Thursday, November 6, 2008

Adventures in Social Media

Free Social Media Tip of the Day: Including funny pictures of cats in your post/story helps lead to increased popularity on Digg. Seriously.

Having worked professionally in the public relations and marketing field over the past few years (and maintaining my own blog now - whoot!), I've witnessed first hand the rise of social media as both a means of personal expression and, well, socializing, as well as a business tool.

I think everyone involved with social media these days realizes its importance and that it has been around longer than most people think; some folks just didn't catch the early flight. But fret not, this is one delay that can work to your benefit. To continue with the airlines metaphor (hadn't planned to go that route, but it seems to be working); imagine going to the airport with no luggage, no tickets and no destination in hopes of embarking on a fantastic worry-free vacation. Riiiight.

Well social media is a bit like that too. There's so much out there now with sites like MySpace, Facebook, Second Life, YouTube, Slashdot, Flickr, Digg, Twitter, Youmeo, my blog, his blog, your dog's blog, etc. They all fit under the social media umbrella but with distinctly different services and personalities. That said, you can't expect your marketing campaigns, new product discussions, blog popularity and whathaveyou to "take off" unless you're on the right flight - this also means you need to pack accordingly and embark at the right time!
(Need a travel planner? I'm available :)

Here's an example: A major consumer product company, which will remain anonymous, wanted to increase their presence in the social media world during peak season, thus reaching their target audience on a deeper, more personal level. Their initial thinking was that by creating a page on MySpace and/or Facebook where they could bring their character logo to life and interact with potential customers they would increase brand awareness and reach more potential customers. Sounded plausible until I did some basic internet surfing research for them and discovered that the vast majority of popular branded characters (Ronald McDonald, Wendy, Mr. Clean, etc.) have dozens of imposter pages, most of which contain vulgar and otherwise non-brand friendly content. Needless to say, I helped them go in another, more relevant direction...

Moral of the story: Don't be the Clark Griswold of marketing, take time to plan your and/or your clients' social media trip(s) accordingly!


Election night coverage is a love/hate relationship for me. As someone with a communications and market research background, I love watching how the different media cover the same general story in different ways - it's a presidential election; one guy wins and the other loses. At the same time, I hate how these media act like they have the Keebler Elves' secret formula for "calling" a candidate's victory in states where only one percent of the vote was reported. Yeah, I know, "exit polling" indicates voters' attitudes which are then translated into assumed votes with the help of mounds of other polling info, research, trends, etc. But if recent election history has shown us anything (2000 anybody? Bueller?), then skepticism is a logical manner in which to approach this media method.

Take two national news media stations - MSNBC and FOX News. The classic lefty versus righty matchup. I'm flipping back and forth between the two around 9:30 (don't quote me on the time) on Tuesday night and see the following "scores:" MSNBC - Obama: 103 McCain: 34 FOX News - Obama: 82 McCain: 39 (Again, could be off by a few, but you get the picture.)

Simple explanation for the scoring discrepancies, right? MSNBC had given PA to Obama and FOX News WV to McCain at the time of the aforementioned scores, but not vice versa. (This scenario was evident throughout the evening, with MSNBC calling many New England states for Obama well in advance of FOX News, which was busy calling southern states like GA and AL for McCain.) Here's my thing - MSNBC's and FOX News' respective calls for PA and WV at this point were not mirrored by one another until a good hour later. Am I to assume as a news consumer that these media could be confident enough in their data to call different states for different candidates at the same time, but not confirm the other's call? What, did FOX News have more folks on the ground in Charleston while MSNBC's pollers were in full force in Philly? Perhaps.

It's interesting to note that MSNBC, a reputed liberal-leaning media, had Obama ahead in electoral votes by a larger margin at all times than FOX News, a reputed conservative media, which had McCain losing by less electoral votes at all times. I'm not choosing sides or advocating for any cause, just stating the facts. Coincidence?

Bottom line - how can we as news consumers who for the most part are seeking objective accounts of the facts trust these "experts" when their data, sources, facts and news differ so greatly? We can't. Having watched another edition of election coverage, I'm further convinced of the need for discretion by today's news consumers. If you pay attention, some media even tell you: "We report, you decide."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Allo, allo!

Good morning, good day and good night - in case you stop here. For those brave souls that care to venture on, my name is Justin Moore and I am an unemployed public relations and marketing professional living outside Charlotte, NC. Intriguing, I know. If you're reading this, I either referred you here to see what a diligent and skilled worker I am (how'm I doing?), or your search engine made a mistake :) I kid. Never can get enough of that Google juice though, that's part of what I do!

I've carved out this little knook of the internet as a place to show some of my work and offer more info about myself for those select businesses and individuals that may be in a position to hire someone with exemplary communications skills (it's my blog, I'll endulge if I want). Feel free to check out some work samples on the right menu bar or contact me for more specific stuff - I've worked in many areas of the biz and have tried to categorize on this blog for convenience and viewing sake, but I'm happy to oblige requests. But lest I appear too greedy or self serving with my online abode, I feel that there's potential for an interesting sub-plot here...

We all know of the country's economic woes and unemployment issues (look Ma, I'm a statistic!) So I wonder if my adventure, as I optimistically refer to it, could be a micro-case study of sorts. Charlotte is considered one of the few shining markets (even if faint) in a tarnished economy - so how hard could it be for a college grad with professional experience to get a job in the Queen City? We'll find out! And personally, I'm rooting for the guy... stay tuned.

But why should you care? You don't know me on a personal level and have no reason to feel for or relate to my situation. Lets fix that :) You can find out all all kinds of things "about me" to the right. The elevator speech version - I graduated from ECU (go Pirates!) with a Comm. degree and worked in Greensboro as an account executive at a public relations and marketing firm for a couple years. We were small in staff but big in clients. I did it all - media relations, market research, tours, brand positioning, corporate communications and writing, creative design, web editing, media training, event management - really, the list goes on. I'm a newlywed to my best friend of more than six years. We're such good friends that when she was offered a good paying job doing what she loves (textiles design, and lets face it, you can't be picky here), your's truly made the move with no resistance. We found out about the job/move just as we were getting married (mid-October) and had all of three weeks to get married, plan and execute a move and bravely enter the unemployment market during arguably the worst economic crisis of this lifetime (well, I did). Stress has no meaning to me anymore, throw me in the deep end!

I got a lot going for me though - I write (and actually enjoy it), I'm good with people in many different situations and environments, I'm resourceful (sounds basic, but some folks still can't attach files to emails) and I commit and see things through to completion - remember the 6+ years stat prior to my marriage? I get the job done. Whatcha got?

That's me in a 10-story ride to the lobby. Feel free to stick around, I think it'll get better. Oh, did I mention I'm open to criticism and actually learn from it? Drop me a line anytime. There is no set framework for this blog, only to plant myself out there in this crazy social media world and see what grows. Add water at will.