Self Portrait

Self Portrait

Self Portrait – J.D. Russell

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Measuring Success

This week’s prompt for class is how am I going to measure the success of my project? I plan on doing this in a couple of ways.

 First off, the wine blog:

First I am going to look at how much traffic comes through the blog. I figure that the data collection tools that WordPress provides are a great place to keep track of how successful my blog is, at least at getting people to look at it. Hopefully, the more people that see the blog, the more recognition and brand loyalty it will bring to World Class Wines. This will be measured by the second test, which is admittedly much less quantifiable. I’m meeting with the store owners once a week to talk about the blog content and hopefully they will start to hear their customers talk about the blog soon. Though “word of mouth” is not a very reliable/scientific way to analyze success, I think that if I can get people even briefly talking about it in an offline setting, then the blog will be successful.

The second thing to measure is the social media outlets:

My measurements for the social media outlets is quite simple: Get more followers. When I started, World Class Wines was at 489 likes on Facebook and at 129 followers on Twitter. My hope is to increase the number of followers and therefore the visibility on these platforms by at least 100 followers/likes. As I mentioned in earlier blog posts, I want to achieve this primarily through increasing interaction on the platforms. Up until this point, the manager of the accounts has done a good job creating content, but they haven’t been getting much feedback or comments on their site, which limits their visibility. Hopefully by increasing visibility, we can increase the number of likes.

Ultimately though, my success will be measured by one thing: Does the business see any growth?

At the end of the day, I am blogging and doing social media for this business. That means that all of this is to help them increase their revenues and market share. Hopefully by the end of this project I will have helped the store at least marginally increase revenues. That would be the ultimate measure of success. 

SEO Content and the World Class Wines Blog

Currently the World Class Wine’s website is the number one hit on Google for “wine Lake Oswego”. This is awesome because that means that anyone searching for local wine will come up with this store. This is even greater than the Oswego Hills Winery, the local winery in the town, which is pretty awesome. The next step for me then is to get the blog visible on the front page of the search. If I understand SEO properly, then I think getting a large amount of site traffic and content on the blog will be a great start for getting the blog promoted through Google.

One thing that I didn’t realize before our class lecture was just how important Google+ is, or will become, for search engine optimization. Therefore I think another crucial step for my social media plan for WCW I will start to work on their Google+ profile.

One more thing that I am about to do is link the blog site directly to the World Class Wine’s website – worldclasswinesoregon.com. Hopefully this will increase traffic to the blog, as well as boost the visibility of both sites. Through this whole thing, hopefully I can boost the presence of both websites.

So… What’s the Plan?

 Well I’m a little bit into the social media thing for World Class Wines. It’s going well. I think that I am starting to get a plan together.

 I started with phase 1: Build the blog.

I wanted to make sure that before I started doing any sort of promotion for the blog I wanted to make sure that it actually had content. It would probably be a huge digital turn off if someone went to a blog that had one post. The idea is that as a business, they want people to engage with the brand, and if there is only one post they couldn’t really engage. So I spent about 2 weeks getting enough content on the website to have multiple things to click on, hopefully to keep people’s attention.

Now that I have that part down, I move onto phase 2: Connect with people.

I was fortunate with this project that I wasn’t exactly starting from scratch. The company had a decent social media following when I started blogging. (One of my goals though is to increase those numbers). The second phase is all about getting people engaged with the blog. I detailed one ways I was doing this in the previous section – see the “Wine is _____.” bit.  Other things I am going to do is, solicit for wine questions though Facebook, which the store expert will then answer. This will be recorded on the blog for other people to see. The point is that I want to get people engaging with brand and I think the blog is a great place to document this.

I don’t really know what phase 3 is going be. That is part of the fun. I am learning as I go along, but it has been rewarding so far. I think the most rewarding thing though will be to see if this blog actually gets people engaged with the brand and if they actually see some tangible results from this. Ultimately, I want to help their business sell more wine. That’s a win in my book. 

