there is always someone out there who disagrees with you, wants to put you down or simply wants to cause trouble. In recent times these people are known as trolls. The sad fact is that there will always be trolls online and they will never grow up. It’s said we shouldn’t fight the trolls but to end here is one of my favourite videos, Thank you Hater by Isabel Fay about Internet trolls (warning some strong language.)

References

Instagram.com (2013) Terms of Use • Instagram. [online] Available at: http://instagram.com/legal/terms/ [Accessed: 1 Apr 2013].

Tumblr.com (n.d.) Privacy and Ignoring Users | Tumblr. [online] Available at: http://www.tumblr.com/docs/en/ignoring [Accessed: 1 Apr 2013].

Support.twitter.com (2013) Twitter Help Center | Blocking people on Twitter. [online] Available at: https://support.twitter.com/entries/117063-how-to-block-users-on-twitter [Accessed: 1 Apr 2013].

Millward, D. (2012) Belle de Jour defends right on anonymous bloggers – Telegraph. [online] Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/9773383/Belle-de-Jour-defends-right-on-anonymous-bloggers.html [Accessed: 1 Apr 2013].

Cleverpie. (2012) Thank you Hater. Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uz2jbCJXkpA [Accessed: 31st march 2013].

Your employer likes this

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 It is arguable that Facebook has changed our everyday lives, it allows us to share news with all our friends at once and we can in turn see what everyone else is up to, but just how much sharing is too much? Who do you share all your updates with? Would you tell your boss that you were so drunk that you were pushed home in a trolley in the office on a Monday? So why would you allow them to see it on Facebook including pictures?

According to a survey by The Ponemon Institute 76% of managers look up their interviewees on social networking sites before hiring them. This is especially common with college and university graduate, as the most social networking active age group, Sue Murphy from the US National Human Resources Association sheds light on this “For people new to a field, companies just don’t have a lot to look back on. They can’t call up your former boss. They look you up on Facebook.” The survey shows that Health care professionals and those working in financial and legal services are the highest group of employers to search for their prospective employees, this is thought to be due to the fact that they are representing their company and any online activity reflects on the company if they are known to be affiliated with them.

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Because of often-unclear privacy settings on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, prospective employees are largely unaware that this happens. They therefore think it is wrong that employers look them up on their own “personal space”; these are the people that don’t understand how big and open anything you put in the public domain is.  It is important to update your privacy settings on Facebook regularly and if you’re prone to ranting on Twitter, private your tweets.

 According to a survey by Reppler the following percentage of prospective employees have been rejected from a job opportunity for the following:

  • Inappropriate photos- 11%
  • Content relating to drug use- 10%
  • Negative comments about employer/ company- 11%
  • Lied about qualifications- 13%

In more recent years Twitter has been a breeding ground for offensive tweets which have led to disciplinary action, with those in employment sending tweets from their professional accounts and members of marketing and PR teams tweeting personal views from the main company account. In a lot of cases this has meant severe apologies and investigations as well as having a negative affect on the company. Below is a tweet sent by Gloria Huang, an employee of The American Red Cross on the wrong account. There were no grounds for dismissal prior to this tweet as it was recognised as simply a mistake. The beer company Dogfish Head retweeted it and encouraged their followers to donate to the Red Cross.

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The next hurdle if you are employed is whether or not you add your work colleagues on social media sites, it is generally regarded as a courtesy that if you are friends with someone you should add/ accept their friend requests on Facebook, but this needn’t be the case in employment. The important thing to remember is that if you do add your colleagues or even your boss that this is no longer just a social space, you could potentially be judged on your behaviour on nights out, what you wear and your attitudes. Facebook however allows you to hide each individual post and photo or group of photos from certain people, meaning you can still maintain your social space and it won impact negatively on your employment. In order to prohibit employees from posting opinions about aspects and the company, their colleagues and its clients, many bigger companies now have a social media policy, it is down to the employee to read and review their behaviour in accordance to this.

The one solution to avoid termination or rejection of employment is simple; if its not something you would be happy with your grandma knowing- don’t post it.

References

‘Job candidates getting tripped up by Facebook’, NBC News. [Available at: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/20202935/ns/business-school_inc_/t/job-candidates-getting-tripped-facebook/#.UVBgv1u9XQQ] (Date accessed March 2013)

‘How Facebook can kill your job chances and  more’, Deseret News. [Available at: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700187011/How-Facebook-can-kill-your-job-chances-and-more.html?pg=all] (Date accessed March 2013)

‘Fired for Facebook’, About.com. [Available at: http://jobsearch.about.com/od/employeerights/a/fired-for-facebook.htm] (Date Accessed: March 2013)

‘How your online profile can affect your job prospects’, Jobsite. [Available at: http://www.jobsite.com/guides/online-profile-job-prospects/] (Date Accessed: March 2013)

Social networking – Who What When?

Social networking is an integral part of modern life; it’s common practice to check Facebook when we wake up, tweet our plans for the day and Instagram our outfits all before we leave the house. With this in mind, it’s hard to imagine that the first networking site only started fourteen years ago. So how did we get from occasional blogging to updating the world on our every move? This is what my blog seeks to explore.

