A New Project: Alternative Britain

With my Social Media MA group, I am currently working on the website – AlternativeBritian.com. Basically, we were given the URL by Dave (our tutor) and told to run with it.

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(Created by Luca)

What is Alternative Britain?

We decided to turn the website into a place where you can find articles on culture, lifestyle, places and politics. I personally wanted to ignore politics. but I guess that it’s unavoidable given the current state of our world.

I’m planning to focus on fashion and interesting places to go. This is my first article – 5 Alternative Places to Stay on Valentine’s Day

How is it going?

I have to say we’ve had quite a wobbly start, possibly a case of too many cooks not enough communication? But I’ve learned that spreadsheets are my best friend. We have so many spreadsheets for passwords, topics, scheduling, goals, analytics, etc. I recommend that anyone who has any kind of project keeps a note of EVERYTHING, especially if there are a lot of you.

During the first week we focused on getting the website set up, creating the social media pages, and posting the first few articles. From our first observation we found that our social media pages were not very interactive and there wasn’t much interest in them.

This Week’s Plan

  • Each social media page manned daily by an individual to build likes/interactions
  • Article postings on website scheduled so they are spaced out
  • Articles shared throughout the week
  • Website/social media pages colour scheme needs to be matched

Social Media Practice: Periscope

Before there was Facebook, there was MySpace. We used to feel comfortable on one platform, then when it became obsolete we moved onto the next. Now there are new social media platforms being created all the time – Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn – and it’s normal to be on multiple platforms. This week I’ve been looking at a new social media platform (well new for me anyways) – Periscope.

Periscope

“Periscope was founded on the belief that live video is a powerful source of truth and connects us in an authentic way with the world around us. We are fascinated by the idea of discovering the world through someone else’s eyes. What’s it like to see through the eyes of a protester in Ukraine? Or watch the sunrise from a hot air balloon in Cappadocia?

“While there are many ways to discover events, movements and places, we realized there is no better way to experience something than through live video. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but live video lets us explore the world together.” (Periscope, 2016)

Basically, it is a platform where you can create your own channel to live stream videos. I haven’t had much of a chance to play around with it yet as I’ve mainly been looking at channels created by others.

It’s going to be a great platform for the live streaming of events and news. At the moment it seems to be mainly full of people live streaming their travels. I may try to introduce it to some of my crafting friends because I think it’ll be good for them to show their work-in-progress or how-to videos.

Also, as Periscope was bought by Twitter shortly before it was launched, you can connect the two…

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Periscope (2016) Available at: https://www.periscope.tv/about (Accessed: 30 January 2017).

New Year’s Resolutions

I haven’t posted for a while because that’s generally how my blogging life is really.. erratic. I was busy trying to figure out what my lecturers wanted from me, then I got ill. Oh how I hate being ill.

Anyway, I’m better in time for New Year.. and just in time to panic about my assignments. So instead of working I’ve decided to write my list of New Year’s Resolutions before I start at my day job for the last time this year.

I hate the whole “new year new me” thing. If you’re doing that every year you’re the same moron you were last year… and all the other years.

My list is more of a to do list.. to continue on things I’ve already been improving this year.

  1. Get fit and healthy – Tonsillitis kicked my butt over Christmas. I had been doing pretty well at building up my immune system. But obviously some germs got in. So time to start again.. which brings me on to…
  2. Make a home-cooked meal at least once a week – I started doing this earlier in the year. But it trailed off as it got closer to Christmas. So my next step is to find more recipes that I can convince my boyfriend to eat.
  3. Set my career plans in motion – By May I will be done with half of my University course. That means no more lectures. So, even though I will be concentrating on my Dissertation, I’ll have the time to get more experience in social media, while building up my freelance writing. My plan is social media desk job + freelance writer. After looking into going freelance as a social media consultant, a job in an established company seems to be a  better option.
  4. Save money to move out – Next year, if all goes to plan, I will actually be working enough (that’s paid working) to afford to move out. So before iI splash out on shoes and Costa’s, I have to start saving.
  5. Have a nice holiday (hot hot hot)- This completely goes against the last one. But all work and no play…

You may have noticed that passing my driving test isn’t on this list.. or you’ve never read my blog before and you don’t care. Either way, I’m not pressuring myself into something that stresses me out that much. When I feel like I can have another go I will. Until then, a few more train and bus rides will build character… I guess.