Reaching the Demographics

So first off, I need to clear something up. The earlier blog posts about what I was going to do for my semester project… yeah, that’s not happening. I think it would be cool to do those writing projects, but I am shifting to do something much more… practical.

My family has been loyal patrons to a wine store in Lake Oswego called World Class Wines for sometime now. The were looking for a way to possibly increase their business, so I figured that this class project might be a good way for me to help them out and learn something about social media and online marketing in the process. I figured for my class project then I would help them out with their social media posts on Facebook and Twitter. However, my biggest contribution is going to be a wine blog for them where I blog about the wines that they sell, as well as the goings on in the store.

http://worldclasswinesoregon.wordpress.com/

With that in mind, the demographic I am going after is the later end of the young-adults demographic. One of the things I want to achieve through my blog is to break down the perceived barrier of entry to the wine world to younger people. I feel that the wine world can feel exclusionary and intimidating at first, especially to younger people so this blog will hopefully help reach out to younger people in the area and make them feel more comfortable about entering the world of wine. I will also simultaneously try to give the already loyal customers an online experience that will strengthen their brand loyalty, which will hopefully help spread support for the store to more people via word of mouth marketing.

One of the strategies I am trying to pursue is to create an online dialogue between the customers and the blog. One way that I am trying to do this is by asking people questions on Facebook and Twitter and then incorporating their responses on the blog. For example, one thing that I am working on: I asked people on Facebook to finish the statement, “Wine is _______.” I got some interesting responses. “Wine is bottled poetry”, “Wine is haphazardly picked, and often enjoyed by the majority”, “Wine is life”. I am currently trying to come up with some ideas about creative ways to display these contributions and then I am going to post them on the blog. The idea is that the more I can reward people for their participation, the stronger the link will be between the clients and the business. Hopefully I can use social media in this way to connect with a large demographic.

Social Media Brand Analysis: Portugal. The Man

The brand I am reviewing for my case study is the band Portugal. The Man because, 1.) They are my favorite band, 2.) They have a very strong and unique brand that they have cultivated themselves over many years of music production, and 3.) They have a very diverse social media presence that makes for an interesting study.

First off, they have a very interesting aesthetic. The band’s front man John Gourley does the artwork for the band’s album covers, which also transcends the band’s merchandize, set designs for live shows, music videos, and other aspects of the band’s public image. The art is a good representation of the band’s sound: surreal, strange, different, yet simple and accessible.

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Another thing that sets Portugal. The Man’s brand apart from other bands and brands on social media is their level of interaction with their fan base. They go beyond the occasional Facebook update. They are active on Twitter, Facebook, Soundcloud, Rdio, and other social media sites, constantly posting exclusive content almost daily, whether it be live performances, contests, tour photos, or artwork from Gourley. One thing that they do is take a picture of the crowd from the stage of every show that they play and post it on Facebook. Then fans find and tag themselves on their Facebook. This creates a sense of closeness with the band though social media, creating not only a great fan experience beyond the music, but also very loyal fans.

One cool thing that Portugal. The Man recently did was post the raw tracks of their songs on SoundCloud so that people could download them and remix them. Whereas many artists fight hard to protect their music and keep it in its original form, Portugal. The Man did the opposite. They gave people the raw sounds from their songs to mix and then promoted any good remixes on their site. This again is an interactive social media experience that creates a very engaged and loyal fan base.

Bands and brands alike can learn a lot from Portugal. The Man because they demonstrate the power of connectivity and openness in creating a brand. They also demonstrate how a dynamic brand can be inspired by its fans as much as it inspires people. That is the power of social media branding. It can work both ways.

 

http://www.portugaltheman.com/

https://www.facebook.com/portugaltheman

Thinking Through My Semester Project: A Blog Novel in 500 Words A Post

I think it would be interesting to start a blog for my semester project. That sort of thing appeals to me generally. The problem is that I don’t know really what I would write about. Who do I want to be on this blog? Do I have to only write about one thing? What do I want to write about? Will anyone read this blog? These are all questions that I am thinking about with regards to this blog.

