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Speak with your voice.

Managing a social media page can be difficult. Each site and service uses different vocabulary, etiquette, and functions. Each draws a different audience, although some members may cross-over into different sites. One thing that remains the same between all of them is the idea of voice.

In recent weeks, we have seen a couple of examples of organizations and businesses both sticking to their established voice or not having a strong one in place. Chick-Fil-A has come under fire recently because of comments made discussing their beliefs. The President of Chick-Fil-A, Dan Cathy, stated his (and the company’s) stance of not believing in same sex marriage due to their Christian faith. Regardless of whether you feel the same or not, I have not seen them back down from this thought. They have always been transparent to what their beliefs and values are, right up to their chains being closed on Sundays, and this stance should therefore not be surprising.

Again, I am not addressing the controversial issue, but trying to illustrate the idea of voice. Dan Cathy clearly knew what his company stands for, and his company continued to support him.

Let’s bring this review closer to home and look at the comments posted on the Rutland GOP Facebook page recently. Although the events were unfortunate and the apologies multiple, this is a great example of this idea of voice. It has been reported that the Rutland GOP did not write this post, but shared the thoughts of someone else. This happens all the time in social media, as it is easy to “share,” “retweet,” “repin,” etc. Sometimes, the service does not even allow the user to share their own thoughts or reflections when sharing someone else’s post.

Being aware that mistakes are made, your social media managers and page admins must know what your company stands for and supports. This is done easily by answering some questions, and should also be revisited every time you look at or update your brand.

Let’s discuss the four areas you should look at to establish your brand’s voice.

  1. Who You Are – Although this may seem like the easiest step, I would argue that it may actually be the hardest. It is difficult to think of an entity that you need to write and present as yourself as having separate thoughts, morals, and ideals than you do. These guidelines should cover sense of humor, sarcasm, professionalism, and even political views. Some of this may seem a bit extreme (why would my ice cream shop need to know its stance on abortion or international relations?), but you do not know what situations you will find your business amidst. You need to address how you view your business, and how you want to be seen, as well. You need to ensure that your social media presence is consistent with all other branding and marketing.
  2. Who You Audience Is – There are two distinct audience groups – those you want to reach, and those you are actually reaching. How can you present information in a way that your target audience will respond, react, and be engaged? What can you alter about your message (not only the way you are saying things, but what you are saying) that will attract the target audience?

You also need to take into account that online and offline communications are different. Social media communications and audience expectations differ even from email and other digital forms of communication. Be succinct and to the point. Bring your text to life with pictures and video. Frequently alter your cover photo (the long photo on the top of your profile page) to keep up with important events that will encourage audience response.

Do not only self-promote, but share information, articles, pictures, video, and community happenings that your audience will appreciate. In the case of the Rutland GOP, where they were sharing the words someone else wrote which caused them to be caught in some hot water. They may not have considered their audience entirely, or how the message would be absorbed by their audience.

  1. What Is Your Message – Before you begin typing away, think about how quickly your message and what you are sharing will spread. Depending upon the amount of fans or followers you have, your message virality will differ (This is the potential reach of your post. Not only your fans see your post, but when one of your fans likes or comments on your post or retweets it, for example, the number of people that actually see the information you shared spreads rapidly.) This is great if you are sharing relevant information and could hopefully draw more fans or followers to your social media presence. On the other hand, this backfires when you mistakenly share content that does not stick to your brand or company viewpoints. If you share information that is not relevant to your audience or offends them, you will quickly drive people away.
  2. How You React To Mistakes – If you make a mistake, don’t panic. Apologize. If a customer complains on your page, respond to it. How you react and the time that it takes you to react can have a positive influence on your brand.

Social media has made marketing a two-way conversation. Customers are observing how you handle difficult and challenging situations. What you do after that mistake is just as important as preventing another one from happening. This can be addressed during brand conversations by making sure someone is assigned to manage these social media relations. This is an important aspect of customer service, and can drastically affect the impact your brand has.

