Enlightment is entering the virtual sphere

butterflyIn my last post I was writing about The transformative power of social media in the Middle East and how consumers turned to prosuments, beeing  both consumers as well as producers by organising protests with the help of social media platforms as well as producing and distributing information by filming, documenting and blogging about current events when official repporting was compromised.

In recent discussions of the Twitterrevolution, a controversial issue has been whether social media platforms are a revolutionary tool for social change promoting the digitalization of democracy for good or playing into the hands of regimes and opponents as it happend in Syria (see also my last post) .

Virtual Villages

On the one hand, one group of observers argues that despite the posibilities the internet offers to connect people, it eqaully seperates them. Enrico de Angelis who is pointing out the seperating forces at work in Syria, would certainly agree with Thomas J. Bittman. On his view, the world is getting more and more polarized as like-minded people tend to stick together and rebuild their villages in a virtual world, in an attempt to prove outsides to be wrong. In this attempt, tons of biased and subjective data is launched which is taken for real. He concludes that we need to train future generations in critical thinking skills. As one of the most prominent proponents of this view, he puts it, “ Idealists saw the Internet and the connectivity it created as the great melting pot of ideas. We could have different opinions, but reach a consensus; different views of facts, but bad data would be self-correcting. The absolute opposite has occurred, because people are using the Internet. We can connect with anyone, and discuss any idea – but we don’t. People seek out like-minded people, and become more and more radicalized in their views. We are still villagers, but unlike the village of old, we get to define our own village, and we tend to build villages full of people who are just like us. Different views of facts create entire worldviews based on falsehood, or spin. Bad data propagates, mutates and spreads like wildfire.”

The informed Society

On the other hand, another group of people has a much more positive view on the effects on society of the internet in general and social media platforms in particular. According to the Pirate Parties International, society is turning into a information society, meaning that they believe in the informed citizen . The informed citizen is basically what Bittmann is hoping for future generations: Well informed people with critical thinking skills that can distinginguish between right and wrong, true and false. The Pirate Parties go even so far that they believe that the time has come that citizens need less represantatives because through information and communication among each other they are finally well informed enough to take responsibility.

The number of prosuments keeps growing in 2013

In sum, then, while one group argues that the internet is dividing people, fostering polarization and lies, another believes in the human potential to seek out the truth and right through engaging in (online) discussions with others. Alex Howard, expert in the field of social media, digital journalism and collaborative technologies in companies predicts for 2013 “While the process of gathering and sharing news in a hyper-networked environment will only grow more messy as more people gain access to tools to publish around the world, this trend isn’t going backward. Despite the trend toward the “broadcast-ification of social media,” there are many more of us listening and sharing now than ever before. Expect journalism to be a more participatory experience in 2013.” (Read all of Howard’s predictions for 2013 here).  For example, even though Jake Levin is articulating his view that social media platforms develop into communication tools were one communicates actively to many who passivly consume his broadcast as it always has been in newpapers, radio and on TV. Howard himself points out the growing tendancy of  consumer participation in the creation of content. As he puts it:

 “Open source software and citizens acting as sensors have steadily been integrated into journalism over the past few years, most dramatically in the videos and pictures uploaded after the 2009 Iran election and during 2011′s Arab Spring. Citizen science looks like the next frontier. Safecast is combining open data collected by citizen science with academic, NGO and open government data (where available), and then making it widely available.”
Enlightment is entering the virtual sphere
Howard’s  understanding of citizen science certainly confirms the Pirate Party’s conception of the enlightened (wo)man. Of course those who agree with Bittmanns view on virtual villages might object that for instance the Pirate Party exactly is a virtual village where like-minded people connect to each other and reinforce each other views. In sum, then, I would argue that this debate is  a continuation of the Age of Enlightenment entering the digital sphere. Whether one interprets prosuments as a sign of enlightenment and self-determination or one shares a more sceptical view such as Levin in “The broadcast-ification of social media” and Bittmann in ” The consumerisation of truth” eventually drains down to two very basic philosophical attitudes; either one believes in the potential of the human mind or not.
In the next post I am going to examine Consumerization a bit closer. What does it mean in a business-related context and what effects does consumerisation have on business? And how does it all go together with the feedback economy….?
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The transformative power of social media

powertools

In my last bloggposts I’ve been so far focusing on the marketing perspective on social media marketing, however social media platforms not only have changed the way business and customers interact and opened up for new opportunities, but the Internet and development of technology,exspecially smartphones, has also turned the the receiving consumer into a proactive prosument, beeing consumer and producent at the same time.

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The Democratization of the Internet

“…Facebook and Twitter abetted if not enabled the historic
regionwide uprisings of early 2011.”

