#pure3600: My Thoughts on the Twitter/Instagram Assignment

I wasn’t exactly thrilled when I found out there would be a Twitter and Instagram assignment in my public relations writing class. I had a similar assignment last year in my media writing class and I didn’t enjoy it.  Naturally, I didn’t expect to enjoy tweeting 4 times a week, for a total of 9 weeks, this time around. Throwing Instagram into the mix didn’t make the assignment anymore appealing to me. In fact, I was even more disinterested.  I was not a fan of having to use either site on a consistent schedule and I didn’t want to fill my friends’ feeds with posts related to public relations and #pure3600.

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The first few tweets I posted for class felt tedious and boring. I wasn’t interested in the assignment. However, as I started to explore more of the Twitters we had to follow as part of the assignment I started to find more interesting content.

One of my favorite finds is this article by PR Daily which relates Disney movies to public relations. I also started to look through hashtags we used for class, including #pure3600 and #muexplore, and found some really creative content by other students. I started to become more interested in the assignment and it became easier to post the required 4 tweets each week.

I also became better acquainted with Instagram through this assignment. I have only had Instagram for a few months and I’ll admit I am still not an avid user but I’m getting there! The assignment helped me to start using it more and in more creative ways. I learned how to use a few different photo apps to edit pictures which is something I really enjoyed about this assignment. I also learned how Instragram can be just as useful as Twitter in terms of public relations.

 

instagramWhile I initially thought the Twitter and Instagram assignment would be tedious and annoying like other times I have been asked to use social media for class work, in the end I really enjoyed the assignment! It was a fun way to learn more about the usefulness and power of social media in public relations.  I was worried I would annoy my friends and followers with my PR-related tweeting, but I actually received a lot of positive feedback and even gained some new followers in the process! Overall, I really enjoyed the Twitter and Instagram assignment and hope to remain consistent in my use of both sites.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter and Instagram!

Social Media in the Classroom and Workplace

 

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Every student knows that the first day of class is devoted to going  over the syllabus. This is the day where professors lay out the rules and expectations that will guide the class for the semester. This always includes a lecture on the use, or rather misuse, of technology. While nearly all professors agree that cellphones need to be silent and out of sight during class, the rules for the use of laptops are a little messier and differ from one professor to another. There are professors who don’t want students to use their laptops at all, those who will allow it only in the first few rows or only for certain assignments, and those who will allow it anywhere in the classroom. While the policies might differ, the reasoning is always the same: students use social media in class.  

When you are in a classroom you should be focused on the professor and the content being presented. You are there to learn, not text, tweet, pin, or Facebook. Beyond classroom engagement, what students say about their university, on the behalf of their university, or on university time can have a serious impact on the reputation of the school. Students need to think before they tweet as representatives of their schools. For this reason, schools including Kansas State University and University of Michigan have even gone so far as to provide guidelines on individual posts and posts made on behalf of the universities.

While professors and universities provide guidelines for students to consider when using social media, the rules in the professional world are a bit different. Just as students need to be focused on their professors and must consider how their posts will reflect the institution they attend, professionals need to be focused on their work while on the job and must be aware of how their behavior affects the organization. However, unlike students, professionals are being paid for the time they spend at work. It is unprofessional to waste time on the job checking your Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest accounts. 

While guidelines exist for students, the guidelines for social media use are more serious in a professional setting. For example, the  Associated Press has guidelines which exist to protect both the organization and its employees. These guidelines include rules on posting opinions, privacy, retweeting, friending/liking, and interacting with other users, among other things. The AP also requires its employees to keep their personal and professional social media accounts separate. However, employees must be aware that the content of both accounts has an impact on the AP’s reputation and should follow its guidelines no matter where they are posting.While the rules for social media use are strict in this example it is clear that they exist to protect everyone involved.

The Importance of Pinning: How Businesses Can Use Pinterest

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If you are not on Pinterest there is a pretty good chance that you know someone who is. The social media platform, which was founded in 2010, has skyrocketed in popularity in the last three years. With an estimated 70 million users as of 2013, it’s time for people to stop brushing Pinterest off as something only used by teenage girls use to post pictures of shoes.

Pinterest is incredibly popular and versatile. It is a pinboard-style photo-sharing website that allows users to “pin” images to their own pages. Users can create pinboards on their page that each feature a specific theme based on their interests. For example, some of the boards featured on the “About” page of Pinterest include “fun colors to wear,” “graphic design,” and “simple recipes.” I was surprised to find “hobbit safety videos” was also featured on this page, which just goes to show the diversity of content on Pinterest! It is the go-to website if you’re in need of a recipe, craft idea, or fashion inspiration but it is also a great tool for business.

