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Final reflections

In this portfolio, I provided an overview of the critical and theoretical analysis of social media.

Although at the beginning I was a little sceptical about how culture and practice could have a real connection, I changed my mind while I was experimenting. An example is the amount of social capital and how it is important: while the Facebook and Twitter pages were already active with several followers and likes (and therefore with a social capital already well established), the Instagram account, created only a few weeks ago, does not have a large amount and consequently I got to see (by google analytics) that Facebook and Twitter dragged more audience on the website, while Instagram did not. In order to increase the social capital on the account, we necessarily need to: use relatable hashtags making sure to use the hashtag with a large following, and interact more following people back, commenting their work to build stronger relationships.

Overall the module offered me the opportunity to learn a lot, it was really valuable for my professional development. In fact, I am going to use all the learning for a project I will start next year with my partner as “Social Media Manager” for his account.

 

 

#lovebournville Social Media Campaign

On Tuesday 28th November, we planned with our tutor a visit to Bournville Village. We spent the day photographing and exploring the area, using the hashtag #lovebournville on social media.

CONTEXT

Before the visit we created a very short article “Exploring Beautiful Bournville” to let the residents know what we’re doing and asking them to join in too, either by posting their own content to social media, using the same hashtag, or by suggesting which of Bournville’s place that they taught was worth to be visited. The aim was to draw as much attention as we could as well as get people involved.

THE CAMPAIGN

As part of our #lovebournville campaign, we met residents and small businesses owners. We managed to generate a lot of content across all three platforms: a group of us worked on the “live” content (such as the Instagram story), while other kept the content and published them in the following few days. We thought was a better idea to spread them for two main reasons: allow us to run the campaign for more than one day, and avoid to “overwhelm” our audience with a huge amount of content.

 

THE RESULTS

After 72 hours, the contents generated had impressive results over all three platforms, however, considering the huge quantity of content created, I am going to share below only the general overview of the Facebook posts to give you a general idea.

Bournville campaign

In the screenshot above there is all the data from the 28th November to the 1st December. The yellow shows the quantity reached, the purple shows the post clicks and the magenta show the overall reactions, comment and shares. I personally choose to see the data in this way but the Facebook insight tools allow to see much more (e.g. engagement rate, non-fans reached).

As you can see all the posts published during the campaign did quite well, but we had an “outstanding” one that had 4.7K Reach and over 850 Post clicks.

 

Reflection

Although it wasn’t a factor that we thought through at the time of our visit, I wonder if the period we ran the campaign (just before Christmas) played a part in its success. I truly believe it was a great advantage, considering the period as one of the most exciting of the year.

Overall the experiment proved that the right combination of content, along with the right picture, can increase your impressions, reach and community engagement.  I would be curious to run another campaign in January and see what may be the differences and confirm what I affirmed above.

SEO vs SMO

 

Experimenting the best ways to drive traffic to the website bournvillevillage.com for over two weeks, I thought at this stage to drop a blog post comparing and highlighting the differences between SEO and SMO. These two terms – for bloggers and webmasters – have gotten very popular these days and are both utilised to increase the number of visitors to a website.

 

What is SEO?

The term SEO stands for “search engine optimization” and can be described as a number of different methods and strategies that aim to improve the ranking of a website in a search engine (such as Google or Yahoo): most people who use search engines do not click through pages, they usually limit themselves to the first page. SEO, taking into consideration how search engines work, what is the targeted audience of the search engine, what people search for, selects and uses specific keywords, optimizing content and is all evaluated via an algorithm.

What is SMO?

The term SMO stands for “social media optimization”, although is usually considered as a part of SEO is a completely different task: SMO drives traffic to your website via interactive online communities. This includes Social Media (such as Facebook, Twitter o Instagram) and also blogs, forums or any kind of web-based community. Utilising SMO on a website essentially means that the content on it should be optimized ad made easily shareable on social media. This may be achieved by incorporating social media buttons, widgets, etc.

 Which one should we choose?