Your brand and voice are ever evolving. Make sure that you regularly address your brand and voice with key members of your team. Keep your brand and voice moving forward, as this will help you with new media and hurdles down the road.

This column originally appeared in the August 6, 2012 issue of the Rutland Herald.

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2012 in Marketing, Social Media

 

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Facebook changes. Again.

Just this past week, a friend called me and asked a question about Facebook. I responded with quick directions on where exactly to find the information he was looking for within Facebook. He quickly informed me that it had moved. My response, “Oh, Zuckerberg went and changed it up again!”

Although many people quickly get frustrated with Facebook’s changes and additions, I need to point out that there are few complaints about what is “missing” on Facebook. Yes, there is a list (community aggregated calendar, further expansions of options for pages, etc.), but Facebook is doing a great job moving forward and not being stagnant.

Facebook only announces major changes, and others just simply appear. Although I read many social media blogs and tech websites, some of these changes get missed.

Facebook has started to roll out some improvements for their Pages (non-personal profiles) that can help out the business owner or social media manager of an organization.

1. Admin Roles

Since Facebook separated Personal Profiles and Pages, you have been able to add people as administrators to your Page.  This is easily done, either by typing their name if you are friends with them, or entering their email address. The improvement is assigning different roles to these admins.

Managers can access everything. This is a good setting for the owner of the company or key driver of your page. It is the default setting for every admin.

The only limitation for Content Creators is they cannot modify or manage admin roles. Moderators are not allowed to edit the page or create posts as the page.

Advertisers may only create ads and view insights. Last, but not least, an Insights Analyst can only view the analytics (called insights) for the page.

Being able to assign roles to different admins is great. It allows the Manger or owner of the page to invite a consultant, intern, or other staff access to take on some of page responsibilities without fear of someone doing more than the manager wants. When a new admin is added, or for admins that were previously established, the default role is Manager.

Roles are easy to alter by selecting “Edit Page” from the upper right corner of your Page’s Facebook Timeline, and then selecting “Admin Roles” from the drop down menu. You will be brought to a screen that shows all of your admins and their different roles.

2. Deals

Deals are still in their Beta phase, so it is not yet available to all businesses. If Facebook decides to launch it through out the site, keep your eye out for it.  A Facebook Deal allows you to offer something special for your customers that use Facebook to check-in to your business.

For example, you visit one of our great restaurants for lunch. You launch your Facebook app from your phone and select the “check-in” option, perhaps adding a picture and tagging the other people you are eating with. If that restaurant has set up a Deal, the visitor will be able to see this on their phone when they go to check-in.

There are four types of deals:

Individual Deal

This is a good option for a one-time deal that you can offer to both new and existing customers. You can do a dollar or percentage off, or even a gift with purchase.

Loyalty Deal

Tried of punching holes in cards? Use a check-in loyalty deal! This would work for the customers that are already loyal to you, but also encourage new customers to return. You can create a deal that can be claimed after no fewer than two check-ins, but no more than twenty.

Friend Deals

These deals allow you to offer a group discount to up to eight people. This allows your customers to introduce what they love about your business to their friends and family.

Charity Deals

This deal triggers a donation to be made to the charity of your choice each time someone claims your deal. You are required to manage the donation process.

You are able to limit the run dates of each deal and how many may be claimed. When someone claims your deal, it will also post to their wall and their friends’ newsfeeds, spreading your reach virally.

It is important to note that Facebook Deals are in Beta testing. This means that the types of deals, price, and availability may change. Not all Pages have access to be able to offer these deals right now, but if you are part of the testing, I urge you to take advantage of them. If your business does not have a physical location, these deals will not work for you.

For more information about Deals and to see if your Business can offer them, select Manage Permissions from your Edit Page drop-down menu. Then, look for the Deal option in the menu on the left hand side of the page.

