Archive for December, 2009

So mobile is the future, huh? How the heck do I measure that?

Lately, all I’ve been hearing about is how mobile is the future.  Mobile marketing is growing and will only continue to explode in the coming years.  My own work and curiosity makes me wonder how measurement will need to grow as mobile marketing does.

Recently I had the opportunity to have a good, long chat with two fabulous IT guys: Ryan and Adam.  And I have to say I felt more than a little nerdy as I chatted in the kitchen with two of my oldest friend’s significant others talking about user strings and Web servers, while a group of my oldest girlfriends sat in the living room and decided which male actor most represented each of them.

I asked these two IT guys what they knew about mobile and what they thought about its emergence.  Luckily, they were more than happy to tell me everything they know and where they think the industry is going.

Then I asked them this: how can we measure mobile marketing?

I told them a few things I knew clients would want to be able to measure, and they told me about tracking some usage through user strings.  And I think this is definitely a great start, but it won’t bring back as much data as I know will be needed moving forward.

As companies begin to use mobile more, they are going to want to understand how effective their campaigns are.  I wonder, is there a way to track mobile usage without building metrics into a mobile application or interface itself?  Is there a third party out there already tracking this kind of usage?

Adam and Ryan gave me a great start, but now I’m asking y’all to help me get farther.  How do I get enough data to be meaningful?

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December 28, 2009 at 9:23 AM 7 comments

Social media conversations: what would you want to know?

Lately, I’ve been finding myself focusing more on the social media conversations. Every time a new project comes up, I’m asked to look at it from a company’s perspective.  More specifically, it’s always recommended to think about what the CMO would want to know or what the CEO would want to know.

How the heck am I supposed to know?

Seriously.  I graduated about seven months ago from college, and I have very little idea what a CMO would want to know about online conversations.  Generally I have a pretty good idea, and I have gotten very good at recognizing topics that are significant or noticing changes in volume of posts or where posts are being written.  But I still find myself wondering how I can be expected to understand what someone like a CMO would look for.

So I’m asking you!  What do you think?  If you were a CMO and wanted an audit of social media conversations, what would you look for?  What would you notice?  What would stand out?  I would love to hear some insights and ideas so maybe I can learn to recognize the big ideas when I see them.

December 23, 2009 at 10:08 AM 1 comment

Psychology of social media: impatience, lack of focus and paranoia abound

I’ve not been around the social media game terribly long, but I have been around long enough to notice that there are certain psychological traits that seem to be common.  I don’t mean to insult anyone; I simply mean to point out traits that seem to be fueled by social media.

Because social media (and the Internet in general) are instant, impatience seems to logically follow.  I have found myself guilty of this one.  If I publish a blog post, sometimes I find myself wondering why no one reads it right away.  When I Tweet a question, why don’t I get an instant response?  Because we can get answers from search engines so quickly, I think often we expect the same instant response from social media.

This only because a true problem when it comes to a crisis of sorts.  I remember a few months ago, Best Buy fell under fire because an angry customer sought help from @BestBuyCMO on Twitter.  The person behind the Twitter handle signed off after a brief interaction and did not come back until the next day.  In @BestBuyCMO’s absence, Twitter was up in arms about how Best Buy could ignore the situation.  In hindsight, though, wasn’t it unreasonable to expect an immediate response?  On a Sunday?

Lately I’ve been noticing that we tend to jump around from topic to topic without fully resolving anything.  We lack focus. I participate in weekly Twitter chats, and while these are definitely helpful, the same topic is never addressed twice.  It’s so great to have access to many voices giving advice and asking questions about the same topic or idea. It loses a great deal of its power, though, when there’s really just chatter with no clear answer or direction in the end.

Perhaps I’m missing those who are truly focused on one topic, but I feel as though most of us (myself included) try to find the newest idea to discuss instead of looking at an idea in depth. Have you noticed this?

With the Internet becoming so ubiquitous, there is a greater need for safety online.  It’s obviously not smart to disclose all of your personal information, but at the same time, sometimes I think we are too paranoid.  Customers are not out to destroy all big brands.  Companies should be cautious and we should all be careful about how we interact online, but let’s face it, the online world isn’t out to get us (at least in most cases).

I am by no means suggesting that we throw caution to the wind and simply do as we please, but I think sometimes we all make it seem as though a company’s brand may completely fall apart should they decide to take on social media.

In all fairness, I should disclose that I have never studied psychology beyond introductory classes, but it seems to me to make sense that the immediacy of social media has encouraged these traits in all of us.  What do you think?  What else do you notice?  Am I completely off base?