One idea that I keep coming back to is the idea of a writing blog. I talked about it in one of my earlier posts. One idea that just came to my mind is the idea of writing a novel in real time via a blog. The way that it would work is that I would write 500 words of a novel a day and post it on the blog. That’s it. 500 words, max. The only writing that I would do would be on the blog – nothing behind the scenes. That way whoever is following the blog will be able to watch the story unfold in real time, but the idea is that they could digest it in slow, incremental bits.

 

As far as I am aware of, there isn’t anything out there like this in the literary world. It would be really fun to kind of use this blog to experiment with the literary form. I think it would be fascinating to see if this concept would a.) Actually work to produce a novel, or something coherent enough to resemble a story, b.) Be a sustainable project c.) Be something people would be interested in reading. Ideally this blog-novel-in-real-time would create some sort of side dialogue where I could interact with the followers of the story. So for this project I think I would keep two blogs: One blog that had the actual story, and one blog that served as a forum where I could interact with people about the blog. Ideally my blog-novel-in-real-time (still working on an official title for what this thing actually is in my head) would create some sort of online literary community that rallied around the blog and sites like Twitter to get people talking about the creative process as it unfolds in front of them. I think this would represent something fundamentally different about story telling that only online, social media could give us. Think about any sort of writing. It is all done behind closed doors. We only get to see the finished product, but don’t get much insight into the development. This project will be unique because it will give people insight into the writer’s thought process that no other medium could grant.

 

The more I talk about this concept the more excited I get about it. I think I might actually be on to something. 

140 Characters From the Inside: An Interview With Twitter Employees

*I wrote this post originally for the socialmediaremixed WordPress blog, but I figured I would share it here too*

@doddy503

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I recently sat down (digitally) with some of my friends who work at Twitter to pick their brains about the company. I also gave them a little challenge: Answer my questions in a tweet. 140 characters or less.

Let’s meet our participants.

In the BLUE corner – Representing San Francisco, the Twitter Sales Team, and the Wu-Tang Clan, Mark “@TweetGuyMark” Friese!

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In the GREEN corner – Representing Texas, the Twitter Brand Strategy Team, and Manly Beard Stubble, Ben “@graf” Grafentin!

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And last but not least,

In the ORANGE corner – Representing the greater Boston Metropolitan area, Twitter Interns, and sexy mustaches, Dave “@davedolben” Dolben!

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Let’s begin, shall we?

@doddy503 What do/did you do at Twitter?

@TweetGuyMark I’m an Account Manager on Twitter’s sales team, essentially a consultant to our advertisers who are promoting content on Twitter.

@graf I work with the world’s largest advertisers to ideate and execute custom creative programs #BrandStrategy

@davedoblen I built an internal analytics tool to get cool statistics and fancy graphs.

@doddy503 How long have/did you work(ed) there?

@TweetGuyMark I’ve worked here for a little over 2 years – started in June of 2011 as an intern in our Human Resources department.

@graf Time is flying! I’ve been at Twitter for almost a year and half.

@davedoblen 12 week, summer of 2012

@doddy503 Do/did you like working there?

@TweetGuyMark Love it. The culture is fantastic, the product is amazing, and there is a transparency here that you don’t find at all growing companies.

@graf I love working at Twitter. Amazing people, great product, and an incredible environment.

@davedoblen I liked it a lot. Twitter’s a big company, but still manages to feel like it’s half the size.

@doddy503 I hear that your headquarters is pretty sweet down in San Francisco. Best feature?

@TweetGuyMark Definitely the roof deck. On sunny days there is no finer place to be in the city. Great spot to hang out and get some work done.

@graf Improv classes. Keeps my mind sharp, allows me to meet new people, and get out of my comfort zone.

@davedoblen Definitely the food. The chefs in Twitter’s kitchen are killin’ it over there.

