Sunday, January 31, 2010

Are digital technologies changing how our kids learn?

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I recently had a conversation with an English professor about the advent of new technology changing the way kids are learning basic skills. Her example was actually quite telling.

She talked to a mother in her community that is a very active, engaged parent. The mother explained to the English professor that her daughter, who was six-years-old, decided she no longer wanted to read books. The child was a very good reader, but only wanted to read books at or below her first grade reading level. She did not want to push beyond that level and begin reading more difficult material. The mother said the child became would only show any excitement about reading when the mother would read to her. Aside from that, the child could care less about reading.

The English professor asked the mother if she or her husband read books on their own, regardless of whether it was reading to their child or not. It turned out that the mother and father didn't read books for their own enjoyment. The mother would read news online and the father would read books through a Kindle. The English Professor had an interesting and highly plausible theory that if the parents read books themselves, the child would likely be more excited to read books as a result.

The English professor was drawing on the basic tenants of modeling. Children learn behaviors by observing and consequently modeling the people around them. In other words, "monkey see monkey do."

One question that arises from this example is whether we as a society think it is important for children to learn the way we did, by reading books and doing math by hand, or if we are comfortable adopting new teaching methods.

If we aren't comfortable adapting our teaching methods, should we be more conscious of our own behaviors around our children? Does our use of these digital technologies need to be minimized when teaching our children?
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Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Love Poem To My Google Reader

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With Valentines Day right around the corner, I thought I would get into the spirit. I sat down to think about the things I love the most with respect to social media, and sure enough Google Reader popped into my head. With that said, here is a love poem to my Google Reader:


Google Reader, Google Reader you begin my work day

You inform me, guide me and keep me in tune in every single way.

I can keep adding to you and you never get upset,

You send me to dozens of sites without breaking a sweat.

With you, it's not just listening and reading,

I can use your trends, notes and recommendations in a meeting.

Sure there are other readers out there,

But none come close to your ease or care.

I feel like you know me in every single way,

How else would you always know what to say?

Some might argue that I've created the list, so I shouldn't credit you,

But to them I say "My Google Readers thinks, loves, and feels too."

So just to summarize, I'll be loyal to you because you're the best,

But if a superior tool comes by I'll probably switch, just being honest.

Lets face it, you're great and helpful but really just a tool.

I'm always going to go with what helps me most because I ain't nobody's fool.






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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Seven Best Social Media Blogs Going Into 2010

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There are number of very good blogs across the blogosphere that discuss social media in a variety of ways. The following seven blogs have done a particularly good job of talking about the ins and outs of social media throughout the last year and have brought real, unique insight to their readers. I expect big things out of these bloggers over the next year.

The Brand Builder Blog

The Brand Builder Blog is an amazing resource for marketers, especially if looking into ROI and how it relates to social media. Olivier Blanchard, the voice behind The Brand Build Blog is a leader in the conversation about ROI, which becomes immediately obvious after reading one of his posts or watching one of his videos. What I really enjoy about Olivier is that he isn't afraid to call out the snake oil marketers who call themselves "social media gurus" and offer misguided notions of ROI.

Social Media Explorer

Jason Falls writes Social Media Explorer and does a great job of educating his readers about the newest trends in social media. Jason is always in the know when it comes to the important social media technologies and the important figures across the industry. The best part of Social Media Explorer is that when a reader comments on a post he/she is more than likely going to get a response from Jason. He truly embraces the social aspect of social media and makes sure his readers get his attention.

Logic + Emotion

This is a blog that had tremendous insight into the social media landscape. Logic + Emotion is David Armano's personal blog. David is a great teacher and incorporates some of the better social media visuals you can find. My favorite part of the blog is David's willingness to share his personal story and business evolution. Over the last few months, readers have been taken through the journey from Dachis Group to Edelman, but all while learning about social media.

Marketing Pilgrim

Though not all posts are about social media, many of the posts at Marketing Pilgrim either focus on or have elements of social media. The stories often stretch beyond to all internet marketing and advertising. The market insights and trends that are discussed on Marketing Pilgrim are unparalleled. I can always count on them to keep me informed of the demographic information for various platforms.

PR 2.0

Brian Solis, the voice of PR 2.0 and principle at FutureWorks does an amazing job at providing readers with real wisdom about the social media landscape and how it applies to marketing or PR. Its clear after reading one of Brian's posts that he has amazingly experience and knowledge of the industry. He can speak about small business, large brands, b2b, b2c and much more. The best part about the blog is its willingness to predict the future trends of social media. Brian isn't afraid to go out on a limb and state what he believes is the wave of the future.

Instigator Blog

You'll find more than just discussion about social media at the Instigator Blog. Ben Yoskovitz talks about start-ups, general business and of coarse social media. He is always on top of the newest technologies and practices.

