Blog Review: Authentic Boredom

Authentic Boredom is a blog by @cameronmoll and he has this blog running since 2004. On his biography, it states “Cameron Moll is a designer, speaker, and author living in Sarasota, Florida (United States) with his wife and five sons. He’s the founder of Authentic Jobs Inc, among other endeavors. This site is a compendium of design, HTML5/CSS3, DSLR video, Apple, mobile, and other miscellaneous banter.”

This blog is the blog for his portfolio and business site. On this blog there is a wide variety of topics and articles about graphic design, history, theories, and more. This blog is like your personal source for design. It is very easy to read and understand, even if you don’t know anything about design. There are lots of articles where he offers his professional opinion about both web and graphic design.

Moll’s most recent post is about the application Meerkat, that I have not heard about before. This application allows you to broadcast live video with your phone. His point of view is genuine because he tells us about the experience he had with watching others live stream with his son was watching someone working at his desk.

My favorite blog post that I read was titled “How I Begin a Project.” Someone wanted to know his creative process. Moll then briefly explained his process for creating content. He showed how he created print, web, and video content. He also had multiple pictures of the sketches he created. He’s very transparent in his blog, which is a great quality to have.

I think Moll’s blog is successful because he follows good blogging practices, such as linking often, posting pictures, and he has a lot of great information to share with his readers. His blog posts vary from one to ten paragraphs, but never too lengthy. He is also great at web design and offers design tips and resources for his readers.

Be sure to check out his blog.

Webinar – Graphic Design for Social Media

In choosing what webinar to watch and write about, I came across many webinars. To me, the most important aspect about a webinar is the voice of whoever is speaking. I started other webinars that I couldn’t finish simply because the speaker seemed so uninterested in the topic. I ended up choosing a webinar called Graphic Design for Social Media with Erica Bogdan that was created in 2012. She is a creative designer at Schipul, which is now Tendenci. You can watch the webinar here.

She first spoke about the benefits of social media and how many people are on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Like, the average user spends 23 minutes on each visit to Facebook. The statistics she gave are now dated, but still somewhat relevant. Bogdan then talked about some design fundamentals, like how your message must be clear and consistent. She mentioned the importance of branding, which she defined as “perceived emotional corporate image as a whole”. Many companies have branding standards that already tell you what fonts to use and how to use your logo.

She also mentioned the importance of targeting your demographic. For example, if you have an older demographic, the text should be bigger. She then stated where one can go to find images and fonts that are both free and paid. Bogdan went to websites and showed how to purchase images. new sites that I didn’t know about like fontsquirrel.com.

Bogdan demonstrated how to create social media graphics, but they were graphics of her dog, not an actual company. The dimensions of images Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn were mentioned, but that is out-of-date information as well. The new dimensions for those sites are constantly changing and are easy to find by searching Google. Bogdan mentioned what your social media graphics could have, like a logo, contact information, a tagline, location, hours of operation, image, and links.

She then lost her PowerPoint presentation towards the end of the webinar. She also said “I hope this can be edited and to take out my um’s and pauses”. Then, Bogdan said it was her first webinar which explains a lot. Also, when somebody asked her a question, she googled the answer. What?! I thought she should know this information to answer a couple of questions. Her conclusion to the webinar was “Thank you all for coming, I hope you learned stuff.” She didn’t exactly end the webinar with a strong lasting impression.

Overall, I probably didn’t choose the best webinar to watch. Most of the information was out of date. The statistics, the dimensions for the social media graphics, the social media sites themselves, and Photoshop has been updated since the webinar as well. Many of the information she gave seemed like common sense. The webinar was 43 minutes long and with the amount of information that was given, it could’ve easily been at 15 to 20 minute webinar.

What is an effective way to end a webinar? How could she improve?

Thoughts on Twitter

For the past month, I’ve been tweeting for my online class. I’ve had to re-tweet, link, and engage in conversation using the hashtag #GCWeb15. I’ve had Twitter since 2011, but I had never used my Twitter to tweet about business or social media material relevant to my major.

Here’s a glimpse into what I learned:

1. Lists. I didn’t know what Twitter lists were before this class. Lists are for organizing who you follow into manageable groups. You can create a list for your news source, one for your friends, one for celebrities, or for any other topic of interest. If you’re a business, this article is a great source as to why to use lists and how to use them.

2. Pinning Tweets. As I was lurking around Twitter, I came across someone’s timeline and wondered why the first tweet on their profile wasn’t the most recent one. I know know that it was pinned. You can pin a tweet to the top of your profile’s timeline. This would be a tweet that is so good that you don’t want it to be hidden so quickly by your other tweets. Unfortunately, on the mobile application, you can’t see pinned tweets.

