Advertising in the Age of Social Media

Social Media has changed a lot of society’s practices (shocker!), one being the way products are advertised.  Long gone are the days of the Mad Mean philosophy “Advertising is based on happiness.  We make the lie, we invent the want.”  Consumers want the truth, and social media has made it easy to find.

Today people easily share reviews, opinions, and thoughts on products through their social circles.  Whether the opinions are positive or negative, they spread like wild-fire, and because of this advertisers have to be “transparent” and honest about their products.  Consumers want advertisers to be sincere, helpful, and knowledgeable, not pushy, deceptive, and desperate.

Social media platforms allow the professional communicator to get up close and personal with their potential consumers.  They can build relationships which encourages brand loyalty and consumer interest.  Marshall Loeb a writer for Wall Street Journal wrote “With the growing popularity of social media platforms, businesses are embracing the technology to build community and strengthen consumer interest.”

For advertisers there are few steps they could follow to ensure their social media campaigns are effective.

  1. Know the Platform:  advertisers should have an understanding of who is using social media and the best practices for specific platforms.  For example, advertising on Twitter and Facebook are very different.  Knowing the differences and best practices allows advertisers to promote their products more effectively.
  2. Be Transparent:  Consumers want to know the company behind the product.  The more they know about the people or ideas behind the product, the better the connection.  In the same token, always be honest about your products, even recognizing the negative feedback.
  3. Engage:  Consumers are honest and they can give great feedback.  Not only should advertisers listen actively, but they should also inform their audience that they are listening by providing feedback.
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Pampering on a Budget

Being an Elon  graduate student is what it’s hyped up to be… lots of researching, projects, and reading accompanied by long and sometimes sleepless nights (especially around finals).  In addition you have to manage life outside of the classroom such as networking opportunities, family, and friends.  With all the demands of school it is easy to sometimes feel overwhelmed and stressed out. There are thousands of tips on how to stay ahead such as developing good time management skills or writing schedules and sticking to them, but what is equally important is taking care of YOU.

Pampering yourself is essential for stress management, your physical health and your emotional well-being.  The relaxation you get from positive activities triggers the relaxation response, which can ease chronic stress.  Therefore finding time to do something nice or relaxing every once in a while is important, even if you don’t have the resources to do it often.  Fortunately there are several places around Elon that can help you, and I’ve had the opportunity to visit a couple of them. The two parlors described below are two of my picks based on their prices and quality of service.  However, I’ve also had moments when I needed to relax but lacked the money to splurge. That’s when I had to be a little thrifty and do it myself.  Check out my tips below.

Day Spas and Massage Parlors

Treating yourself to the warm, experienced hands of a masseuse or to a facial, mani or pedi can be great ways to relax and release those feel-good endorphins.  You can escape from the stressful reality of grad school papers and exams while taking care of your body.   We all know graduate school can be very expensive and justifying spending money at a spa can be challenging.  However, there are places at Elon that offer great luxury-style services at affordable prices.  More importantly businesses often offer “specials” that allow students to get the same services at reduced prices.

  • iSalon located just 10 minutes from campus in Alamance Crossing is a day spa that offers a variety of services such as massages and facials.  Here at this relaxation paradise you can receive a 30-minute body massage for $45 or an hour body massage for $65.  If the price is a little too steep for you, try a “Lunch Hour” mini facial treatment for $35.  This spa is also known for the specials they offer, so always check their website for the right deal before you head in.
  • Christine Valmy is another great spa in Burlington that offers slightly better prices than its competitors.  For example, you can receive a 30-minute full body massage for $30 or an hour message for $60.  They offer manicures for just $20 and “Express Facials” for $40.  If you can afford to spend a little more money you can try their Select Package deal for $65 which includes an express facial, half hour massage, and a make-up session. Get more bang for your buck here!

There are other day spas and massage parlors located around Burlington that offer some of the same types of deals. Remember, it’s okay to indulge a little!

Do it yourself

For those of you who can’t fathom spending money at a spa or massage parlor, there are other ways to escape the stress-inducing environment of graduate school in the privacy of your own home.