3. Pages App

If you have an iPhone and you manage a Page on Facebook, you need this app. It is free in the app store, and allows more flexibility than your Facebook app. It only came out 2 months ago, and I believe this is why it is still exclusively on the iPhone.

The Pages App allows you to access your Pages messages, photos, settings, admins, and, most importantly, your insights.

Insights are your analytics, or how you can see how well your posts and information is doing on Facebook.  You can also view data for individual posts, which allows you to see how many people you are reaching with each post.

I could not find any information as to whether there is a plan to release the app for other phones (mainly, Android), but I would hope that it is what is coming next.

Be aware that Facebook is on the move. They like to shake it up and be dynamic. If they didn’t, they would still only be catering to college students.

This column originally appeared in the July 23, 2012 issue of the Rutland Herald.

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2012 in Community, Marketing, Social Media

 

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Tweet Tweet.

Tweet, tweet.

I have written about Twitter.com a bit in the past, both on my blog and in various columns that have appeared in this paper. Twitter is a micro-blogging service that allows users to create posts up to 140 characters. You can also share videos, pictures, and links in these posts.

By utilizing a pound sign (#), users are able to categorize their tweets by topic or keyword. These topics are called “hashtags.” Television shows, businesses, and organizations have started to display their hashtags in commercials, in the corner of the screen during their shows, and in printed advertisements. Cities also have hashtags in order to make tweets categorized and searchable by area.

Most cities with airports use their airport code as their hashtag. For example, Burlington’s hashtag is #BTV. I have often mentioned that the biggest set back to Twitter in Rutland is the lack of people tweeting in this area. I can tell this by the little use of our hashtag, which #RutVT. Any user can then do a search of these keywords to find other users to connect with or relevant topics.

As a Twitter user, you should always categorize your tweets appropriately. This will help you connect with other users who share similar interests. It can also increase your followers. If you are an expert in something, users will begin to follow you based on your specialties.

Interaction between people is different on Twitter than Facebook. Your “friends” on Twitter are called “followers” as they follow your posts. The service is very much public, and although you can block people, generally anyone has the ability to see what you post and respond to it. Some people may see this as a negative thing, but because of the limited personal information shared on Twitter, the Twitterverse differs from its neighboring Facebookland. On Facebook, you generally only friend people whom you know in your offline life. On Twitter, you may become friends and connect with several people you do not know offline, and perhaps will never meet offline.

Because of Twitter’s ability to categorize, one of the best uses for the service is networking. I often send a question out to fellow higher education professionals to get advice or see what others are doing at their institutions. By using the #highered keyword, I am able to connect with others, and know that the appropriate people will see my questions.

Twitter users have also found a way to put the “social” back in “social media.” Twitter meet-ups, or “tweet-ups”, have become popular events. Usually revolving around a specific idea, users with similar interests met up and network.

What does this all mean for your business?

1. Make sure to utilize appropriate hashtags. Use a hashtag for your location as well as the category for your business. This will help people in your area and interested in what your business is in find you and connect with you.

2. Start conversations with users. See another person tweeting about something that happened in your area? Tweet at them by tagging their username (i.e. @localsocialvt). Search relevant hashtags to find these users.

3. Host a tweet-up. Make sure you have wifi or amble cell service available for the Twitter users.  No doubt they will want to live tweet the event.

Let’s all connect on Twitter and start a movement in this direction. Tweet at me @localsocialvt. I will be looking for those #RutVT hashtags.

This column originally appeared in the July 2, 2012 Rutland Herald.