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In fact, all of the boards featured on the “About Pinterest” page are run by businesses. Yes, even “hobbit safety videos.” That particular board belongs to Air New Zealand to advertise the Hobbit-themed plane it launched in partnership with the new film series. As of 2013, there are an estimated 500,000 businesses on Pinterest. This social media platform is clearly more than just crafts, recipes, and fashion.

Businesses use Pinterest to interact with consumers through pinning and repinning images which directly market their products and services. Businesses can also take a more subtle approach and provide fun ideas and tips that also relate to their overall brand. This is found in the “fun colors to wear” board which was created by Old Navy and the “unexpected burger toppings” which comes from Food.com. Even Marquette University is on Pinterest!

If you are still skeptical about the value of Pinterest as a tool for business, I suggest you check it out for yourself!

THE RIGHT QUESTION THAT BUILDS YOUR BRAND IN SOCIAL MEDIA

This Wednesday I was lucky enough to attend the PR + Social Media Summit and listen to a number of thought leaders in the public relations profession share their insights on the importance of social media. One of the presentations that stuck with me after leaving the summit was the closing keynote given by Augie Ray, the director of social media from Prudential Financial. The presentation, “The Right Question That Builds Your Brand in Social Media,” focused on how to create meaningful social media content with a focused purpose.

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Augie is well-known and respected for the work he has done through social media in the last five years. For this reason, people come to him with a number of questions on the subject. He said that out of all the questions he receives about social media, the most frequently asked are:

  1. What should I post?
  2. How do I succeed in getting followers?
  3. What should I say to get my audience to engage?

Augie explained that while these are common questions, an important question is overlooked: why? While it is obviously important to know what to do with social media, it is even more important to know why you are using it. Without a why, your social media content will lack focus and purpose, and will have no real meaning.

Augie explained that there are three steps to creating social media content that is meaningful and focused:

  1. Discover a higher purpose
  2. Make it real
  3. Live it on social media

Augie talked about a few organizations who excel at this practice. One of these is Chipotle, which has recently gained a large amount of attention due to its use of social media. Chipotle knows its purpose, “food with integrity,” and brands itself in alignment with this idea everywhere. The brand focuses on the higher purpose of creating food that uses quality ingredients and is respectful of animals, the environment, and farmers. This message, and not simply a desire to gain followers or customers, fuels Chipotle’s social media use. The company stands out because they focus on differentiating themselves from other fast food chains in a way that has meaning. They don’t just claim to be the best, they try to show it, live it, and make it real to their consumers.

The Trend of Vine in Public Relations

What can really be accomplished in 6 seconds? Ask the 40 million people who use Vine. The social networking site owned by Twitter was launched earlier this year and has quickly grown in popularity. In particular, Vine has become a trend among public relations professionals who have proven that with creative thinking, 6 seconds is more than enough to send a valuable brand message.

While Vine features more than enough videos of teenagers doing as many stupid and dangerous things as is physically possible in the span of 6 seconds, public relations professionals are using the platform to engage with stakeholders. In 6 seconds, public relations professionals don’t have much time to reach their audience, but experts have suggested that the time frame of a Vine is actually ideal. The optimal length of a web video for today’s viewer is somewhere between 30 seconds and 4 minutes. Even the minimum 30 second video is the length of 5 Vines, so brands can be sure that viewers will watch the entire story told through the use of Vine, and because of the looping feature of Vine, most viewers will likely watch it more than once. As such, Vine offers brands the opportunity for their social media content to go viral.

While viewers will watch the Vine in its entirety because it is only 6 seconds, brands need to tell a compelling story in order for the message to stick with viewers. This has brought out the creativity in public relations professionals when creating content for their brands. Big name brands including Virgin Mobile USA, The Weather Channel, Lowes, MTV, and Urban Outfitters have all been a part of the trend surrounding the Twitter-owned app. Their clips range in content from more standard event promotions and product demonstrations to the creative use of stop-motion animation and squirrel puppets to advertise brands. Some professionals have also used the app to more directly engage viewers through contests and requests for viewers to create and submit their own Vines advertising organizations and products.

My personal favorite is a humorous Vine created by Honda as a part of the #WantNewCar campaign during its Summer Clearance Sales Event. This campaign highlights why the Vine trend in public relations is interesting. While it doesn’t seem possible to create real public relations content in just 6 seconds of video, this campaign was a huge success. The #WantNewCar campaign asked customers to tweet their reasoning for wanting a new car and in return, Honda replied with personalized Vines. Honda’s successful use of Vine to create a fun and personal connection with consumers proves that the app is good for more than a 6 second laugh. What can really be achieved in 6 seconds? For a creative and strategic public relations professional, the possibilities are greater than you might think.