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passion meets innovation

The spring semester will be complete in just a mere 3 weeks or so; one of the perks of being enrolled at the University of Louisville is their hastiness to get students off campus prior to Derby weekend. This semester was an interesting one, to say the least, causing myself to reevaluate who I was as a student and who I wanted to be as a professional. Luckily, I have meet some great mentors while in the Communication Department and they helped make some of those tough calls easier for me.

Other than our happy go lucky advisor Steve Sohn, I am lucky to have yet another faculty member as a new trusted advisor – Dr. Karen Freberg, whose class I am currently also wrapping up as this semester comes to a close.

I have also been known as the innovator to my group of friends – my father is sort of a nerd and thus the gene has been passed down to me. My siblings and I had an Apple 2 growing up, we had iPods before discman’s had even thought of being obsolete, my folks were on the first waiting list for the first iPhone, and it’s a running joke in our family that Apple is our favorite fruit. Hell – I have the Apple logo tattooed on my wrist. Anything that is deemed the new coolest tech toy, my dad has it, has bought it, or is on the waiting list for it. So when Dr. Freberg walked into our Cohort Seminar in the fall sporting a pair of Google Glass I knew that I had to be in her course! Luckily enough, I was able to snag a seat in her social media course (which by the way is another one of my favorite past-times, to the point that my mentality is if you didn’t Instagram it, tweet it, or post it – did it really happen?!).

What I grained from her course was just amazing – an incredible experience!

Right away I was named team leader to work with Joey Wagner on his upcoming event Thunder Lounge. Where my team and I had a blast! We created, and served, real cocktails to him and his associates in a business meeting. We brainstormed with his team to come up with ways to brand the event. We are running his Twitter and Facebook accounts – our strategic plans being turned into real life content as we go along. It’s been great working with Joey, and I hope we can work together again in the future. (And a big ol’ thank you to my team Maggie Cunningham, Katie McDaniel, and Kate Vance – couldn’t have done it without ya!)

Dr. Freberg also brought in multiple guest speakers from all faucets of the industry. From crisis communication to Facebook analytic specialists to previous students of hers. Though the one that I was must interested in was with @ULFlyingCard – the social media guru for UL athletics. Having already talked to me, repeatedly, about my future goals and what I was passionate about Dr. Freberg knew that sports was were I wanted to be. And before Nick Stover‘s presentation was even over, she was whispering that I needed to go ask him for an internship – tell him I am a designer, I knew social media, I’m a graduate student. The class ended and she pretty much ushered me to his side to ensure I got the opportunity to talk with him. She even helped me finalize the draft to this post that I sent to him, along with my resume.

It is because of her and her encouragement I was able to land an internship of a lifetime.

And I cannot thank her enough.

From the lectures on branding oneself, to the guest speakers, to personally letting me take her Google Glass to the UL/UK Sweet 16 game, to always just being a tweet away – I just want to say thank you to Dr. Freberg. She has taken my passion for sports and social media and has turned it into an innovated career path. I look forward to more classes with her and am proud to be a #FrebergGrad!

My boss & I rocking Glass before the start of the UL/UK Sweet 16 game in Indy.

My boss & I rocking Glass before the start of the UL/UK Sweet 16 game in Indy.

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a hiatus & a thank you

And I am back. After a hiatus from social media starting at about 12:37am this past Saturday morning. It wasn’t a real hiatus; I still checked my emails and occasionally got on to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram – but I didn’t post much and it usually only took me a few moments before I tossed my phone to the side once more.

Why, pray tell? All because of a little basketball game.

But you see it wasn’t just another game. And before you jump to conclusions that its just because I “hate” UK – let me stop you right there. That’s not it at all. (Granted I don’t like UK – at all. The majority of their fans are annoying, but so are some UL fans, they both exist – yeah, yeah, I know.) Rather it had everything to do with the fact that fans have watched Russ Smith, Luke Hancock, Stephan Van Treese, and Tim Henderson grow up at UL – from transfers, to walk-ons, to sitting on the bench; these guys cared deeply and wholeheartedly about the name on the front of their jersey. That’s who they played for. Kentucky players – c’mon it’s a one and done environment, yes it works for them and yes they are in the Final Four because of that but that doesn’t mean that they deserved that win. Because they didn’t. Those seniors at UL, the ones who sweated day in and day out at the gym, who kept their grades up, who stayed to finish school, they deserved that win.