@doddy503 Any cool Twitter stories?

@TweetGuyMark A lot of celebs love Twitter, so we get cool guests from time to time. I hosted Charlie Murphy for a Q&A – as a Chappelle fan, doesn’t get better.

@graf Last week Kobe Bryant played pop-a-shot in one of our game rooms. He scored 87 points. My high score is 120. Considering going pro.

@davedoblen I got to hear from some pretty cool guest speakers while I was there. Aziz Ansari and Katie Couric are the two that come to mind.

@doddy503 Favorite Twitter account to follow? Best Twitter celebrity?

@TweetGuyMark Samuel L. Jackson absolutely kills it on Twitter. His London Olympics tweets… gotta read ’em to believe ’em.

@graf I’m a pretty big fan of @animalmashups right now and my all time is @ModernSeinfeld. A must follow for Seinfeld fans.

@davedoblen I’m torn between Popular Science and some more ridiculous accounts, like the Goldman Sachs Elevator. Comedic gold, with a hint of truth.

@doddy503 Best Tweet of all time?

@TweetGuyMark During the Super Bowl, folks speculated Twitter might crash because of the volume of tweets. Then the lights went out but Twitter stayed up. Prompting this: https://twitter.com/rsarver/status/298245885517783042

@graf4 More Years” from Obama after he won is the most Retweeted moment of all time. Tough to beat.

@davedoblen Anything that I posted.

@doddy503 How important is Twitter to the world?

@TweetGuyMark Very important. It’s an unprecedented conversation / connection medium that’s being used for amazing things.

@graf Twitter is an extremely versatile platform that has been a critical part of revolutions, helped people connect in the aftermath of natural disasters, and much more

@davedoblen In more ways than most people realize. It’s a communication channel in places where communication is hard.

@doddy503 How important is social media to the world?

@TweetGuyMark Also very important, but for different reasons. Social media possesses the potential to enrich your life, regardless of platform.

@graf Social media has become a huge part of everyday life. Being in the techie bubble probably makes me biased, but it’s rare going a day without it. A good and bad thing.

@davedoblen I’m still not completely sold here. It’s important, sure. We just choose to use it in ways that make me sad. And laugh hysterically.

@doddy503 How is the upcoming IPO going to change the company?

@TweetGuyMark (Declined to comment)

@graf (Declined to comment)

@davedoblen Probably won’t change too much. Might make them a little more profit-driven, with responsibilities to shareholders and such.

@doddy503 Could you imagine 2013 without Twitter?

@TweetGuyMark You know, I can. And I think it would be a 2013 with its voice box removed. That’s kind of a disturbing image, I apologize.

@graf It has become an amazing tool for breaking news, learning, entertainment and it’s a huge part of my life so it’s tough to imagine it. That being said I do remember life pre-Twitter J

@davedoblen I like to think I could, because I don’t actually use Twitter much right now, but it influences a lot of things I don’t think about daily

@doddy503 Was Twitter an inevitable concept of the social media age? Would it exist today in some capacity if Jack Dorsey didn’t create it in 2006

@TweetGuyMark I think the idea of a subscriber-based information network was inevitable once text messaging came along. But Jack had the vision first – props!

@graf Tough question, but I could speculate. Jack Dorsey is an innovative guy that had an amazing idea. Not the easiest thing in the world to think of a great concept and then build it.

@davedoblen Yes, I think it would exist without Jack Dorsey. Sure, he’s a smart guy, but it’s not a complicated concept. Someone would have come up with it in one form or another.

@doddy503 Has Twitter saturated its concept or do you think there is a lot more growth and innovation to come from the brand?

@TweetGuyMark You would be amazed at the projects people are working on at Twitter, during hackweeks or otherwise. There is much more to come.

@graf Twitter is constantly growing, innovating, and trying to create a better experience for users.

