Twitter and Instagram: A Social Media Journey

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The Twitter and Instagram assignment for my PR Writing Class, PURE3600, was a challenging but enlightening experience. Over the course of the past few months, my class was assigned the task of tweeting and instagraming at least 36 times. My weeks of social media were exciting, and here are some of the most memorable experiences.

Best Experience: My best experience through this assignment came at the end of the semester. This past Sunday, the Marquette University Twitter account tweeted the link to a blog post about 28 reasons for people to love Marquette. The article was very relatable for me, so I proceeded to retweet Marquette along with adding “Just a few of the reasons I chose MU!” with the #PURE3600SP14 hashtag.

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Thanks to my retweet, I was tweeted at by Marquette University and the Diederich College of Communications Twitter accounts and followed by both of them! Marquette retweeted my tweet, causing it to be viewed 2,182 times! I also gained 9 new followers.

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Worst Experience: The most challenging, and at times frustrating, part of this assignment was using the hashtag #PURE3600SP14. Because Twitter is already such a restricted platform in terms of how many characters are available, having to include a hashtag that contained 12 characters was tricky, and often affected my tweets and sometimes even prevented me from retweeting certain tweets and links, simply because I could not fit the hashtag.

Learning Experience: This assignment really helped me to broaden my horizons on social media. By tweeting and instagraming posts so directly related to public relations, I was able to reach a new branch of Twitter users. Complete strangers were following me and interacting with me. Forming connections with other public relations professionals was a great experience, and I hope to stay active in the PR/Twitter world.

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New Experience: Having never been an Instagram user before this semester, I got to experience the app for the first time. Prior to this assignment, I sometimes failed to see the benefits of using a social media site directed towards images, but a picture really is worth a thousand words. While I am not quite an Instagram expert yet, I plan on some day mastering the app!

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This assignment was really valuable. I was able to further delve into the social media realm and expand my knowledge and develop my personal brand. I learned how to balance personal posts with professional ones, and had many amazing experiences along the way! I really will miss #PURE3600SP14 this summer!

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Communication Failures at Penn State

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Dr. Jeremy Fyke, a Communications Studies professor and the moderator of Lambda Pi Eta at Marquette University, gave a presentation on the communication surrounding the Sandusky scandal at Penn State University. Dr. Fyke gave the presentation to a full house, including over 200 students and faculty on April 22, at 7 p.m. in Marquette Hall.

 

According to Dr. Fyke, whose research was recently published in the Journal of Business Ethics, language use and a culture of silence deeply impacted how the situation played out and was handled overall.

 

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 Dr. Fyke presenting on the communication surrounding the Penn State Scandal on April 22, 2014.

 

During his presentation, Dr. Fyke covered a variety of topics starting with critical upward communication and organizational culture. This case was especially interesting because the culture largely affected the outcome. All of the Penn State University employees involved in the incidents at hand were male, which leads outsiders to believe that the environment was a “macho” one, which may have played a role in the number of euphemisms used to describe what happened.

 

As the presentation progressed Dr. Fyke continued to discuss the role of euphemism in ethics, which was a very interesting topic that I had never specifically thought about. The phrase “linguistic camouflage” was used to describe euphemisms, which perfectly fit the situation. At Penn State, much of what happened was referred to as “horsing around” with Joe Paterno going as far as to say, “Sandusky and the boy were engaged in nothing more than horseplay.” The use of these euphemisms masked the seriousness of the issues at hand, and was just one of several topics covered by Dr. Fyke.

 

Overall, Dr. Fyke’s presentation was outstanding. His dissection of a topic in a different manner than I had previously seen was very thorough and eye opening. I enjoyed this presentation very much, and am happy I attended the event!

Insta-WordPress

I must admit…I wasn’t always on the Instagram bandwagon. In fact, I didn’t even make an account until I needed one for school. However, social media and Instagram are a vital part of the PR world, so I’m slowly learning to love it. My most prized Instagram of late is of my baby cousin, Declan.

 

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I wonder if this little munchkin will go to Marquette. 

Declan is quite possibly the cutest baby on earth, even when he has food covering his face, forming an almost beard. It’s crazy to think that someday he’ll be 18 and headed off to college, and I can only hope he chooses to follow in my footsteps and attend Marquette University. I’m excited to get to know the super cool kid I know he’ll be!

My second favorite Instagram is of none other than the Marquette campus.

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The first buds of spring on Marquette’s campus! Tulips are on the way. 

Spring is not my favorite season, but tulips are my all-time favorite flower, and after this seemingly never ending winter, I am welcoming the first signs of spring with open arms. The sheer excitement I felt upon seeing these buds made me rejoice in a way I normally save for puppies or newborn babies, but it means sunshine and warm weather are that much closer!