That’s why I took a hiatus from social media (sort of) for the last few days. I didn’t want to read the snide statuses or the flip flopping of the fans. I was an athlete for the vast majority of my adolescence – I know the pain and the let down feeling that is associated with not winning a crucial game, and I can only imagine what it felt like for them.

With all of this being said, I think it is now somewhat safe to return to being active on my social media platforms. And thank you UL seniors – you will be missed.

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#L1C4 vs #BBN

This afternoon something amazing* happened.

*The word amazing is used only in the context if you are a sports fan or a basketball & March Madness fan or if you live in the good ol’ Commonwealth of Kentucky.

This afternoon – the No. 8 University of Kentucky defeated No. 1 Wichita State by 2 points.

This afternoon – it was determined that Kentucky and No. 4 Louisville would duke it out in the quest to getting to Dallas.

This afternoon – social media, for the most part, went up in flames.

THE BEST RIVALRY IN ALL OF COLLEGE

The Louisville | Kentucky rivalry dates back to 1913, and is considered one of the greatest rivalries in sports (for more about the history of it, please read this great article). And the two will meet for the 47 time on March 28 in Indianapolis to see who will advance to the Elite 8. But, for the fans in the Commonwealth, it isn’t just another tournament game, it’s something way more – yes, the winner will get to continue down the road to the Final Four but they will also have bragging rights for the next 9 months, and in this state – that’s everything.

Until 9:45 pm Friday night, however, social media will be flooded with tweets and status updates – claiming that one team is better than the other. While I am a UL fan, it is interesting to still look at what each team is doing and how their fan base is taking to these social media platforms. These two teams are part of the few that have clever and unique hashtags that their fans use more than anything else: #L1C4 (Louisville First, Cards Forever) and #BBN (Big Blue Nation). These hashtags have become a part of the programs, a part of the universities – creating a trackable conversation online that social media analysts love.

#L1C4 in the last 24 hours has reached 261,677 users on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram making an impression on 370,812, while (and keep in mind that UK played today whereas UL played yesterday) #BBN reached over 2,121,884 and made an impression on 2,355,492 on the same platforms. According to keyhole.coreach is the number of unique followers a user has, and impressions are the amount of times a user posts – therefore, if you have 500 followers and tweet twice your reach is 500 and your impressions is 1000. Tweet Binder, a way to study those who are using any given hashtag, shows that in the last day 1579 people were tweeting out #L1C4, with the average user sending out 1.27 tweets. As for #BBN, there were 1581 contributors and they were tweeting out at the same pace.

It will be an interesting week for social media within the Commonwealth, and those who are fans of the two universities. While some of it will be tasteless, and some of it will be nothing more than one bashing the other – following and studying these two fan bases and their social media presence will be exciting.

Based on the information that was presented in Nick Stover‘s social media braketology, these two schools are not just powerhouses on the court but also in the online world as well. They have taken a sport and it’s fan base and have created an online presence that is far ahead of their competition. The innovative strategy behind the creation of a hashtag has produced a trackable campaign, as well as a venue for the fans, the coaches, the mascots, and the players to interact with one another. In fact, Stover had @GoCards and @KentuckyMBB meeting up in the Sweet 16 on his social media bracket as well.  Louisville came out as at the victor, so here’s to hoping that they can also pull off a win on the court!

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it’s social media, babyyyyyy

Conference play has ended, and the teams have been selected – the 2014 NCAA tournament is hours away from beginning and while the players and the coaches are strategizing fans are taking to their smart phones. Whether it’s filling out brackets or sizing up their team’s opponents social media has continued to prove to be a vital resource for fans. But in a digital world were content is king and snackable content is being demanded at a faster rate – how are teams beating their competition on the virtual court?

It seems that last year’s article done by Mashable was taken seriously by those schools who didn’t  have a strong social media presence. A few of the key players, both in the sports world and the social media world, offer their insights on who should be crowned this year’s Social Media Champion.

