My parents are part of the “in” crowd. They have Facebook pages. But they are also part of the middle-aged crowd that sees the website as more of an additional task to complete than a leisurely, natural part of their days.
I love my parents, but I have become impatient with them at times when my posts on their walls went unanswered or they just didn’t update their profiles. But I’m starting to understand how they feel.
Technology is developing so quickly that I am finding myself, at age 21, uncomfortable with some of the advances that will be reality in the near future.
I’ve admitted that some location-based services, like FourSquare and Facebook Places, seem silly to me. Why does everyone need to know where I am every second? But I’m sure I will get on board with those tools in time.
Google Glasses, though, are a different story.
An impending invention from the Google laboratories, Google Glasses will be the latest and greatest in eyewear- with a computer built in. People will wear these “glasses,” and use speech commands to check and update their social networks, communicate with friends, and even take pictures.
Google Glasses may become the new “norm” eventually, but I’m not sure I’ll be as willing to walk around like a humanized robot as I am to sign up for a new social networking site.
I’m not quite ready for a world full of people walking around talking to themselves. Are we really so desperate to stay connected that we’ll willingly remain glued to our networks and electronics, keeping them constantly an inch in front of us as we go about our days?
At 21 years old, I am starting to understand why the older generations have trouble accepting every new social media tool. It’s a big adjustment.
Maybe, with substantial time, I’ll be able to accept overtaking technologies like Google Glasses, but for now, I’m perfectly content embracing antiquities like iPads and smart phones.
Graduation day at St. Bonaventure University is quickly approaching. In fewer than three weeks, I’ll be walking the stage and getting my diploma.
The deadline for my senior journalism capstone- like a thesis project- is also quickly approaching. I have a week and a half to make final edits.
I call my capstone “Leading Ladies of The Bona Venture,” a title which, I’m sure, will need just a little bit of background info.
The Bona Venture refers to St. Bonaventure’s weekly, student-run newspaper, where I’ve worked as a writer and editor for the past four years.
Leading Ladies refers to the long legacy of strong women who have served as editor-in-chief of this proud journalism tradition.
I’ve spent the past semester interviewing a number of these leading ladies, hoping to find out what their experiences were like.
But what I found was so much more than catchy quotes and colorful anecdotes.
I found role models.
All of these women put immense skills- writing, editing, management- to work as editors-in-chief of The Bona Venture. They worked long hours, made tough calls and fixed mistakes. And they learned first-hand just how rewarding it is to pick up a copy—your copy—of The BV on a Friday morning.
They all impress me. But Sylvia Burke, my new friend who served as editor-in-chief in 1959, told me something that will stay with me forever.
“I never felt that I was the woman E.I.C. I was the E.I.C. just like the guys who had been E.I.C. before me,” Sylvia said.
For these leading ladies, being editor-in-chief is not about being a woman in power. It’s about being a powerful enough woman to set gender aside and focus on being the best leader you can be.
I am so proud to be a past editor-in-chief among these tough-as-nails women.
The 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill off the Gulf coast was a mistake of epic proportions. It took lives, ravaged the environment and destroyed area industries. And since then, Americans have banded together to hate BP.
Yes, the company made a horrendous mistake. But give them credit for the significant focus they’ve placed on making amends.
The company has given $170 million to tourism promotion organizations in the affected states, and have paid more than $5 million in reparations to affected residents and businesses, according to travel-industry.uptake.com. Some may say that’s the least the company could or should do, and those people may be right.
But BP has taken its efforts to make things right to another level by making Gulf region tourism the focus of their new ad campaign. Only a small BP icon at the very end of the commercial promotes the company. The rest of the commercial is given to promoting the region.
And it’s worth mentioning that this, the first national commercial in a year, only briefly mentions BP in the last ten seconds of the one-minute version.
Call it cause marketing if you will, but the way I see it, there’s really not much for the company to gain. I call it a selfless good deed.
