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Cautiously Optimistic

Social media for better communication and a better life

Posts Tagged ‘social media

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I began this blog in January 2012 because it was one of the requirements for a class I was taking in social media.

Like many of the other students in my class, I wondered if I could a) come up with enough content to fulfill the three-posts-a-week quota, and b) make it worth reading.

Now that I approach the end of the semester, and the end of the compulsory part of the blogging assignment, I hope I have achieved both goals.

It should come as no surprise to anyone reading this blog that social media has impacted virtually every method of communication and connection that humans have created. This widespread impact has happily provided me with more than a semester’s worth of things to talk about.

I use the word “talk” instead of “write” because the act of blogging has seemed less like writing and more like talking: it has been a conversation, sometimes with myself, but to my happy surprise, also a conversation with others who have been kind enough to share their comments.

The word “talk” is also appropriate because this blog has given me the chance to rediscover my love of producing audio podcasts. In the media relations office where I work, my days are filled with lots of interesting and challenging activities, but it has been a real treat to use the audio production skills I gained in a previous career in radio journalism and put them to use in a new way.

So this is not to say goodbye, merely to say “thanks” to all of my friends and family who have stopped by this small corner of the Internet.

My plan is to keep blogging, perhaps once a week, to do more audio podcasts, and to offer some fresh perspectives on what’s happening in the rapidly-changing world of communication. Can I do it? We’ll see, but as always, I remain cautiously optimistic.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

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Written by Charles Primm

April 21, 2012 at 9:23 pm

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Facebook’s BranchOut App Turns Up the Heat on LinkedIn

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BranchOutMuch like McDonald’s old McDLT sandwich packaging tried to “keep the hot side hot and the cool side cool” by separating the fresh-off-the grill hamburger patty from the fresh-from-the fridge tomato and lettuce, social media users frequently try to keep their public identity and activities public and their private identity and activities private by using multiple social media platforms.

This desire to curate or control how our different publics see us is one of the reasons that career-oriented social media sites such as LinkedIn have flourished even as Facebook pursues its ambition to be the world’s one-stop social media destination.

Facebook’s response to upstart competitors usually takes one of two forms: it buys the company or it creates very similar functionality and then kills the competitor because of its huge existing user base that other sites or services cannot overcome.

We saw Facebook in buyout mode recently when it announced it was purchasing the photo retouching and sharing company Instagram. Now we may be seeing Facebook in “kill the competitor” mode with its launch of BranchOut, the professional networking app that draws data from existing Facebook profiles to connect people in similar industries.

This presents a danger for LinkedIn. Even though it had the “first-mover advantage” in growing the professional social media niche, the Facebook juggernaut has the ability to dwarf LinkedIn’s network, given time. This Mashable article by Sarah Kessler states that while BranchOut currently has only 25 million registered users, as compared to LinkedIn’s 150 million users, BranchOut has access to the full 845 million Facebook accounts around the world.

I would imagine that LinkedIn’s leadership team is working to avoid the fate of the McDLT, which was eventually discontinued along with its innovative packaging. Only time will tell if Facebook’s “all things to all people” recipe for success will win in the end.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

April 20, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Audio Podcast: Social Media and Crisis Communication

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Click here to listen to a podcast interview with Deanna Sellnow of the University of Kentucky. Sellnow discusses how governmental agencies are increasingly turning to social media to help communicate during a crisis. Download the file here.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

April 15, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Facebook Buys Instagram But Not Its Coolness

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When Facebook announced this week that it had purchased the photo retouching and sharing app Instagram, much of the news coverage was accompanied with sidebar articles such as “Deleting Your Instagram Account? Here’s How to Save Your Pics.”

The snap-judgment implication was that, by purchasing this small, cool company, Facebook was about to ruin it forever, prompting those “in the know” to head for the door. But the larger implication was that Facebook was so obviously uncool that one could be tainted just by association with it.

What a fascinating change. Just a few years ago, Facebook was the cool thing, the new thing, the David to Myspace’s Goliath: the one you rooted for. Students at universities in the US could not wait until their campuses were allowed to participate.

Where did it all go wrong? Was it all the times Facebook got in trouble for changing its users’ privacy settings? Or was it FarmVille?