University of Louisville‘s Nick Stover (@ULFlyingCard) looked at how teams were in fact measuring up – if their social media game could back up what was happening on the court. Looking at the three most used platforms, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, the Elite 8 came down to who had the most followers and who was being the most active, appealing to their fan base. From there the race got a little heated and relying on the use of unique hashtags the Final Four came down to UCLA, Memphis, Wisconsin and, last year’s National ChampionLouisville – these were the schools that were creating content that was outside of the box, hashtags were consistent among all platforms – some were even using other avenues to promote their school (VIne, Google+ and YouTube). Though it ultimately came down to the two schools who were sharing behind the scenes exclusive photos and videos – UCLA and Louisville.

UCLA ultimately would take the crown as the Social Media Champ based upon the amount of fans that they were reaching and engaging with, amongst the innovative tactics that were set in place.

While others, such as HootSuite, focused purely on the followers that they had on Twitter based upon those who were enrolled in the university. Though they also incorporated key players, mascots, and coaches who had an active presence on the platform as well. The Final Four for schools with a mass Twitter following included: @KUHoops, @MSU_Basketball, @KentuckyMBB and @BlueJayMBB. The champion being @BlueJayMBB (Creighton University), with their following doubling the school’s enrollment.

The road to the finals in now underway; games being live streamed and live tweeted non stop, with the championship game being played April 7 – until then it’s nonstop madness.

 

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staying current

Newspapers. Radio. Television. Traditional media has been on the decline almost as quickly as it was developed, the next best thing being created and used almost immediately after the last. This pattern has only seemed to increase with the millennial generation taking hold and social media emerging at a much more rapid pace. Instead of spending hours sitting in front of a television waiting for the news to be delivered to us many are instantly logging into their Twitter and Instagram accounts to stay up to speed with the latest news. Smartphones are now the gate keepers for our information and luckily people like Scott Atkins from WAVE 3 is aware of this technological switch.

Atkins can be followed across all the crucial platforms – Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Where he has intertwined his passion for creative story telling, news and social media to create an avenue that his followers can be sure to be kept up to date with the happenings in the community. Atkins talked about three vital principles that should be followed when creating content: it should make the audience feel something – one should laugh or cry, the audience should walk away having learned something, and the community should be made better because of the content that was provided. While these principles were pertaining to the news that is being created at WAVE 3, I found these to ring true when it comes to putting any content out there – especially when you are being a creative and attempting to be different and color outside of the lines compared to those who are considered your competition.

Other than the principles that were presented I found another aspect of Atkins presentation to be highly interesting. He made a comment that before too long text messaging would become obsolete. Hearing this got me thinking – with all the other communication vices slowly starting to become irrelevant is text messaging the next thing to go? After reading various articles (such as this one and this one, and this one) it seems that this has been the thought for the past few years, though it is still here and people are still interacting with their friends via this method. While we are constantly on our phones checking out feeds and Instagraming our lunches – I do believe that we will, also, still be texting.

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#hashtag

Hashtags.

They once only infiltrated the Twitterverse, but since the popularity of them became apparent they have started to surface on every social media platforms. From Facebook to Instagram to Tumblr – hashtags are being used in a capacity that never has been done before.

So what’s the point? Are they just there to annoy those who seem to already have a disregard for social media? Where did they stem from? And what can we use them for?

According to About.com, the history of hashtags began as early as 1988 on a program called Internet Relay Chat for doing the same thing that they are being used for today – grouping topics into relevant categories that pertained to one another. When Twitter was created in 2005 the new social media site saw how something of this could be used in a unique way. And thus, the hashtag became it’s own entity.

The conceptual idea of hashtags is a genius one, and a lot of brands have increasing seen the potential that hides behind this little character. It’s a great asset when attempting to monitor one’s social media campaign – something that was not prevalent during traditional marketing plan implementations. Before there seemed to be an up-in-the-air mentality on whether or not a campaign was getting the traction that one wanted. Was that commercial being viewed? And by who? Did it have an impact? Now, and this was especially true in this year’s Super Bowl commercials – more than 57% of the ads used them, hashtags are being incorporated into the actual commercial – encouraging the demographic to get on their smart phones and have a conversation. Brands can then go back and just by clicking that link see what is being said about them. It really is creating monetary value in the usage of social media – investors AND clients like that.

