How Do We Increase Engagement?

We’re BYU students.  We can do engagement.  We talk about engagement, we celebrate engagement, half of our facebook notifications are of friends getting engaged. Most of the bishops are probably wondering: How do we increase engagement?

Nuff’ said.  We can do engagement, whether that be romantic engagement or social engagement.  Let’s put our skills to work for WesterCon 67.  We want to figure out how to better analyze and use centrality, transitivity, connectivity, and diversity to our benefit to help WesterCon67 attract the younger fans and increase participation.  If we boil that down to plain English, we want to know 2 things:

1) How do we engage more people?  

2) How do we better engage interaction with the people we have?  

 

We discussed both these questions in class as well as in our last blog posts.  Let’s pull it all together here.  

1) How do we engage more people?

WesterCon67 has several resources they can call on to engage more people on their facebook and twitter.  

  • Brandon Sanderson is one of their main guests this year.  He has 58,427 followers.  We need to write tweets with links for him, and ask him to tweet the content for us.  

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  • Jason Komito, a writer, also follows WesterCon67.Image

We need to be writing content for him to tweet, too.  

  • Seattle Geeky Girls:  I discussed them in our last post.  We can write an invite to all the Seattle Cosplay Girls, and have Seattle Geeky Girls post it.  

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  • Here are other followers we need to utilize to spread the word about WesterCon67. 

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  • Salt Lake City Comic Con is also a huge asset.  They don’t currently follow WesterCon67, but we could write a tweet for them, and ask them to post it on their FB page and Twitter.  They have several followers from the local area would would be interested in a sci-fi/fantasy writing convention.

 

 

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  • We also need to think even more locally. On BYU Campus there’s the QUARK club for all things sci-fi/fantasy.  http://quarksff.org/
  • We can also invite tons of English majors and creative writers.  Brandon Sanderson is currently teaching a creative writing class at BYU (one of my English-major friends is in it), and Brandon Sanderson could totally advertise there.  It’s extremely competitive to get in the class, so this could be an opportunity for all those who didn’t make it into the class to come to WesterCon67 and hear from Brandon Sanderson there.  
  • Dragon’s Keep store down by Center Street.  They sell comics and tons of sci-fi/fantasy merchandise.  We can put flyers in their shop, and direct them to facebook, twitter, and WesterCon’s website.  We want everyone’s weak ties to centralize back to WesterCon.  

That’s probably enough to start on for now.

 

2) How do we better engage the people we have?

I addressed this in my last post.  Feel free to refer back there for screen shots and specific examples.

WesterCon needs to give their Twitter followers and FB friends a call to action.  They can do that with:

  • Contests
  • Memes
  • Polls
  • Directly linking back to the website
  • more clearly display the convention’s date
  • invite people to post pictures of the convention
  • use a hashtag so people can include westercon in their conversation

WesterCon currently has some good content.  They just need to give people a way to get involved by creating an environment for engagement.  People need to be able to post pictures, to talk to their friends about WesterCon, to know clearly when WesterCon is, to be able to see pictures so they know what it’s like.  People need to know how to get to the website to buy tickets.  They need to know WesterCon cares about them, because WesterCon wants to know what they’re thinking.  When they know WesterCon cares, they and their friends will care about WesterCon. 

We’re BYU students.  We can do Engagement.  We can get people engaged in WesterCon.

 

 

 

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What WesterCon Social Media is Doing Well, and How They Can Grow

First off, props to WesterCon for getting into social media.  I love how they use the man’s face in your logo as your profile picture.  I think it looks cool.
Also, good job to WesterCon on branching out beyond their webpage or facebook and being on Twitter, too.  That’s a great way to reach the younger audience they want to attract in addition to their current loyal fans.
 
In our social media class we’ve talked about a few things that help us analyze the effectiveness of social media and how to improve it.  Let’s take a look at social networks, weak ties, transitivity, memes, and channels of WesterCon’s social media.
 
 
 
Social Networks and Channels:

As stated before, WesterCon communicates on their website (westercon67.org), their facebook page (FB.com/WesterCon67), and their Twitter page (twitter.com/WesterCon67 ).  I wish facebook would let me see the names of the 266 people who liked the page, but it won’t let me.  It does tell me that the popular age range of likers is 35-44, though.  The thirteen followers on Twitter seem to fit in that age range, except for one who is a BYU PR student.   It would be interesting to see if the 13 people following WesterCon on Twitter are also the likers on Facebook, or how they might be related to the likers on facebook.  It would also be interesting to compare demographics like age, location, occupation, mutual friends, etc… between the registered members on the website, the likers on facebook, and the followers on Twitter.  Is it possible to do that?  I’ve heard of a newer product called Adobe Social (https://dev.twitter.com/programs/twitter-certified-products/adobe-social), but I’m not very familiar with it.   Perhaps that would be something that would help?