We may never know, but to me, it’s clear: the thrill is gone. Oh, the site will be with us for a long time yet to come. But if cynicism about Facebook’s motives runs this deep, the company has more of a public perception problem than it may realize.

And even the best Instagram filter can’t change that.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

April 10, 2012 at 8:20 pm

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Find Your Next Job Through Social Media

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Changing jobs or finding new work after a period of unemployment is never easy, even in the best economic times.

And as we all know, the last few years have not been the best. I have seen many bright, hardworking, talented people in my industry struggle to find work following layoffs or shutdowns.

I know it’s a hackneyed cliché, but just as no good gig lasts forever, neither does a bad one. And unemployment is among the worst gigs there is.

Social Job SearchThe good news is that social media, the great change agent of our day, is now having an impact on getting a job. There’s a great infographic on Mashable about how social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are booming as a way to connect candidates with job openings.

LinkedInI can see the difference myself, in the kinds of ads and job suggestions displayed on my LinkedIn profile. The site seems to be doing a good, careful job of mining my resume and connecting it to open jobs I might be interested in, some based on my work background and some apparently based on compatible careers that match my education.

I like how the job suggestions are acting as a kind of surrogate career coach, encouraging me to consider possibilities I may have never considered.

For all those looking for work, or for different work, it’s clear that social media networking is an investment of time and energy well worth making.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

April 7, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Google Goggles? I’m Waiting for the Contact Lenses

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Project GlassI try to keep an eye on the latest consumer technology news, since it’s probably more likely to have an impact on my life than the more esoteric sciences I come into contact with at my day job at a large research university.

So it’s been a lot of fun following the “Google goggles” story. The development team at Google Labs recently posted a blog and video on “Project Glass,” their conceptual project to bring the visualized, social media-enabled, mobile Web to everyone via a pair of special glasses.

There’s the professional, dispassionate, level to the story, where tech experts hash out how likely this is, when it might arrive, how good it will be, and the many implications for personal privacy and the dangers of distracted multi-tasking.

But on the other hand, I can’t stop imagining how cool it might be to walk around campus, connecting to a synthesis of the physical world and the location-based Internet, enabling my stream of consciousness in a way I never dreamed of.

My reveries usually end when I recall how much I dislike seeing people walking around with a Bluetooth headset in their ear all day, and I think with a shudder, “don’t go there.” I think I’ll feel better once Google manages to get their goggles down to contact-lens size.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

April 7, 2012 at 3:21 pm

“Pink Slime” Gets PR Assist

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An effective crisis communication response plan has always been part of successful public relations. It seems obvious to state this, but for many years, good crisis communications was like a well-kept secret, slowly trickling out to the wider industry over time and, seemingly, only in response to historic PR disasters like Exxon’s response to the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the decision to launch the Challenger space shuttle, as well as in recognition of crisis communication success stories like the Tylenol cyanide poisoning response.

So it’s tough to watch the Beef Products Inc., a Texas-based company, in the PR fight of its life in the wake of the recent “pink slime” controversy. This PR Daily story by Gil Rudawsky summarizes how social media powered the efforts of parents to get the beef products banned from schools and removed from grocery store meat departments.

The company, which uses industrial processes to retrieve tiny scraps of trimmed beef that otherwise would be discarded, launched the beefisbeef.com website to explain why the meat is perfectly safe and nutritious, and to argue why the term “pink slime” is wrong, misleading, and libelous.

Get The Facts infographicThey even include an effective infographic that explains why the use of ammonia in the process, one of the problems cited in the “pink slime” protests, is actually common throughout the food processing industry.

I use the word “tough” to describe this campaign because, on a technical level, while the company seems to be doing everything about as well as it can be done to address the critics and try to set the record straight, I suspect that the power of the phrase “pink slime” may be too much for them to succeed in the long run.

The Center for Media and Democracy’s famous PR industry expose, “Toxic Sludge is Good For You,” ascribed wondrous powers of persuasion to the practice of public relations. But nothing, not even PR, is totally invincible. In the end, the public does get to decide what they like and what they don’t like. And, if they don’t like “lean beef trimmings” or “pink slime,” they will vote with their dollars and reject the product.

— Update: April 2, 2012: The Consumerist reports that AFA Foods, another manufacturer of “lean beef trimmings,” has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, blaming the uproar over the “pink slime” news coverage.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

April 1, 2012 at 7:29 pm