Book Review -The Social Organism, David Luckett & Michael Casey

“We are all, in effect, algorithmically tied to each other by Google”

Oliver Luckett and Michael J, Casey bring us The Social Organism. The book is build upon the foundations of an insightful metaphor, visualising the digital world as if it was a living breathing creature. Luckett and Casey take us on a journey disassembling the online sphere but to what magnitude is this world taking over our lives’?

 

“Facebook, which manages 1.5 billion identities… Google (500million) and Twitter (320 million)”

As the book unfolds, troubling questions begin to emerge. How much trust and responsibility do we actually confide in these corporations? The authors impose Facebook and Google could continue to infiltrate our lives by an array of algorithms that continuously scrutinize our everyday news feeds. So much so that Facebook introduced ‘picture memories’ which are extremely insensitive to those users who have tragically lost a family member in the past.

The book claims to be a ‘A Radical Understanding of Social Media to Transform Your Business and Life’. It also proves that social media can benefit the way in which public relations functions. During a Super Bowl XL match a stadium black out occurred, whereby biscuit brand Oreo ingeniously tweeted “You can still dunk in the dark” resulting in 10,000 retweets and over 18,000 likes in just over an hour. A quick yet witty PR manoeuvre.

“The open petri dish of our noisy, uncensored world of social media”

Social media is a huge part of this book, reiterating the massive role it plays in our society. Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram, the list goes on. Since the release of this book, we’ve all kissed goodbye to the innovative social media platform Vine –  which was reluctantly closed by Twitter.

The social media phenomenon Vine, brought fame to stars like Andrew Bachelor, who were more popularly know as ‘King Bach’. He received a ground-breaking 15 million followers and weighed in with 5.6 billion Vine loops. The app increased his success to such an extent that he secured profitable acting roles in Black Jesus and The Mindy project. This just proves how people can make a living from the online world.

Before you choose to read on, there’s an essential lesson to take from this book. Social media and the internet have the ability to dismantle your life. One wrong move and that post could live to haunt you for the rest of your life.

We’ve all heard about Justine Sacco and her controversial tweet that ruined her life. Similarly, there was a man by the name of Tim Hunt – a molecular physiologist. He was notoriously sacked for declaring women “fall in love with you and when you criticise them they cry” A harmless ‘joke’ during a female talk in South Korea. Sadly, the damage was done, the journalist had already released the story to the media and his career was never the same again.

An all round sophisticated and inspiring read – with a fantastic wealth of knowledge to navigate you around the dense and fast pace environment of cyberspace.

 

 

Word count: 509

 

 

 

 

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The Importance Of Blogging 

The Web Log or more famously known as The Blog, is one of the oldest surviving forms of social media. The majority of people have read a blog, but are people fully aware of the true power that comes with blogging?

  • There are currently more than 8 million blogs in the Digi-sphere.
  • Every 7-8 seconds a new blog is created somewhere in the world.
  • There are almost 3 million new posts made every day.

First launching around the mid 1990’s, the blog is one of the oldest forms of social media.  It’s roots are therefore fully embedded in the stimulating membrane of the world wide web. It has been absorbing content well before web 2.0.

If there isn’t any more of a reason to get blogging, then you must seriously be missing the point. While many people invest huge amounts of money in google analytics and paid for advertising, blogs automatically bring more traffic to your website through the key words that Google picks out from websites.

Building your brand image

According to information obtained from a PRCA training webinar: 70% of people admitted they learn more about a brand via it’s blog than through it’s paid for advertising.

This just goes to show how effective a blog can be. The amount of organisations around the world that invest large amounts of money into advertising and promotional services, when there’s a free alternative right on their doorstep. This reinforces how PR is adapting to the technological developments of the digital age.

With free blogging websites available such as Blogger and WordPress, there’s no excuse to get set up on the vast landscape surrounding blogging.

If you want to go the extra mile, you can pay for your own domain name, however this is only optional, you can include your company name in the WordPress header.