  • Set up your own spa with a bathtub full of water, bubble bath, and aromatherapy candles.  To add to the ambiance try setting up some music in your bathroom; the right music can soothe you, taking you to another place far from reality. For an added touch deep condition your hair and deep cleanse your facial pores by adding a clay masque.  Lay in the tub for as long as you like, until you’re all wrinkled up from the water!  This simple treat will leave you feeling relaxed, and all you need is a tub and a bit of privacy.
  • After a nice relaxing bath, treat your skin with your favorite deep conditioning skin cream.  For ladies, polishing your toenails and fingernails can leave you feeling extra pampered.
  • Recruit the help of your significant other or buddy for a friendly massage.  Even the smallest and shortest ones can work wonders for your stress levels.  If that seems a little awkward or if you’re flying solo, try a self-massager that can make you feel just as good.

Pampering yourself can be the key to less stress during your time in graduate school, but it doesn’t mean you have to get a massage or go to a spa every week.  Simply indulging in the little things that make you happy , like a nice bath or a quick facial, can make a significant difference.   When you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, take a moment for yourself.  In the end you’ll be glad you did. To find more pampering tips and suggestions look here.

Keep the Reader Reading

Writing for the web has become increasingly important over the years. As more and more users flock to the web on a daily basis, online articles and blogs are receiving more viewership. While gazing multiple articles featuring content on how to write for digital mediums I noticed one prominent detail:  articles should be short and scannable.  According to one publication a writer should write no more than 50% of the text they would use in a hard-copy publication.  This can be attributed to web reader’s short attention span and the idea that reading content on the web is more difficult physically than reading text on traditional platforms.  Research also suggests that online readers scan text for the information they want.  Readers want their information quick and in a hurry.  If they don’t get it in a timely fashion, they are off to the next hyperlink!

There are some exceptions of course, and those exceptions are the really good web articles that people read in its entirety.  So how do you keep the reader’s attention span and keep them reading?

1)      Start with a good headline: This is the first thing readers see and if it doesn’t peak their interest initially, they are less likely to be excited about the article. In fact, they probably won’t even read it.  A good headline has key words in it, and it promises a solution or beneficial information.  For example instead of the headline “Fat Burning Foods,” one could try “5 Powerful Foods That Will Help You Burn Fat”

2)      Keep it simple: Articles for the web should be concise, only detailing the information promised in the headline.  Eliminate unnecessary words and cut out the boring parts.  Unless you are writing for personal reasons consider the audience’s attention.  Publish what is useful interesting, and most informative for them. As one author put it “Write for the web, not for your ego.”

3)      Use correct structure: Keep your reader reading with web friendly format! A simple rule to remember is use lots of white space.  Don’t overwhelm the reader with lengthy paragraphs. Embrace the line break! You could also use catchy subtitles to break the content up and bulleted lists that provides a visual break for readers.

4)      Add some or your personality: Nobody wants to read a bland, boring, lifeless article!  What makes articles unique is the author’s voice.  Try to have a light humorous tone when writing.  This will compel the reader to keep reading.  Try to use active voice and exciting verbs.   For example, which sounds more compelling (SPOILER ALERT: I vote B):

  1. You can lose weight by eating apples, strawberries, and bananas.
  2. Blast away the fat by enjoying fresh apples, ripe strawberries, and heart-healthy bananas!

Following these tips can help keep the reader reading, avoiding the fate of most web articles! For more tips, check here.

Flash Lessons Learned

Well yesterday was the last day of production class and I must say I am both happy and sad; happy because I need the rest and sad because I really enjoyed learning a new tool, Adobe Flash this semester.  Here are some of the things I will take away from this years Production class:

  • Adobe Flash is an excellent way to add interactivity to the most boring topics.  Simple roll overs, mouse overs, and animation can add a little excitement to communication.
  • There is a lot of talk about the end of Flash. Some people say it’s coming for sure, and some say it will never go away. What I do know is learning Flash and the ActionScript that accompanies it will only help me in the future whether it dies or not.
  • A great way to solve Flash problems is through online resources. If you enter a specific error message into a search engine such as Google. Hundreds of articles pop-up with information on the topic. The key is know what to type in.
  • There are a lot of great tutorials online that takes users through step by step directions.
  • Flash can give a great since of “Fiero”  when tasks are accomplished. It’s very rewarding to make something work in ActionScript (especially when you’re not a computer programmer).
  • I will miss Professor Sang Nam (my production teacher) when he goes on his sabbatical next semester.

 

So these are the lessons and tips I will take and keep with me for the rest of my life as I continue down this Elon, Interactive Media journey!

