Category Archives: mobile communication

Looking Ahead

We have now come to the final week of my course, COM 6630 – Strategic Communication & Emerging Media.  And like all good things, it must come to an end.  It is hard to believe that nine weeks have already passed, but I have enjoyed reading and blogging about the various topics covered in this course.  By far my favorite topics covered were mobile communication and social media.  Media has changed so much so that not only should we consider the idea to push information out “mobile first,” but pushing it out to “social media first.”  I have seen (and read) more news articles because they were pushed out to social media before they were widely published either on their site or through a mobile app notification system.  To me newspapers are still “king,” and the industry is learning to adapt with the changing times.

I am still amazed at how far we have progressed technologically.  After viewing a string of commercials from an AT&T ad campaign from 1993-1994, it is a little scary to see how much of what was predicted in their commercials is reality today–20 years down the road.  We now have video conferencing from computers and portable devices, phones on our wrists (smart watch), RFIDs that can scan an entire set of items at the same time, and self checkout machines.  If AT&T were to recreate this campaign “You Will” today, I wonder what types of technology they would include that would predict what is to come in our future.  We have already reached the stage where computers on fit on eye glasses or doors can be unlocked with the wave of a card.  I have embedded this video below and leave you with one question to ponder while viewing: where do you think we are headed next?


I have enjoyed this exercise of actively blogging, but I am not sure how often I will continue to post.  I hope all that have visited my blog over the past nine weeks have enjoyed reading about my thoughts on topics related to the field of strategic communication and emerging media.  I have no idea where we are headed, but I am very glad I have a front row seat to watch what the future has in store.

Cheers.

Social Media: Changing the Way We Learn & Communicate

Social media.  Two words when put together bring a whole new meaning to communication.  With social media tools and skills, companies, businesses, and organizations are not the only ones benefiting from this form of communicating and networking. Individuals are also able to connect with other individuals to share ideas, share information, or to even market themselves.  These tools, for instance Facebook and Twitter, have changed the way we communicate with each other and the world.  Through these tools, our doors are open far past our local community making the global community our local community.  A single tweet can be read instantaneously from anywhere around the world. A powerful tool for sharing information is now in the palm of our hands.

This week we focused on social media and what it means for communication professionals. With the right amount of training, communication professionals can move past the potential “nightmare” to effectively market themselves and their companies. With social media, businesses are able to connect directly with their consumers. This allows them to communicate their products and services through more than just advertisements and television commercials. Because of the social aspect of these tools, many leaders are fearful of using social media because of potential mistakes, being overwhelmed by information, and the possibility of losing control (Nisen, 2013). However, businesses need to equip their leaders with the skills and knowledge of these tools. Having individuals who are literate in social media can prevent businesses from missing out on important information being shared about their business, and most importantly, from missing out on the communication opportunities these tools provide.

The first thing businesses need to do is create a social media mission or strategy. When creating a social media mission, businesses need to evaluate which direction they want to take with their social media marketing. In his article “Steal these 3 social marketing tricks from top brands,” Todd Wasserman states there are three strategies to follow: passion brands, personal brands, and transparent brands. What do each of these mean?

Passion Brands: Connect with individuals via their passions and/or interests.
Personal Brands: Entertain individuals with their engaging personality.
Transparent Brands: Provide individuals with interesting or important information.

Business can choose one to follow or move through each of them. However, the most important thing for a business to remember is to stay true to itself by identifying what it’s best at and what it can offer its consumers. Following one of these three strategies can only help businesses clarify their social media strategy. Another thing for businesses to consider is how they are using the technology to form connections with consumers. No matter the approach, businesses need to define clear objectives and policies for measuring and utilizing these social technologies.

As for individuals, social media is opening up new doors for networking and information sharing. In Clay Shirky’s TED Talk “How social media can make history,” he noted that one of the great things about social media is that it is turning consumers into producers.  We, as consumers, have the ability not only to read content that is created for us, but we can also be the ones to create it.  When news events happen, citizens can now become reporters, or what he calls “citizen reports” and report on what is happening in real time even before news outlets catch the story. This was also highlighted in Erik Hersman’s TED Talk “Reporting crisis via texting.” With a mobile phone, anyone can send information and reports of what is happening around their environment.

