COM0011-521 Blog post #6 A visual medium

So, a few of you may know that I’m helping my friend out with her cooking show.  The idea behind it is that she takes a guest from the local music scene and cooks a dish with them using local ingredients.  I know I’ve learned a lot of tasty dishes from her.

I suppose it’s fortunate that most of her content is ready made for the internet.   ‘Foodie’ culture is huge on the internet and is usually an easy sell.  There’s even the idea that we eat with our eyes just as much as with our stomachs.  A video of a dish being made should make our eyes very hungry.

However, YouTube is huge and there are millions of competing chefs vying for your attention.  Her issue is how does she grow her brand.  What I’ve learned is to target the message so that it’s hitting the groups you want.  Your audience might not be hanging out where you expect them to be.

In her case, it would mean creating different types of visual content.  Namely she would be taking pictures of her plated dishes and posting them where they’re most popular: Pinterest.  The idea is that a lot of foodies pay a lot more attention to that type of content there.  Tumblr, with its heavy reliance on pictures is fantastic at drawing in foodies of all stripes as well.  Using those same pictures on Tumblr should work just as well.

Attracting those foodies whom interacted with Tumblr or Pinterest content would simply involve linking them to the YouTube page.  Visual content may be great for social media but you have to get your audience to know about it.



COM0011-521: Blog Entry #5 Good and bad social media campaigns


Earlier this year, Ford ran into a bit of trouble.  One of their ad agencies in India decided to have some (unauthorized) fun.  I can’t actually place the images they ended up producing because I think it might break some Algonquin College guidelines or offend those with good taste.  Suffice it to say that these ads were somewhat violent and needlessly sexist.

You might imagine that those ads would have sunk Ford in terms of bad PR.  The thing was, Ford’s media managers were on the ball.  Within moments of the ad coming to light, their guys were out their explain the situation.  Those ads were mock ups were never authorized or even shown to Ford.

Once that info came to light, the years of good will that Ford had cultivated on line came to the fore front.  Defenders of Ford came out of the woodwork to suppress that story and stop the damage from spreading.

Meanwhile, Durex condoms found that not putting enough thought into their campaign can lead to some terrible outcomes.  Their idea was to have people tell them what city needed condoms the most to have Durex ship them.  Internet pranksters knew an opportunity when they saw one.  They flooded the Facebook poll to place Batman, Turkey at the top of the list.  For those who don’t know Batman is in the most conservative part of Turkey.  They weren’t amused to find out they won.

So Ford saved themselves a PR nightmare by always being out their an interacting with their audience. They were up front with the media and explained everything.  They had grown their fantasy for years by interacting positively with them so that when disaster struck, their base came to their aid.

Durex, meanwhile, couldn’t see that their campaign could lead to some very embarrassing results.  Since they didn’t examine the premise of the plan hard enough, their campaign got blown over by trolls.

Raffaele Furgiuele

Com0011-521 Blog Post #4 – Big Data Used Against Us


Ever since Google burst on to the market, the way companies have interacted with us has changed.  For the most part it’s been beneficial to us.  Companies are now sending messages that seemed geared specifically to each of us as individuals.  It’s when these companies use these new tools against us that a problem surfaces.

That’s the gist of a talk by Kate Crawford a principal at Microsoft Research.  She details ways in which large companies can use big data to discriminate against people.  From the article at Ars Technica,

“In the old days, if both of those customers saw the six percent offer on a billboard and walked in the bank to apply, the bank couldn’t legally offer the customer from the bad neighborhood the higher interest rate based on where they live. But with online targeting, the bank can make sure the bad-neighborhood customer never sees the offer, period, avoiding the perceived “risk” altogether.”

At the moment, there’s not much in the way to stop a company from misusing that data.  A consequence of using the technology that Google and others provide is that you give up information about yourself. That data is even more precise with each new social media tool we use.

There is always the possibility of Canada’s privacy czar stepping in and intervening.  However, that may require someone to fall victim to this misuse of their information in the first place.  Not exactly convenient for that person.

Perhaps another solution would be to petition Google, Facebook and others to be more judicious on who they give our data to.  They have been receptive before to public outcries over privacy issues before.

I’m honestly curious.  Is it possible to stop companies from using your data against you while still giving them the freedom to understand you?  Thoughts?

Raffaele Furgiuele

COM0011–521 Blog Post #3: Using Social Media in my Journalism


We hear every day that social media has changed the way we do things.  We hear it often enough that the saying has lost some meaning to most of us.  Journalists are keenly aware of this.  Social media has in fact become one of their primary tools. Journalists now rely on social media to get on top of a story before anyone else is even aware of it.  We’ve heard the story of how the people of New York received tweets about the earthquake seconds before they felt it.  In a similar vein, professional journalists are using twitter to scoop one another on current events

Aaron Lazenby, DJ for Pirate Cat Radio, was scanning Twitter one night last year when he noticed #iranelection trending. Curious, he clicked on the hashtag, and started poring over the flood of tweets about the “stolen” election. Lazenby became fascinated with the situation, and stayed up all night talking with people in Iran and reading up on the subject. The next day, he was hanging out with a Pulitzer Prize-winning AP reporter who was completely unaware of what was going on in Iran — news of the protests had not reached the mainstream news. Lazenby seized the opportunity to tell the story. He contacted one of his Twitter sources, who agreed to do an interview over Skype for Lazenby’s radio show. The interview, in turn, was picked up by CNN’s iReport, a citizen journalism portal.”

