Monthly Archives: December 2010

A Viral Video Holiday Greeting

Watching the hilarious video above reminds me of a lot of things. For one, it makes me think of some of the more embarrassing moments in my life and, believe me, I’ve had my share, but it also reminds me to always think of the unexpected. This being a (mostly) PR and social media blog, I could get into crisis management and how to deal with social media disasters, but since it’s Christmas Day, I think I’ll just wish everyone warm regards this holiday season and cheers to a happy new year.

Special sneak peak into my next few blog entry ideas: social media contests, Epic 2014 and Pummelvision.

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Twitter Tutorial: Using #Hashtags

Using Twitter #HashtagsIn my previous post, I discussed using @mentions by explaining what they are, how they are used and how to effectively use them. Now it’s time to do the same for hashtags.

Hashtags are way to add metadata to your tweet. As such, they are typically used in an effort to get your tweet more views. A tweet with a hashtag basically creates a hyper link to search results of tweets containing the same hashtag. Hashtags are created by adding the hash or pound symbol (#) in front of a word: #hashtag. The main purpose behind a hashtag is to help identify a topic and spread the information on Twitter. There are several ways in which people can use a hashtag.

Many conferences are using hashtags as a way for conference attendees to discuss what they are learning and engage with other participants or directors. They do this by choosing a hashtag related to the conference theme or topic and making sure everyone knows about the hashtag. Then, everyone at the conference uses the hashtag throughout the event.

Online contests are another way to effectively use a hashtag. The object here is to identify users who are entering the contest by using the hashtag. I have conducted several social media concert ticket giveaways for KVSC 88.1FM and I always try to find a unique hashtag for the contest. Another reason for using a hashtag for a Twitter contest is to hopefully generate a trending topic. This is usually only achievable with a company with lots of followers using the hashtag or one that can afford to use Twitter’s promoted tweets.

Another popular way to use a hashtag is to hold “tweetchats” for users with similar interests. For instance, PRSA uses the hashtag “#prstudchat” for public relations student to engage in conversation with one another and with potential employers. To hold a tweetchat, a hashtag related to the subject is chosen and a time is set for the chat to happen. With a little help from a moderator, all Twitter users need to do is search for the hashtag, tweet their thoughts or questions and hit refresh every now and then to join in the conversation.

If for nothing else, Twitter users like to use hashtags in a comical sense such as “#icanttakeyouseriously if you wear crocs” (by @loreeeeos). There are a number of other ways in which you can use hashtags such as introducing a new product or during a crisis situation. Whatever your reason, just make sure you use hashtags wherever relavent to help organize your tweets and provide your followers with media-rich updates to increase interaction.


Twitter Tutorial: Using @Mentions

Anytime someone tells me they just set up a Twitter account, I get questions about what a hashtag is and how to use @mentions or even what a retweet is. Lets see if we can get some simple definitions out there and how to get the most out of Twitter. We’ll start with @mentions.

@mentions are a way of including another Twitter user in your tweet. They are used either to mention someone in a tweet or to reply to someone else’s tweet. To use an @mention, simply use the at symbol (@) in front of a username on twitter: @eric_wheeler. The under score sign (_) is the only special character allowed in a username, so it’s okay to add a period or other punctuation after an @mention without adding a space. Remember, social media is not an excuse for bad writing.

Since the main purpose here is to mention someone in a tweet (twitter status update), they can be used to create conversations with other Twitter users or to simply recognize someone. One good thing about @mentions is that it pretty much guarantees at least one person will view your tweet and possibly interact with you. Anytime I share a link and think of someone who might have the same interest, I include him/her in the post. This increases the likelihood that someone will retweet (a topic for later) and, thus, increase my total impressions. Increasing impressions will help you in gaining followers.

Now that you know how to use an @mention, get creative in recognizing people in your online community and remember to reply if someone mentions you in a Tweet. We’ll knock out #hashtags in the next post. Using Twitter is not that hard, trust me. If you don’t have a Twitter account or if you’re new to Twitter, the video below is for you:


Social Media is Not an Excuse for Bad Writing

Text Messaging ShorthandIn my last post, I discussed how social media has changed the way people are finding jobs, the criteria employers now follow and how many in the PR field are branding themselves and networking via social media sites. The videos mentioned noted some astonishing statistics, making it impossible to ignore the social media wave or pass it off as a fad. In this post, I want to talk about something important in every industry: Good writing skills.