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2012 in Community, Social Media, Vermont

 

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The Digital Divide

Technology and the Internet are not for everyone. My grandmother, who is a very young 96 years old (sorry for the reveal, Grandma!), often asks me about what my job entails. Trying to explain managing of social medias, reading applications digitally and in general, working in a paperless environment is very difficult to explain. My grandmother is a very intelligent woman – She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from Temple University in Philadelphia in 1938. She went on to be the director of different YMHAs (Young Men’s Hebrew Association) in Philadelphia and Montreal. Grandma even wrote a letter of recommendation for Henry Kissinger enabling him to get his first job. She sees technology as a burden more than help. I believe that the reason for this is not due to the fact that she is 96, but it is the fact that she never wanted to have anything to do with it. In the early 80’s, my grandfather purchased computers for himself and his two children. She never learned how to use it then, and then figured, “what is the point?”

This “digital divide” or lack of digital literacy is an issue. As technology moves forward, we need to bring our citizens forward, as well. As I said before, my grandfather purchased computers for my family in the early 80’s. He actually made this purchase for my family on the day I was born. I therefore have literally had access to a computer in my house hold my entire life. As new technology developed, I couldn’t wait to explore it and learn how to use it. To this day, my parents call me for my “expertise” on tech when they are making a purchase, or something “breaks” (i.e. they can’t figure out how to replicate something I showed them how to do). Again, my parents are intelligent people, but have been moving forward only as much as they have wanted to with learning new technology. They are now both proud owners of laptops – which they sit at their desks and use. My father has recently discovered YouTube.com and has asked me on a few different occasions if I would come over and “watch a video with him.” I typically humor him and go to his house and watch said video with him. I don’t mind, actually, because my father has a fantastic laugh that is frankly quite addicting.

My point is, we cannot blame age for the divide in digital literacy. However, people should also not see age as a reason to steer clear of learning how to use a computer, having an email address, using social media, etc. There are certainly benefits to each no matter your age or level of computer knowledge. I understand some apprehension for using online banking or securing other personal items and documents through the web. But this demographic of non-computer users should at least have a place they can go and become educated about the dangers, the issues they should not be concerned with, and just in general, how to become more techno-savvy.

I recently stumbled across just the answer for these concerns. Eureka, someone else has had a similar observation. The Rutland Free Library and Department of Labor (DOL) have actually been doing digital literacy programming for quite some time, specifically working with computer novices to assist in their job search and application process, basic services such as unemployment and food stamp registration, as well as how to effectively use computers and the Internet.

The newest addition to this line of programming in the Rutland area comes from VTel (Vermont Telephone Company). They were recently awarded a $116 million dollar grant to build wireless broadband, fiber, and 4G infrastructures in Vermont. A portion of this grant was also dedicated to addressing gaps in digital literacy.

VTel contacted the Rutland Free Library to ask if they were interested in hosting some workshops. Quickly discovering that other key players in the area were also working to address these issues, such as DOL and the Rutland Regional Planning Commission (RRPC), a partnership was soon born. The Godnick Adult Center and the Housing Authority were also brought on board.

This coming Wednesday, June 6 from 10:30 am to noon, the Godnick Adult Center will be hosting a social networking workshop to see how sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can help you connect with friends and family. Other classes involve using the Internet for searches, free Internet tools, and one-on-one computer coaching.

These programs are not just happening in Rutland. Chester, Hartland, Pawlet, Saxtons River, Springfield, Wallingford, and Windsor are all additional locations where such programs are taking place.

Take advantage of the free programs in your area. For a complete list of programs, please visit or contact your local library. Ironically, you can also visit http://www.vermonttel.com/tech and click on the town you are interested in on the left.

This post originally appeared in the Monday, June 4th edition of the Rutland Herald. Visit the Herald online at http://www.rutlandherald.com.

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2012 in Community, Internet, Vermont

 

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medium overload

During my lunch break on Wednesday, I was browsing through my Facebook feed, texting a friend, and emailing some final details about the Creative Economy Alderman debate that was to take place that evening. I realized that the text I was typing, the email I was sending, and the Facebook post I was responding to were all to the same person.  I then sent him another text message stating, “Kind of sad that I just emailed you, am texting you, and we’re posting to each other on Facebook.  Add a phone call and a tweet, and this would really be crazy.” I am sure many of you reading this already think that this is crazy, but I was using these mediums wearing three different hats, if you will, and conveying very different messages. This still may seem a little intense, but we need to take a step back and think about how these mediums are best used.