@davedoblen Twitter as a concept is extremely simple, and I feel like it’s hard to innovate a lot without changing the core functionality of the product

@doddy503 Do you think 140 characters are enough to really say anything worth saying?

@TweetGuyMark Constraints lead to creativity. Twitter’s limit can be frustrating sometimes, but brevity is an essential element of the platform.

@graf Absolutely. Comedians, politicians, brands, and a wide variety of individuals tell incredible stories everyday. #CreativtyThroughConcision

@davedoblen Sure. It forces you to be concise. If you have more to say than you can fit in 140 characters, find a different medium.

@doddy503 If you could introduce one rule that all Twitter users had to abide by, what would it be (i.e. no hashtaging the entire tweet)?

@TweetGuyMark Everyone has to follow @BurlCoatFactory. https://twitter.com/BurlCoatFactory/status/364836910394388480

@graf Don’t drink and Tweet. Dangerous combo.

@davedoblen Think before you tweet. And use spell check, for God’s sake.

@doddy503 If Twitter existed in 1776, what would George Washington tweeted at King George III after signing the Declaration of Independence?

@TweetGuyMark Your move, sucka.

@graf @KingGeorgeIII so don’t be mad, but things aren’t working out…

@davedoblen Suck it, George.

@doddy503 Along those lines, which US President (living or dead) would have had the best Twitter feed?

@TweetGuyMark Something tells me an FDR Twitter feed would have been clutch. George W would have been interesting too for completely different reasons.

@graf Bill Clinton just joined Twitter and I’m pretty excited to see what kind of material he starts putting out there.

@davedoblen I don’t know US history well enough to answer this one, although I’d love to hear G W Bush or Bill Clinton’s personal thoughts.

@doddy503 Tupac or Biggie: Who would have had the better Twitter feed?

@TweetGuyMark I think Pac’s would have been more inspirational, but Biggie would have used his for his great lines. And there are many of those!

@graf Tupac for sure #CaliforniaLove

@davedoblen No Comment.

@doddy503 Is there someone you can think of who really ought to stop Tweeting?

@TweetGuyMark Jose Canseco’s Twitter account is hilarious so I don’t want him to stop, but at the same time he probably should for his own self-image.

@graf Amanda Bynes was having a rough time there for a while…

@davedoblen Charlie Sheen, but that’s really cliche. There’s a lot of useless stuff on Twitter, so it’s good that it’s easy to find good content.

@doddy503 What is the future of Twitter?

@TweetGuyMark We see new, innovative uses of Twitter all the time, so it’s tough to say. But it will permeate news, music, sports, etc. for sure.

@graf An even better platform for people to enjoy

@davedoblen Honestly, I’m not sure. The nature of the platform makes it hard to predict what they’ll do next. I think it’ll be around for a while though.

@doddy503 Thanks for doing the interview. Any closing remarks?

@TweetGuyMark Appreciate you reaching out! Always love to talk about life at the Tweet Shop.

@graf I’ve heard @graf is an excellent person to follow. #FollowMe #ImActuallyATerribleTweeter

@davedoblen It is really hard to answer complex questions in < 140 characters. Makes me wish I was a better wordsmith.

@socialmediarmxd Show these guys some love and give them a follow on Twitter.

Catfish and the Power of Imagination

Recently in class we watched documentary called Catfish. This is basically the story of some guy named Nev Schulman who gets involved in an online relationship with a girl named Megan that doesn’t exist. Basically, it’s the same thing that happened to Manti Te’o. Nev eventually figures out that the relationship is false, tracks the woman down to her house in the upper peninsula of Michigan and discovers that she is a forty-something-year-old who created an elaborate Facebook account for Megan, acted like her on the phone, and duped Nev into a romantic relationship that existed solely in cyberspace. 

The obvious take away from this movie is that the internet is dangerous and that online identities can be easily manipulated and that we need to be careful because we don’t know who is really behind the profiles, and on and on and on.