Twitter has become one of the more dynamic social media sites.  In just 140 characters, anyone can tweet short informative messages or connect with like-minded people for networking or fun.  For me, one of the more creative uses of this online social media tool is for professional development and here’s why. I currently work in the field of library and information science. When Twitter debuted in 2006, librarians quickly flocked to this new tool to learn more about the platform and what exactly the site offered its users. Since then, librarians from all over the world have used Twitter to engage with each other and leverage it as a professional development tool. One of the main ways is by utilizing hashtags. Tweeting about library conferences has been a major draw to using Twitter. Once a hashtag is created, attendees (and even non-attendees) are encouraged to tweet about the conference.  Not only are participants archiving events from the conference, but also providing a way for those unable to attend to get an overview of what happened during the conference. Search the hashtag “#alaac14” to see some of the conversations generated about the upcoming American Library Association Conference.  Another popular use of Twitter by librarians has been Twitter chats. Every Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. CT anyone can participate in “#libchat.” A librarian moderates this chat and poses a number of questions to participants. Any participant who wishes to respond lists the question they are responding to along with the hashtag (ex. Q1. [person’s response] #libchat). This chat has become wildly popular in the library field, so much so that the chat celebrated its third birthday this past March! For those of us that can’t afford to attend a lot of professional development sessions, Twitter helps to bridge that gap and provide professional development opportunities straight to the palm of your hands.

As for other uses of social media, one of the questions we addressed during class this week pertained to social media in the classroom. Facebook has become a great tool for reconnecting with family and old friends, but what about in the classroom? I recall a few years ago a friend of mine telling me he and his classmates created a Facebook group dedicated to one of their classes—one of the hardest ones in their program. They used the group as an online study group to ask each other questions, clarify assignments, share notes, or arrange tutoring sessions within the group. Once the teacher heard about the group, they joined the group, too. This group allowed the students in the class an informal forum for asking questions they may have been afraid to ask during class or had forgotten while in class. What do you think about bringing Facebook into the classroom?

Social media has definitely changed the way we communicate and the way we learn. There are so many opportunities offered through these resources, but how do we know which one is the proper channel to use.  As future communication strategists, it will be our job to help our current or future employers determine which platform to choose and which strategy will be the best to follow to help the business achieve their social marketing goals. These tools will continue to change the way we look at information, and I am looking forward to what the future holds.

 


Sources:

Hersman, E. (2009 February). Reporting crisis via texting. TED. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/erik_hersman_on_reporting_crisis_via_texting.

Nisen, M. (2013, February 5). Social media has changed what it means to be a leader. Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/how-leaders-can-understand-social-media-2013-2.

NV Binder. (2013, August 23). You’re invited to #libchat. Retrieved from http://nvbinder.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/youre-invited-to-libchat/.

Shirky, C. (2009, June). How social media can make history. TED. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/clay_shirky_how_cellphones_twitter_facebook_can_make_history.

Wasserman, T. (2013, February 22). Steal three social marketing tricks from top brands. Mashable. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2013/02/22/social-media-marketing-strategy/.

Wilson, H.J., Guinan, PJ, Parise, S., & Weinberg, B.D. (2011, July-August). “What’s your social media strategy?” Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://www.bc.edu/content/dam/files/centers/cwf/rt/pdf/SocialMediaHBRJuly2011.pdf.

Mobile Communication

Welcome back to a new installment! This week our focus was placed on mobile communication, strategic communication, and mobile technologies. The articles we read and the TED talks we watched discussed different points of view of the effect of mobile technology on communication.

I, for one, have slowly become more and more connected to my smartphone and I know I am not alone in this statement. In his TED Talk “The Anthropology of Mobile Phones,” Jan Chipchase discusses the research he is conducting on human behavior. Traveling around the world, he asks people the question “what do you carry?” The three most common answers he receives are: keys, money, and a mobile phone (if the person owns one). Why these three things, you ask? Because these items equal survival. Keys = shelter; money = sustenance; and mobile phones = a recovery tool. Individuals are able to use a mobile phone most anywhere and at any time to communicate information or needs, hence the reason it is one of the most commonly carried items.

I have to agree that I rarely leave my house without my keys, money (debit/credit card), or my iPhone. I even decided a few years ago to forgo having a land line to rely solely on my mobile phone. By cutting out the land line, I would save money plus the added bonus of never missing a call (although, this can be a drawback). A mobile phone allows me to stay connected wherever I go without the worry of having to find a phone. I can receive phone calls and text messages, I can check my email, check in with my social networking sites, take pictures, play games, and surf the mobile web. All of this I am able to do with a device that is smaller than my hand and weighs less than 5 ounces! Looking back thirteen years ago to my first mobile phone, I would have never have dreamed that all of these features would be a possibility.