Have a lovely New Year guys. See you on the other side!

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Want a Reaction? Complain on Twitter

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A few years ago I tweeted about walking out of a shop disgust after watching two of the world’s worst sales assistants laughing at a customer from afar (You can read the original blog post here). Very quickly I received reply from the shop’s Twitter account, which resulted in them sending me an email apologising and saying what they would be doing to put it right.

Which leads me to question, are big companies really paying attention to their social media? Do they have staff scouring Twitter for complaints or anything that could defame their brand? Or do they just leave automated robots to send out generic tweets?

Stefan Stieglitz and Nina Krüger, professors in social media and psychology, believe that companies are paying attention to their social media. They note that enterprises have noticed that just having a standalone website is not enough. Companies need to interact with their customers more directly to successfully follow trends and identify new markets.

Stieglitz and Krüger discuss this in their chapter in Twitter and Society: an introduction, stating, “Communication data in public social media can be understood as a rich source of information that can be utilised by enterprises. Additionally, enterprises are also able to interact directly and publicly with their target groups.” (Stieglitz and Krüger, 2014, p.281)

But social media can be tricky to navigate. As social media platforms expand, and new ones are created, it becomes increasingly difficult for companies to protect their reputation online. “Enterprises face the challenge, for example, of having to identify relevant pieces of communication, of having to react appropriately to messages from customers, or of being suddenly affected by negative feedback, or even by social media “shitstorms” (social crises).” (Stieglitz and Krüger, 2014, p.281)

Even in 2013, the company I tweeted reacted to my complaint almost immediately. It was obvious that they had some sort of complaints procedure put in place. According to Stieglitz and Krüger, “larger enterprises have established well-directed issue management processes in order to monitor or even influence public opinion about their products, services, and reputation.” (Stieglitz and Krüger, 2014, p.284)

If I had emailed the company instead of tweeting about them, would they have reacted so quickly? A carefully written tweet sent out to the whole world is much more dangerous than a direct email. This is likely why unhappy customers are taking to social media to complain.

“Determining the appropriate reaction to issues in social media is difficult, since, for the most part, best practices have not yet been established. Additionally, it has to be considered that crisis situations usually have a unique character which makes it difficult to elaborate a structured management process.” (Stieglitz and Krüger, 2014, p.286)

This is very important for me to consider as I’m in the process of setting myself up as a social media consultant. It’s hard to know what advice to give to smaller companies and freelancers who could easier be ruined by just one bad comment.

A quick reaction seems to the best option, but there needs to be a balance between apologising to customers and accepting fault when there was none. I know of many sole traders in the ‘handmade’ market who have given refunds to avoid bad press they just can’t afford. These are the people who need help, and who should be look at larger companies who are taking the lead on social media.

Stieglitz, S & Krüger, N. 2014. Public Enterprise-Related Communication and Its Impact on Social Media Issue Management. In: Bruns, A. et al. eds. Twitter and Society. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.

Book Club – It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens

Last week (sorry for the late update) I got together with my fellow Social Media MA students for a book club. It was my first ever book club actually, and I really enjoyed it. The book we discussed was danah boyd’s It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens.

The first thing I noticed about It’s Complicated is how America differs from the UK. As someone who grew up with MySpace and forums, I could relate to the teenagers in this book. But some of the parents’ viewpoints seemed extreme compared to mine.

Fear seemed to be the main theme for of all parents, so, as we have quite a multicultural group, it was interesting to see how the group’s parents react to social media differently. It seemed that the level of fear depended on culture, class and local media coverage of the area. I definitely think there is more of a fear of social media among American parents.

Every chapter discussed one area of fear, but managed to dismiss it as an overreaction. We all agreed that boyd has a very utopian view of social media, which makes this book very one-sided. But if you look at the wider picture with media’s scaremongering and social media hate campaigns, I think that we need a book to fight for the other side.

