Tag Archives: Social Networking

Understanding Content – Avatar


First, a confession – I am a lifelong science fiction fan… and, an even more telling confession; I remember the excitement when the first episode of Star Trek aired on TV. Consequently, I was delighted when a Christmas present from my son and DIL was a visit to town to see 3D Avatar. Beyond the incredibly beautiful visual experience, which was like moving through a painting, the most interesting aspect of Avatar was the fact that Sam Worthington’s character, the marine, Jake Sully, actually did “walk a mile in another’s shoes/moccasins.” And “walking that mile” did literally change his perspective.

Content and Literacy

What does Avatar have to do with understanding content and literacy in the 21st century?

I hoped that Social Media would give an opportunity for people to literally “see the world through each other’s eyes,” without being subjected to Mass Media filters and gatekeepers. Understanding the limitations and problems of different groups, within our own country and in other parts of our world, would create greater openness and greater empathy, leading to positive solutions to intractable world problems.

Accomplishments of Social Media

What has Social Media accomplished so far? It has allowed people who share similar ideas to more effectively find each other and reinforce commonly shared views. In addition to common global issues, most areas of the world have regional controversial issues. In the case of Newfoundland and Labrador, the most publicized controversial issue is the annual seal hunt. Each spring in the past, the hunt has given rise to competing mass media campaigns. This year, I had anticipated there would be competing Social Media campaigns. Looking at FaceBook this morning, I noticed the opposing camps have already started.

Movement to Social Media

In the future, we will to see more advertising, promotion, and political campaigns move to Social Media. To quote Mashable.com, “For the first time in 23 years, Pepsi will not have any ads in the Super Bowl. Instead, the company will be spending $20 million on a social media campaign it’s calling The Pepsi Refresh Project.”  We have all heard of the effect of Social Media on the election of US President Barack Obama. What will be the future impact of Social Media on communication of ideas?

Propagating a Point of View

Much of the literature about Social Media discusses how to use Social Media to market or to propagate a specific point-view. For example, the “experts” suggest how to become “personable” in Social Media, since being “sociable” multiplies “trust” in the message you are delivering. They want the reader to perceive the message as coming from a trusted friend…which can be very useful…but it can also be truly scary.

From the point of view of marketers and branders, Social Media has a number of obvious advantages. A few of these advantages are:

  1. Allowing people who hold the same views to find each other through networks of friends and followers. By mining information about selected groups, marketers can target their messages to a very specific demographic with known opinions on a number of matters.
  2. Permitting people to express views with relative anonymity. This enables marketers to send carefully worded planted comments  to groups in order to influence opinion.
  3. Letting people use “loaded” words, sweeping generalizations, and other types of expressions without being challenged. Marketers can utilize this in two ways: they can plant message to goad people into more extreme views or they can maliciously add questionable material to legitimate groups, discrediting the group with other sources and with some of its own members.
  4. Having no rules about who can join a group. Marketers can establish paid or unpaid “monitors” to penetrate groups to examine comments, enabling them to determine what type of advertising will be most effective for that particular demographic.
  5. Accepting multi-media materials from unknown sources.  Marketers can quote “data,” display photosphopped or staged images, and post edited videotape, for which they do not give legitimate sources.

Purpose of Social Media

Even without outside intervention from advertisers, marketers and branders, how Social Media impacts issues leads to a number of important questions. Why do individuals form groups and acquire followers in Social Media? Do they want to examine issues, stimulate informed discussion, or acquire knowledge…or do they form groups to reinforce and to exaggerate opinions already held, leading each group to espouse more extreme positions? What, if any, is the impact of these groups on people who are not committed to one side or the other?

As that widely distributed YouTube says, “We live in exponential times.”

The world is faced with overwhelming amounts of data on overwhelming problems – social, economic, medical, political, and environmental. Social media has enormous potential to be a bridge to allow people to develop understanding and empathy for each other’s problems by “walking a mile in another’s shoes/moccasins.”

So far, what I have observed is people comfortably slipping into their old shoes and old thoughts, sometimes propelled by varying amounts of deliberate manipulation and misinformation. If Social Media is to have any impact on solving world issues, we need paths to each other’s situations. Like Jake Sully, we need to develop empathy by “walking a mile in another’s shoes/moccasins.” We need to be able to clearly recognize and distinguish fact from marketing, branding, and propaganda.

The first step to achieving that goal is greater awareness of many of the tactics of propaganda which are being used by all sides. Over the next few weeks, I intend to discuss these in more detail.

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Filed under FaceBook, Literacy, Social Media, Twitter

Social Media.


Over the past few months, we have been exploring “social media” including Blogging, Flickr, YouTube, FaceBook, and most recently Twitter.

Twitter www.twitter.com/eracose

We have just started with Twitter recently.  Twitter has a number of obvious values.