SEO, allowing your site to remain high in search engine results, involves a strategic “self-promotion” of it, being mostly about one-way interaction; on the other hand, SMO is about two-way interactions, let your existing fans and “promoting” for you using the power of social shares and allows you to connect with audience on a personal level.

However, an important factor for both SEO and SMO is quality content: engaging, informative, original content is valued both by search engines and real-life audience.

 

It is hard for me defining which one may be more efficient. Indeed, they support one another. Whether you choose to focus on your overall SEO campaign results or to focus more on SMO may depend on your current goals (SEO increases your search engine rankings and brings you more success in the long run while SMO can bring you a large influx of audience in a short span) but both of them – co-existing –  play a major role in your website visibility.

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References:

Dahl, S. (2015) Social media marketing: theories & applications. Los Angeles: Sage publications.

Damian, R. (2014) Understanding digital marketing: marketing strategies for engaging the digital generation 3rd edition. London: KoganPage

Community management for Bourneville News

When considering Social Media audience, we should consider that it is more a community than an audience: people are not just receiving a message, but they are also interacting, providing feedback, sharing interest and passions and when all these actions lead to a collective learning we could define them Communities of Practice. (Lave & Wenger 1991)

Managing Social Media platforms, acting as “virtual community managers” it is not always easy and you should always try out innovative approaches to grow your community and make them interactive.

A sad news is that in most online communities we find a huge participation inequality: only 1% of the community is a real contributor, while the 90% of users are lurkers – they just observe or read but they are not participating.

Can we change it? Unfortunately, not.

The first step to dealing with participation inequality is to recognize that it will always be with us.” (Jakob Nielsen, 2007)

BOURNVILLE INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT

We’ve been managing Bournville News Social Media platforms for few weeks: analysing the behaviour of the community, posting content that may drag attention and generate more interactions.

Considering the popularity of Instagram, it was “kind of a shame” that bournvillevillage.com  didn’t have an account, so when we thought how to support the development of the online community the first step was the creation of a Bourneville News Instagram account linked to the –already existing – Facebook page.

 

 

EXPERIMENTING HASHTAGS

A hashtag is a word preceded by the symbol “#” which, in Social Media platforms, is a “code” that allows web search engines to find messages and, in the case of Instagram, pictures.

For instance, if you type #love or #hate in one of your Instagram pictures, any user anywhere in the world looking for “love” or “hate” will easily find your picture and others user’s pictures using the same #keyword.

Instagram hashtags are an essential tool to increase likes and gain followers, but you also need to know how to use them efficiently: the quantity advised is more than 10 per post but most importantly it is a must add them in the same moment you post a picture. Posting the first few pictures in Bournville News we didn’t add any hashtag – we just added them after a week time –. I made a note of how many likes had the pictures before and then see if anything changed afterwards.

RESULTS

The results were not so great: except for the Cotteridge Park that had +11 likes, the quantity of like and comments was almost the same for all the post.

Insta Hashtag

We then carried on posting other pictures (this time adding hashtags straight away) and see that the likes were increasing.

 

REFLECTION

It has been very exciting starting from scratch (with zero followers) and seeing the page progresses step by step, looking at the insights, experimenting different hashtag trying to understand which one may be more effective and which one is not. So far, I’m intrigued in seeing how our new Instagram is growing, but I would like to see more and so I will keep exploring different tools that the platform can offer in order to make it more interactive and engaging: my challenge is to reduce the percentage of lurkers!

 

 

 

References

Smith, M. K. (2003, 2009) ‘Jean Lave, Etienne Wenger and communities of practice’, The encyclopedia of informal educationwww.infed.org/biblio/communities_of_practice.htm.

https://www.nngroup.com/articles/participation-inequality/

Social Media Strategy for Bournville News

In the second part of the module (Social Media as Practice), I worked – with the rest of the team – on the creation of a Social Media strategy, experimenting through the different channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and generating new stories, contents, videos in order to drive more traffic to the bournvillevillage.com website.

We used the online platform slack.com to communicate, share ideas, and update data analysis.

 

CONTEXT

The project started the second week of November, a time when most people are excited about Christmas.

