Thursday, January 31, 2013

Blogs: Accelerated Word of Mouth!!

Well this should be fun!!  A blog post about blogging :)

In my Strategic Communications class last semester, we learned that blogs are the earliest form of social media.  And there is a reason that they have stayed prominent despite the emergence of Facebook and Twitter.  Heck!!  It could even be argued that Twitter was formed off the concept of blogging, which is understandable seeing as it is a microblogging medium.  Blogs are a fantastic way to show people your personality and to make yourself completely transparent to your audience.  Twitter, Tumblr, Blogger, and WordPress (to name only a few) are simple (when used correctly), yet effective ways to help readers feel connected to you, build relationships, and share stories.  For example, take this clip from BBC's television show, Sherlock set in modern day Britain.  Martin Freeman's character, John Watson, maintains a blog throughout the entire series and posts about Sherlock's and his investigations.  As an end result, the two become internet phenomenon's and everyone flocks to Sherlock for help.  Hysterically enough, John is continuously getting complimented on his blog throughout episodes.  Moral of the video: tell your story, make it true to you, and people generally will want to keep coming back for more.  

(credit to YouTube)

Still not convinced blogs are a good way to go??  Take this story that was told to me by Sheryl Connelly from Marketing Media Management.  Well you see, there's this tiny company.  Maybe you've heard of it??  It's only just  There was a woman that ordered shoes for her ill mother as a present.  Before the shoes arrived, her mother passed away.  Knowing there was no longer any need for the ordered shoes, she contacted Zappos and informed them of the situation.  The representative she spoke with told her to leave the shoes on her front porch once they arrived and they would take care of the rest.  When dealing with what she was, no one should have to worry about the hassle of returning products that had been ordered online.  After speaking with the woman, the representative for Zappos told the UPS man to pick up a dozen roses for their customer and a sympathy card.  Little did they know, the women was a blogger with a rather strong following.  She told her story via her blog and the story went viral.  What we have here, is essentially what I like to think of as "accelerated word of mouth".  

While making yourself personable and transparent is massively important, there are other key elements that must be done as well to help generate traffic.  Videos.  I love videos (as you can most likely tell from my posts).  Pictures and links to other websites and resources is another excellent option.  In addition to having fun visuals, adding "tags" or "labels" to your posts make them more easily searchable and will help to bring in more traffic.  When and if someone comments on a post, comment back!!  Let them know you are aware they are there.  Engage, engage, engage :)  

To touch a little on microblogging and Twitter, it is important that when you post through this media outlet, you do not exceed 120 characters.  Many of you probably already know this, but for those of you that don't, those left over 20 characters are for people to comment with when they retweet you.  Let them have their voice.

Go forth and blog!!  It's quite fun.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Importance of Engagement: Jeff Rushton

One of the best parts of Social Media (from a business and marketing perspective) is the ability to engage with your customers and the general public on an extremely broad range.  Each individual person has their own voice and own personality to share with the world.  Being involved with customers and consumers is the main reason why I love social media as much as I do.  That being said, today's guest speaker for COMM-460 really struck a positive cord with me.  Our class had the privilege to have the University of Louisville's Director of Digital Media, Jeff Rushton, tell us his story and insights.  Despite that fact that he thought he was boring us to tears and suffering from a lack of his morning Mt. Dew, his presentation was fantastic.  

To start off with, the analytics portion of his presentation was astounding.  I didn't realize that UofL's homepage, on an "average" month (and by average Jeff meant months other than January and December) gets about 4.5 million hits worth of traffic!!  This bit of information really brought home to me just how important a webpage can be for a company or university.  Being able to attract your audience and hold on to their attention is so so important.  But Mr. Rushton didn't build this machine of a homepage so easily.  He tracks numbers and runs analytics everyday and works off of those numbers.  So anyone out there wanting to boost their homepage or maintain an audience.  Track numbers quickly after posting anything whether it be on a website, Facebook, Twitter, etc. and see if your numbers go up or down.  Never underestimate the power of numbers.  Which coincides with Jeff's other point of his presentation.  Quantify everything you do.  What Jeff meant by this, and I'm sure it's common sense for several social media experts out there, is make sure that everything you say or post means something.  Avoid posting simply to post because that's a very easy way to lose followers.  Make sure that your posts will not result in your employer looking at you and asking, "So what??  You posted on Twitter 50 times in the past hour.  How has that generated any results??"  Timing is also everything.  While tracking numbers, look for patterns in the traffic.  For example, Jeff knows not to post anything to UofL's Facebook page or homepage between 3:00 PM on Fridays and 10:00 PM on Sundays.  Traffic is at it's lowest during this time so posting anything (or a great of number of things at the very least) just seems counterproductive.  Jeff also makes a point not to post above 5 times a day.  He's noticed that anything above that (from his perspective) results in a loss of followers.