Except I don’t think this is the story of Catfish. Yes, all these things are true and serve to give the movie an overt message in the birth of the digital communication age. But to me, this movie is all about the fundamental desire for humans to emotionally connect.

There is a scene in the movie, near the very end, where Nev and Angela are sitting in a room face to face. Nev has already confronted Angela about the lie and is about to leave back to New York, presumably to never see Angela again. (They remained Facebook friends, but I highly doubt that Nev is going to speak to Angela in person again). In this moment, Nev asks to hear Angela talk in Megan’s voice just once more. If you look at Nev during this moment, it is as if he is saying goodbye to someone he truly loved. He really felt a connection to this person, and facing the reality that she didn’t exist was hard. That is why I think he felt compelled to travel from New York, all the way to the upper peninsula of Michigan. Because I think Nev held onto the hope that Megan was real. Or rather that she existed in the physical world. Because the painful thing about seeing Angela speak Megan’s voice had to be the realization that the emotions attached to her were authentic. No matter how much he rationalized the fact that Megan didn’t exist, that she was product of an elaborate lie, he knew what it was like to wake up in the morning and not feel lonely.   

I truly believe that everyone is looking for someone that will guarantee they will never feel lonely again. Perhaps this is a deeply engrained cultural thing that we believe in soul mates and life long companions. Whether that is true or not is impossible to say. The internet creates a vast tool for the imagination. And the human imagination can be a very dangerous thing.

Even though Nev’s story was too good to be true, would it have been that unrealistic if it wasn’t? This is the whole premise behind online dating. Eternal companionship is potentially the next click away. The sad thing however, as Nev found, is that the physical world, and the metaphysical world aren’t always compatible, and the physical world ultimately is the one that dictates the rules.

 

What Is It That I “DO” on Social Media?… is anyone paying attention?

I don’t have any faint idea of how many people actually look at my social media walls. I estimate that it is some number between my mom and the entire free world (and some people monitoring the internet in the non-free world). Realistically it is probably much, much closer to the former. Like, 3 people more than my mom. I still don’t discount the very off chance that I have some sort of cult following in some obscure society that is obsessed with my digital life like an online Truman Show.

 

The point I am trying to make is that I don’t really give that much thought to my online digital presence in terms of trying to get likes and retweets. I used to. When I was in middle school, just a supple newcomer to the Facebook game, I used to try and create a digital life for myself that other people would envy. I tried to post things that other people would “like”. I would take “Facebook” pictures (the kind of pictures that you take for the sole purpose of putting on Facebook to show other people how awesome your life is). I could deny it all I want, but I was one of those people. I also would like to say that when I started college I became better than that. But I didn’t. In fact it wasn’t until I moved abroad to Germany and started blogging about it that I really changed my views on social media.

 

When I moved to Germany, I didn’t want to spend the money to buy an international phone plan because that money was much better allocated towards partaking in the local cultural experience (German beer, chocolate, and soccer tickets). I was too busy having fun in Germany that I lost touch with my traditional social media patterns. It’s kind of hard to constantly update your Facebook when you are actually doing things in your life. However, I had to keep my social media up to date because that is basically how I let anyone this side of the Atlantic know that I was still alive. I started keeping a blog – http://thealmostinnocentsabroad.tumblr.com/ – not necessarily to connect with other people, but basically as a journal. I figured that I wanted to keep a journal, but why not share it with other people? What happened was I started posting things that interested me. That’s all I had time for. And as a result it was the most engaging experience I had with social media. And I can only confirm that only 10 people actually read it.

 

This blog marked an important shift in how I interact with social media. I used to do social media for other people. Now I do it for me. I use Facebook, Twitter, this blog (sometime soon) to post things that I find cool. To create a record of interesting internet things for my own reference. And then if someone happens to actually come across any of my stuff, perhaps they will find something interesting as well. Maybe they will “like” my stuff. Maybe they will follow my Twitter. I used to care about that. Now, I’m more concerned with things like actually trying to live my life. Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do?