Weak Ties and Transitivity:

It’s difficult to measure how WesterCon is leveraging weak ties and transitivity without being able to see the mutual friendships among the likers of the page.   I noticed WesterCon is really good about posting updates on Twitter.  To better engage weak ties and transitivity, they provide more opportunities for fans to engage with WesterCon’s social media.

Here are some great posts from WesterCon’s Twitter page:

opportunities for engagement

They are giving their followers a course of action, which is a good start.  WesterCon just needs to take it a step further.  They need to make the action social.  Fans need a way to show online that they are involved with WesterCon.  WesterCon can improve social media engagement by adding a hashtag #westercon or #westercon67 so people could include them in their conversations.

Two fans used a hashtag here it here:

two westercon hashtags on Twitter

Surprisingly, they’re the only two people who used the hashtag.  WesterCon could totally utilize their hashtag to their benefit, and people could post before and after the event about how excited they were, what they were looking forward to most, what they enjoyed most, maybe post a pic or two, etc…

WesterCon could have invited people to use the hashtag to say how they celebrated J.R. Tolkien’s birthday, or could have uploaded a picture of their scones.

WesterCon could also use polls to get more people involved. For National Science Fiction Day, they could have had a poll with some of the top science fiction books of the year, and ask for people’s opinions.  People could keep using the hashtag to get involved.

They could also better utilize facebook.  You can see here: https://www.facebook.com/Westercon67/photos_stream, that they don’t have very many pictures of the convention online.  I went to a dance once that had a photobooth concept that WesterCon could utilize.  People could line up to take pictures in front of a green screen, and then they had a computer there that would put your group’s picture on a themed background.  They told us where to find the link the next day so we could tag ourselves and our friends.  This is genius marketing because the pictures included the events’ name, we got a free photo, the event was publicized to each of our 300-1,000 friends who saw us tagged in the photo, and the service who took the photo (Fun Photo Booth of Utah, check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/FunPhotoBoothofUtah) got us to go to their webpage to get the photo.  It was a win-win situation for the photobooth business, the event, and the people in the picture.

Here’s an example from a dance earlier this month at BYU:

fun photobooth of utah

Perhaps Comic Con could do something like that, but with Sci Fi backgrounds. I bet people would love it.

They could also hold a costume contest where people upload photos, they choose some of the best, and then people vote on them.  Or, they could do it so the photo with the most likes at the end of a certain amount of time wins.  Then, participants would be telling all their friends to like their photo.  That’s tons of free publicity for WesterCon.  College students and younger people would love something like that.   Perhaps WesterCon could look into using FourSquare so people could check into WesterCon, and all their friends could see that they went.

This would build the weak ties and the transitivity between the ties, too.  We want the fans engaging in conversation with each other.

There is already tons of potential.  One of the followers of WesterCon is Seattle Geeky Girls.  They have 356 following, and 98 followers.  WesterCon has 20 following and 14 followers.  They need to give followers like Seattle Geeky Girls a chance to interact with their social media.  Followers like Seattle Geeky Girls need content they can retweet from WesterCon.  Then WesterCon would reach all of Seattle Geeky Girls followers.  We just need to give WesterCon’s followers an exciting way, like a poll on Twitter, costume contest via Facebook,  or a fun hashtag where they can retweet to their own page and allow more people to interact.

seattle geekygirls

Memes:

Another big way to interact would be to make and post a meme, then invite WesterCon followers and friends to post their own memes.  There could be a contest for that too, perhaps with a prize, like a signed book from Brandon Sanderson or lunch with one of the authors, or something like that for the best meme.  They can post memes to Twitter and also share them on Facebook or the website.  They could follow up with pictures of this person with one of the authors, and maybe a few quotes about the experience.

All in all, I would say WesterCon is off to a good start in their social media marketing.  They’ve got some great potential, and can really take it to the next level to get even more engagement from current fans and add new younger fans as well.   Way to go WesterCon.  Let’s keep it up and move it up a notch.

The Realtors Were Right: Location, Location, Location.

Location, Location, Location.  Realtors have been saying this phrase for years.  A house can have 5 bathrooms, a huge yard, a giant master bedroom, a heated swimming pool, and an indoor movie theater, but if the home is in Alaska, it’s not going to sell as well as a home in California.  Location means just as much as what’s on the location.