In this scenario, I was using Facebook to share an online article with my friend, texting to talk personally about a pressing issue, and emailing to talk “official business” and pass on some documents. I therefore was using all of these mediums for different reasons.  If I tweeted to him and called him, the tweet would have been something relevant (reposting a tweet or article I thought he would find interesting, for example, or commenting on a personal joke, perhaps) and a phone call would have been in a desperate “I need to talk to you right now!” panic. All of the modes of communication certainly have their different and intended purposes, but how do you not go into medium overload?

I don’t know that I can answer that question from a personal standpoint. From a business standpoint, I think it is pretty straightforward. You have to think about who your audience is and how they are using these different mediums, if they are, which will then instruct you on how to best use them.

I went to Google Ad Planner and looked up the demographics for the people that land on either Facebook.com or Twitter.com (see below).

Facebook.com

Demographics of Facebook.com.

Demographics from Twitter.com.

This is all well and good, but a lot of people don’t ever need to log in, either because they mainly use one site or the other on their phone and therefore don’t visit the home page of the site, or their computer remembers their log in and keeps it current.  However, Google Ad Planner is a great tool; you should certainly check it out when you plan to buy ads online.

Using a social media communications dashboard, like Hootsuite (which I use) allows you to get demographic information from your different social media sites at once. Different insights from Hootsuite or the individual site allow you to even see the best time to post information on your pages. Knowing which tools are best for you to use takes research and time. You need to know your market and where your competitors are, as well.  You also need to keep in mind that this information changes all of the time. For example, I can not find any more recent information on the average age of the Facebook user than from 2010 when it was 38.  Of course, I could do some mathematical equations based on the percentages on the graphics above, but I am not a math wiz; I am a social media wiz.

My point being is that each mode of communication that you use and is available to you has a different purpose.  The way that you use these mediums, as well, can vary from business to business or person to person.  You need to build all modes of communication into your marketing plan; including everything from more traditional mailers and phone-a-thons, to social media and email blasts. And although there are more methods of communication and interaction now, please don’t go into media overload. Study your demographics and who your target customer is.  Find out where they are and place your self in front of them not only on social media platforms, but on websites they frequent, other businesses they are patrons of, and the public transportation they use. By knowing who your customer is and how they use their free time and work time,  you will be able to reach them more effectively and efficiently.

Before I go, in my research today, I found this great graphic from Advertising Age online. It delves into the demographics even further.

From Adage.com.


 
 

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social media & irene

On Monday, February 13th, representatives from the state’s Community Recovery Partnership, a group formed to support the efforts of long-term recovery efforts around the state post-Irene, visited Rutland.  The point of the conversation was to “reach out and listen, help identify short and long term needs, and develop a framework to help communities emerge from this disaster stronger and more resilient.”  They were posing questions to emergency management officials, volunteers, and survivors, asking what worked, what didn’t, and what needs to happen in the future.

Part of this conversation focused on the flow of communication and how social media played a part immediately following Irene. Not everyone agreed with this idea; actually, as many towns and survivors did not have power, and there for could not access the Internet or charge their phones in order to find out what was going on off of their “island.”  Although people directly affected by the storm may not have been able to access the Internet, I feel it was the main form of communication for volunteers and donors.  Let’s look at a few examples of groups that used social media immediately following Irene and their influence.

#VTResponse

A true grassroots effort, VTResponse formed the day after Irene. Sarah Waterman, Matt Sisto, and Katy Kent quickly sprang into action and did what they do best; build and manage websites. Sarah had disaster relief experience, having run efforts in Biloxi, MS post Hurricane Katrina.  She also focused her master’s research on disaster preparedness and response.