I say kudos to BP for finding an effective way to help the region it wronged.
And it has been effective. Tourism in the region has seen record-breaking increases, with 2011 revenues greater than they were in 2008, the region’s standing record-breaking year, according to BP.
So well done, BP. The oil spill happened, and it was terrible, but this selfless ad campaign is a step in the right direction.
As I mentioned in my last post, virtual goods are relatively foreign to me, despite their growing popularity. So when I was required to experiment with participating in this virtual commerce for a class assignment, I struggled.
The simple fact that I couldn’t hold in my hand the FarmVille chicken I bought had me feeling unbelievably guilty. It was the worst buyer’s remorse I have ever experienced. I couldn’t justify any of the purchases I made. And of the $15 Zynga gift card I bought, I could only bring myself to spend about half.
I suppose it would be different if I was buying virtual goods I could actually use, such as music downloads or e-books. But an animated chicken? I still find that absurd. Of course, I’d be more than happy to buy that chicken with “money” I earn within the game, but not my hard-earned and all-too-scarce cash.
Maybe it’s just because I’m a college student with limited funds. Maybe it’s a different situation for the middle-aged women these games target. But that $15 could have bought me a week’s groceries, Instead, I, and so many others, threw it away for extra levels or more animated characters in a game.
I understand that this is the way of the future, but I’m not 100% on board just yet.
Humans, by nature, resist change. Each new Facebook update sparks outrage. Grandparents yearn for the “good old days,” when life was simpler.
But the reality is, change is inevitable. It happens everyday. And this change has been especially prevalent in the way we consume entertainment.
We no longer rent movies from Blockbuster or buy books from Borders. I personally can’t remember the last time I purchased a CD.
Virtual goods have taken the place of many of the tangible things we all grew up with. Now we have smart phones, tablets and laptops. We have websites that sell us files like e-books, iTunes and Netflix movies.
The Guinea Pig Generation
As a member of the guinea pig generation, the idea of paying for services like Facebook and Pandora seems like an injustice. But just like our books and movies, times and technologies are changing. Digital companies are providing services, so it only makes sense that we would be expected to pay for them— just like we pay for car washes and concerts.
We paid for books, movies and musics before they were digital, so why stress about the cost, especially when most come at a serious discount compared to their tangible counterparts.
But the discount itself could be dangerous, and so can the fact that most users haven’t quite gotten the hang of virtual purchases. There’s very little standing in a person’s way when it comes to buying these goods. The transaction is instant— one click of a button— and leaves minimal time to reconsider a purchase.
Driving to the store, waiting in line, handing over physical cash and then walking out with a heavy bag were all naturally preventative factors to spending money. There were obstacles in the way. Now we never have to leave the couch, encounter other shoppers, or even type in a credit card number most of the time. It’s almost too easy.
I personally have not yet made that mental switch from tangible to virtual goods. I’m sure, in part, that’s because I’m a poor college student at the moment. But once I and this guinea pig generation find ourselves with more expendable incomes, I’m sure we’ll be much more likely to embrace the change.
For now, though, I’ll keep downloading my e-books for free on Project Gutenberg, borrowing my friend’s Netflix account, and embracing the “Lite” versions of apps for my phone.
When I finally finagled an invitation to Pinterest a few weeks ago, I was enthralled for a few days. But soon I began to wonder, what’s the point?
Not Just for Brides-to-be
I mentioned my new social media find to a few people, including my mom and my boyfriend, who both asked nervously if that was the site for planning weddings. A lot of women do use the site as a weddings-and-beyond wish list, but not me, I assured them.
In my search for an answer to my what’s the point question, I’d come across a mashable.com article about how Pinterest can be a personal branding tool. So I created pinboards I thought would aptly describe me (in a professional light) to prospective employers. The article suggested a pinboard can serve as a visual, digital resume, which I thought was a great idea.
