Why We Post Week 2: Constructed Imagery

Week Two of my latest Future Learn course (details here) began with:

In this week we will concentrate upon social media as a significant change in human communication that makes images equal to text

– something that I looked at a lot back at university.

I’ve written before about how images (and increasingly, video) allow for a more universal form of communication, as well as conveying emotions that are absent or hard to interpret in plain text, especially with the character constraints of platforms like Twitter. Plus, I know from social media marketing that images = better engagement, and that applies to casual/personal posting as well as companies.

However this course takes things a little deeper by looking at how that changes in different communities around the world. For example, they looked at two places, Trinidad and Italy, where the culture expects people’s appearance to equal their social status, and social media posting reflects that, especially in selfies and photos with friends/family. But there were differences, as the course noted:

[In Italy] people expect social media to be consistent with their offline social status, while in Trinidad people may use social media to claim a higher social status online.

Also a thought from the course discussion of selfies and how many people view them as narcissistic – ‘selfies’ are more often thought of that way because the word sounds like ‘selfish’. 😲

It was also interesting to learn that this idea that placing a high worth on your outer image make you shallow doesn’t apply on certain parts of the world.

[People in Trinidad] consider that what lies deep inside a person to be more likely to be untrue because it is hidden.

This cultural difference is down to history – Trinidad, for example, is a place shaped by colonialism and slavery. In modern society, people there often don’t get their identity from class or upbringing, so how they present themselves in public is based on self-worth and aspiration. Therefore, how they show themselves on social media is cultivated to reflect how they think other should see them.

Interestingly, I think this is something that is starting to happen on social networks elsewhere in the world. As much as there is distain for the ‘selfie generation’, there is also a movement of encouraging that outer self-worth in carefully curated and created pictures.

Advertisements

Why We Post Week One: Social Media Anthropology

The next part of week one of this Future Learn course (my notes on the first part can be found here) focuses on how social media can be researched from an anthropological perspective – meaning that social media is placed within the context of the culture and society of the people using it. 

The course material asked:

Why might anthropology be particularly suited to the study of social media?

And my answering comment was:

The anthropological aspect means we understand that a person is more than what they post on social media, and there are decisions made and influences which we don’t see that influence how they use social networks.

At this point, we were asked to put a geographical marker on a map to show where everyone on the course is from – I love this!


The researchers who created this course described some of the changes that they had seen in social media between different locations and different areas. For example, email became the main method of communication for both work and personal time in older generations, but in younger people it is almost solely used for work and education – other ways are used for personal communication. 

They also noted that in some countries, social media has been massively beneficial in holding social structure together where mass migration for work is happening, for example in China and India. Parents, especially fathers, are often separated from their families for long periods of time while they work in other parts of the country. Social media is an easy to maintain familial bonds. Also, from a work perspective it is seen as an easy way for co-workers to get to know each other’s lives and socially integrate more quickly. 

The research in different parts of the world was carried out through interviews and questionnaires over a long period, giving large amounts of qualitative data which gave the researchers a detailed insight into the lives of the people they were studying and how social media usage both changed and changed them over time.

Why We Post (FutureLearn Social Media Course) Starting on Week 1 

It’s been a while since I’ve looked at social media from anything other than a marketing/advertising perspective, since that’s mostly what I’ve been working at for the past few years. So it was pretty exciting to be scrolling through FutureLearn courses and find this course, ‘Why we Post’ which focuses on the social media from an anthropological aspect. 

Social media has changed beyond reckoning on the few years since I left my University course. It is much more segmented, with more platforms (Snapchat and WhatsApp were still very much emerging at that point, the now defunct Vine was a major force, and livestreaming apps such as Periscope were some years off.) The demographics of users are becoming much clearer – increasingly the younger generations have rejected Facebook, for example, and there are geographical differences in who uses what. The course material acknowledges this – that many studies have focussed solely on social media on a Western setting, ignoring networks like QQ in East Aisa which is second only to Facebook in size. It also acknowledges that prior courses have tended to look at heavily open platforms such as Twitter. There’s a good reason for this – both quantitative and qualitative data are easily accessible and retrievable, but it ignores how much online communication and connecting goes on through increasingly private channels, or public/private situations such as Snapchat.

Studying Here and There

I started out just wanting to write a quick update, but this definitely turned into something more! Well, that’s what blogging is all about, I guess.


On the learning front, I’ve been working through Future Learn’s Social Business course. It’s been really informative in how to build a potential business, and also how to measure business success in ways other than financial gain, by measuring social impact.