Instagram has taught me that a picture says a thousand words, but a good caption can definitely help. I look forward to Declan growing up, spring and tulips and my further discovery of this fantastic social media channel!

 

Running Excels, Social Media and Peggy O’Neil

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Running Excels is a great store that has established itself as a strong brand. However, I think that the store and those who run their media and social media accounts could use a little more focus overall. The PR Writing for Social Media exercise was an interesting way to approach how a brand could try to focus their message and really try to be consistent and aim for the target audience.

I especially enjoyed building a persona for my client. Running Excels’ customers are 60% female, which seems to be doing well for the store, so I deciding to stick with women as the intended audience. The primary age group of Running Excels customers is people between the ages of 35 and 44 so I decided to make my ideal target a woman named Peggy O’Neil, who was 40 years old. I had fun creating a person who could really identify with the brand.

 

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I decided that Peggy was a married woman with three children because the typical Running Excels customer is very active in her community and the neighborhood the store is in is very family oriented. Their customers would be more likely to be involved in the community if they could relate to it.

Peggy had her Master’s Degree because more education tends to lead to a higher income. While running itself is not an expensive sport, the gear one may need, and the brands Running Excels carries are more expensive, requiring their customers to have some disposable income. To show that her family was comfortably a member of the middle, upper-middle class, which is common for the Beverly-area of Chicago where the store is located, I also decided that Peggy was the owner of a Volkswagen Touareg, a car that costs at least $45,000.

Aside from running, Peggy was very active. She enjoyed baking and cooking, and was also a member of the local Beverly Book Club, showing how committed she was to the community and how much she enjoyed being involved and staying busy.

Peggy consumes a variety of media, from the local paper, The Beverly Review to the worldwide news source The Daily Beast. She stays up to date on current events, and would be aware of news both locally and globally.

Overall, I believe that Peggy O’Neil is the ideal client, and most similar to the majority of customers at Running Excels, making her the perfect description of who the target audience is.

Seattle Times Reporter Speaks on Energy in Inner Mongolia

Marquette University’s Diederich College of Communication in collaboration with The O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism hosted a presentation entitled “Coal and Wind in China’s Inner Mongolia” Feb. 12, 2014 in Johnston Hall.

Seattle reporter and current O’Brien Fellow, Hal Bernton, along with a Diederich College graduate student, Zhu Ye, spoke about their trip to Inner Mongolia in December, where they witnessed the coal mining world and the carbon emissions that come from burning coal along with the alternative energy sources that are being explored.

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According to Bernton, finding alternative energy sources, like wind, are important to China and Inner Mongolia. “There is a big effort in China to eradicate carbon emissions. It’s not always about coal use. The big issue is the coal soot that is causing problems in the lungs of people who are exposed,” said Bernton.

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Gas flares from a recently built coal plant in eastern Inner Mongolia.

(Photo by Hal Berton)

At Marquette University, O’Brien Fellows spend nine months researching and reporting on large impact stories that they find interesting and believe have the potential to change people’s lives.

The research done by Bernton and Ye will contribute to a planned series of stories in The Seattle Times about the challenges of reducing carbon emissions in China and the United States.

Students, faculty and staff were welcome to attend the event.

The O’Brien Fellows work through the Diederich College of Communication, a college within Marquette University. Marquette is a Catholic Jesuit university located in Milwaukee.

For more information on the event and topic, please contact:

  • Hal Bernton: Henry.Bernton@marquette.edu or at (206) 423-1898
  • Herbert Lowe, the college’s direct of journalism for social change: herbert.lowe@marquette.edu or at                    (414) 288-4068

 

Contact: Stephanie Ramirez

Public Relations Representative, Diederich College of Communication

(773) 414-9855

Stephanie.Ramirez@marquette.edu

Communication Theories at Their Finest: Symmetry Theory

Symmetry theory is one of my personal favorites when it comes to communication theories. Symmetry theory was proposed by Theodore Newcomb, in association with balance or consonance theory, and suggests that people seek an attitude similar to that of those they are close to. People will agree or disagree with others, not only based on what they say, but also because of their relationship with that person.

Personally, I think symmetry theory is interesting because it tends to relate to people’s beliefs, and the values they are brought up on, while reflecting their personal relationships and the value they place in those relationships.

Symmetry theory is important to public relations writing because it requires research. Before a PR campaign can be launched, research must be done, and it would seem that people most agree with those around them, which could impact the message they are receiving.