Case study

Once upon a time, there was a rather large fellow by the name of Mark price – the managing director of Waitrose. Believe it to not, his unflattering body image actually benefited his retail giant in more ways than one.

Waitrose were keen advocates of the blog, eager to post on a daily basis. However, they were missing one vital point, engagement. In order to create a successful blog, it must contain a certain style and personalisation.

Waitrose began by throwing out content left right and centre. This resulted in maximum effort but little engagement. This brought about a sudden change in tactics. The clever team and Waitrose thought up an ingenious strategy of creating a blog about Price and his quest to lose weight. Because of the witty blog title, The Chubby Grocerthe site took off and engagement doubled. They integrated the story of him losing weight as well as discussing the new weekly Waitrose recipes.

This was a great way of promoting recipes from the Waitrose magazine and giving Mark Price good publicity. All round fantastic PR. This is a perfect example of how companies like Waitrose are adopting to the fast paced environment of the digital age.

References

PRCA Training Online Webinars: http://www.prca.org.uk/training/courses

Social Media Policies 

For my blog post this week, I got inspiration from Timmy Garrett’s intriguing book review, ‘So you’ve been publicly shamed’ by Jon Ronson.

It brings reference to a particular case involving Justine Sacco. She decided it would be a fantastic idea to post something rather unnecessary. Robson believes Sacco should be forgiven for her actions and that ‘She didn’t do anything wrong’ I personally think that is outrageous. Whether it’s a joke or not, you cannot be stupid enough to post something so insensitive for millions of people to see.

 

justine-sacco-tweet

Picture credit: realitywives.net

We see this a lot throughout social media, where people just do not think. That second of poor judgement could ruin your career and impact you for the rest of your life.

Enter Emily Thornberry. Back in 2014 during the Ed Miliband days, Thornberry was part of the Labour shadow cabinet until she was involved with some shenanigans on Twitter.

thornberrytweet-2

Picture credit: The Guardian.

 

In hindsight, I feel she was slightly hard done by considering  she didn’t criticise the house in the subject of the photograph. Many users felt she intended for the image to alienate the individual from the public domain, identifying this person as patriarchal and have a working class status. This could potentially tarnish Milliband’s chances of making it into parliament.

These two examples show clear evidence of how cautious you need to be on social media channels. Do not put anything out that could effect your online profile or company reputation.

 

Communicating via social media has become like second nature, but at what point should you restrict the type of content you post?

From a Public Relations stance, it has always been about how a company communicates with the public. Whether it’s a press release, a campaign broadcast or an event promotion. Reputation is a massive concept in Public Relations.

The CIPR published a Slideshare presentation on social media guidelines for people working in Public Relations. The listicle below explores the what not to do on social media:

Don’t

  • Forget that everything you put out on social media will represent your brand image. Content posted online cannot be undone, the digital world is unforgiving so one wrong post could spoil your reputation.
  • Make you audience feel uneasy. Develop a writing style that does not force your customers to do anything they don’t want to do. Creating a palaver on Twitter, such as an argument, could also scare your audience off and prevent them from following your campaign.
  • Publicise client or company information. It is an absolute must to ensure this information is not revealed to the wider public. It is ethically wrong and irresponsible to share client’s private information online or with people face to face.
  • Be false. It is massively unappealing to produce fake blogs and unauthorised material. These blogs are used to promote a specific product or service, the common term being known as ‘Astrosurfing’ or as the CIPR puts it “the practice of falsely creating the impression of independent, popular support by means of orchestrated and disguised public relations activity”.

Word count: 510

References

Boffrey, D & Helm, T (2014) The Guardian. Available from:[https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/nov/22/labour-war-emily-thornberry-tweet-rochester-strood].

CIPR, (2013) CIPR. Available from: [https://www.cipr.co.uk/content/policy-resources/toolkits-and-best-practice-guides/social-media].