This allows businesses to balance between the customers who provide more social impact but less money, and more commercial products/services/customers who provide the money that keeps the business ticking over. Their method of Social Return on Investment is to give activities and services an monetary unit, (m.u.) that it didn’t already have, using customer/client surveys to produce the relevant data.

Elsewhere, I’m still keeping up with Duolingo French. The further on trying to learn a language goes, the less it feels like I’m keeping up, but Duolingo is set up to send encouraging emails when I’m falling behind on my daily practice, which definitely gives me the push to keep it up. (Future Learn does this too, once you’ve not logged in for a set amount of time.) According to the site, I’ve progressed from 17% fluency to 43%, so whatever that means, I feel confident putting French on my LinkedIn profile at least!

Today I signed up for new Highbrow course, this time on ‘How to generate more leads through your website‘. It doesn’t come through until tomorrow lunchtime – specified times on Highbrow are now a premium feature, along with certain courses, which is how I thought they might monetise the site. I’ll get some notes and thoughts together on that course once I’ve had a few days on it.

Finally, I’ve been exploring another new way to get bite-sized marketing learning into my day with the Marketing School | Digital Marketing podcast, which is exactly long enough to fit into my walk from the railway station to my work.

 

FutureLearn: Digital Transformation of Businesses – Notes Part Three

This post is a continuation of my previous one covering my Digital Transformation of Business. Again rather than a post on a single topic of this FutureLearn course, it is a collection of important points from the course notes and some of my thoughts on them.

Sensorial marketing
– this is about marketing stimulus. When you see, watch or hear an advert, it has an effect on you. It might call upon certain emotions or memories. 

Personal note: this is why multi-channel marketing works!

In digital marketing, people make purchase decisions much more quickly, so that stimulus is important. People using social media etc. are getting a huge amount of stimulus, so yours has to ‘create a rich experience’ to stand out. Also communication via mobile platforms should be a priority esp if marketing to the under 35s.
Also note the sheer level of competition against you, and that in social media all brands have a level platform to advertise from. So something about your brand needs to be able to stand out both to draw in clients and to keep them.

 (note from previous post – it’s also easier to keep current customers than to create new ones so it’s good to keep an eye on the competition. You will need to know what they are doing and whether they might have something that could entice people away from you.) User testing your digital customer experience is also important- checking that you’re creating a good purchase experience. The steps within the customer experience are called ‘Service components’.

FutureLearn: Digital Transformation of Businesses – Notes Part Two

This is a continuation of sorts from this post – I’m continuing to make notes from my latest  FutureLearn course. Some of these aren’t entirely connected- instead I’m making comments on what I think are the most relevant points of the course material so far. I’m planning to get a few more posts out of this, but I’ll likely be alternating them with other content.

The Importance of producing content (e.g. Blogposts, video etc)

Producing great content leads to inbound marketing. This is the opposite of the standard advertising model, where you are reaching out to the customer. You should be doing both, along with earned media, which is recommendations, and data collection/analysis.
The difference between product marketing and service marketing: 
The primary factor that distinguishes a service from a product is the fact a service is intangible. However, both products and services are built around the idea of use.

Service marketing is therefore the combination of all processes related to client and partner relationships, often referred to as CRM and PRM, as well as social networks.

Client relationships, social network and data analysis all have to work to together to create a seamless customer experience – so that every digital action that the customer has is easy, quick and a positive experience. 

A service position is what will come to define the company’s style and public persona, so it’s important that the entire company, especially those in sales and customer facing positions (but not just those people) understand it. 

(Personal note: this is where a company/organisation) could benefit from a style guide laid out in inductions and regularly updated, much like a branding guide. Does and don’ts when communicating online etc.)

Some Digital Marketing Notes

I’m currently working my way through another FutureLearn course – this time on digital marketing. Rather than summarise what I’ve learned each week, I’ve decided to cherry pick specific concepts and topics to write notes on.

Digital Marketing and Listening 

One of the most important parts of digital marketing is to be always listening to your customers, because they can communicate with you instantly and expect that back. Also to understand anything about your customer, and that they, their opinions and their needs may change very quickly, so you need to anticipate responding to them in a different way each time.
Of course, despite knowing all this it’s a bad idea to over communicate with a customer/client and appear to know too much.
(Some personal thoughts- examples of this might be companies that search their name on social networks such as Twitter to find users discussing them/complaining about them when not directly addressing them, or companies that search users interacting with rival companies in order to advertise their own services. This can be deeply intrusive and reflect badly on the organisation.)