So if Pinterest can be an effective personal branding tool, why stop there? Pinterest is a wonderful platform for retail businesses to promote new products.
Word-of-mouth for the 21st Century
This summer, I worked at an adorable gift shop in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood called Blackstone’s of Beacon Hill. The shop offers beautiful, unique products, including several pieces of handmade art and store exclusives that shoppers just won’t find anywhere else.
With Pinterest, the shop’s fabulous owners can post photos of these gorgeous products on a pinboard, where they can be found and re-posted, or re-pinned, by thousands of users. According to a jeffbullas.com article, every time a user re-pins one of Blackstone’s pins, they’re creating a new link back to the Blackstone’s website, which is highly valuable for a local small businesses with minimal marketing budgets.
This kind of viral exposure promotes name recognition and builds a company’s brand.
Similar to blogs, small businesses need to create valuable content a user wants to follow before hawking their products.
“As in most all social sites, don’t simply pin your products and start trolling around for ways to self-promote. This is about building some cred first through pinning, commenting and sharing,” according to a ducttapemarketing.com article.
Returning to the Blackstone’s example, their boards may deal with Beacon Hill, vacation activities in Boston, local artists and authors or even fun recipes. Users will then think of Blackstone’s as a helpful resource on Boston tourism, small business and entertaining, and they will be even more receptive when the store starts advertising new products.
Social media helped President Barack Obama win the White House three and a half years ago. He reached out to potential supporters through a strong presence on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and was wildly successful, with over 3.1 million Facebook fans by election day.*
Why Change What Worked?
So many millenials, perhaps voting for the first time, got accustomed to learning about candidates in the digital space. Chances are, they’ll be going back to what they know as the 2012 election approaches.
It’s up to the candidates to reach these social media savvy young people in their own domain. The Internet is where they should be building their brands and laying out their plans, and if Republican candidates choose not to emphasize this avenue of communication, they can start sharpening their quills and preparing their parchment for a forgettable concession speech.
Those savvy millenials picked Obama, after all, whose online presence put his competitors’ to shame.
Grandparents Log In
And the reality is, the World Wide Web isn’t just for the young whippersnappers anymore. A Pew Research Center study reported 88 percent growth in the number of Facebook users aged 50-65, according to a newsmax.com article, Why Older Generations Are Using Facebook.
In 2008, my Grandpa got acquainted with the presidential candidates on CNN and Fox News. But a few months ago, he bought an iPad and signed up for Facebook, Twitter and Skype accounts.
How many other older-and-wiser voters have made the social upgrade in the past four years?
Republicans need to realize these traditionally conservative older generations are active online, and probably even more willing to “friend” Mitt Romney than the average high school student.
Social and Savvy Win the Race
The bottom line is, the number of voters in the digital space is always growing, regardless of their age, which is why an online presence is vital in this presidential popularity contest.
“The candidate who figures out how to create that well-rounded strategy, whether it’s the Republicans or whether it’s the president, will get amazing momentum and tip the scale in his favor this November. The only variable is who that person will be.”
*Statistic from: Qualman, Erik. Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2011. Print.
For non-football fans, all is not lost on Super Bowl Sunday. Companies spend millions for air-time during the game, making it worth their while to churn out some of their best ads of the year.
Doritos took it a step further six years ago, when it began its Crash the Super Bowl campaign. Now in its seventh wildly successful year, this marketing strategy is a shining example of the inevitable shift to social marketing. Since America went online, people have begun craving an interactive social experience on the Internet. Doritos delivers.
Doritos asked its followers to vote for their favorite of five commercials. The winningest earns a spot during the Super Bowl. This is nothing new. Internet polling is old school in 2012.
They tapped into their existing social network by facilitating the voting process primarily on Facebook. Kirsty Bell, research and insight manager for social media agency Yomego, applauded the company’s social savvy.
