New Project – New Reason to Blog

My blogging always seems to taper off when I’m not working on a specific project. But here we are. It’s project time!

Health Matters, Social Media Matters

For my final Ma project I am setting myself up as a social media consultant. More specifically, I am creating a space where health professionals can learn how to promote themselves on social media. I’m calling this project Health Matters, Social Media Matters. I’m toying with the idea, Carneika Washbrook – Social Media Strategist, mainly because I just like how it sounds.

Most of this project will be centred around a blog, Facebook page and Twitter profile, where I will be giving tips on building a social media presence as well as showing the importance of getting health professionals on social media.

This has become an important subject for myself as my mom has just qualified as a dietitian, and I have been helping a friend of her’s (Nishti’s Choice) to grow her social media presence. I’m not going to go into the importance today – that’s for another blog post.

Research

At first my research didn’t turn up much on dietitians on social media for the UK. Australia and the US are ahead of us on this one. But after a little digging I found a social media guide created by the Royal College of General Practitioners, called The Social Media Highway Code. This will be very helpful when looking at what health professionals need from social media. There are a lot of restrictions and risks to consider, especially when it comes to giving health advice online. I’ll also be referring to the BDA (the British Dietetic Association) and HCPC (Heath and Care Professionals Council) to make sure I encourage the right values in dietitians online.

In short, I have found that dietitians specifically in the UK are being taught what they should and shouldn’t post online, as well as being given guidelines to follow. The next step is to give them a strategy and guide on the specifics of posting, promotion and day-to-day use of social media as a professional. This is where I come in.

Banner Facebook

I’m very excited to get started on this new project, and expecting a few twists and turns along the way. Three months and counting…

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.

cover3

(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…

Image result for the possibilities are endless meme

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

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…

Image result for colouring  meme

… almost as much as I love SATC

Interview: Where Did All The Forums Go?

 

As social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have become popular, the message boards and forums of the early internet years have disappeared. It seems that everything you post online can be found by the anyone and everyone.

Enter the Facebook group. But does it live up to the old school forums?

I was a member of many forums as a teenager and am now a member of many Facebook groups, from craft groups to secret groups where I can rant if I’ve had a bad day. One of my favourite groups is Bunny Approved Group, a place where rabbit-lovers can post pictures and ask for advice.

I had a chat with owner, Christina Chivers, who also runs Bunny Approved Pet Rabbit Supplies (based in North Carolina), about how she overcomes issues of privacy while keeping a happy community, and why she created a group in the first place.

She said, “I own a small business (Bunny Approved) and I first created a [Facebook] page for it. After a while I noticed that people would ask questions about their rabbit’s behaviour or health. The questions would end up on the side of the page and no one else ever really saw them, so there were few responses.

“At the time I usually replied to those questions myself or posted them on the page for everyone to answer. That didn’t seem like a good solution over time, though, so I decided to create a group. People can now post and communicate with each other and I don’t necessarily have to be involved 24/7. If someone has a crisis at 3 am in the morning, SOMEONE will be there to help or give advice.”

After hearing that Christina’s group originated from her own business I immediately thought of my previous post on social capital.  Was this group just a way to get more customers? Did it work?

“I am not sure if it has resulted in more orders. As a whole, being on Facebook has increased orders, yes. It also gives me an opportunity to meet my customers and their rabbits. When they order, I know many of them from social media. It’s nice.”

Although, Christina doesn’t seem to be running her group this way at all. Scrolling through you see no advertisements, no pushy sale posts. In fact, most people (me included) don’t even realise that the group was an extension of her Facebook page, and she doesn’t seem to mind at all.

She noted, “the group was created for the members more than for me.” Though she does like to interact in the group occasionally. She said, “I don’t like bothering people with ads. If I post something and people ask me where the toy in the picture is from, I send them a link to the store. That’s my advertising. I think the group and page together create a nice community and I love being a part of that.”

But does the Facebook group live up to the forum?14054235_1422988164383897_5858775414260033231_n.jpg

Christina had an interesting view on this. “I figured the group on Facebook is what a forum used to be a few years ago. Instead of having a forum people have to actively go to, everyone is already on Facebook. To me, a Facebook group is the modern forum of the internet.”

When you make your group you can choose different levels of privacy, from public to secret, and have just as much control as you want. While the forums I used to know and love were very private, Christina is happy for her page to be public.

“I wanted people to be able to see what the group is about before they decide to be a member. Also, I think it cuts down on drama. I don’t want people to come into the group bashing others while knowing no one else will see it outside of the group. I may be wrong, but in my mind keeping it public is a way to remind people of their manners. If you wouldn’t say it in public, you should maybe not say it at all.”

Her group is a place where people are encouraged to report posts or tag her in conversations that are turning nasty, and it really seems to work. As a regular poster I barely see any trouble on this group at all. Whereas, private and secret groups seem to have a lot more trouble.

She said, “Someone posts a picture that causes heated discussions. Then I deal with it and the next day someone wants to talk about how mean people were the day before. It’s senseless round and round in those cases. Usually a couple of people have to be removed to make peace again.”

But it is still a ‘members only’ group where people are screened before being added. For example, breeders won’t get accepted. “Some people just aren’t a good fit for this particular group, but there are others for them out there and they should turn to those.”

So it seems that the forum didn’t disappear, it just evolved into something new, something more mouldable where you only have the level of privacy you need. The Facebook group.

All photos from BunnyApproved.com