Evidence for the move towards a digital democracy is the report from June 2011 by Carol Huang in the National based on  the second edition of the Arab Social Media Report by the Dubai School of Governance that was filled with facts and data. In the report Huang writes that social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter were used by people to organize demonstrations and to get updated about he current situation because traditional media was either beeing compromised or shut down which finally coluded in the fall of Eypts and Tunisias dictatorial regimes, the rise of the opposition in Syria, Libya, Yemen and Bahrain and more benefits to the population of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arabian Emirates .  Ayman Salah, social media expert and entrepreneur confirms in an interview from Aug 7, 2012 in Digibuzz this view on the important role of social media in the Arab Spring and its continous growth of users. He says that “the Jan 25th Revolution helped in proving that social media can be very effective as a communication platform; it allowed a lot of people to know the news happening in the street while mainstream media was either delayed or denied.” The Wired Reporter from the Simon Fraser University concludes in his blog about the role of social media during the Arab Spring that “perhaps the most important journalistic lesson to come out of the uprisings was that in the face of oppression and censorship, social media defended freedom, including the freedom of the press.”

The polarization of Syrian society

“What if social media played a much more negative role in the Syrian revolution than many think?

So far most opinions found were utterly positive about the impact of social media on freedom of word and the Arab Spring. Enrico de Angelis writer for the web magazine The New Significance and lecturer at the University of Bologna (Italy), however, asks “What if social media played a much more negative role in the Syrian revolution than many think”

On the contrary to Tunisia and Egypt, the people of Syria are much more divided in their critizism of the regime. The usage of social media to organize protest and foster action has a polarizing effect on the Syrian society. Both groups, the ones working for change and those that want to keep the status qou use social networks to to prove the others wrong, writes Enrico de Angelis. He concludes that

In a context like this, it seems like Syrians who sincerely strive for peaceful changes in the country are being overran by forces beyond their control. Social media have a dynamic of their own. Ironically, the way they are being used may well play into the hands of the current regime.

A country by country approach is needed

So we see that you cannot apply the social media concept as such onto a entire region but that you have to differentiate between countries adjusting to their special conditions. This also raised the question I am going to take up in my next post, namely what role social media currently plays in the middle east and what impact the role of social media during the Arab spring has on the middle east today.

The efficiency of QR codes

2012_12_12_17_41_14Something for early adopters or already mainstream?

QR (Quick Response) Codes have recently popped up like mushrooms everywhere; They are on squares, buildings, chewing gum packachings, tables, and all kind of prodcuts and places. So, a couple of days ago, I was sitting with a friend and drinking coffee at one of those fancy cafés at Ku’Damm. On the table was an advertisment telling you to be social and follow them on Facebook and a bar code. I offered my friend a chewing gum and guess what was on the packaching? A Bar Code! Holly mother, are there actually people out there that have enough time over to install a bar code reader app on there phones and then even start to scan advertisement? My friend agreed with me that no one does that. But there must be a reason why those tiny little black- white things are invading our world. So how effective are bar codes?

What is a bar Code?

If you haven’t seen or heard about bar codes yet, you are probably a proof for my friends and my hypothesis that nobody cares about them anyway. I probably shouldn’t be telling you this but after reading the following lines, you will not longer belong to those innocent people that don’t know anything about bar codes. Are you sure you want to continue reading?

Reaching the traget group -The effectivness of  QR Codes in Marketing Campaings

Jorge Aura , blogging for Seeking Alpha says that “QR codes, a mobile form of barcodes, are designed to allow consumers to quickly access more information. Nowadays, many companies use this technology as an additional element in their advertising campaigns.”

So now that I know that you know what a QR code is, lets have a quick look at why firms are increasingly using QR Codes in their marketing 2012_12_12_17_56_36campaigns. Michael Garten partner at mindgruve says that they “create a more intimate experience for users as well as increase the effectiveness and response time of opt-in marketing campaigns.” He goes on that QR codes are also usefull for driving traffic to the firms website and allow for targeted marketing. But he also admits that “the technology is still very new and in most cases requires a smartphone. Marketers will also need to make sure they have a significant web presence. With this type of campaign, companies must ensure that consumers will remain engaged once they hit the landing page or the campaign is destined to fail.” Elen Bahr, posting for LaBreche, offers a somewhat less optimistic picture. She writes that “QR Codes, the most common of the mobile barcode formats, have not fulfilled their promise” for connecting marketers with their audiences. In fact, only 11 percent of the U.S. adult population uses them.”

Here some hard facts for those of you who like  numbers

“Depending on which study you read, and your target audience, QR code penetration can be 10% or less.” John Gumas

According to Jorge Aura in 2011,  “21 million consumers used their smartphones to scan a QR barcode”. He further states that number of users is expected to increase to 26 million. John Gumas, blogging for marketingsmart.gumas.com, says however that 10% or even less of the targeted audience are going to respond.