Some might not view text messaging (or SMS) as a form of social media, but it is one communication tool that has fundamentally changed the way people communicate. Though abbreviations such as OMG and LMAO (along with a long list of other text messaging shorthand) may be cute and a much quicker way to get a point across, they really have no place in communicating a company message or in any attempt at branding yourself in an online world. If you’re like me and you mostly maintain a Twitter account and a blog to show potential employers what you are all about and some of the skills you have, you should basically never use shorthand.

It can be a challenge to fit a quick pitch and a link to the full article in 140 characters or less for Twitter, but our society’s attention span has grown increasingly short and relies on bite sized pieces of information to give them the knowledge they need. Maybe the first lesson I learned as a student of mass communications was to be concise in my writing. Give the important information up front and all the minor details in the body and towards the bottom (inverted pyramid style of writing).

That’s enough about Twitter. The point I really want to make is that good writing is important. I feel that I am a decent writer, but that’s because I work on it nearly everyday and have been since I started college. However, I can always work on clarity, creativity and brevity, among other areas. With that, please let me know if I have any typos or if you see areas I can work on to improve my writing style … I am open to all suggestions.

So this is my public service announcement to anyone who has a blog or posts short messages to Twitter, Facebook or any other social network that broadcasts to basically the entire world: Be a good writer.


Social Media Changes Everything

Personal Branding

Build your personal brand with social media.

I came across the video “A Day in the Life of Social Media” last night and it reminded me as to why I started a blog: Social media changes everything. I have one semester left before I earn a Master of Science degree in Mass Communications with a focus on PR and Advertising. This is definitely an exciting reality and I am very much looking forward to once again feeling that sense of accomplishment of earning a degree from an accredited university. It is scary because … wait for it … the job market is tough. Not only is the job market tough, but I still am not quite sure what career I want to pursue. Public relations has always interested me and I hope that I can get into that field, but I am also well aware of the potential new (possibly sub) field of social media.

Social media jobs are definitely out there and if you still don’t believe in the phenomenon or if you think it’s just a fad, think again. Some of the key stats that jumped out at me in this video is that 700 million people join Facebook everyday and over 1 billion pieces of information are shared on Facebook in that same 24 hours. Wow. I have had several of in-class discussions on whether or not Facebook will be around forever. You can easily make an argument for or against the case of Facebook, but the fact is, it is here now and as another video has so eloquently summed up, “social media isn’t a fad, it’s a fundamental way in which we communicate.”

I have not exactly began a job search yet, but what I have done is start to brand myself (hence the blog). Call me a social media geek, but 80 percent of companies now use social media for recruitment. Thus, it is imperative that I maintain up-to-date, clean-cut social media sites to market myself as an aspiring PR professional and social media specialist. I have talked with other PR students who have said they have landed interviews via Twitter and that employers in the PR field won’t even look at a candidate if he/she is not on Twitter. Job candidates are even including their Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn sites under their contact section on resumes.

Social media is a reality and I must follow the trend or be left in the dust.

Photo credit: http://rockablepress.com/


Wheeler Now Blogs

Yep, I finally caved in a started a blog. Being obsessed with social media and a graduate student of public relations, I thought it was a good idea. Plus, I didn’t want to be showed up by a former hockey player. Also, I recently purchased an Apple iPhone 4 and am now even more entrenched in social media, public relations and communications in general. In other words, my iPhone has taken over my life. I can’t go anywhere without checking in to Foursquare and I am always on the lookout for interesting articles that I can post on Twitter (which is connected to my Facebook profile).

I mainly plan to use this blog to open discussion on trends in social media and public relations. However, I also have interests in advertising, photography, marketing, and traveling, among other things. So I may sneak in a few articles not necessarily related to PR and social media.

Here’s a little background on myself: I was a communications intern for Yum! Brand, Inc., the world’s largest restaurant company, worked as a sales manager and TV station manager for a few weeks in Woodward, Okla., graduated with a bachelor degree in mass communications  from Northwestern Oklahoma State University, spent a year and a half as a leadership and educational consultant for Acacia Fraternity in Indianapolis and I am now a few credits away from earning a master of science degree in mass communications with a track in advertising and public relations from St. Cloud State University.

I currently hold a graduate assistantship at KVSC 88.1FM on the campus of St. Cloud State University. At KVSC, I am charged with a number of responsibilities including (but certainly not limited to) public relations, social media, graphic design, online services, promotions, and marketing. Also at St. Cloud State, I am a member of PRSSA and a senator of the College of Fine Arts and Humanities.

That’s enough on me for now. Subscribe to my blog for future stories about the wide world of social media and public relations. Okay, I lied, more on me via a YouTube video of my experience of No Shave November:


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