Personally, if I am close to someone and appreciate their opinions, I am more likely to agree with them. If I do not like someone, and they come off strongly and in a negative light, I am less likely to agree with them if they present me with a topic I am on the fence about.

By doing extensive background research, public relations professionals can know what type of person would make the majority of consumers agree with them, making their campaigns more successful. This idea is already in play in a number of campaigns, like the P&G “Thank You Mom” commercial. If you tend to agree with your mom and have a positive relationship with her, you most likely agree with this commercial, which may prompt you to buy P&G products. If you do not have a close relationship with your mother and do not typically agree with her, this commercial may steer you away from P&G products.

Symmetry theory is very relevant in today’s world. By gaining an insight into consumers’ minds through research, symmetry theory can be a useful tool of persuasion.

Writing Is…Can…Will

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I love writing. I go through periods where I write everyday. Other times, I forgot about it, but I always come back. Writing has shaped my life and reading what other people has written has greatly impacted me. Sometimes I write creatively, sometimes I write letters to others, sometimes I write just for me. Writing is a great way to clear my mind and focus my ideas. Writing helps me to plan ahead, stay organized and focus on my goals. Writing has changed my outlook on life.

Writing:

Writing is so important to society, and for some provides vitality. Writing is a great way for people to express themselves and to get out their thoughts.

Writing can take shape in a variety of forms. Writing can be therapeutic. Writing can change your life.

Writing will not always be easy or productive. Writing will be a great way to challenge yourself mentally.

Writing is a great way to express feelings without ever really having to share them. Writing is time consuming.

Writing can relieve stress. Writing can help you through the good times and the bad.

Writing will help ideas take shape and opinions be heard. Writing will change the way you look at the world.

Writing is…can…will be the future.

Coca-Cola and Social Media Policies

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A company known for its presence across the globe and social media is Coca-Cola. The Coke Company social media policy is readily available on their website, and has been shared on Facebook and Twitter 75 times each, which is pretty impressive. 

Coke opens up their social media policy by discussing what social media means to them. They realize how many people, all over, talk about them each and everyday, and according to them, they want their more than 150,000 associates in more than 200 countries to join in on those conversations and to represent the company in the best possible manner. 

They go on to provide their employees with social media principles which they should use both in their personal and professional lives. Coke tells their employees to be smart, but still have fun. 

Coke then goes on to list their company commitments, which involve being transparent, responsible, and respectful. 

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After listing their company policy towards social media, they go on to discuss their social media policy for employees on their personal time.  

Coca-Cola says that they respect the rights of their associates and authorized agencies’ associates to use blogs and other social media tools for both self-expression and as a means to further the company’s business. 

The Coke Company encourages their employees to use social media but to be responsible. 

Here are their expectations for personal social media use: 

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I am very supportive of the Coca-Cola Company’s social media policy. Being transparent in all social media engagements is incredibly important, and all companies should make an active effort to do so. I also like that they encourage their employees to use social media, have fun, and try to further the company on their personal accounts if applicable. Coca-Cola also makes a good decision by telling their employees they alone are responsible for their personal actions, and if they decide to discuss the company on their personal profiles they must announce that they are affiliated with the company, and that they should consult the prepared company responses when dealing with topics that require subject matter expertise.

However, I don’t like the style of how their company and personal policies are written because they are a little complex and wordy. The policies would be better if they were written in more of a bullet point style, especially for their personal policy, although I appreciate how much detail they provide their employees with. In regards to their personal policy, they also reference several other policies, which they could provide hyperlinks to if possible so that they are more readily available for their employees, unless that is not possible for reasons legal or other.  

Overall, Coke has a great social media policy. They address all the necessary topics for both personal and private use, but their format could use some work. Other than that, Coke should keep it up! Companies need to have social media policies for their employees in their work and personal lives, and Coke does a great job making their expectations known. People need to make good decisions and be responsible for what they post, and Coke seems to be teaching their employees that.

Follow the Trending Topics and Consistently Post: The Next Steps for Zita Bridal Salon

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Zita Bridal Salon has made a step in the right direction when it comes to its social media accounts. They are lightyears ahead of other local companies, which sometimes lack social media accounts. However, while Zita should be commended for its use of Facebook, Pinterest, Youtube, Twitter, and Instagram, it is missing a key element of social media strategy-Consistency! 

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Long-term, Zita Bridal Salon should hire a person (or company if the budget allows for it) to manage its social media accounts. Many of their posts on social media lack engagement, and having one person write content for them may be beneficial. 

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They also absolutely need to employ a social media content calendar. While they use their accounts, they do not use them consistently enough. Their Instagram account could be swimming in activity, however in over 8 months, they have only had 19 posts. Much like their Instagram account, their Twitter activity had an apparent hiatus from July until November, which isn’t doing them any favors. With over 200 followers, they need to remind their potential consumers that they exist!