3. Businesses (should) tweet back. As a big business, you should monitor trends and you may not have the time to respond to everyone who tweets to you, but you should respond to as many as you can. Over the past month, I tweeted out to a couple of businesses. First, I tweeted twice to @Adobe because I had problems with my Creative Cloud and in a short period of time, I received a response from an Adobe Certified Expert. By the time he tweeted me, my problem was already solved. I also tweeted to @barkTHINS because I love their products. They favorited, re-tweeted and responded to my tweet. I liked the engagement with barkTHINS more than Adobe, but I’m glad that they both interacted with my over Twitter.

Also, this morning I looked into my pantry and looked at the side of my package for granola bars that I’ve never noticed before. Nature Valley creates a call to action for customers to share where they take their granola bar.  I noticed a couple things are missing if they want to reach their customers on Twitter or Facebook. First, their Twitter handle is missing, they should make it easy for anyone to tweet them by having that on the box.  Additionally, they didn’t have a hashtag to track everyone who could have posted on Twitter or Facebook. What do you think? Should they have done more to try to reach out to customers on social media?

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Cognitive Surplus

The last book we have read for my online class is Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky. Cognitive Surplus is essentially our free time. Shirky believes that “society never really knows what to do with any surplus at first.” (p.10)

Americans watch roughly two hundred billion hours of TV every year. I hope that statistic is alarming as it is to you as it was for me. How can we be wasting this much time sitting in front of the television?!

Personally, I don’t watch much Television, but that is because I don’t have cable and I only watch television when I’m with my family at home or when I’m at a friend’s place that has cable. As Shirky noted, less time is spent watching television by young people. “Young populations with access to fast, interactive media are shifting their behavior away from media that presupposes pure consumption.” Even when I am watching television, I will sometimes tweet or post about it on another form of social media to start conversation. When Orange is the New Black came out on early release by a couple of hours, I was notified on Twitter because I follow @OITNB. I then proceeded to Tweet about the episodes that I watched.

How much television do you watch? Do you tweet or post on any other form of social media when you watch television?

Why do we do the things we do? Intrinsic & extrinsic motivation.

An example about Deci’s Soma experiment shows the difference intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. (p.70-72) The experiment was based on a game called Soma. At the beginning of the experiment, the subjects were given puzzle pieces that could be assembled into diagrams that were given to them.

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Deci asked them to solve the puzzle and observed them. Then, he left the room and the subjects were free to do whatever they wanted. Other distractions, like magazines, were available for them. Then they observed how much time they spent still playing with the pieces.

Then, when he came back he told half the participants that they would receive a dollar for each shape they created. Then, they observed them again. The subjects that were getting paid experimented, on average, a minute more than previously. Deci then ran a third session, where he asked them to assemble shapes, with no pay for anyone. They observed that the ones that were paid in the second session had much less interest in the shapes. This example shows that doing something because it interests you makes it a different activity than doing it because you are receiving a reward.

What do you think of that example? Do you think your intrinsic motivations would decrease if you had extrinsic motivation?

It makes me wonder what my future career will be and if I will find it less enjoyable because I am getting paid for it. Also, is this statement still true, “if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life”? This article thinks otherwise. Let me know what you think.

Groundswell

I’m currently reading Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff for my online class. The phenomenon of groundswell, as defined in the book is “a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional instructions like corporations.” This broad definition of groundswell surrounds the Internet, like YouTube, Wikipedia, blogs, and Twitter.

Why is this happening? In short, because of people, technology, and economics. The desire to connect with one another, new interactive technology and online advertising.

The first step is in knowing your audience. Chapter three explains the Social Technographics Profile to group users and how they participate on the web.

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This ladder states the profile of seven different consumers: creators, conversationalist, critics, collectors, joiners, spectators, and inactives. It’s important for businesses to know which users are online and how they participate. Do you think someone could fall into more than one group? On some social media sites I am a spectator and on others I am a conversationalist.

If you are a business and do not know how to jump into the social media world, the authors give you a foundation which is a four-step planning process called POST. It stands for people, objectives, strategy, and technology. Each are equally important to understand. You should know how your customers will engage, figure out your own goals, create a plan of action, and find what sites or applications should be utilized.

In general, five objectives are pursued: listening, talking, energizing, supporting, and embracing.

The first objective is listening, which I believe is one of the most important but it can easily be overlooked.