Newman, J (2015) Rolling Stone. Available from: [http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/jon-ronson-why-we-should-forgive-infamous-tweeter-justine-sacco-20150331].

Walsh, J (2014) The Guardian. Available from: [https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/nov/21/emily-thornberry-resignation-explain-outside-britain].

 

The Idiot Proof Guide To Snapchat 

Since the progression of ‘web 2.0’,  we have seen vast developments and changes in applications and various social media tools.

Two of the biggest and most prevalent social media applications are Snapchat and Instagram.

Snapchat

Since originally launching in 2011 as ‘Pictaboo’, the application began with a measily 127 users and after a year of the founders arguing over equity, the application was later renamed to ‘Snapchat’ in 2011. By the summer of 2012, Snapchat had finally found it’s calling with an exuberant 100,000 users – the app quickly spreading throughout cyberspace.

How does it work?

Snapchat’s intended usage was for participants to send ‘snaps’ from user to user, with a timed feature. This meant the user could select for the image or video to be seen for up to 10 seconds. Therefore, the content was unsalvageable and could only be seen on a one time basis.

However, the catch 22 was screenshots. The opposing user could screen shot a certain image or video to save the content permanently. As the app has continued to evolve, the opposing user is now notified if their content has been screen shot or viewed by followers.

The app enabled the user to send characterised text or other keyboard features such as emojis and other phone symbols.

Snapchat Stories

One of Snapchat’s unique selling points (USP) was the Snapchat story. This gives you the control to create your own story of events, using both pictures and video. It works like a running thread of content which lasts up to 24 hours from the posting date and time.

As an account holder, you are also able to save the story to your mobile phone and keep as a permanent copy. Which enables you to keep the content after the 24 hour time out has been exceeded.

Geofilters – otherwise known as Location filters

Another USP for Snapchat is the interactive filters which can be used on various smart phones. This makes any content produced in this manner Snapchat exclusive, which is easily recgonisable among other social media.

 

dog

 

These filters were initially introduced for humourous purposes and to help friends interact with each other in a comical and entertaining manor.

The filters worked via face recognition, transforming an individuals face, such as superimposing an animal’s face with an animated tongue integrated (see image). One of the many exciting filters added to the system.

 

 

 

 

 

The team at Snapchat have thought of even more ways to encourage cash flow into the company. According to TechCrunch Snapchat has 2 types of filter; the community Geofilter  and the sponsored filter. This can come at a cost if you choose to go down the marketing route.

Community filters are free but cannot include logos or any marketing content. For example, an ideal design for a community filter is the name of the town or city or popular location in the world. This is triggered via the location features enabled on smartphones to identify the exact location of an individual.  img_0437

The sponsored Geofilters enables big brands to cover large distances with marketable content which of course involves money- a clever tactic from Snapchat. The image below explores the marketing many companies used for Black Friday.

The minimum range parameters for these filters to be accessed is from 5000 square feet to an astonishing 5,000,000. There is also a minimum time frame of 30 minutes to a maximum of around 4 weeks. You can design your own filter here by directing yourself through to the Snapchat website or click here for more details.

snapchat-sponsored-geofilter-1-1img3-copy

So how much does it cost?

Considering how much flexibility the application gives you from a marketing perspective, the price is quite reasonable. I did a small grid reference around my house in Bristol and found it would cost roughly £16.00 to have the filter active for 1 hour. It was a basic PNG image with small icons inside it.

 

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On the opposite end of the spectrum, it would cost around £3000.00 to have the filter active till the end of the month (21 days) which seems a lot more expensive in the grand scheme of things.

How does this complement PR?

This is an absolute godsend for PR professionals, particularly for campaigns and promoting an up and coming event.

The Sponsored Geofilter would be extremely effective for a PR stunt or campaign. It would enable the public to engage with the event interactively and share the information on other media. This would work particularly well if a hashtag took off and as a result, began trending on Twitter and Instagram. Running the filter for just 1 hour (£16) seems like a feasible alternative to promoting your event.