The Twitter account and Facebook page were well established with respectively 3615 followers and 1973 likes. They both didn’t have any recent content or post and so not really engaging. However, analysing the platforms insights tools, helped me to get to know my audience.

The Instagram page didn’t exist.

As a consequence of all these elements, the website didn’t have much traffic.

 

LET’S GET STARTED!

Creating a strategy requires generally three steps: aims –  statements in line with certain set goals; objectives – activities that sustain the aims and help meet the outcome; and deliverables –  actions resourced, repeated and measured.

The measurement helps to analyse, evaluate and, eventually repeat or make amendments trying out innovative approaches.

 

Social Media Strategy

 

We then started drafting our Social Media Strategy considering these three steps:

  • Aims:

Increase traffic on bournville.com through Social Media content

Make content creation easier by community engagement

  • Objectives:

Improve SEO through social media of targeted articles

Create a linked Instagram account and grow audience/community

  • Deliverables:

Create articles related to Christmas theme

Find articles worth revisiting

Change headlines to questions

Plan a visit to Bournville and run a Social Media campaign with the hashtag #lovebournville

 

REVISITING AN OLD ARTICLE

During the first week, I explored the website, trying to find some old stories or articles that did very well when originally published and so worth revisiting. My research ended up in the article “Six reasons why Bournville is the best place to live in the UK”. I posted the story on Twitter and Facebook writing the following headline “Why is Bournville the best place to live in the UK? Share with us an extra reason!”.

I had two aims: get the audience involved and drive traffic to the website.

 

Results:

Facebook

Why Bourneville Facebook.png

After a couple of weeks, I looked at the Facebook insights and find out that the post produced impressive results. A reach of over 7K people, 840 post clicks, a total of 275 reactions, comments and shares and only 1 “Negative Feedback”.

Twitter:

Why Bournville Tweet

Twitter results were impressive too. Looking at the analytics the post had a total of 787 Impressions and 93 engagements.

 

Google Analytics:

Google analytics 12Nov

I used Google analytics to look an Audience Overview on the 12th November (the date when I published the post) and see the impressive percentage of 77.7% New Visitor. However, the website had more visits is at 6 am, while at 2pm (when the post has been published) they start to decrease.

 

 

Reflections

 It has been my very first “mini-project” for a Social Media strategy and I am quite satisfied. It is interesting how these platforms can actually provide insights and data helping you reflecting on what you may have done wrong and what you can adjust when planning the next post. It is all about experimenting.

Overall the post was successful, in particular, Facebook results were really surprising. Google analytics data was surprising too (but in a negative way), considering that the time of the most traffic on the website doesn’t match with the time when the post was published on Social Media.

I can deduce that I have only reached one of the two aims I gave to myself: get the audience involved.

For the next posts, I will need to improve my analysis in order to drive more traffic to the website.

 

It’s complicated

The first section of my Module (Social Media as culture) ended with a book club: we discussed the book “It’s complicated” (Danah Boyd, 2015).  In the book, the author explains the social life of network teens, offering several insights extracted from a decade of teenagers’ interviews across the United States. She explores different topics: identity, privacy, addiction, danger, bullying, inequality. All these topics, related to social networking, generate more fears in the adults than in teenagers. She is aware that when coming to life in terms of social networks it is not always easy to describe, but her conclusions are positive and prove undoubtedly her utopian point of view: she wants to give a clear message to all parents and teachers to chill out and leave teenagers living their “social networking” life because they are fine.

 

social-media-teens-1

 

Identity – why do teens seem strange online?

It is about context. Teenagers manage contexts constantly and present themselves in order to be read by their intended audience. (and in these audience adults are not included). The author advice on how to read teens’ profiles: assume that they are lying! They just want to provide entertaining signals to friends refusing to play by the rules of the social network.

Privacy – why do youth share so publicly?

Teenagers seek privacy online. They don’t want ‘authority figures’ in their lives such as parents or teachers to supervise them. Adults should understand the way teens conceptualize privacy and navigate social media to understand what privacy means in a networked world: “teens’ engagement with social media highlights the complex interplay between privacy and publicity in the networked world we all live in now“. (p.57)

Addiction – what makes teens obsessed with social media?