Mobile Africa

This sesmester I researched mobile phone diffusion in Africa. I was surprised at all the things I learned and I felt inspired.  Here’s my abstract:

Abstract

Mobile phone penetration in Africa has spurred a plethora of speculation and theories regarding the continents adoption of the technology.  This paper will implore Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovations (DoI) theory as a framework to examine the contributing factors of the adoption of mobile technology in Africa. It will also provide examples that correspond to the factors outlined in the theory. After fully examining parameters of the theory and it’s unique correlation to African mobile phone experience, the paper will then analyze the impact of mobile phone adoption and diffusion on the continent. In the same manner, the paper will include research findings that show current initiatives and experiences of the mobile phones in Africa.

 

I created a website to represent all my data. You can check it out at http://www.charityholloway.com/mobileafrica/


 

 

 

 

Technology and Evolution

This semester’s Theory and Audience Analysis course has been very enlightening, and has challenged my thought process concerning the wonderful world of technology and media.  From McGonigal, to Shirky, to Benkler, to Janier, the theories presenter by these intellectuals invoked a lot of thought about technology’s impact on society.

This week we discussed the effects of new technology on our brain, our critical thinking skills, and deep thought engagement.  I’ve always wondered if technology was dumbing us down or making us physically and mentally lazy.  For example, when I was in grade school, we were taught to do math in our head or with pen and paper. In these times kids use calculators to do the simplest of arithmetic. Why? Because it’s easier and smarter than the human brain.

Something that affects me in a similar way is Google. Any time I need information on something I don’t know about I simply Google it. I don’t think about going to the library and reading books. I rarely think critically on my own; I Google search the topic and read about other people’s thoughts on the subject, and then form an opinion around other’s thoughts. This is a little embarrassing to admit but it’s the truth.  Why think critically on your own when there are resources out there that “tell” you what to think?

So is technology changing our brain?  Nicolas Carr argues yes it is, and I agree with him.  Something very interesting Carr mentioned in his article, “Is Google Making Us Stupid” is his reading process. He says the longer he uses the web, the more difficult he finds reading long pieces of material, and the lower his concentration and contemplation. When I read that, I immediately identified.  I never read the full piece on the web. I skim the articles, only stopping to read key points.  Even when I had to write a research, I immediately went to the web, pulled articles on my topic and skimmed the long pieces (and some of the short ones) for information that related to my topic.  Carr also noted that everyone is conforming from web designers to TV stations. We are simply being programmed to not read.

I’m interested in the impact of these finds and others on the younger generations.  When I was younger, I loved to read, all the time.  But I was born in the 80s before the boom of the internet. It’s not the 2000’s and the boom of the internet is in full effect and it looks like it will be here to stay.  The things I have experienced with the internet as an adult are being experiences by young children and teenagers.  It seems that the effects of technology would have a deeper impact on them because they are experiencing these things in their developing years.

I personally feel that as the internet and other forms of technology become more prevalent and pervasive in today’s culture, society will continue to become dumb and dumber.  We become more and more dependent on machines and technology to do every day simple task.  I think of the process Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and survival of the fittest.  As the human race continues to consume these technologies with no boundaries, our brains and chemical processes change and eventually as the species continues to evolve, we will lose those genes that are inactive.  Eventually one day computer intelligence may rule the world. I know that’s a little out there, but I think we are becoming closer and closer to this possibility as technology advances.

Mobile Flash Nixed

There has been a lot of talk about the death of flash, specifically due to its non-compatibility with the iPhone and iPad.  This topic is pertinent to me and other interactive content designers and developers.  To combat these issues, Flash began working on developing the plug-in, which would make it compatible with mobile phones. Recently it was announced Flash nixed this project (check out the article here). 

Sources close to Adobe that have been briefed on the company’s future development plans have revealed this forthcoming announcement to ZDNet:

Our future work with Flash on mobile devices will be focused on enabling Flash developers to package native apps with Adobe AIR for all the major app stores. We will no longer adapt Flash Player for mobile devices to new browser, OS version or device configurations. Some of our source code licensees may opt to continue working on and releasing their own implementations. We will continue to support the current Android and PlayBook configurations with critical bug fixes and security updates.

So what does this mean for an interactive media student (like myself) studying Flash development? I’m not quite sure. However I do believe this is only the beginning of this problem and Adobe will eventually find away to tackle the issue, thereby ending rumors of its device. Even if this does not happen, I think learning the program and the ActionScript that accompanies it will help program my mind to work with future applications that produce the same content.   Who knows what the future holds?