As with realty, the location,  or medium, of an advertising message means just as much as the message itself.  As summarized in the reading, “The medium IS the message.”  Where you say the message means just as much as what you say.  If you use that to your benefit, you’re going to have some dynamite campaigns.

The advertising agency BBDO nailed it with their Vine Campaign for Lowe’s home improvement store.

They wanted to get people talking, thinking, and sharing positive messages about Lowe’s.  They decided to create Vines (6 second videos for the Vine social media app) with Low’s home improvement tips.  Vine is owned by Twitter, so people could share these vines on Twitter with their friends.  This would be a way to create advertising that people would actually like seeing in their Twitter Feeds (read BBDO’s description of the campaign here: http://www.bbdo.com/#!/the-work/760), and could share on other social media website as well.  Here’s an video about it:

Now why didn’t BBDO use a TV ad or a print ad for Lowe’s?  We can explain that with McLuhan’s tetrad below.

McLuhan's tetrad of media effects

Had BBDO used print or TV, users couldn’t give feedback as easily on the videos.  Vine videos visually amplify just as much as a short TV ad would.  However, the Vine videos reverse into not only amazing vine videos, but flip into a huge social media buzz across Vine, Twitter, Facebook, etc…  That versatility obsolesces TV and print ads.  The social media buzz retrieves wide-spread inspiration for home repairs.  Using social media was obviously the choice.  Their medium was their message because they used short and simple videos to show how to make home repairs shorter and simpler.  The medium amplified their message.  Their message was also about sharing tips and tricks to get people to Lowe’s.  People could then share the message because of the medium with their friends.  It’s a genius campaign.  Way to go, BBDO!

It makes so much sense to use Internet and Social Media for online marketing.

The internet is world-wide.  It’s free.  TV, magazine, newspaper, and billboard ads cost a lot.  They also have a shelf life.  The internet is ever-expounding, ever-sharing.  No one will delete these Vine videos.  Lowe’s can build off this campaign for years because of the medium.  The all-visual vines can be used world-wide, transcending language boundaries (Lowe’s has stores in Canada and Mexico).  They are also saved online on a Tumblr, where people can keep going back to view the handly little hints:  http://lowesfixinsix.tumblr.com/.

Lowe’s can add more tips, like special tips for holiday season, humorous tips, seasonal tips, etc…  People can spoof them, or make their own tip videos.  They can have contests.  It’s genius.

Lowe’s would not have had nearly as much success with  print ad or a TV ad.  They used Vine for a stellar social media campaign.  Their medium, Vine, meant just as much as their message.  The realtors knew the secret all along–the location matters just as much as what’s in the location.  BBDO used that, and created an amazing campaign.

Use Social Media to Reinforce Real Life Relationships Online

I feel pretty socially connected online: I’ve been part of several Facebook groups, I currently have a several hundred friends on face book, I’m part of a family website, I’ve participated in Twitter, Ning, and MiniGroup,  I have a Google+ (although I mostly use it just for hangouts), I love Pinterest, and now I’ve got this WordPress blog.  I use my social media to reinforce my connections with my “real life” friends.

On the other hand, I have a brother who is adamant against setting up a Facebook profile.   I’m working on persuading him, though.

From him, and other people I know without social media profiles, I’ve heard that they don’t want to replace their warm, personal face-to-face relationships with cold, distant online interactions with strangers.  They don’t want to be found online, they don’t want people to know their real name, and they would rather watch forums than participate in them.

It seems to be an interesting debate between having a real life and having an online life.  I think to live a life in one extreme or the other extreme isn’t very wise.  Why not find a middle ground?  Why not reinforce real life relationships with online interaction as well?   That’s why the reading this week was so interesting.  Two scholars from the University of Toronto published an article “Net Surfers Don’t Ride Alone: Virtual Communities as Communities” comparing online communities and real life communities.

In their article, they explored 3 questions for which I will provide real life examples below.

1. ARE ONLINE RELATIONSHIPS NARROWLY SPECIALIZED OR BROADLY SUPPORTIVE?

I think this depends on the type of relationship online, as with all relationships in real life.

Some communities, like camera forums, or specialized for talking about cameras, not broad things like emotional problems.  Other broader communities, like ward Facebook pages, are general enough to not only ask about things like  church activity times, but also to ask for a favor or invite people over for a movie night.”