The idea you can save stories gives you the accessibility in reposting to other social media  such as Facebook, Twitter and other popular platforms. The large advancement means you can create a social media loop whereby the user is directed around each of your social media channels.

If it is a PR campaign you can encourage consumers to ‘add us on Snapchat to see more behind the scences of the campaign and what else we are up to’. A fantastic way to consistently put out content for customers to view back to back. It should also encourage users to follow you on your other platforms, increasing awareness of your campaign.

It is obvious that Snapchat is a great tool for eager PR people but with the constant shift of activity in the digital age, Snapchat’s reign could soon come to an end. According to Owen Williams (2017), since Instagram coincidentely acquired their own ‘story feature’, more people are returning to Instagram to do the same thing they originally became obsessed with on Snapchat. Either way, both platforms give plenty of food for thought among practitioners in the public relations world.

This again reinforces how PR is adapting to the digital age, through the various advancements which are happening on a monthly basis. New applications and social media tools are always being launched and integrated with current successful media. This shows the versatility of PR and how it can be easily moulded to majority of new resources and materials in the ‘digisphere’.

Word count: 1030.

References

Crook, J (2016) Tech Crunch. Available from: [https://techcrunch.com/gallery/a-brief-history-of-snapchat/slide/15/]

Williams, O (2017) LinkedIn. Available from: [https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-im-leaving-snapchat-so-all-your-friends-owen-williams-1?trk=v-feed&lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_search_srp_content%3B%2Fyk7XfR6Ucmms7UXwBsVwg%3D%3D].

The Power Of LinkedIn For PR 

With the digital environment developing day by day, LinkedIn could be one of the most powerful PR tools for practitioners.

SEO

One of the best things about LinkedIn is that the company is highly regarded by Google (Hughes,2017). This means that LinkedIn articles and posts are likely to be ranked high up on the Google search scale.

This is fantastic for employers if you’re looking to advertise for free on LinkedIn and get more people to see the post. You’re also able to enter the ‘LinkedIn Recruiter‘ part of the website which enables you to directly advertise for jobs on the system.

screenshot

Contacts

Increasing the amount of contacts in your address book is highly recommended. LinkedIn is a professional environment whereby users can interact and engage with future employers and organisations.

Recommendations

As your contact list begins to flourish, you will encounter past or present employers. This can aid your online profile in more ways than one. Like myself, who has done a few pieces of work for free, it is important to gain something out of the experience.This gives you the opportunity to gain valuable feedback from your employers.

In the ‘recommendations’ sections in ‘experience’ the user is able to request for recommendations or enable the employer to complete one themselves. This will appear on your front page for everyone to see.

LinkedIn Company Page

A powerful way to take full advantage of LinkedIn’s features is to compile your own company page. This gives you the control to gain a following and help promote your business.Creating a company page also gives you a better chance of promoting new campaigns, which you can then share on your regular LinkedIn account.

Join Groups

Groups are a fantastic way to improve your overall PR profile. For example, the PR Professionals group has over 90,000 people in it. This gives you the opportunity to share content and make additional connections with future employers.

LinkedIn Pulse

Take full advantage of LinkedIn Pulse This is a section of the website which enables you to get insights from successful people in the industry. You can choose who you would like to follow such as PRCA specialists or business owners. This will boost your connections as well as inspire you to develop new PR skills and knowledge (Iliff,2015).

Make Use Of Slideshare

LinkedIn decided to buy Slideshare in 2012 for $119 million (Rao,2012), since both platforms complement each other so well. Slideshare is a great way to develop your knowledge of the PR industry from the perspective of professional individuals in the field.

LinkedIn Analytics

One of the great features of LinkedIn is the fantastic content analytics section. This is brilliant for monitoring content such as account views and when your profile was visited. It also compares you to other connections in your contact list.

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Worth The Upgrade To Premium?

Comparatively, there aren’t huge differences between the versions. LinkedIn has a deeper analysis of your profile and the jobs tab, plus more details involving salaries and job descriptions in jobs near your area.