To wrap up my quick discussion of Mr. Rushton's visit, the importance of engagement seemed to be brought up quick a bit.  It's literally how he got his start with Facebook and UofL.  He started posting periodically when he would see things that people were saying on Facebook and would engage in conversations with these people that were visiting.  It's always a great feeling when a celebrity, your favorite company/brand notices a tweet of yours and responds to it.  It shows you care and appreciate the fact that they are there and (hopefully) saying nice things about you or your company.  ENGAGEMENT.  Always.  An example of fan engagement on the UofL Athletics website is a photo collage in celebration of UofL's victory at the Sugar Bowl.  Jeff and the Social Media Director for UofL, Nick Stover, created this "fan poster" with fan pictures from Facebook .  When you click on any picture, it will take you to that photo's source.  Pretty neat!!  And it makes the head of our Cardinal bird.  In my mind, it's a creative way to show Cardinal pride while giving a shout out to the fans that made the trip down to New Orleans to support their team.

If you are curious about UofL's homepage or Jeff Rushton himself, here are a few links to help you connect with them:

To connect with Jeff, you can find him on Twitter at @jeffrushton 

Cardinal Fan Poster (credit to Yahoo! News)

Speaking with us in class today :)

(photo credit goes to Dr. Karen Freberg via Twitter @kfreberg )

Friday, January 25, 2013

Just Having The Best Day Ever!! Living Life Like Stu Holden

For my Social Media class, we were asked to write two blog posts a week covering things we discussed in class as well as things that interest us.  To be honest, people interest me.  You can learn so much from every new person you meet or public figures you see in Hollywood, the music scene, or athletics.  For this weeks freelance post, I would like to "spotlight", so to speak, a personal hero of mine.  He's an individual that I find to be very inspiring and drives me to work hard, find the good in life, and keep strong faith in the paths and goals I set for myself.  He is literally the happiest person I have ever come across despite the fact that he has had a few set backs with this playing career, as you will soon find out, he has an unwavering optimism that I have yet to see anyone equal. 

Stuart Holden, a soccer (or football, depending on preference or where you may be reading this) player was born in Aberdeen, Scotland on 1 August, 1985.  He moved to Houston, TX with his family at the age of 10.  In the year 2005, after playing for Clemson University for about two years, Stu signed on with the English Football Club.  Unfortunately, shortly thereafter he was attacked outside of a pub in Newcastle for being a player for Sunderland.  He suffered a left eye fracture which, when attempting to train with the club, left him seeing two soccer balls flying through the air.  It was a very frustrating time because it left Holden wondering if he'd ever be able to play.  People told him that no team would want a player that can't see correctly to play for them.  Once that injury healed up, he then suffered an ankle injury which pulled him out of playing yet again and essentially ended his first career in England.  He never actually got to play a match during his time with the team.

In 2006, however, Holden signed on with the Houston Dynamo and would play for them until 2009.  During these years he also played for the US Men's Soccer Team in the 2008 Olympics, scoring the match winning goal against Japan!!  Stu was back in action for sure. In 2009, he played for Men's National Team where he caught the eye of clubs over in England.  Months later he signed with another English Club, the Bolton Wanderers where he still plays today.  However, during his time with Bolton, he sustained an injury to his right knee during a match with Manchester United.  It took him out of action for six months, but during this time he kept an amazing attitude, posting video blogs to his personal YouTube account so that fans could follow his progress and know that he was working hard to get back to full health.  Once healed, he played one match before the team's doctors ruled him out of playing again for continuing ligament issues.  However, just recently on January 15th, Stuart made his return to Bolton when he was substituted into Bolton's match against Sunderland after being out for almost an year and half.

His story has taught me to live life as positively as possible.  It's because of him that even when I am having a bad day, I tell everyone that it's the best day ever and finding the good in almost any situation.  Anyone that happens to see this post should really Google Stu or visit his official website (I have provided a link for your convenience) because I have only scratched the surface with this man.  Read about all the wonderful charity work that Stuart involves himself with.  Watch interviews about him and see for yourself how strong of a personality he has.  

(credit for photo goes to

I got to meet the man himself after a Dynamo game back in 2009.  Never been so starstruck in my life, haha.  

Just a fun fan video that I found years ago via YouTube.  It's a little outdated seeing as the clips are from his Dynamo days, but I feel the Scottish Braveheart music is extremely fitting ;)

Scoring the game tying goal against Haiti and catching the eye of English clubs:

Jump Right In!! Transmedia Storytelling

A new form of social media marketing that I believe should not be written off for any means is that of transmedia storytelling.  To my understanding, when using this tactic for marketing you are not only telling your audience about your are engaging them.  What better way to connect with your audience??   