For example, does anyone remember the problems JCPenney faced when they tried to re-brand in 2012? This whole situation could have been avoided if research was done. To summarize what happened, CEO Johnson planned to end sales and coupons and replace it with everyday low prices. He changed the basic retail model without asking customers what they may think of it. Sales dropped tremendously and foot traffic dropped as well. To create a new campaign, you have to talk with customers, run your ideas by them, get ideas from them, and listen to what they say. One cannot assume you know the customers. This example shows the importance of research. Take a deeper look into the story here. Was there anything that could’ve been done to solve this problem before it resulted in a major sales loss? What do you think of the importance of research?

Socialnomics – Overview

Over the past two weeks I’ve been reading the book, Socialnomics by Erik Qualman. He has great insight into the world of social media. I want to share with you some key takeaways from this book.

First, there isn’t a formula for how to obtain the perfect social media presence, but here are some tips.

1. Social media is rapidly changing.

-The application Vine was created in 2012 and has over 40 million users. Snapchat was created in 2011 and has over 100 million daily users. These applications, along with many more, are being created. The existing applications are changing their services and improving on a daily basis. What is going to be the next big thing? I’m not sure, but businesses should not be weary and should go in with both feet and embrace change.

2. It’s okay to have negative comments. (The haters gonna hate, hate, hate)

– Some companies may not want to be on social media because they are afraid of negative comments. (Isn’t Bad PR good PR?) Qualman states that “if there isn’t 5 to 10 percent negative noise around your brand, then your brand is either irrelevant or not being aggressive enough in the space … “Feat of failure is crippling to a company or an individual. One needs to fail fast, fail forward, and fail better”. Essentially, one should not be afraid of a new social media platform or engaging with consumers over social media.

3. Everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame… use this to your advantage.

– Contests, sweepstakes, and more. An example that Qualman used was ESPN’s “Super Fan”. There was a contest to determine who was the best and brightest fan for each team. Many people expressed reasons as to why they should be the Super Fan of their NFL team. If chosen to be the Super Fan, their responsibilities would include weekly check-ins reporting of their particular team. These fans were chosen and then become reporters of their team. This was a great strategy to promote fans and get them involved.

A contest that I remember that was shared across social media was the Lay’s “Do Us A Flavor” contest. I tried all of the chips and talked with my friends about our favorite ones. My favorite was mango salsa, but wasabi ginger won. Do you remember?

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Here’s a link that describes 10 other successful social media contests – http://blog.wishpond.com/post/52173284787/10-amazing-examples-of-branded-facebook-contests-done

What were your key takeaways from Socialnomics? Is there a contest that has stuck out to you because of social media?

-@cswatling #GCWeb15

Blog Review – The Hungry Runner

I’m a runner, and enjoy food, so naturally I chose to review the blog http://www.hungryrunnergirl.com/

The blog is about Janae and her experiences running, her diet, her daily routine, and about her daughter. What I love about her blog is how inspiring she is, but at the same time how she is human. She has a love for running, like I do, so that makes her content very interesting to me. She has ran marathons and gives tips and tricks based on what she knows and what she has learned. I love how it’s not an intimidating blog, she inspires the everyday couch potato, and at the same time, inspires the marathon runner.

Today, she started off her blog by telling us what her workout routine was for the day. She says she ran 9 miles at an 8:05 pace, which is very impressive. She gave a little more detail on her workout and then posted a picture of her and her little girl. Pictures are very important for blogging. The saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” really is true.  Looking through her blog post today, there were six pictures total. She is consistent in showing pictures in all of her blog posts.

She also talks about the food she eats, including dessert. I love that she embraces that she does not have a perfect diet. I agree with her completely, because it’s okay to treat yourself! She also answered a question, “What are some more ‘one percenters’ that we can do to make our running better/stronger/faster?” She answers this question in many ways. She says it can improve by yoga, by drinking more water, by eating better, and to do strength training. She also answered the question herself, saying that she struggles with cutting out soda.

Janae ends her blog by asking the parents a question, “what do you do to be able to get outside for a run?” and she already has 47 people who commented on her blog. I like that she poses a question to a particular audience, but could that discourage other people who aren’t moms from commenting?

I think this blog is successful mainly because of her personality. She loves running, but embraces her flaws. She wants to inspire other young moms to get fit and know that they can do it.

To honor the theme of running, today I am leaving you off with a personal note. These pictures are of medals I received this year after running two half marathons. I would show you a picture of me actually running… but, I promise, you don’t want to see that. I’ve taken a break from running long distance recently, but if I read an inspiring running blog every day I may change my mind…

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What do you think makes a blog successful? Also, for any fellow runners, what do you think of her blog and the content?

#GCWeb15