Thursday, February 24, 2011

When Tweets Invades...

While browsing through Barnes and Noble today I discovered some very interesting books. What made these books so interesting was that they were written entirely using emails, texts, and tweets. I realize that sounds completely confusing so the books themselves will be helpful.
The first book I came across was Save As Draft. If you were able to flip this book over the first thing on the back you would read would be this:
"Are we Facebook friends yet? I’m the wactress (waitress/actress) turned lawyer who lives her life online. (Don’t we all these days?)"
I feel like that gives a pretty good feel for the book. Its about a girl living her life in a social media filled world. When addressing the length of the book a reviewer on Amazon by the name of April Braswell said that "Please know and be relieved by the fact that it is a series of emails, complete with amusing email headers, enriched by a smattering of SMS text messages and tweets on twitter."

 The other book I found was Goodnight Tweetheart. This one I feel is a little more self explanatory than the other book. Both the title and the nice little caption on the front "A Love Story in 140 Characters or Less" make it pretty obvious that this story has Twitter at its heart. The descripton on the back of the book ends with "Told almost entirely in tweets and DMs, Goodnight Tweetheart is a truly modern take on a classic tale of love and loss—a Griffin and Sabine for the Twitter generation." It is about a woman, an author, living in a modern world filled with social media who uses Twitter to get over her writers block. She also happens to find romance as well.

What I find most interesting about these books is not only the  role social media and specifically Twitter plays in the plot but also more importantly the role they play in the writing of the book. I was absolutely amazed that there are books now that are written entirely in tweets. To me it just shows how much Twitter and social media have permeated out culture. Now these books are definitely not classics in the making. If there is a genre of books that fits with chick flicks these books would belong to that genre. Even though they are not classics the fact that years from now when Twitter, texts, and email are outdated someone will be able to pick up these books and see what a big part of our lives these technologies were is something I find very cool. I am apt to believe that this style of writing is just a fad. I seriously doubt this style of writing will take over but the fact that there is not one but two books written this way definitely says something. I guess the question is what exactly does it say?


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Influencers- Who are they?

This past week in class we discussed the concept of Influencers and specifically who they are, why they are important, and how to find them. 
Influencers is a new word for a really simple concept. Influencers are people that you follow that seem to be ahead of the curve. When they say something, you listen. These people tend to have a lot of followers.  I'm sure we can all think of at least one person that would fit this description. However an Influencer is more than just someone who is ahead of the curve and popular. According to the article Unveiling the New Influencers by Brian Solis they are also good listeners. They not only are followed by a lot of people, they follow a lot of people in return. Influencers are masters in a certain area, they know what they are talking about.  Influencers aren't just hyperconnected nobodies. They are people who have a voice, have expertise, and listen just as much as they speak.

Now that we who these people are, the question of why they are important may arise. Well, its quite simple. If as a company you can connect with them, they can become an incredibly useful tool in both finding out with the public is saying and communicating with that public. Communication today is not what it once was. People refuse to simply wait to be fed a message, they have opinions and they are going to share them. Influencers can act as a pulse for the public and a link to talk directly to them.

It is obvious now that Influencers are important and that companies should seek them out. But how can they be found. You need to find those people that talk, listen, and are connected. That is not a quick process. Luckliy there are programs to help you in your search several of which are mentioned in Solis's article. They make the process a lot easier but they can't finish the work for you. You need to constantly monitor for new Influencers and make sure the ones you have found are still relevant. Its an ongoing process but its a fruitful one.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Socially Connected Disney Characters

It seems that I have a knack for discovering the more odd Twitter users. In this case, it happens to relate to Disney, which as I have mentioned before, I am quite the fan of.

Not surprisingly The Walt Disney Company is quite the social media user. I am sure I will blog about them again, not only because I love the company, but becuase they offer such a plethora of social media things to talk about. That isn't really the point of this post though. The point of this post is to talk about how they even have characters from their movies interacting with fans via social media.

I haven't poked around to see how many Disney characters have Twitter accounts, but I do know that all of the main characters from the latest Disney animated film Tangled have accounts. For those of you who haven't seen the movie, its based on the Rapunzel fairytale but of course has its own Disney spin. The characters that have accounts include leading lady Rapunzel, her faithful chameleon companion Pascal, the leading man Flynn, Rapunzel's mother Gothel, the city guard horse Maximus, and the Thugs from the Fluffy Duckling.

I think that the characters having Twitter accounts and connecting with fans is a really great idea. Some tweet more than others but in general they have a good follower/following ratio. Pascal is my personal favorite of the bunch. I greatly enjoy reading his tweets and it definitely reminds me of the movie whenever I read them. I'm sure when it gets closer to the DVD release, they will tweet about that to remind fans.

While I think the Twitter accounts definitely work for these characters I wonder if other non animated film characters could pull something like that off. I'm not sure it would work as well, but I would definitely be interested to see someone try it. Any thoughts? Do you think something like that would work?


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Don't die on me Delicious!