As the reading said, “Even close relationships usually provide only a few kinds of social support.  Those who provide emotional aid or small services are rarely the same ones who provide large services, companionship or financial aid. ”

Even a more broad but close-knot community, like a ward Facebook page, is not the place to complain about your dating life.   However, these online communities are great ways to get to know the people around you better.

2. IN WHAT WAYS ARE THE MANY WEAK TIES ON THE INTERNET USEFUL?

The weak ties can help you with information.

“Virtual communities may resemble ‘real life’ communities in the sense that support is available, often in specialized relationships.  However, Net members are distinctive in providing information, support, companionship and a sense of belonging to persons they hardly know off-line or who are total strangers. “

Here’s an example from my ward Facebook page where Kenzi and Tayler, who didn’t know each other very well, were able to exchange information about a job opening at Kenzi’s place of work:

kenzi job post

As you can see, the weak ties can help you get a job.

Weak ties also create cultures that can benefit you, such as with humor.

As the reading stated, “Online interaction can also generate a culture of its own, as when humorous stories (or virus warnings) sweep the Net, coming repeatedly to participants.  Indeed, the Net is fostering a revival of folk humor. ”

Here’s the BYU Memes page.  I don’t know many of the posters on the site, but I love this Facebook page for a good dose of laughter.   This is a community full of weak ties, for the culture of BYU and LDS-related humor.  (It’s hilarious, and you can check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/BYUMemes)

BYU memes page

3. IS THERE RECIPROCITY ON-LINE AND ATTACHMENT IN VIRAL COMMUNITIES?

Once again, the answer to this is both yes and no.  As with in real life, it just depends on the type of relationship.

As the reading discussed, it’s easy for people to not want to reciprocate because they are more weakly tied to the people in their viral communities.  However, there is an incentive if the do reciprocate.   “The process of providing support and information on the Net is a means of expressing one’s identity, particularly if technical expertise or supportive behavior is perceived as an integral part of one’s self-identity.  Helping others can increase self-esteem, respect from others, and status attainment.”

The other week a friend needed a guitar. I do not this friend incredibly well,  but I’ve been helped out by friends on Facebook before, so I figured I could help her out too.

guitar loanal edited

In the end, I felt good because I helped someone.  I didn’t do it for increased self-esteem, but it was a nice benefit to feel good for helping.

Facebook is a great way to help out friends and reinforce relationships in real life.  I feel closer to Meredith because I was able to help her out.  Someone recently helped me out after giving me a ride home from the airport, and I felt closer to that person in real life because they helped me.

nathan ride edited

As the reading said, it’s easy to help people when you have a large group.    “People know that they may not receive help from the person they helped last week but from another network member.”  Nathan helped me.  I didn’t help him back, but I helped Meredith.  Then Meredith will probably help someone else.  The chain keeps on going.  People will keep reinforcing relationships as they help people.

Social media doesn’t have to replace real life.  It also isn’t evil in and of itself.  Social media helps us reinforce our relationships in real-life when we interact online in addition to face-to-face interaction.

Literature You Didn’t Realize Was Literature

In pondering the 5 traits of literature from Jonathan Culler’s “Literary Theory”, I realized that even simple popular songs are great works of literature.   The songs are catchy.   Perhaps if we learn from song-writing how to write good social media posts, our social marketing would improve in memorability.   Just a thought.

Anywho, below are the 5 traits of literature, and an example for each.  Most of my examples involve songs, just because songs are so great:

1. LITERATURE AS THE FOREGROUNDING OF LANGUAGE

Jason Mraz’s version of “Winter Wonderland” is a great example.

The whole song positions and repeats words in a rhythmic, catchy way, especially with the memorable, alliterative last line of the chorus: “Walkin’ in a Winter Wonderland.”

 

2. LITERATURE AS THE INTEGRATION OF LANGUAGE

This one actually isn’t a song, but the phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On” is an integration of language.  It forms a relation between keeping calm and carrying on.   Normally, when we think of those two words, carry on just means to do what you’re doing, but to add the words “Keep calm” in front adds a sort of empowerment to “carrying on”.  The hard c and k sounds also add to the harmony of the phrase.

 

3. LITERATURE AS FICTION

“If I had a Million Dollars” by the BareNaked Ladies is a great example of fiction literature.  The whole song “projects a fictional world”, to borrow the words from our reading.   The singers talk about all the things they would do in a world where they would have a million dollars.

If I had a million dollars.  Talk about what life would be like if you had the fictional reality of a million dollars.

