Nike is a brand and so is my mom

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My mother may not realize it, but her Facebook profile — what she posts, what she likes and what she shares — is part of her “personal brand.” Through this week’s readings, I’ve learned her lack of other social accounts also says something about her brand.

If she were a potential job candidate, apparently some hiring departments may equate her not having a Twitter or LinkedIn account as having something to hide. Since I know her personally, I know this is not the case.

It makes sense that recruiters are paying more attention to a candidate’s social accounts. Let’s be honest: When we want to know more about someone we haven’t yet met in person (like a friend’s boyfriend), we social-stalk them. We do the same thing with companies we patronize or want to patronize. If I look up a company and find they have little to no social media presence, I see them as not being ahead of the curve, and apparently, I’m not alone. But I did not think that individuals like my mom could be viewed in the same way.

It is interesting — and kind of scary — that your social influence, or your “Klout,” will be carrying more weight in the real world and your paper resume will go the way of the dinosaurs and typewriters. Where does this practice leave candidates of my mother’s generation: Baby boomers who have a lot to offer and may not even know that they were rejected because they didn’t have a Google+ account?

But it is important that companies and individuals start somewhere, which is what Mom has done with her Facebook account: find a venue. She has an updated profile and she interacts in the community she’s chosen, following the Law of Accessibility and the Law of Acknowledgement, albeit on a smaller scale.

Unlike Generation Y, which grew up constantly adapting to new methods of interaction, some Baby Boomers may be psyched out by social media because it is seen as scary “technology” rather than what it is: a tool for people to connect with people (and businesses, who happen to be run by people as well).

Listening up on Twitter
Speaking of businesses run by people, here are two that are listening to customers on Twitter and in turn making the customers the stars of their ads.

With its #PretzelLoveSongs campaign, Wendy’s is connecting with a core function of being human: needing to eat and wanting to talk about the food you’ve just eaten.

In turn, the hamburger chain featured the best responses in a string of videos featuring their Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger, the last of which featured 98 degrees singer Nick Lachey.

Also jumping on the hashtag bandwagon is Honda, reaching out to potential customers who are using hashtags like #stupidcar and using the opportunity to highlight its Summer Clearance Event.

But by using or creating a hashtag, businesses could end up wading through unproductive responses like this one:

hashtagtakeover

What do you think? Is hashtag marketing a good idea or should it be used with caution?

Social media beyond my wildest dreams

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621575_10101255293832941_1168116338_oGreetings classmates and the World Wide Web!

If you would have told me when I was a high school newspaper intern 10 years ago that I would be embarking on a mass communications masters program that concentrates on social media, I would have said “what’s social media?”

As I went on to study magazine journalism at the University of South Florida, I couldn’t have imagined that our phones would become “smart” and would be able to bring us information anywhere, anytime – and in some cases, even push information to us through app alerts and breaking news texts. I surely couldn’t have imagined that I would one day be a web producer at a television station and pushing news alerts would become part of my regular job duties.

Sharing and gathering information has changed and it’s important to roll with those changes to stay relevant. Through working for news organizations over the past five-plus years, I have seen how Twitter and Facebook can be used for “crowd sourcing,” whether that’s using the platforms to find sources for stories or simply asking readers/viewers what they think about a certain story. I have also found that social media also allows people to give instant feedback on what we’re doing and even become our eyes and ears in the community, sending in pictures and messages so we can check out possible breaking news.

For me personally, social media has become a good way to stay in touch. The world is becoming more spread out and people want to feel connected, even when they are not physically close to each other. I have friends and family in Wisconsin, England and Taiwan (shout out to my friend Annie Liao at Yahoo!), but thanks to social media, specifically Facebook, I am able to be part of their day through their status updates. Likewise, I’m able to give them a glimpse into my day through my postings.

I do believe that social media is a powerful tool, but I think there is such a thing as “over sharing.” What do you think? For example, if I’m fighting with my husband, I don’t Tweet  or Facebook about it. Since I use my social accounts as kind of a personal/professional hybrid, I ask myself the question, “Am I going to be ashamed later on that I shared this?” Once in a great while, I do use my social networks for “venting,” but I find that I post something more productive if I sleep on it rather than posting in the heat of the moment.

As my stepdad tells me, “you can always improve,” so that is my thought process in entering this degree program. Am I doing pretty good with social media in my professional/personal life? Could I do a better job? Of course. I’ve placed a bet on myself and my future through this huge undertaking of continuing my studies. But I’ve done it knowing I will come out the other side a better person professionally and personally.