Back in December various web-savvy media outlets reported that Yahoo! had announced internally that it would be closing the social bookmarking website Delicious. I will be the first to admit that I had no idea what social bookmarking or Delicious was before this past week. However after discovering what social bookmarking and Delicious are, I clearly see the incredible benefits that they offer.

When most people think of bookmarking they think of just clicking that local bookmark button in whatever web browser they are using. Social Bookmarking is revolutionary concept. Instead of having your bookmarks saved to just your computer, they are accessible anywhere because they are saved to a website like Delicious. You can then tag your bookmarks and organize them by subject (or any other way you choose) and most importantly never have to worry about your computer crashing and loosing all of your bookmarks.

Marshall Kirkpatrick of Read Write Web wrote an article entitled R.I.P. Delicious: You Were So Beautiful to Me which discussed some of the other less obvious ways that social bookmarking sites like Delicious can be used. Among other uses Kirkpatrick mentioned using Delicious as a type of search engine. I really wish I had known about this concept before my last semester in college. Through the use of tags you can see what websites people have found that offer useful or interesting information about a given subject. I can imagine how useful this would be for writing papers and creating presentations.

I see Delicious as an incredibly useful website. I have already begun using it and definitely will continue to in the future. Kirkpatrick's article featured an update that reported that Yahoo! doesn't plan to close Delicious but to sell it. I can only hope this is true. Otherwise my new found love might be short lived.

Update (4/27): Delicious is safe!! Yahoo! announced today that the founders of YouTube Chad Hurley and Steven Chen have aquired Delicious. You can read more about the switch here


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Superbowl 45 Seat Fiasco

When you were watching the Superbowl this past Sunday did you perhaps notice a swath of empty seats like the ones in the picture below?

It wouldn't be surprising if you didn't see the empty considering that they were in the "nose-bleed" section. Given the fact that it was the Superbowl you might wonder why those seats were empty you can rest assured that it wasn't because fans did want to sit in them. In fact fans bought tickets to sit in those seats but unfortunately were turned away. The Huffington Post has a article that explains the situation but the short explanation is that there were problems with the instillation of the temporary seats that were unable to be fixed and lead to fans being turned away the day of the game. While about 2000 fans were effected by the issues with the seats only 400 were left completely out in the cold while the other 1,600 were either placed in other seats or stood in the standing room only areas of Cowboy Stadium.

The idea of fans being turned away from the biggest football game of the year when they paid for travel, lodging, and tickets is absolutely incredible. Its also a huge PR nightmare. Understandably fans, both directly affected by the seat fiasco and not, are angry. In fact they are so angry that the affected fans have filed a lawsuit against the NFL. Fans have also taken to Twitter and other social media sites to express their anger.

The NFL has also taken to Twitter to talk fans, especially those effected by the seat issues, and to explain what they have done for those effected. Brian McCarthy is the NFL's PR guy on Twitter. He has been keeping twitter updated on what the NFL is doing for effected fans by posting links to press releases as well as tweeting and direct messaging fans. Overall it seems like the NFL is doing a great job in using Twitter to keep fans informed and prevent what could have been a massive nightmare from blowing up in their face.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

How does social media effect activisim?

In the past 2 weeks the unrest in Egypt has become a topic that the world, or at least the world's major media outlets, is talking about. The current situation in Egypt has highlighted several issues that face the internet but the one that I will focus on here is how social media effects activisim.

This past October, Malcolm Gladwell wrote an article entitled "Small Changes" for the The New Yorker which addressed this topic. If one had to guess what this article said without reading it, they might say that this article probably raved about how social media has made activism easier, more widespread, and much more accessible. In actuality, the article essentially said the opposite, that while social media can produce activism it is much more limited and is not as effective as traditional face to face activism.

Throughout the article Gladwell uses the civil rights movement as a historical example of activism to compare current social media driven activism to. In comparing the civil rights movement to current social media driven activism Gladwell notes that "Activism that challenges the status quo—that attacks deeply rooted problems—is not for the faint of heart" and that this type of truly challenging activism requires strong ties to the source of the activism. In this article, Gladwell expresses his belief that social media such as Facebook and Twitter do not produce the strong ties necessary for truly challenging activism. He says that they produce loose ties which create networks, but not the strong hierarchy that serious activism requires.

I find that I agree with Gladwell in his belief that social media does not produce the type of environment necessary for activism that changes big problems. If you think of the number of people you are friends with on Facebook, how many would you actually count as having a real bond with and how many would just be labeled as acquaintances? If you lived during a time period that had a social issue like segregation would you really go protest with an acquaintance just becuase they asked you? And if you did would you be willing to endure the hardships that civil rights activists did?

I think that most people couldn't respond yes to all of those. I know that I wouldn't. I think that social media can definitely serve a purpose within activism in that it is a great way to communicate with the general public. But as a single source of activism it is rather ineffective. Joining a group to save Darfur on Facebook really doesn't do much to actually save Darfur. If you actually want to save Darfur your going to have to do something more than just join a group. Sometimes I think social media activism is just a way for my generation to achieve a certain "look" without having to actually do anything. 

So how do you think social media effects activism? Is it a great tool, the next big thing, a fad, or perhaps something else?