 

 

4. LITERATURE AS AN AESTHETIC OBJECT

I can’t think of more aesthetic songs/literature than in Christmas songs, particularly “Silver Bells”.  It is full of imagery about the city lights, the children laughing, people bustling, etc… You can just picture yourself in the city, getting ready for the Christmas holiday.  Here’s a youtube video to help you envision it:

 

5. LITERATURE AS INTERTEXTUAL OR SELF-REFLEXIVE CONSTRUCT

Parodies are intertextual literature, and Weird Al is great at it.  He took the whole Star Wars Series, and stuck it into the song “American Pie” by Don McClean, mimicking some of the phrases from Don McLean’s original song to tell the saga of Anakin/Darth Vader.   Enjoy Weird Al’s “My My This Here Anakin Guy”:

 

Once again, songs have a lot to teach us about literature.  Maybe we can learn a few things from their construction to write better social media posts.

 

 

The Power of Social Networking

“It’s not what you know, but who you know”.

While visiting my home state for the Christmas Break, I heard some friends talking about the “Good Old Boy Network” they noticed in their jobs.

“It’s not what you know, but who you know”, they quoted.

It’s true.  People are social.  We like swapping favors.  We play the “You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours” game.   Sometimes we are a little more selfless than that, but we like to share experiences and help each other out.  Have you ever asked a friend for a favor?  Did they help you pack when you moved?  When you knew the person you liked would be at a game night, did they go with you as your wing-man?  People are social.  You get ahead in life when you know people.  People help you, you help them.  That being said, who wouldn’t want to under social networking?

To illustrate the point, let’s say you need an apartment.  You can talk to the manager, tour an apartment, find out the cost of rent, the apartment’s distance from your work or school, etc…  That is the “what you know” part.  What you know is not enough.  “Who you know”, your friends, can tell you the unseen things about the apartment, like what the social life is like, what the neighborhood is like, which apartment is renovated and which one isn’t even though both cost the same, whether or not management responds to maintenance requests, or how to get special deals.  It’s the “who you know” that will get you places.

Manuel Castells, author of the assigned reading snippet “Afterword: Why Networks Matter” added that networks are important not only because people like to share, but because in a global society, networks are the prime form of governance and source of entertainment.

Think about it: Pinterest, the online bulletin board for ideas, is way more successful because it is built on a social network.  People joined Pinterest, and invited their friends to join.  Friends can see each others’ friends post.  We don’t just search on Google for information anymore; we search on our friends Pinterest pages for what they thought was cool.

I once heard of a really smart guy who utilized the social network power of Pinterest.  His crush agreed to go on a first date with him, and he wanted to make sure that she would enjoy the night.  So, he looked on her Pinterest page to see what kinds of things she might enjoy doing on a date.  The evening was a success!  She loved it.  The guy planned a personalized date because of the things he could find out from a social network.

As Manuael Castells summarized, “Networks are the Underlying structure of our lives.” We need to understand them to use them for good.

Let’s take a look at social networking in the early days of the church. From the assigned chapter, “Chapter 5: The Church of Christ”, we see the power of knowing someone.  In the church, what you know IS important, but you need to share it with who you know so you can share the most good.

At the very first meeting of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, there were only six members of the church.

Because of Joseph Smith sharing the gospel with his family and those around, the Smith family, close friends of the Smith family, the Whitmer family, members of the Jolly and Rockwell families, Joseph Knight Sr. and several members of his family, Abner Cole, Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and Thomas Marsh were baptized.

He also preached to 40-50 people in attendance, and even though not all of them joined the church, he made several impressions.

Oliver Cowdery went on to preach, and baptized 14 people.

Joseph Smith’s brother, Samuel, gave a Book of Mormon to Preacher John P. Greene.  Rhoda Greene, the preacher’s wife, read the book.  She and her husband, as well as her brothers Phineas, Lorenzo, Joseph, and Brigham Young (who was the second prophet of the Church) converted.

Parley P. Pratt knew a member of the church and joined.  He was friends with Sidney Rigdon, an influential Campbellite leader from Colesville.  100 people in Colesville got baptized, including Edward Partridge, the future bishop.   Sixty people were baptized within the first nine months.

Joseph Smith Sr. and Don Carlos Smith, father and brother of Joseph Smith, told their extended family in St. Lawrence County, New York about the Church.

Levi Hall learned about the Church, and so did Emma Smith, future wife of the prophet.

As you can see, it is important to utilize social networking.  The church boomed from 6 members to 66 within the first nine months, and also grew a lot in Colesville through Parley P. Pratt’s associations.   While what you know is important, it’s who you know that helps you as well as others.