Because so many people are purchasing smartphones or tablets, the need for these devices to provide information and entertainment is even more apparent today. The mobile devices are not going away anytime soon, so businesses are developing mobile web and/or mobile applications to promote their services or to disseminate information. Almost every news media outlet either has a downloadable app or a social media account that can be used to communicate with its audience. Users are able to get real-time updates via their smartphones instead of waiting until they are in front of a computer or television. When a major news event occurs, I can receive updates from my CNN or WSFA apps or if inclement weather is on its way (like tonight), I receive alerts from my Weather Channel app. I can pull my phone out of my pocket and from there I can go directly to the story or video to find out more information.

Some businesses and companies are even including promotional material in their apps that allow consumers to benefit from downloading and using their apps. The article “If You Love Something, Let it Go Mobile: Mobile Marketing and Mobile Social Media 4×4” discusses different forms of mobile social media, a type of mobile marketing that allows the creation and exchange of user-generated content (2012). Companies are able to develop applications that are able to conduct market research, communicate with users, offer sales and promotions, and develop relationships and loyalty programs with their users. Four points that were made in the article as advice to companies about mobile social media are to integrate (into the lives of users), individualize (take into account a user’s preferences), involve (by engaging in conversation), and initiate (allowing user-generated content). One of the major players that integrates all of these features is the application, Foursquare. The app allows users to “check-in” to different places, where they can receive points or badges or even become a “Mayor” of that location after so many check-ins. By checking in to places, users can receive special promotions or offers, which include discounts and freebies offered by that business.

After reading this article, I started to think about other apps that offered similar functions and I thought of an app that was introduced to me several months ago called Shopkick. After downloading the app, users create a log in with their Facebook or Google+ accounts immediately making the app social. Once the user logs in, they can start earning “kicks” (kicks = points) by visiting certain stores or performing certain tasks. Users open the app when they reach a particular store listed on the app and earn kicks by just walking through the door. The app then allows users to perform a “scavenger hunt” for kicks by scanning certain items. After users build up a certain amount of kicks they can be redeemed for gift cards or other items. One of the features of the app are “Editor’s books,” which promotes products that are available at particular stores bringing the company to the user. Through the app, users get rewards, discounts or gift cards and businesses receive increased foot traffic from the app drawing users into their stores. One downside is that businesses are tracking your spending and shopping habits.

What about individuals living in Developing Countries? We tend to take for granted all of these options we are afforded, most of which is limited in Developing Countries. So the question posed is, “how do we bridge this digital divide?” In the article “The Mobile Web to Bridge the Digital Divide?,” author Stéphane Boyera discusses different directions that can be taken to help people in rural and under-privileged communities improve their life and support community development by providing individuals access to mobile technologies. He believes that by providing access to mobile technologies via SMS, voice, or web it would allow individuals greater access to information. This would help connect these individuals to the world outside of their community.

The world is definitely going mobile, but the discussion in the field of communications is whether business should go “mobile only” or “mobile first” or an additional way posed by Henry Blodget in “‘Mobile First’ is a Bad Strategy” is “mobile too.” For many countries, smartphone purchases have skyrocketed past desktop and laptop computer sales. However, we still live in a multi-screen world where people are accessing information multiple ways. We are definitely headed in a more mobile direction, but we haven’t completely let go of our desktop world.

Sources:
Blodget, H. (2012, December 22). AND THE SURVEY SAYS… “Mobile First” Is A Dumb Strategy. Business Insider. Retrieved April 6, 2014, from http://www.businessinsider.com/survey-mobile-first-bad-strategy-2012-12

Boyera, S. (2006). The mobile web to bridge the digital divide?. W3. Retrieved April 2, 2014, from http://www.w3.org/2006/12/digital_divide/IST-africa-final.pdf

Chipchase, J. (2007). The anthropology of mobile phones. TED. Retrieved April 2, 2014, from http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CC4QtwIwAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ted.com%2Ftalks%2Fjan_chipchase_on_our_mobile_phones&ei=D_RBU4T7KO_NsQSD6IGgBA&usg=AFQjCNGNnAd6mC3G1ZSX4DTU-JklvayMmg&sig2=PrLTDK-KHmmehjsMGnoCxA&bvm=bv.64125504,d.cWc

Kaplan, A. M. (2011). If You Love Something, Let It Go Mobile: Mobile Marketing And Mobile Social Media 4×4. Business Horizons, 55, 129-139.