December 18, 2009 at 7:53 AM 3 comments

Expectations: are they really so completely overwhelming or all in your head?

I expect it won’t take more than an hour.  I expected to have a job by the time I graduated.  How do you expect me to read your mind?

No matter where you are in life or where you want to go, at times we are all haunted and overwhelmed by expectations.  Whether they’re our own, those of our peers or those of our superiors, expectations have an uncanny way of being unrealized.

I grew up with certain expectations for myself, which included being gainfully employed upon graduating from college this May.  With the drastic change in the economy and high-speed evolution of communications, I have found many of my expectations have gone unfulfilled.  Some days it’s easy to feel like this mean I’ve failed.

After talking with just about any one who would listen, I’ve realized that I am definitely not alone and that I need to change my expectations in this economic climate.

This made me think: what other expectations do I have for myself (as a person, a professional, etc.) are completely off-base and unreachable? Am I setting myself up to fail?

Recently I had to fill out one of those personality indices which asks that you first select all of the adjectives that you feel you are expected to be and then to fill out all of the adjectives that you think you really are.

I realized that I believe that the world expects me to be, well, perfect.  I am expected to be patient in my job search but tenacious when applying for opportunities.  I am expected to be respectful of my superiors but confident enough to disagree.  I am expected to be completely dedicated to my job but well-balanced in life.

Am I alone?  Am I pulling these expectations out of thin air?  Is it even possible to meet all of these criteria?

When I ask people what they do expect of me, I feel as though I often get very vague answers, which only makes me feel more nervous that I am utterly failing to be what is expected of me.

As a young professional seeking first-time employment in an ever-changing industry, what is expected of me?  What do you feel is expected of you?

December 16, 2009 at 9:37 AM 2 comments

I claim thee, social media, in the name of…Ow.ly?

OK. I’m a bit torn on these online tools like Ow.ly and StumbleUpon.  And yes, I know that they have been around for some time now, but I didn’t really understand my distaste for them.  Now I think I can put it into words.

When I open up a link from Twitter or someone’s blog and it brings up a banner at the top of the page indicating that someone else has tagged the page using one of these tools, it makes me feel as though they are claiming it as their own.  It’s like trying to stake your claim on the Internet.

That’s so not what social media is about.

I understand that it’s a great tool to track where posts that you write or like, and it definitely has some potential to be a basic measurement tool.  You know me, that part, I think, is great.  But what happens when I open the link and then send it on to someone else?  They open it up to see the person’s banner at the top, and suddenly the other person gets the credit even though they didn’t pass it along themselves.

Maybe I’m missing the point entirely.  Is it all about trying to see how far your own reach is?  Look how far I can get this post to travel?  Is it a way to track what posts you liked?

Most of the time I find it’s just one more thing I have to close out (like those annoying pop-up ads that somehow infiltrate my pop-up blocker).  And it just seems silly to me to try to claim responsibility for a post you didn’t write.

December 14, 2009 at 9:18 AM 4 comments

Think social media can teach you a lot? What about hockey players?

I must first say that I feel like such a writer.  I’ve been finding inspiration for blog posts left and right, and it always makes me feel artsy.  Justified or not, I like the feeling.

Whatever downsides a daily commute on the “L” has, the ability to spend 40 uninterrupted minutes reading a good book every morning and evening make up for and then some.  Lately my “L” book has been Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, and it has made me take a hard look at myself and my own life.

The basic premise of this book is to try to identify the indefinable qualities that make people “outliers.”  That term, I think, tends to make people think about statistics, which is exactly right.  People who are exceptionally successful or not, people who are far from average are outliers.  And Gladwell takes a good look at why.

One of his first examples is to examine professional hockey players in Canada.  The vast majority of them are born in January, February or March.  Why?  The cutoff day for peewee hockey is Jan. 1.  As kids are selected at an early age for “elite” squads, those who are born early in the year are bigger, stronger and more developed than those born in December.  These children then get the advantage of more practice and competition and eventually become the best of the best.  But it all starts with the fact that they were lucky enough to be born early in the year.

What has struck me over and over again is how much opportunity and luck have to do with success.  And just average or ordinary success.  Think Bill Gates success.  Gladwell claims that there are plenty of us who are smart enough and talented enough to be the next Bill Gates, but what we require to get there is the opportunity.

