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University of Connecticut men’s and women’s basketball teams win 2014 NCAA Finals

The UConn men’s and women’s basketball teams secured the 2014 NCAA Championship titles. Every year, around the month of March, the largest national men’s and women’s basketball tournament is held. The tournament is sponsored by the NCAA and is commonly referred to as “March Madness.” This year, both the men’s and women’s basketball teams from the University of Connecticut won the NCAA Championship Games, making UConn the center for college basketball.

Chatting it Up

Recently, I participated in my first live Twitter chat. The topic of the chat was blogging, hosted by a man named Mack Collier. Collier hosts these live Twitter chats every Sunday night at 9pm ET. To access the live chat, I used the hashtag #blogchat. The topic of the March 2nd chat was “Sharing your Expertise without being ‘The Expert.'” This topic interested me because I am a novice at blogging (after all, this is my first blog). I was hoping to gain some insights from PR and HR professionals, and surprisingly, I received more feedback than I originally expected.

I began the chat by stating that I would be a participant in the event.

I was surprised that other participants warmly welcomed me. Before I posted in the chat, I looked at the tweets posted by Collier and how participants responded to them. Then, I posted my own questions in attempt to engage others.

Once people responded to my tweets, I felt comfortable sharing my feedback on the tweets they were posting and becoming more engaged in the conversation.

I made some of my own comments on the topic of being an ‘expert’ blogger. Next, I reached out to Collier and asked for his professional advice on blogging. I noticed a woman, Kerry O’Shea Gorgone, who was also participating in the #blogchat, was responding to several tweets of mine. She seemed to be a credible career professional, so I tweeted at her asking how to gain a professional following on social media networks.

Twitter is an amazing vehicle to reach people directly and instantaneously… I found myself constantly refreshing my page to see who answered my tweets and who I wanted to engage. The chat lasted about an hour. After it ended, I sent out a tweet thanking participants for making my first live chatting experience memorable.

Reflecting on this experience, I have some of my own tips to give to you about tweeting during a live chat:

  • Do your background research before beginning that chat
  • Make a list of some interesting questions that you would like to ask others during the event
  • Share your own opinion on the topic that’s being discussed
  • Respond to other participants
  • Acknowledge people who reply to your tweets

To expand on my last point, favor the responses of people who answered your questions, or reply back to them. If you notice that people have been responding consistently to your questions, it’s nice to reach back out to them.

In addition, I wanted to share two of my favorite tweets with you from others who posted during the chat. I particularly liked the following tweets because they incorporated humor. The participants were able to touch on the topic of  ‘expert’ blogging, while using humor to lighten up the mood of the chat.

Overall, I enjoyed my live chatting experience and look forward to participating in another. The chat is fast-paced, so the discussion is fluid. People are engaging and enjoy using their own expertise to help answer your questions, or just simply connect with you. People even offered to look over my blog and share it with others! This was a new and positive experience for me, and one that I highly recommend to you. Twitter was used to network, engage, and have a discussion… After all, that is how all social media sites are meant to be utilized.

Making the Message Unique

Brian Solis, author of blog Brian Solis, writes about engaging what is referred to as “Generation C” in his post titled “4 Steps to Connecting with-and Engaging-Generation C.” Solis states that “Generation C” refers to empowered, connected consumers. These consumers expect four things when connecting with companies:

  • Comfort with Digital Exhibitionists
  • Companies understanding of each customer
  • Finding friends and gaining trust
  • Developing a new, dynamic customer journey

Solis argues that Generation C is focused on engagement and inter-connectivity. People are using various forms of social media to stay connected with each other and share information. This practice of inter-connectivity can be beneficial for companies so that they can see what consumers think, feel, their daily activities, and how they are responding to various products that are on the market.

I agree with the points Solis states within his post. We are all consumers, and if you’re using various forms of social media to keep in touch with the communities around you, then you’re a part of Generation C also. Social media is a great way to both market and locate products. Taking it further, social media sites let us praise or trash talk a product. We are able to build connections with other consumers and expand our circles through our engagement on these sites.

In addition to the four expectations consumers have of companies on social media sites, I expect to learn something besides information about a product. For example, if I’m following the hair company L’Oreal on Twitter, I want tips on how to style my hair, instructions on how to create intricate hair designs, and knowledge of the ways in which celebrities are currently styling their hair. I want to follow a site that is creative and gives me new ideas.

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If I want basic information about a product that is on the shelf of a store, I will go to the store and look at the product. As a consumer, I want more. I want something unique. I want a company to inspire me to try something new and make me think of a product in a new way.

Photo Credit: Tetra Pak via Compfight cc

Impact of Social Media

I’m sure you’re aware of the rise of social media in the process of delivering news… I mean, after all, you’re reading this blog. Social media is convenient. It satisfies our desire for immediacy. It’s an up and coming tool in networking, marketing, PR, HR, and almost every department we can think of. With this new turn to social media for news and information, we must consider the impact and implications it has on our culture.

I use Twitter and Instagram on a daily basis. I use my Instagram to keep up with my friends and family. I use Twitter for more news purposes. I follow companies like CNN and MSNBC. I’ll still tweet personal things and follow my friends, but many times I’m able to get links to news stories from friends, or directly from media companies. According to The Economist, people who were once considered “the audience” of news, are becoming the reporters themselves. Social media sites have done away with editors and allow anyone and everyone to share news from around the world. As many of you know, Twitter has a retweet button. Therefore, I can receive information from people that my friends follow, whom I have no personal connection with.

Social media sites are also a great forum for marketing and PR agents. By using social media sites, companies are able to attract attention to their products and reach consumers directly. In chapter 2 of his book The New Rules of Marketing & PR, David Meerman Scott praises Gerald Vroomen, co founder of Cervelo and Open Cycles (bicycle companies), on his use of the web to educate, entertain, and interact with consumers. I recommend you take a look at his Cervelo website to better understand the ways in which Vroomen is making his company relevant in the social media space. Vroomen uses content to drive action and utilizes programs to reach consumers and interact with them directly.

On the other end of the spectrum, critics Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times and Richard Gingras, Google’s head of news products, caution users’ reliance on social media. In Kristof’s article, “The Daily Me,” he says that people want information that confirms their prejudices. I agree with this statement. Why would I go out of my way to search for news from a reporter that I don’t particularly relate to?

Gingras goes further and claims that large organizations are monopolizing media. Social media drives commercial enterprise. Now, on my Instagram, I receive adds in between the pictures of the people I follow. It’s unnecessary. It’s impossible to escape advertisements.

Despite these cautious views on social media, I think social media is our future. Smart companies have realized the usefulness of social media in informing consumers and selling products. I can receive all of the news I want instantaneously. For example… I’m not personally interested in Justin Bieber, but through Twitter, I know he was arrested this week. What does that say about the use of social media?