QR Codes remain some2012_12_12_17_57_30thing for the early adapters

Sounds as my friend and I were right; QR codes still haven’t crossed the Introduction stage, so recently QR codes remain somthing for early adopters. So better don’t create a bar code yet for your about.me page unless you consider yourself a pioneer. However, wouldn’t it be funny to put a bar code on your jobb application or bag ?!

A Chai Latte with Larissa

A professional blogbuster tells us the secrets of blogging (Part 1)

In my desperate search for know-how about social media marketing I met Larissa last Friday at Café Geschmacklos. This young lady, as gorgeous as Marilyn Monroe, blogging for the independent fashion blogzine Designers Mag! , Berlin Stirred Up   and Ebuero, is an expert when it comes to designing great blog posts. Asking her whether I can publish her tips on blogbusters, her eyes start to shine and she  just said:

” The coffee was as black as the black soul of the music…” and we both brought in laughter, because as she explained, she just came from work and her brain is still in the author-mode. So we got right into the subject:

How to write a good post! Larissa’s advice:

The style is essential to to get and keep your readers attention. Keep in mind that the first sentences are most important because they will decide whether the reader is going to continue reading or zap on. In order to CATCH your bait, try to

  • Keep your sentences short
  • use homour
  • be contovers
  • be clear and concise
  • give advice
  • and pose questions

The more advanced blogger with professional authoring ambitions might try to use metaphors, alliterations, parallelisms and of course story telling where appropriate with regard to the target audience. Building a frame around your content , for instance, starting off with a metaphor in the beginning of the post and closing the post with the same metaphor would be a frame, that both proofs your professional writing skills as well as your witness. And that’s what we want to be as blogbusters, right? Professional, witty and smart.

Reading in the Web differs from Print

A good post according to Larissa must have a minimum of 350 words but no more than 500, because reading online differs from reading print. She continuous that subheadings are of enormous importance since the reader will first scan the post for keywords before reading extensively. At last but not at least the use of carefully chosen images is a great tool to catch your reader’s attention,  make them read your post and helping them to remember it.

Talking about images, there is always the copyright issue*. Of course you can make your own pictures, but very often they do not look as professional so Larissa recommends to use Flickr and, I add,  Compfight** which are both sides where can legally and for free obtain images for noncommercial use made by professionals.

The next post will be part 2 of the interview with Larissa about SEO ( Search Engine Optimization). Thank you for reading and until next saturday!

* Very important topic. I am going to reserve a post about how use images legally

** Compfight has even a WordPress Plugin

Welcome to my blog

Hello dear blogbusters,

I justed wanted say hello and thank you for stopping by. My posts are all about social media marketing, a topic I am currently exploring because I happen to work with press and communication. Frankly,  I am a newbie and I really want to and have to learn more about social media for my current job. So follow my journey, exploring the social media marketing microcosmos

I am going to touch upon topics such as

– Blogging

-Professional Facebook Marketing

– The usefullness of bar codes

– Search Engine Optimization

– Designing homepages and blogposts

– Writing skills

– E-commerce

and many more to come.

My vision is to combine practical tipps with a critical discussion of tools and trends, such as whether bar codes for instance are here to stay or to disappear and eventually give a prognosis. So follow my journey, exploring the social media marketing microcosmos

Introduction to Social Media Marketing with Douglas Lim

Douglas Lim is one of the best bloggers on social media marketing. In his utube video “Social Media Marketing Explained” he gives an overview of what is at the core of social media marketing. He says that, as you probably know, social media marketing is based on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. And he continous that the main reason why companies add social media to their marketing mix is to enhance the brand value by creating a internet presence. Lim then lists the four steps a business needs to take to implement social media in their  marketing mix.

The first one is to identify the target market. So if we take the Allgemeiner Studierenden Ausschuss der HWR ( AStA) as our role model, students at HWR were the target audience.

The next step according Lim is to define the message the company would like to convey. In the case of AStA this would probably be ” Zusammen mehr bewegen”.

Lim then states that the next step is to find a strategy on how to implement your social media plan. Thinking about AStA, what Lim says about “Set-and-forget” holds true, meaning that social media has continously be updated or as Mrs Philliposa put it:

Blogs are like sharks; if they don’t move they die.

Last but not least, step number four according to Lim is to choose the right vehicle, which could be any social media that suits the target audience such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Youtube or Google+. For the AStA, the most appropriate media would be Facebook because most students at HWR prefer to use Facebook.

To finish where I started off, do you think that social media marketing is the right tool for small local companies to promote their business? Or should they leave it to the big brands?