  • The 140 word limit  is its greatest asset.  Sort of like “the elevator pitch”  The writer has to think about each word to ensure that the meaning is clear and interesting.
  • Its length ensures only one topic per posting.  By experience, we have learned that people only focus on one topic per email – there is no point in including more than one.  Perhaps because many people use handhelds to receive and send email.  Twitter intuitively leads to just one topic.
  • Its currency is another value.  News stories are ofter posted to Twitter before they a posted to news services.  In addition, people attending ongoing events can send moment by moment postings with photos and/or video.
  • Because you can follow people you choose, you are getting the information that you want – as opposed to having to filter through useless information to find what you are seeking.
  • Links to blogs, news articles, videos, and photos allows the reader to explore these options if he or she is interested in further information, if not it is easy to move on to the next topic.
  • The ability to block is extremely important.  We have found that certain posters seem to offer a gateway to others.   They are fairly easy to recognize because they usually have 10,000+ followers and have made only 10 posts.  You can remove a great deal of “noise” by blocking these people as soon as possible.
  • Twitter brings many voices from everywhere.  It is the best source of easily found, recent information in  graphic design, website design trends and methodology, and search engine optimization.  In just a few minutes, we bookmark a number of relevant links.  However, it is less productive for other types of information such as tourism marketing and funding charities.    Perhaps this because it is relatively new and because people involved in technology tend to use it more.
  • From the point of view of marketing, it has to be done subtly and intrinsically, as opposed to overtly.  Being bombarded with a sales message is extremely annoying on Twitter, just as it is in everyday life.  Social media are just that.
  • For clients, we sometimes upload links to websites, giving them greater exposure in search engines.

As a bottom line, we think Twitter is the best thing since Google.

Flickr – Baccalieu Consulting’s Flicker Site –www.flickr.com/photos/baccalieu/

Because of the quality and variety of  Newfoundland Amateur Photographers who display their works on Flickr, we have been using Flickr for some time as a source for regional photos for both print and websites.  After finding a suitable photo, we contact the person who has posted it and ask for permission to use the photo, assuring him or her that we will credit the work in any publication.    Almost without exception, they have given permission.   Two photographers whose work we have used extensively are:

Clyde Barrett – who lives in Bishop’s Cove – www.flickr.com/photos/clbarret2003/

Clyde, who lives across the Harbour on the Bishop’s Cove Shore, receives numerous awards for this photography through Flickr.  His photos of birds, including resident Spaniard’s Bay bald eagles, are outstanding.

Dean Ducas – who lives in Quebec – http://www.flickr.com/photos/deanspic/

Dean and his wife, neither of whom we have met in person, are outdoors people whose interests include ecotourism and birding.  We have used a number of his photos of the Bay Roberts Shoreline Heritage Trail.  Last year we used one of his photos as the cover of our BAY ROBERTS TOURISM AND LEISURE GUIDE – 2008

Use of Flickr for Marketing We have started uploading more of our own  photos and photos taken for client’s websites to Flickr.  In descriptions of photos, we link back to clients’ websites.  These links give clients another Search Engine entry, in addition to bringing people who look at the photos to the client website.

YouTube – Baccalieu Consulting’s YouTube Channel  – www.youtube.com/user/eracose

Having seen how well YouTube videos index in Goole, we decided to add some of our own.  We converted a number of MS PowerPoint, Flash Presentations, and other types of presentations to YouTube and uploaded them.   For our clients, this offered another point of entry for persons seeking information.

FaceBook www.facebook.com/people/Margaret-Ayad/527537926

Unlike Flickr and YouTube,  FaceBook’s value to business is not immediately evident.

For the FaceBook that is mainly to use with Baccalieu Consulting,  it has been possible to align network of contacts, most of whom are familiar anyway.  We place links to work created for our clients, which again is helpful in promoting clients.  However,  we are not sure if the amount of time spent on FaceBook will translate into enough business leads to justify the expenditure of time.

FaceBook – Pigeon Inlet – Town of Bay Roberts – http://www.facebook.com/people/Mose-Mitchell/1155290376

The Uncle Mose FaceBook is a little different.  The town of Bay Roberts, our most active client,  has initiated the Bay Roberts Cultural Foundation.  One of the activities will be host to a series of dramatic productions each summer called “A Time in Pigeon Inlet.”  The production is based on the work of a well-known Newfoundland author, Ted Russell, whose main character was Unile Mose Mitchell.  With the Uncle Mose FaceBook we have attempted to make contact with three main groups of people – those with an interest in Newfoundland cultural heritage, the artistic community (including musicians and actors), and journalists.  We have added a Pigeon Inlet Group and have begun posting Pigoen Inlet events.

As the town is building towards this summer’s performances, we will have a good list of potential patrons and local media to inform.   At the end of the summer, we will be able to determine the success of this approach.

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Filed under Social Media