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A content calendar would give them a schedule of what to post, and how frequently to do so, which may help bring business to their shop. 

 

Short-term, and above all, the company really needs to put a focus on just getting out there. While they don’t want to tweet just for the sake of tweeting, a company like Zita Bridal Salon, that has limited repeat customers, needs to continuously put themselves out there to be noticed and stand out amongst competitors. 

 

While it is harder for a small company (or even a large one) to post new content to Youtube everyday, a tweet or two a day, is not impossible. 

 

One thing Zita Bridal Salon could do right now to get involved is to use trending topics! Whether it is on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, Zita cannot be afraid to jump into the conversation in new ways. For example, on a Wednesday night, they could tweet, “Are you and your bridesmaids planning your wedding on this fabulous Wednesday night? Tell us about it! #WineWednesday #ZitaBridalSalon.” Another popular Wednesday topic is #WisdomWednesday. To incorporate this, Zita could Instagram stress-relieving quotes to remind the bride what her wedding day is really all about. 

 

By joining in on the trending conversations, potential consumers will recognize their presence without the overwhelming feeling like Zita is constantly trying to sell something. 

 

Hiring one person to handle their social media accounts and their content would be beneficial, as would setting up a content calendar, but until those things can be done, consistent conversations on trending topics across social media are the way to go! Potential customers will be more aware of Zita through social media, and more likely to stop in the store! Zita should want to remind people that they exist.

Essential Elements of Social Media: A How To For Your Brand

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Social media is bigger than it has ever been, and this trend of expansion does not seem to be slowing down at any time in the near future. Brands are getting more involved in the social space, but it is important to do it right, simply joining Facebook is not enough. To do social media “right” the essential elements of a social media strategy must be considered. 

What are the essential elements of a social media strategy? That’s a loaded question, especially because a specific answer to that question varies greatly from brand to brand. 

There are common essential elements to social media strategy. To discover what your brand should do, your brand first needs to discover what it wants to accomplish through social media. Do you simply want to raise awareness? Do you want to increase sales in general? Or increase the sales of a particular product? Are you trying to better understand your consumers? Whatever your particular goals are, just make sure that they are clearly known by those on your social media team. And be sure that any goals you set are realistic!

After you have considered your overall goal, FIND YOUR VOICE. That may sound like an inspirational poster a teenage girl might have hanging in her bedroom, but it’s great advice for a brand. Does your brand want to be like Mercedes, a brand that exudes excellence and sophistication, and sells beliefs in addition to cars?  

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Or like Infiniti, whose commercials essentially mock Mercedes and their owners for being conformists? Whatever you want to be, own it! Make your voice your own in every sense. If your brand wants to be funny or use popular slang, it can do that, the brand voice just needs to remain consistent over all social media platforms. But if you grow to dislike your brand voice, or it is not helping you achieve your goals, it is important to remember that you can gradually change it over time. 

The next essential element of social media is content. CONTENT IS KEY. Is what you’re telling your consumers innovative? Or is it just taking up space on their newsfeed? Your content should be unique to your brand and voice. It should be innovative and spark conversation. And above all, your content should NOT always be about your products!

An important essential element of social media strategy is to remember that all social spaces should not be treated equally. Ginny Long Director of Digital and Direct Marketing for Moen gave a presentation on Moen’s Social Media Journey. In her presentation, she said it was an important lesson for them to learn that not all social media platforms are the same, and should not be used in the same ways. The graphic Ms. Long showed in her presentation is cute and funny, but there is some truth behind it that brands must remember. 

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Next, brands must remember to let conversations develop in their social space! Let your consumers talk. If your company is food based, let consumers share recipes. If you can jump in, feel free to do so, but not everything is about the brand and product sales at all times. Brands also need to remember to respond to all questions and comments directed specifically at them, regardless of whether they are positive or negative. Your consumers will appreciate your feedback, and that will hopefully keep them coming back. 

Lastly, keep your goal or goals in mind. Find ways to monitor your goals and discover whether or not your brand is reaching them. Tools like Sysomos are great for this. Do not be afraid to change your strategy, and take your time getting adjusted in each social space.

Essential elements of social media strategy do differ for every brand, and the elements themselves may change over time since social media is constantly evolving. But at this time, these elements are the most essential, so remember: 

1. Set a Realistic Social Media Goal

2. Find Your Voice & Be Consistent

3. Content is Key

4. Not All Social Spaces are Equal

5. Conversations & Response

6. Monitor the Progress of Your Goals