Near the end of It’s Complicated she noted, “As computer scientist Vint Cerf has said, “The internet is a reflection of our society and that mirror is going to be reflecting what we see. If we do not like what we see in that mirror the problem is not to fix the mirror, we have to fix society.”” (Vint Cerf quoted in Ward, “What the Net Did Next.”) (boyd, 2014: 212)

I think this is an important point because as new technology develops we blame it for society’s problems. There’s always a new culprit with no solutions. I believe that, used properly, social media can help to fix this.

There are so many other important themes that we looked at in this book that I couldn’t cover them all in one blog post. So I’ll come back to them in later posts.

If you’re interested in social media in any way you should read this book. The chapters are written so you can just pick out and read the ones you want without having to go through the whole thing.

Here’s a free PDF – It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens.

boyd, d. (2014) It’s complicated: The social lives of Networked teens. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Technology vs. Society: Is @ for Activism?

“The history of technology is the history of human development.” (Hands,2010. p.23)

In @ is for activism, Joss Hands talks about technology “having an essence” vs. “technology as a product of human society and culture”. Our whole world revolves around technology, how it has developed, and even the people who reject it. But are we in control of technology? Can we even talk about technology as a whole, or should we be looking at its individual parts?

Hands, Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies, looks at other academics’ views on this. One of these is German philosopher, Martin Heidegger. Heidegger sees technology as “having a particular essence.” In his essay, ‘The Question Concerning Technology’ he tries to uncover what this essence actually is. He believes that “technology is not defined by any technological object or device, or by a particular range of predicates attached to one”. (Hands,2010. p.24)

I can see what he means by this, as technology as a whole has changed society. But individual technologies have changed the world in different ways so we can’t really group them together as one ‘technology’ and talk about them as just one thing.

Hands also questions where humankind fits in with this theory. “Is this essence of modern technology something that is brought into being by humans, or through humans, or in spite of humans?” (Hands, 2010. p.25)

Personally I think that technology and society complement each other. They control each other in a way because without one, the other wouldn’t have progressed. But I don’t think one is in control over the other. Technology has only evolved because of society’s need and want for it. Yet society has only progressed with the help of technology.

So I guess my views are more in line with German-American philosopher, Herbert Marcuse. In ‘One-Dimensional Man’ he says, “[i]n the face of the totalitarian features of this society, the traditional notion of the “neutrality” of technology can no longer be maintained.” (Marcuse, 1964: p.xlviii). He agrees with Heidegger is some ways, that technology is not neutral. But, as I do, he believes that the “nature of technology is nevertheless a result of its social context.” (Hands, 2010. p.32)

Although Joss Hands sees Marcuse’s view as “a profoundly gloomy one, in which ‘independence of thought, autonomy, and the right to political opposition are being deprived of their basic critical function in a society that seems increasingly capable of satisfying the needs through the way it is organise’ (p.1)”, he also believes that “we should not be without hope.” (Hands, 2010. p.32)

I agree with this as the social media platforms that were created to connect people have already been used to raise awareness on important issues – #blacklivematter #jesuischarlie. They are a perfect example of society and technology working in unison, and proof that technology can be whatever we make it. While we can’t say that these acts of activism wouldn’t have happened without social media, we should at least agree that it played some part.

For me, @ is for activism brings up more questions than it answers. I think that as society and technology continue to grow, the line between them will continue to blur until there isn’t much distinction between the two. There will always be people who reject technology, but for them to do this technology must exist. This makes them, whether they like it or not, part of a technological society.

Hands, J. (2010) @ is for activism: Dissent, resistance and rebellion in a digital culture. London: Pluto Press.

A Little Update on The Life of Carnie

Everything on this blog has been Uni-related lately so I thought I’d break it up with a little life update.

First of all University is going great! I’m loving it. My first lot of deadlines are coming up, and I think I’ve got it all under control. I’m not feeling too overwhelmed.. yet. I hope I’m not speaking too soon.

As part of my Enterprise module I’m setting myself up as a Social Media Consultant. If you want to follow my progress, you can here.

What else?

I’ve just starting writing for a new fashion and lifestyle blog – Alexie.co. My first post is on Winter Nails. I’m really starting to like this whole fashion writing thing… even though my fashion sense is, at best, rather quirky.

The jewellery-making has had to take a back seat. I just can’t fit everything in. I’ve barely even had time to colour… and I really love colouring…

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… almost as much as I love SATC