This may seem like an oversimplification, but from personal experience I believe there is great truth.  We all like to believe that what makes us special is our innate abilities and talents, but often we just happen to be in the right place at the right time.  Or in the right field at the right time working for the right employer.

I wouldn’t consider myself to be an outstanding or exceptional college graduate in any sense.  I graduated with a good GPA and with some experience.  So why do I have an amazing, rewarding job six months later when plenty of peers I believe to be far more deserving still remain unemployed?

I was in the right place at the right time.

If you remember, when I first shared my new job with everyone, I mentioned that I was asked to interview the day before my internship was ending.  I left for a two-week vacation in Australia not 24 hours after my interview.  Not that I don’t work hard or produce quality work, but I don’t doubt that timing played a role.

The reason I found my passion in the first place, I think, was luck.  When I finally decided to switch from studying biochemistry in college, I happened to grab the last seat in an Introduction to Public Relations course.  The professor of that course happened to bring in Katie Paine as one of our first guest speakers.  More than once I’ve wondered where I would be if it weren’t for my professor, Dr. Craig Carroll, and Katie Paine.

Think about your own experience.  You are talented, and you work hard.  But what opportunities have really helped propel you to where you are today?

December 10, 2009 at 11:48 PM 2 comments

A letter to oneself one year later — lessons from a year-long job search

Last week, Kate Ottavio wrote a letter to herself for the PR Breakfast Club blog.  She wrote to her former self about all the lessons she has learned after working for one year in PR.  This inspired me to write a letter of my own:

Dear Rebecca,

Hey lady!  Take a deep breath.  You will have your dream job in one short year, and trust me, time will absolutely fly by when you relax.  This next year will cause you some stress and frustration, but I promise you it will be worth it.

I know that you won’t believe any one else’s experience completely because they aren’t just like you, so instead I’ll tell you what I would have wanted to know when I was just starting my job search:

  1. Don’t take it personally. Seriously.  I cannot stress this one enough!  It’s the roughest job climate in decades, and it will take you time to find the right job.  You should know that less than 20 percent of all graduates will have jobs this year.  Being an overachiever, I know it’s hard to accept, but you’re not alone and no one will think of less of you.
  2. Compromise but know your deal-breakers. You’re going to be offered internships and part-time positions that are not ideal.  You’re going to be offered positions that are downright insulting to your intelligence.  Know the difference, and don’t be afraid to say no.  A job may not be perfect, but you should still be happy.  When you’re instincts tell you it’s a bad idea, for Lord’s sake, listen!
  3. Get out more. I know, I know, you’re not a big party girl.  That’s OK.  But get out there!  Go to those networking events you think you’re too tired to go to.  Go to the ones where you don’t think you’d fit in.  Trust me, you’re bound to meet someone who will have good advice even if you don’t meet your future boss.
  4. Ask everyone for advice, but don’t follow it blindly. One thing that will frustrate you the most is when your parents, professors and peers all give you different advice.  Who is right?  And will you disappoint someone by not doing what they suggested?  (This is where the relaxing part comes in again.)  Take any and all advice that feels right and you think will help, and don’t for a second worry about feelings.  You will not hurt someone by working hard for your goal.
  5. Keep your expectations realistic. Always. There will be a few times when you think that you have a great job in the bag!  Just a few more details to be worked out.  And then just a few more, and then a few more weeks go by and still you’re unemployed.  Don’t stop your search until you have that offer in your hand!  If you stop because you think it’s about to happen, you’ll only feel more pressure and stress when you start back up again.
  6. Make yourself happy and make friends. You’re going to find yourself in a new city far away from where you went to college.  You will feel alone and lost at times, but if you make an effort to have friends, you’ll feel much, much better in the long run.  Eat lunch and go out after work with other interns in your building or nearby.  Know your limits, but try to always say yes.  You’re a social person, and you need to have friends to be happy.
  7. Be true to your passion. You know what you want to do, and you have been working hard to gain the best skills and experiences to get there.  Shouldn’t that be enough?  Unfortunately not.  But don’t lose hope.  Your passion and drive will eventually show the right person that you are the perfect fit for a job.  Trust me, and let your passion be your guide.  Oh, and don’t ever think sharing you passion is too nerdy!

I know that there is probably a lot more that you want to know about what to expect, but by not knowing, you will learn a lot in the next year.  You won’t love it, but looking back you’ll appreciate it.  Keep your head up, I know you’re destined to get where you want to go!

Sincerely,

Future Rebecca 🙂

December 6, 2009 at 9:02 PM 3 comments


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