Britopian

Michael Brito is one of the more experience social media professionals out there. He has an impressive resume and brings that experience to his posting. What I enjoy most about Britopian is the ability to not only discuss social media technologies, but the culture of social media and digital marketing.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

How did Twitter grow so quickly?

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Twitter has been on a meteoric rise since it's public inception in 2006. The minds behind Twitter, Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams and Biz Stone, created a social media product that capitalized on the growing world of quick conversations and link sharing across the web.

From February 2008 to February 2009 Twitter grew 1382% according to Nielsen. Tech Crunch then reported that Twitter returned 58.4 million visitors in September, 2009, many of which came from abroad.

Twitter successfully incorporated components of other growing social media tools, like social networking from Facebook and link sharing from Digg. Maybe most importantly was Twitter's ability to easily operate the social tool though mobile devices. The mobile nature of Twitter caught on quickly, with multiple mobile applications being created for users on different networks and with different types of phones. Though the tool itself was exciting and new, Twitter didn't take off until celebrities moved onto the platform.

With the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Shaquille O'Neal and of coarse Barack Obama, Twitter shot into the mainstream of America. CNN and Ashton Kutcher even had a race to see which account could procure one million followers first. Twitter has been integrated into other media platforms, even making its way into full-length segments on the late night television shows of Jimmy Fallon and Conan O'Brien.

It was estimated that over half a million new user accounts were created in the two days following Oprah's announcement that she was joining the micro-blogging platform. This was an increase from the 5,000-10,000 new account created every day prior to that.

There is no question that Twitter created a fantastic tool that appeals to the current culture of communications, but I sincerely doubt it would be as popular as it is today in such a short period had it not been for celebrity involvement.


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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Social Media in an Impoverished Mexican Town

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I just returned from a vacation in a Akumal, Mexico. Akumal is a small town about one hour south of Cancun that survives almost entirely on eco-tourism. It is a place of great scenic beauty, but tremendous societal shortcomings. The picturesque beaches, caves, rain forests and tropical fish can be overshadowed at times by the meager shacks, lack of sanitary water and high frequency of crime. This was most noticeable on the only main road between Akumal and Cancun. It was on this road that I passed one tourist destination after another all behind great walls that mirror the magnitude of Fenway's "Green Monster" and are designed to keep out the "dangerous locals." Tourists are reminded that there is danger by the teams of security guards armed with semi-automatic machine guns.

Maybe it was because I was re-reading "Groundswell" or maybe it was because I was curious about the digital capacity of a place that had such a sharp contrast bewteen beauty and squalor, but I asked some of the locals about their use of social media. I wasn't surprised to hear that social media is not a commonly used technology in Akumal. When I said the word "Facebook" to a group of four guys it was returned with two confused looks, one indifferent response and one "oooh Facebook, ci." I inquired what that meant and found out that the lone guy in the group that knew Facebook wasn't a member, but had seen adds where brands communicated that they were on the social media platform. They were more concerned about buying their groceries, fixing their palm roofs or paying for a new bicycle tire (their primary method of transporation) than the computer or mobile technological devices it would take to operate social media. There also wasn't much need to connect with the outside world. In Akumal, most communications happen face-to-face and there isn't much need to communicate with people that you wouldn't see in person.

This isn't a grand revelation, nor will it affect marketers in any way. Brands aren't marketing their products to people that can't afford them. This revelation did give me pause to ask "why am I so wrapped up in a technology that only a small percentage of the world can truly use the way it is meant to be used?" Sometimes, in the world of business we move so quickly that we don't stop to think about the big picture. I think it is important to put some perspective in what we do and think about if the people in a place like Akumal, Mexico care about the tasks we devote 50 plus hours a week to.
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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Social Media Wallflowers

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Dictionary.com has the following definitions for "wallflower:"
1. a person who, because of shyness, unpopularity, or lack of a partner, remains at the side at a party or dance.

2. any person, organization, etc., that remains on or has been forced to the sidelines of any activity: The firm was a wallflower in this year's bidding for government contracts.
We've all seen a wallflower at a party who's just a little too shy to interact with other people. They eventually muster up the courage to talk to somebody, they are approached by an individual who rescues them or they eventually leave the party while having had zero interactions.

Do wallflowers exist in the social media world, either individuals or brands? Can a social media wallflower survive?

In my experience, wallflowers absolutely exist in social media. I have seen a number of individuals on various platforms that produce their own content and want to become a prominent member of a community, but don't know how to begin. They wonder who they should talk to, how they should approach them, what language they should use. Those questions and many more keep people from reaching out and joining the party.

It is also my experience that individuals become social media wallflowers by almost by accident, while many brands are wallflowers by their own volition. Many brands decide it is better for their communication strategy to simply listen to online conversation about them, but not partake in any way.