Word count: 506 words

References

Hughes, N (2017) PRCA. Available from: [https://www.prca.org.uk/training/courses?title=&level_68=All&skill_69=All&city=6].

Iliff, R (2015) Inc. Available from: [http://www.inc.com/rebekah-iliff/top-10-ways-to-leverage-linkedin-for-pr.html].

Rao, L (2012) Tech Crunch. Available from: [https://techcrunch.com/2012/05/03/linkedin-acquires-professional-content-sharing-platform-slideshare-for-119m/].

How to enhance your PR strategy in the digital age

Social media and digital applications are always changing.  Familiarising yourself with these new digital platforms could help you take advantage during a social media campaign. Here are a few useful hints and tips to develop your brand and potential engagement with clients in the future.

Real time marketing

This is a technique that is being used more and more on Facebook and other forms of popular social media. It can be used in a variety of different ways and often run through advertisements on a page.

  • Identifying your location and advertising things in your area.
  • Selling products or services from websites you have recently visited.
  • Event/social media marketing. For example, internet sensation Salt Bae and his cooking technique that went viral.

Visual content

It might seem obvious but visual generated content is more appealing and will attract people to your website or Facebook page. Nobody wants to see a page full of hard coded text and no visual content to keep the reader engaged. With Google Analytics, you are able to pin point how long a user stays on your page for.

A man by the name of Jakob Nielsen came up with a theory on Eye tracking, shortly named the F-pattern. He discovered that often the user’s eye scanned in an F pattern when engaging with content. This means that you must ensure text is not bulked together in one paragraph. Companies like the BBC tend to do this very well, where the text is nicely organised and the most important information is at the start of the article. Keeping the reader engaged and successfully informed.

Do YouTube well

YouTube can be a great way of generating cash when you get enough views on your selected videos. You are able to adjust your settings to monetise your videos and therefore get paid by YouTube when your content reaches a specific stage. This is not only good because of the financial incentive, it is a great way to increase interest in your latest campaign or business idea. Therefore boosting engagement in your page as well as awareness of your brand.

On the other hand, people are likely to engage with video content better than static photographs. Since some of the most viewed videos on YouTube are of cats and animals. People are more interested in this content rather than someone trying to advertise their brand. This is why if you combat both areas it may lead to success for your company or PR stunt.

 

Pay attention to Analytics

Our favourite search engine Google, offers a variety of different analytical software for free of charge. These enable you to monitor your content and consider how high your organisation sits on the Google rankings.

You can observe how long customers spend on your website and monitor the amount of click throughs to certain pages. This can be hugely beneficial for pin pointing improvement in your work.

There are other paid for pieces of software such as Sprout Social, which can help improve content engagement to your website.

 

Word count: 505 words

How much can we trust social media?

With the results from the US election, people from around the world have taken to social media expressing their shock in Mr Trump becoming the next president in line from Obama. There has been much debate about possible sources influencing the general public’s opinion of who to vote. Although it seemed as if everything was piled again Mrs Clinton after the news broke of her dodgy emails. Trump was always going to be at an advantage.

Latest trends in the media

 

This being said, Mark Zuckerberg the CEO of Facebook has been accused  in having an influence on the recent results of the US election – leading to the rise of Trump. Zuckerberg’s Facebook algorithms were under question with rumours hinting at news feeds being solely dominated with Republican content which is quite significant considering 62% of Americans get their news from social media. Of course Zuckerberg denied these claims despite there being claims of bias earlier in the year.

This shows how social media can affects the opinions of the general public – especially in this case.

There was also more of a problem with ‘fake news’ and these outlets being verified on Facebook. This made it quite unethical that these companies were making money from ads on Google and Facebook when in fact the news being sourced was untrue. This makes it hard for us to trust social media? That blue verified tick can be misleading. It is up to yourselves to research a story and decide your opinion on the matter.