Social media had alerted the mainstream press to an event faster than their traditional means of finding information. It can amplify voices and events that they would not have otherwise been aware about.

However, the introduction of social media hasn’t been all roses for journalists either.  Being human, they are prone to mistakes.  We often see retractions in newspapers or corrections through a news broadcast.  Mistakes happen.  The problem is that social media can amplify those mistakes as well.

Possibly the worst example of this was the school shooting in Connecticut earlier this year.  Journalists, in a rush to identify the shooter, posted the Facebook profile of one Ryan Lanza.  It was a shame when it was found out to be his brother Adam Lanza.  The amount of harassment Ryan received was nothing short of tragic.  What must have felt like the entire world came crashing down on him in anger and rage.  That journalistic error was made worse due to the very nature of social media.

So the take away is this.  Social media is a fantastic research tool for journalists.  You can often find out information faster than any other means available to you.  The problem with it is that you need to be extremely accurate.  Mistakes travel quickly and can reach just as wide an audience.

Raffaele Furgiuele

COM 0011-521: Blog Post 2 – Listening to Online Communities

If there is one thing I learned from listening to online communities, it’s that the old saying “know your audience” still applies to the online world.

In most situations, brands will try to bend over backwards to their audience. Seldom will they engage in fights with their audience. With every post being visible to the internet at large, a negative tweet can quickly blow up and become an example of what not to do in a marketing class.

However, this rule doesn’t always apply if you’re talking about personal branding. I’ve followed a lot of video game reviewers and the one thing I found is that they will readily reply back to nasty tweets with their own level of snark. Interestingly, they won’t lose followers. In fact, they even have their defenders.

As an example, I follow Arthur Gies on Twitter. If you look at his most popular tweets in terms of retweets and the number of times it’s marked as a favourite, you’ll see that he doesn’t hold back. A choice example is “oh noooo all the dudes with anime avatars are commenting”. That’s a tweet that directly attacked a segment of his readership and yet he still manages to be fairly popular.

So what allows a game reviewer to respond to snark where a company cannot? Well it might be the fact that their job description requires them to be opinionated. We somewhat expect a certain amount of snark from film reviewers with regards to terrible films. Fashion commentators are well known for heaving insults on the poorly dressed. So those that follow game reviewers might have come to expect that the reviewers can be insulting.

If your audience expects you to be someone who is highly critical and snarky, they will follow you. This is even true if you end up insulting a portion of them. Companies, and especially those focused on customer service, are never afforded those luxuries. No one expects insults in return for a customer complaint. In fact, your customer base may leave you en masse as a result. So, in the end, if you know who your audience is, you can more easily figure out what is the best way to interact with them.

Raffaele Furgiuele

COM011 Blog Post #1 – Tools & Sources

It seems like every day there’s a new social network asking me to pay attention to them.  For good reason too.  A lot of money can be made from being a successful social network.  Yet I keep sticking with three tried and true favourites.  Not because they’re novel ways of communicating but because they each provide an invaluable tool in my daily life.

My primary tool is Facebook.  It’s been a great way of keeping in touch with friends and keeping up with any important events or birthdays.  However, it’s been a wonderful tool for keeping me organized with a multitude of events going on.  Since the advent of Facebook, I feel I’m much more organized than I ever used to be.

My second go to network of choice would have to be Twitter.  Twitter is where I turn to find out what is happening and fast.  I’m also able to actively gauge public reaction to something far better than by listening to TV pundits.  Take the Presidential debates just this past year.  Instantaneously you knew who was winning the debate from the public’s reaction to it on Twitter.

As for my third social network, it would have to be YouTube.  That may surprise you since it’s known for turning out memes asking ‘What does the fox say?’ or creating words like ‘rickrolling’.  However, I know I can also turn to YouTube for thoughtful insights I wouldn’t get anywhere else.  It’s also proven to be a fantastic equalizer between the media and its audience who can now actively engage with them through comments and video responses.  Like Twitter, you can know pretty quickly what issues matter most to people by being on YouTube for a bit.  The difference being that YouTube is a bit slower but you get a bit more depth from its content.

That’s not to say I’m above a good meme or two but these three networks provide great tools in my life as well.  Facebook will keep me organized.  Twitter and YouTube will keep me up to date with things that matter. That said, all three will provide me with a ton of cat memes too.

Raffaele Furgiuele