Do you have any stories about social media wallflowers, either individuals or brands?
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How to evaluate a blog

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Being able to evaluate the influence and reach of a blog is an important skill for a communications professional. It is beneficial to know the possible affect of a blog publishing a mention about a brand, sharing a promotion or how many people can legitimately be reached through advertising on that blog.

Evaluating a blog can be broken down to three primary areas:
  • Traffic/Reach
  • Community Culture
  • Content
Traffic/Reach

The traffic and potential reach for a blog centers around metrics of unique visitors, visits and page views. Some blogs make this very easy by coding in a public site meter of some sort. Gathering metrics for blogs that don’t have this is a little bit more difficult, but there are tools than can give a fairly accurate estimate.

Site meter or stat counter icons on a blog will usually be in a side bar or bottom task bar and will look like this:


They offer all the cursory information needed, as well as the ability to dive deeper into who is visiting the blog. Site meter allows for analysis of visitors by:
  • geographic location
  • specific IP address
  • referring URLs
  • entry pages
  • out-clicks

If a blog doesn’t have a site meter of some kind, universal tracking tools will need to be employed to estimate traffic and reach:

Alexa Ranking:

The Alexa Ranking is derived from the millions upon millions of people using a toolbar with an Alexa component. Alexa tracks which sites these people visit and produces a ranking of all websites. This is one of the only universal ranking systems for sites. It is important to note that the lower the Alexa ranking the better. #1 would be the absolute best Alexa ranking.

Compete:

Compete uses a panel of over 2 million people across the United States. They combine internet activity and survey responses from the population used in their data. The population is comprised of a cross-section of Americans that represent the greatest variety of people possible. Compete uses this group to estimate site traffic using methodology that normalizes for lurking variables. Most sites, but not all register with Compete. If a site doesn’t register it simply means that it is not statistically relevant enough and therefore probably doesn’t generate a significant amount of traffic.

You can measure domains without creating an account, but in order to measure subdomains like xxxxx.blogspot.com, you will have to create a user name and password. Compete provides metrics for unique visitors, visits, an overall ranking and a graph that charts visitors by month.

Community Culture

Engagement numbers are integral to understanding community culture. In most industries, it is these numbers that are the true indicators of the power of a blog to influence its readers. Tools like Post Rank can show the number of engagement points for a site, including number of comments, number of times a link is shared on a social bookmarking site and link sharing on Twitter. This is a great tool to demonstrate the engagement on a blog’s community, but not all blogs register.

If the blog you are interested in measuring doesn’t register with Post Rank, you will have to collect this information manually. It is easy to gain an understanding of the average number of comments per post by averaging the number of comments per post for the last 10-20 posts, but be sure to look at the comment section to weed out comments by the blogger. In many cases you will find the blogger is actually the most active commenter and including their comments will skew the engagement numbers.

You can search a domain name or subdomain name within each social bookmarking site’s search box. The most pertinent social bookmarking sites include:

Content

Evaluating content is completely subjective. You will need to review the content based on your own criteria and goals. It is important to align yourself with blogs that publish content you would be willing to share and direct people towards, since you will likely link share with them on a semi-regular basis.

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Monday, January 4, 2010

Social Media Adoption in B2B Companies

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I just published a post on one of my company blogs about the adoption of social media by B2B companies. Feel free to check it out over at the Buzz Manager Blog.
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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Social media influence vs. traditional media influence

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It is widely believed that traditional media--radio, TV, newspapers, magazines--shape our conceptions of reality. The content discussed on news programs, advertisements and opinion articles can all influence our conclusions about society.

There have been a number of studies arguing that the media control doesn't necessarily influence our daily decisions, but it does shape our overall perceptions about society and culture. This includes studies by Eibach, Libby and Gilovich in 2003, Iyengar and Kinder in 1987, Gerbner, Gross, Morgan and Signorelli in 1986 and many more.

If you think about it, traditional media can't help but influence our perceptions of reality. Even if every media outlets on all platforms was completely objective they would still influence what people thought about by deciding which stories to discuss and publish.

I bring all of this up to make a point. As social media grows, traditional media's influence over people will continue to wain. The public now has a mass platform of communication where they can dictate the content and the direction of opinion. This is no more apparent than it is when you consider that Iran protests were the second most discussed topic by influential Twitter users in 2009.

We often say social media puts power back into the hands of the consumers, but social media goes beyond the consumer/brand relationship. Social media puts the power of perception and reality into every individual that wants to take the time to evaluate it.
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Who? Why?

Social media often becomes a rat race. Who has the newest technology? Who has the most friends or followers? This blog is designed to slow it down a little and remind people that at its core, social media is about relationships and conversations.

Jake Rosen
Managing Supervisor, Fleishman-Hillard
jake.a.rosen@gmail.com

The content on this site reflects my own opinions and not necessarily those of my employer.

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