Let's delve a bit deeper here, shall we??  First of off, it's very important to understand that you are not simply telling a story.  To my personal interpretation, you are taking a single part of that story and spreading it around through various media platforms.  The best example I could come up with myself are the Harry Potter books.  J.K. Rowling wrote these 7 beloved novels and shared them with the world.  Soon after, the novels were made into the movie.  But they didn't stop there.  The online website Pottermore launched, which allowed readers to dive into their loved magical world.  You travel through the books, unlocking secret items, learning spells, and gaining points for your house.  Yes, your house!!  You get sorted and can travel to Ollivander's to purchase your wand.  Living at Hogwart's via the internet not enough??  Universal Studios in Orlando build The Wizarding World of Harry Potter exhibit where visitors can travel to Diagon Alley and have a pint of Butterbeer as well as purchase an actual wand for themselves to take home (unfortunately, the magical capabilites are not included).  

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter


Another example I find to be relevant is the Lego company.  They take stories or current events all the time and build their own stories with their legos.  

or promoting The Lord of the Rings trilogy:

Still a bit hazy on the concept??  It's alright.  Here are some resources I hope you can find helpful.  

Transmedia Storytelling 101

Enjoy the video :)

Friday, January 18, 2013

"Please don't tag me!!" Facebook's New Graph Search

Facebook's new Graph Search feature seems to be bringing up fairly strong opinions on the ever present issue of what is really private online anymore.  For my self personally, while yes it does make me slightly uncomfortable that if someone searches a restaurant I was at, you will have a fairly direct link to my profile and the same time, my views on privacy remain essentially the same.  Be smart about what you post.  Don't put pictures or tag yourself at locations which could lead to trouble for you.  If I am out with friends or at a party, I make sure that I'm only in photos, or personally post my own photos, that show enough to say, "Hey, night out with the girls.  We got dressed up.  Yay!!" and nothing more.  My best friend tags us at every location we go to be it our restaurant of choice for lunch, the mall, the movies, etc.  If she begins to go on a "tagging rampage", I simply ask her to not tag us so much because it makes me uncomfortable.  I rarely, if ever, check into a location.  So in that regards, my issue with Graph Search comes into play.  Because I have little to no control over what my friends post.

This may cause certain concerns for people that may be attempting to find a job with a company or already employed with someone and are actively involved online.  If a future employer sees photos of you doing things that could make the company look bad, you may not get hired.  I heard a story, I believe it was last year, about a woman that was laid off from her teaching position for a Facebook status that bashed her students.

Really the moral of the story, and I know I'm probably beating this point senseless right now, is just BE SMART.  Privacy online is dead.  Keep yourself up to date with new privacy statements and controls and regulate what you post and keep an eye on what your friends may post about you.  Google knows all, and does not forget.

For anyone that may want more information about Graph Search here are two videos that I feel give a nice idea of what it is.  This first one is shorter and gives a slightly "romantic" feel to this new feature for anyone that may already feel a little put out by it.

(credit to YouTube)

And this video that is, in my mind, slightly more detailed :)

(Credit for video goes to YouTube and Nightline)

I like this video because it raises another interesting question...does anyone believe Facebook could ever have the capacity to replace Google??  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Well then, let's get started!!

Hello everyone!!

My name is Heather Pence and I am a Senior at the University of Louisville, studying for a degree in Communications with a minor in English Literature.  I was born and raised in Houston, TX until the age of 13 when my family and I moved to the fine city of Louisville.  I am, and always will be, a proud Native Texan.  A little more about me is that I love to travel.  Getting on a plane and flying to new places is exhilarating.  I love to meet people and learn new things at all times.  As the name of my blog may hint, I am obsessed with anything England, British, or related to the UK in anyway.  To travel to that area of the world and find a job has been my lifelong dream.  It's been that way since I was 5 when I first began watching imported television shows on the BBC/PBS stations.  Music and running are what get me through the day.

Now that, that part of the introduction is out of the way, I'd like to talk about why I decided to take the class for which I am starting this blog (Social Media or COMM-460), what I hope to gain from it, and the areas of Public Relations or Advertising that I hope to get into someday and seem most interested in.  I wanted to take this course not only because of our professor, Dr. Karen Freberg, but because I have been nothing but fascinated with social media since I first joined MySpace way back in the day.  It has exploded into the remarkable field and I want to sharpen my skills to their fullest.  I mentioned in my intro that I love meeting people and building strong relationships with individuals.  To hopefully put my point into perspective, I am currently the Sweetheart for the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity here on campus.  Part of my duties is that I spread the world about the colony and help bring in new brothers.  I am a walking, talking, tweeting/Facebooking representative for these men and I've loved every second.  I want to do the same  thing for my future job.  Represent a strong company in the most positive way and help build it great and wonder things through social media.

Hopefully that answered any beginning questions.  I never had the opportunity to work any internships through my college experience so I hope this class and this blog (which I will continue after this course and graduation) will help me build a strong presence and hopefully build strong relations and networks with whatever I do.  It seems to me that we will be doing lots of hands on assignments with real world qualities that will do nothing but benefit us.