“The brand already has over 2.2m fans onFacebook, so it will be easier to launch the campaign and continue the momentum by levering this audience, rather than having a standing start,” Bell said in an econsultancy.com article.
In this model, Doritos makes watching their commercials a game. Internet users seek out their advertisements and watch each consecutively. They may even watch some twice as they decide which is the best.
And the more views these videos get, the more likely they are to go viral. And in fact, they did. Doritos topped the Visible Measures leaderboard of most viral videos on Jan. 12, according to adage.com.
So the company may be paying millions for their Super Bowl Sunday spots, but the reality is their commercials are getting exponentially more views than those of companies waiting for the big reveal on Feb. 5.
The Internet can be a scary place in this age of cyberbullying and online predators.
Trustworthy teens deserve privacy, but only after they know the dangers of the Internet and the consequences of misusing social media. Once a teen is a teen, they shouldn’t need to be monitored if their parents took the time to instill sound online values.
Parents should start this education process early. If a 13-year-old wants a Facebook account and her parents have the time to supervise her, she should have an account.
But it’s imperative that parents take an active role in their online lives initially.
Show kids the ropes…
Think about how kids behave when they have a babysitter, as compared to when their parents are in charge. They lie about how many cookies mom lets them have for dessert, or about how late dad says they can stay up on weekends. Most kids who play this game don’t do it because they’re bad kids; they’re just testing their boundaries and determining how much they can get away with. And the behavior will probably continue until the parents correct it.
So why would it be any different on the Internet?
Parents who don’t monitor their children’s social media activity won’t know if their children write that someone is “gay” or are making rude comments about their peers’ photos. If parents don’t watch their kids online, they won’t notice problematic behavior, so it will not be corrected.
…and then take off the training wheels.
Social media are the new norm for communication between young people, so it makes sense that they will use these sites to experiment with and define their identities. So parents should decide when is the best time to take a step back.
Once teens prove they understand acceptable Internet ettiquete, it’s time for parents to show they trust their kids and give them privacy.
Smothering and spying on trustworthy teens’ accounts are not the answer.
“If you’re intruding on your teen’s personal online space, she’s likely to take it underground,” according to the mashable.com article.
Most parents who communicate trust will enjoy a more open conversation with their teens about their online activities.
I’ll admit it. I’m addicted to Facebook. So I assumed two days away from my favorite social network would be lonely, isolated misery. Not the case. I just found other social media to eat the hours away. As a result of this famine, I’m newly obsessed with Twitter; I’ve tweeted 16 times in 24 hours, which is a lifetime record for me. I also sought the elusive invitation to Pinterest and proceeded to spend four hours pinning photos to my ‘boards.’ Lonely? Isolated? No way. I’ve been more consistently and diversely connected than I have been in a long time.
The two days were not completely without worry, though. I occasionally wondered whether I was rudely ignoring friends trying to contact me. But even more so, and I’m a little embarassed to admit this, I worried about how my simulated Facebook games were doing without me. This fear was not unfounded.
An Animated Wasteland
When I logged in to my MonsterWorld game account, which is a lot like FarmVille for those of you who haven’t been sucked in yet, I was met with utter disarray. My monsters’ garden was a field of mangled roots and dead plants— I hadn’t been around to feed the farmer, so he ate the crops instead. The monster orphan I’d adopted sobbed in the corner; his food and love levels were at a critical low.
^^ Above is an actual screenshot of my MonsterWorld garden when I logged in after two days of neglect.
The status of my game after just two days without attention sends a powerful message about the effects they likely have on users’ Facebook activity. Anyone with an ounce of empathy would feel at least mild guilt over what results from neglecting these animated characters.
Games like MonsterWorld must drive significant numbers of previously occasional Facebook users to log in daily.
My mom, who convinced me to join MonsterWorld, texts me often to remind me to feed my farmers and to harvest my plants. Since signing up for these games a month ago, I notice I’ve signed on much more consistently than I ever used to.