#VTResponse quickly became the go to source for volunteers, organizations, and donors. People needed help, and people wanted to give help.  It became a craigslist, of sorts, of people posting what they had, or what they needed, and when the two matched up, viola! people got what they needed.

They also blew up the twittersphere; their hashtag #VTResponse being very popular even on Monday, the day after the storm. From their website: “Social media has played a huge role in the relief effort. …real-time updates of the situation across the state have been prevalent. Even Governor Shumlin has continuously updated his Twitter account throughout the storm and aftermath. By Monday evening, vtresponse.com had over 8,000 visits to the site. Two days later the site had received over 5,000 emails and 95,000 page views.”

To this day, the #VTResponse crew is active, running their exchange site and giving out information.  Visit their site, vtresponse.wordpress.com or email them vtresponse@yahoo.com if you are interested in helping or need help.

Restoring Rutland  

Ok, I am a little biased about this one. The day after Irene hit, my friend Jim Sabataso and I went out for a drink to reflect and figure out what we could do. I wanted to help get food and supplies to the “island” communities. After spending some time searching online, I found the effort that Aaron Kraus was starting to bring fellow Vermonters home for the weekend to help clean up. I contacted him and we brought our two ideas together to form what has now become “Restoring Rutland.”

From the very beginning, Restoring Rutland has relied on social media to communicate. We posted what communities were looking for in terms of supplies, and people delivered.  If we need volunteers, we posted online, and people showed up and lent a hand.

During the weeks immediately following Irene, we had over 80,000 page views on our Facebook page. Our fans came from all ages, both genders, and several countries. We have a blog, as well, that still generates traffic and dally emails to us. We still use our Facebook and Twitter accounts daily to update our followers on what is happening in post-Irene recovery.

Last, but certainly not least, I Am Vermont Strong

I am so proud of my best friend, Lyz Tomsuden. The night after the storm, she created a simple, but beautiful graphic that went viral. Her boyfriend, Eric Mallette, loaded it onto Facebook and started tagging people in it. I was on my way to work on Tuesday morning and he called me up. “Can you tag some people in that graphic?” he asked. “Every Vermonter I can.” I replied. He then asked if I thought people would buy it on a shirt if he made a few and sold them at the Farmers’ Market that following Saturday. “Sure,” I said. “I think people would love it!” He was worried that not enough people would see it before Saturday. I think we all know what happened after that.

Again, without the original graphic going viral, IAVS would not have been able to raise over $70,000. We also wouldn’t have these classy license plates that are also raising money for the Vermont Foodbank and the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund.  Plus, they look snazzy on the front of your car. (She doesn’t know it yet, but I am going to ask Lyz to autograph mine and then I am going to frame it!)

Photo by Eric Mallette.

So, what’s the lesson learned?

I heard today that some people are “afraid” or “intimidated” by social media. I know there are some negative things that happen in social media; cyber bullying, privacy issues, just to name a couple. But I have certainly seen more good than bad happen on social media, and these are just a few examples of the good to come out of social media.

So I ask you, what are your reflections of Irene? What do you think worked? What didn’t work? What needs to happen in the future? What good things have you seen happen on social media? Either post comments below or email me at localsocialvt@gmail.com.  I would love to hear what you have to share!

 

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don’t underestimate the internet

The power of a single person on the Internet has become more and more apparent. Companies and governments are not safe from the people.  Something that social marketing consultants, like myself, will often remind their clients of is the difference between traditional marketing and social marketing. Traditional marketing is one-sided. You create your brand and present it to the public. You tell your consumer what you want to and can control your message. Social marketing has turned the tables into a multi-sided conversation. Although you can still create your branding and the image you want to project, ultimately your customers will respond to your message and want to interact with you. Positive interaction is then promoted, viewed, and passed on to friends. It is like trackable word of mouth. And how your company handles your negative interactions is also scrutinized and passed on.