Despite parents believe their children have plenty of social opportunities, teenagers complain they don’t have enough freedom to go out with friends after school. Consequently, the ‘addiction’ to social media is just their needs to socialise.

Danger – are sexual predators lurking everywhere?

The fears regarding sexual predators that shape children’s engagement on the social networks are the same fears that existed years ago – and somehow still existing- with parks and other gathering places. Adults worry about teens, no matter in which circumstances and their fears are understandable. But according to the facts, “most acts of sexual violence against children occur in their own homes by people that those children trust … Internet-initiated sexual assaults are rare.” (p.110-111)

Bullying – is social media amplifying meanness and cruelty?

Bullying has always existed, social media is just amplifying the visibility of it: it’s naive, in fact, blaming technology or thinking that without social networks we could reduce bullying. Rather, parents and teachers should take advantage of social media to investigate: find cyberbullies and, at the same time, support victims of cyberbullying who are seeking help or attention.

Inequality – can social media resolve social divisions?

Unfortunately no. Social division exists in the real life and is reflected in social media, sometimes these are even reinforced. In her research, the author discovers that teens of different races and class are even using different social media. (e.g. for istance Myspace is the social media used by black peers, while Facebook is used by white peers). She also observes: “Teens go online to hang out with their friends, and given the segregation of American society, their friends are quite likely to be of the same race, class, and cultural background.” (p.171)

 

Finally, I would like to insert a quote by Vint Cerf, a computer scientist, that impressed me particularly:

The internet is a reflection of our society and that mirror is going to be reflecting what we see. If we do not like what we see in that mirror the problem is not to fix the mirror, we have to fix society.

 

 

Social Media and activism: the Arab Spring

Despite physical distance, Internet and Social Media has changed and shaped the way people interact with each other: while before we could just communicate with who exist in our surrounding environment, we can now share our opinion globally.

An event that has defiantly marked his place in history, and where Social Media –particularly Facebook- played a crucial role, is the Arab Spring.

Snip20171127_1

The Arab Spring was a revolutionary political protest that began in Tunisia in December 2010 (when a man street trader, Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in protest against police harassment), and spread within weeks to Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya and Syria. Social Media, facilitated interactions among all the participant of the political protests but most importantly spread awareness globally. Until that day, it was difficult for Arab population let the world know what was actually happening around them, considering the huge amount of repression and corruption: activist dream became true!

The event I described briefly above is a clear example of how Social Media has transformed modern activism. However, I was curious and I did some research through the web ending up on the article “The ‘Arab Spring’: Five Years On”: it is evident that the events did not lead to any particular improvement, if not even more suffering. (with few exceptions). It seems that despite social media activism brought an increased awareness about that societal issue, this awareness wasn’t really translated into real change.

I want than highlight the fact that through the years technology has been discussed by several philosophers and sociologist – linking the term most of the time with the capitalism. Joss Hands particularly explains these debates in her chapter “Technology and activism” (2011:23-47) looking at different theoretical perspectives on the topic.

What I found most interesting to discuss (and also may be related to the Arab Spring consequences) is Castells’ idea of the networked society. He defines our society as a construct of flows: ‘the space of flows’ where individuals are quite free from established social institutions. However, in this networked society, not all the individuals are empowered by this fluid network society but only an elite, while other individuals are dislocated from it (inhabiting what he calls the ‘space of places’).

In my personal opinion the Arab population, during the revolution, were a part of ‘the space of flow’, but only for a short-term, because the reality today is that the governments (the elite) have the control –and somehow won- and send them back to the ‘space of places’.

Technology seems just to reproduce existing social inequalities, favouring capitalism and this may explain why Internet and Social Media – sometimes known as “liberation technology” –  are not, in fact, making pro-democracy movements more effective.

 

 

References:

Hands, j. (2011) ‘Activism and Technology’ in: @ is for Activism: Dissent, Resistance and Rebellion in a Digital Culture, London; New York, Pluto Press.

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/campaigns/2016/01/arab-spring-five-years-on