The year is 1999, Ricky Martin is currently number one with Living La Vida Loca, there are talks of a single currency being ntroduced in mainland Europe and the world is about to embark on a new technological era. Social networking started life with LiveJournal, launched as a place to store and share an online journal; blogging was the rudimentary wave of Social networking. In the same year Friends Reunited, remembered as the first real social networking site, launched to help locate past school, university and work friends. The wheels were then in motion for the social networking revolution

By 2004 MySpace and Friendster were battling it out for the most popular social networking sites, MySpace surpassed Friendster, but nobody anticipated the impact of a website created as a form of Yearbook at Harvard University, the little known Facebook. In 2006 MySpace was the most popular American social networking website, thought Facebook, which had just widened the membership to everyone over 13 was quickly gaining more monthly views. In 2006 the micro blogging site Twitter was launched, the premise of the site was interacting with succinct statuses (or tweets) in 140 characters or less. In 2007 Facebook was expanding so much that Microsoft had bought a stake in it. This allowed them to launch Facebook Platform meaning third party developers could create applications (apps). It also launched Beacon Advertising systems, it was targeted by protesters as it allowed advertisers to access users purchasing data to personalise marketing campaigns. In the same year Apple launched the first ever Smartphone, the iPhone.

By 2009 Facebook had become the most popular social networking site with double the amount of users as MySpace.  However citizen journalism was about to explode via twitter with the breaking of a plane crash on the Hudson River before American news teams, starting with a single tweet from a ferry passenger.  It is estimate that a quarter of the worlds population are internet users. As we entered a new decade, social networking had become the third most popular news source with users looking for unique takes and opinions on the latest news stories. In 2011 the Internet had become part of everyday life with 550 million people on Facebook, 65 million tweets sent through Twitter each day, and 2 billion video views every day on YouTube. LinkedIn has 90 million professional users, expanded by the popularity of Smartphones. However with us sharing so much online was our privacy at risk?

And back up to today; around 2 billion people use the Internet on everything from computers to game consoles, however by 2015 it is estimated that this will have doubled.  The top ten social networks are Facebook, Blogger, Twitter, WordPress, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, MySpace and Wikia. To prove how much social media is accepted it is reported that almost a third of young adults 18-24 use social media in the bathroom.

So who is the core demographic of social networking sites? The following was found from the Pingdom US Demographics study

Although social networking is often seen as the playground of the young, the average user of a social networking site is between 25 and 44 years old. This is because although the age range for users of the social networking giants such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn maybe large, that of smaller, much newer, or more niche communities such as DeviantART and Reddit is quite narrow, with the average user being 35 years old. LinkedIn, with its focus more on the business networking side rather than general social networking unsurprisingly has the highest average age, that of 44.

Since the last study the average age of Facebook users has gone up 2 years whilst that of Twiter users have come down 2 years, thus indicating that either the latter is attracting more of a younger user group or that the users had simply aged 2 years in the normal course of time and the study simply has not taken that into account. It has also been seen that whilse technology based sites appeal to men, women are more drawn towards more creative and sharing sites such as Pinterest. Although that may be the case, statistics prove that Twitter and Facebook happen to have the ratio of male to female users with women taking the lead on both sites.

The one thing that can be ascertained from this research is that Social Networking is definitely here to stay and can only get bigger.

References

The Brief History of Social Media’, UNCP. [Available at: http://www.uncp.edu/home/acurtis/NewMedia/SocialMedia/SocialMediaHistory.html] (Date Accessed January 2013).

‘Report: Social network demographics in 2012’, Pingdom.com [Available at:
http://royal.pingdom.com/2012/08/21/report-social-network-demographics-in-2012/] (Date Accessed February 2013).


‘Social media statistics 2012[Infographic]’ The Wall.
[Available at: http://wallblog.co.uk/2012/11/05/social-media-statistics-2012-from-facebook-and-twitter-to-instagram-and-pinterest-infographic/ (Date Accessed February 2013).

‘Social Media Statistics and Facts 2012 [Infographic]’ Go Globe [Available at: http://www.go-globe.com/blog/social-media-facts/] (Date Accessed: March 2013).

Starting point

“You can buy attention (advertising). You can beg for attention from the media (PR). You can bug people one at a time to get attention (sales). Or you can earn attention by creating something interesting and valuable and then publishing it online for free.”

–David Meerman Scott

After blogging for what feels like decades (though now I think about it, about seven years!) I knew that the right choice for my creative digital design module would be this side of it all. I’m really fascinated by the impact social networking and blogging has had on public relations. With a PR girl at Oscar De La Renta having close to 200,000 twitter followers and the rise of Facebook likes its easy to see why PR teams are striving to make their online presence as known (if not more known) than their physical one.

Being in my mid twenties I can remember when social networking didn’t exist, let alone was a massive part of our lives. However because of this I have been able to experience multiple networking platforms from their early days; signing up to Bebo, twitter and tumblr in their first years of creation. I do wonder how much of an impact it will have on the next generations of children, and can see my seventy year old self telling stories of the fabled MySpace. 

I hope to discover more whilst writing, as well as informing my readers

Rachel

References

Funny and inspiring quotations about social media and business’, About.com [Available at: http://retailindustry.about.com/od/retailleaderquotes/a/Funny_inspiring_quotable_quotations_about_twitter_social_media_business.htm] (Date accessed: February 2013)

‘Social media explained with pandas’, Pink Media [Available at: http://pinkmediallc.com/2012/10/infographic-social-media-explained-with-pandas/] (Date accessed: February 2013)

Disclaimer- This is not an assignment submission.