There are tons of tools available to monitoring hashtags specifically. Steam Feed highlighted 21 of the Best #Hashtag Tools to use,  though the article was written back in November of 2013 new tools are being created everyday – as it is with the rest of technology and social media.

Learning how to correctly use this little character on your keyboard is a vital asset in this growing market tactic – it can physically allow you to watch your campaign grow and spread through the world wide web.

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nerd status

I’m a nerd. I always have been. And let me just tell you I love a good ol’ infograph!

Seriously. Can’t get enough of them. Without fail, I find myself on Pinterest looking at the boards that contain nothing but various infographics.

I was never one of those students who could listen to a lecture and absorb the information, nor could I take home math problems and use a book to come up with an answer. I needed to be shown how to do something – I needed to see it. And that’s exactly what this tool does. It takes an idea, whether it’s a conceptual theory or something as silly as what it costs to be a bridesmaid, and transforms it into a picture that you can leave feeling like you have retained something.

According to Fast Company, there are 21 inforgraphics that are the best of the best of 2013. The ones showcased range from simplistic to intensely detailed – the themes of the graphs are also in the simple to intense range when it comes to the content that they are presenting. Creative Bloq is another resource that highlights the top 80 inforgraphs that are online. Again, these range from being a superhero to what font your city is to the global carbon footprint.

But why? Why is this visual so mainstream right now? Well, what better way to explain why we want infographs then with an actual inforgraph (though it’s interactive, so to enjoy all of it’s awesomeness click the link and check it out!). The post points out that over the course of the years media has become much more visual, and that we as humans are “visually wired.” And that with the amount of content we are exposed to on a daily basis, one is more easily able to recall something with an image.

The most important take away from that specific infograph, which was created by Neo Mam Studios, would be the this:

image

This is the single most important thing that companies can use. Which is why social media platforms, especially the visual ones such as Instagram (Mashable wrote an article in 2012 about how America was taken by storm with this application), Pinterest, and Vine, are taking over the industry. Companies want to jump on the bandwagon of being active, but they must know how to effectively be a part of the social media community. Starbucks, Toms, Oreo and Target are amongst the companies that know how to use these platforms, not only are they active on but in an effective manner.

Infographics are a vital tool to helping consumers, and even those viewers just perusing on Pinterest, cut through the clutter and allow them to digest the content.

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social media

We live in a world that is plugged in, constantly viewing more than two screens at once. With so many applications and various sites being considered a by product of “social media” it is first vital that one understands what that term means. According to about.com social media is “a website that doesn’t just give you information, but interacts with you while giving you that information. This interaction can be as simple as asking for your comments or letting you vote on an article.”

An easy explanation. But who is using these platforms? Who is out there that we are interacting with? It’s not just the younger generations who are logged on. Though in 2006, with Facebook a new hip and trendy thing for college students to be using, the demographics were skewed more towards those users. But within recent years, however, those signing up for accounts have started being those in their middle ages. This is especially true for Facebook.

In the last six years there has been an increase in the age of those who are considered internet users by the Pew Research Center. While the vast majority is still going to be those in the millennial generation it is still worth noting that many of those who are not first adopters are venturing onto the internet and creating social media accounts.

Yet, as about.com explained, social media sites can be anything. So what is out there? What is being used the most? The answer…Facebook.

This platform is still dominating the wave lengths, unlike other networks who have come and gone (MySpace and LiveJournal are two that come to mind). The Pew Research Center says that of the older generations, those 73% who are online, Facebook is their social media choice of poison. And while it holds as the number one spot for most users, others are taking their claim as the number one spot for specific demographics. For instance Pinterest is geared more towards women, while LinkedIn caters to the needs of business professionals and recent student graduates. These sites are taking the time to hone in to who wants to be on that site and ensuring that those users stay committed to them. This practice is one that many in the marketing-communication-advertising world need to focus on and understand: who is your demographic and were are they speeding their online time? The Pew Research Center has done a great job compiling this information and I highly recommend taking a look at their full findings here.

Personally, I enjoy it all. I check my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds within moments of waking, I browse the recipe and work out pages on Pinterest while stream Hulu or Netflix through my AppleTV, and I can easily get lost on Reddit and StumbleUpon for hours. I am a millennial and I cannot get enough screens going at once.

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