The power that I am talking about is how much of a voice the Internet has given back to the public. Let’s jump around a bit and look at some of these phenomena.

SOPA and PIPA

As I spoke about a few weeks ago in my post, SOPA stands for the “Stop Online Piracy Act.” This was a proposal that was moving towards becoming a law at the federal level, supposedly about Internet piracy. The problem with this, was the wording was incredibly vague and appeared to severely restrict Internet usage.

On January 18, 2012, multiple sites, including the English version of Wikipedia, Reddit, Google, WordPress, and over 7,000 other websites participated in either a service blackout or made some sort of post or movement on their sites to raise awareness of the dangerous of these acts. Google also had a petition that gained over 7 million signatures. Boycotts happened of companies that supported the legislation, state representatives were contacted, and an offline rally was even held in New York City.

What happened next was amazing. Representatives and companies that had supported the bills the day before started backing off of them and slowly, the acts came off the table. This does not mean that the ideas behind legislation is completely gone, but it was an incredibly show of what people on the Internet could do together.

Komen vs. Planned Parenthood

On January 31, 2012, the Susan G. Komen organization, a breast-cancer organization in the United States, cut off its funding of Planned Parenthood. While many anti-abortion groups applauded the move, the public was not impressed. Women’s advocacy groups were fast to criticize the move, stating that the Komen organization was putting politics ahead of women’s health. The following 24 hours generated a lot of buzz around the Internet. $400,000 was given to Planned Parenthood from over 6,000 donors. New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, pledge a grant of $250,000 that matched a gift from the CEO of Bonanza Oil Co. They did this to replace the funding that was lost.

On February 3, 2012, just three days later, Komen’s board of directors issued a statement apologizing to the American public. They backed down from their previous statement, and instead said they would continue to fund exisiting grants, including Planned Parenthood. Four days later, on February 7, the director of Komen submitted her resignation, which went into effect immediately.

And these aren’t the only examples, and it is certainly not ONLY happening in the United States. In 2011, Tunsia decided it was time to boot out dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Social media and the Internet played an encouraging role in the success of their protests. Wikileaks released internal United States government that confirmed that the people in the US felt the same about Ben Eli as the people in Tunsia did. Hacker group Anonymous also supported the cause by not only defending Wikileaks, but hitting Tunsia websites, as well.

So how did the Internet get so much power? Why are governments, both democracies and other forms of governments alike, afraid of these Internet driven causes? Personally, I think that there are several factors that contribute to this fear. In democracies, the leaders, in order to stay in any sort of seat in power, need to listen to the citizens that voted them into power in the first place. I think that it is amazing that the “government for the people, by the people” is starting to circle around and bring some of the decision influences back down to the citizen level.  Also, I think the simple fact that “word of mouth” doesn’t take very long to spread any more. We can know what is happening in the world, including protests, news, causes, epidemics…in a matter of minutes.

To bring this to a local perspective, think back to the day Tropical Storm Irene hit the area. There were pictures of every corner on town, people were sharing what roads were destroyed and to avoid, and even seeking help out of their house.  I think back even further to 2007 when we had that terrible wind storm in April. Just 5 years ago, there were many fewer local people on Facebook and the same volume of sharing online didn’t happen.  After the wind passed, everyone was out in their cars surveying the damage. With Irene, you already had seen the damage as it was being caused right on Facebook.

Now, local businesses and organizations need to utilize the power of these mediums. Engage your followers. Post interesting and informative information. Support other businesses and organizations through your page. If you are posting interesting and informative information, fans or followers that find this information interesting will often repost or retweet the information, which will cause a ripple of effect, generating more followers and passing on your information to more people.

Continue to may attention to what’s happening online, no matter your career. Chances are, it does affect you, and your action may make all the difference. For your pages and posts, make them engaging and interesting. You never know the full power of how your content may take off.

(Research from wikipedia.org and motherjones.org.)

 

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