The Jetsons May Be Our Reality – Soon

Once upon a time, our lives did not revolve around Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and “blogger” was just a funny sounding word, not a profession. We received our news from the newspaper rather than our phones, and if we accidentally hit the Internet button on our Motorola Razr, we hit end 100 times in order to spare our parents from paying for that luxury. It’s hard to believe that this was just fifteen years ago.

When we think about how technology has changed since 2000, it’s simply mindboggling.   Now we not only have Internet on our phones, but we use this Internet every single day. Since Facebook was invented, we have seen social media change from a fad to a growing phenomenon to a career choice to a way of life. It has completely changed not only how people communicate with one another, but also how brands market to the consumer and how the media interacts with its audience. But we are not done yet. There is no crystal ball and I’m not a fortuneteller, but in the next five, ten, and twenty-five years, I believe that we will see a huge growth, and change, in social and digital media.

crystal ball

Connectivity

When you think about how connected you are to your iPhone, it may make you feel guilty. Now that iOS9 allows you to see which applications are eating your battery life,  I am now aware of the amount of time I spend on my social networking sites. I’ve tried to disconnect a bit as a result but even so, Facebook has consumed 32% of my battery in the last twenty-four hours. I’m addicted to my phone, my social media sites, and my network, and I am not optimistic enough to think that this connectivity is going to get better – in fact, I think it is only going to get worse. We are going to see technology that is so ingrained in our lives that it actually becomes part of us. Now we see it everywhere we go with our phone in our hands and with Google Glass on our faces, but what about when we don’t even have to make commands in order for technology to respond to us? What if I could simply think “I wish I had some Chinese takeout right now” and my device could automatically order it for me, even knowing what I want because I pictured it in my head? Or because it knows that I have ordered the exact same thing the last four times? This is already being tested with brain-to-brain communication – why not brain-to-Siri communication next?  And then, how long would it take before we were able to communicate to one another through our minds – no social media platforms needed? Imagine how connected we would be to each other, and our technology, then!

Technology-FatigueThe Need to Be On

How many of you sleep with your phone under your pillow?  Guilty. How many of you automatically check your email and social media sites in the morning before you even put your feet on the ground? Guilty. How many of you are posting to Facebook or Twitter while driving down the street? Guilty.   We are so connected to our social media right now that we are even using it at times that we shouldn’t – we sacrifice our sleep, or meals, even our lives in order to post on social media and interact with others, oftentimes people we have never even met in real life. How will this change as social media, email, and technology become an even bigger part of our lives? I can’t help but think about our work-life balance or lack thereof if our devices (or whatever technology is now part of us) are connected at all times. We are already stressed about the fact that we are connected at all times and yet we oftentimes don’t even realize that our devices are the cause of our problems.   Heavy technology use is linked to fatigue, stress, and even depression and yet we still feel the need to be connected at all times. Can you imagine what we would do to our bodies if we were even more connected?  If technology wasn’t just next to us but a part of us?

Need2Know

Problems with Data

At my core, I am a historian. I have both a B.A. and M.A. in the subject and I love it with my entire being. That being said, I fear for future historians. When I was writing my M.A. thesis, my research focused on Argentina from 1976-1983.   It was a great time to focus on because enough time had passed to look on the era with a clear view and see its repercussions, but it wasn’t so far back that finding information was particularly cumbersome. If I looked hard enough, I could find more or less everything I needed. The good news is that in the future, this will also be the case – everything a historian needs to know can be found somewhere on the Internet. The question then becomes: will she be able to find it? With so much data out there, how will he sift through it to find the important information? In 2010, scientists estimated that there was 1.2 zettabytes (or 1.3 trillion gigabyte) stored on the Internet – which amounts to 339 miles of fully-loaded iPads stacked together.

As of November 2014, 204 million emails and 277,000 tweets were being sent each minute. That’s 294 billion emails and 40 million tweets each day.  Even if .00001% of those were about a subject that was of interest to the historian, it would take them a lifetime to get a full picture of an event. And perhaps this won’t be a problem for the historian, but for everyone. With so much information flying at us all at once, how will we decipher what is not only true and accurate, but also relevant and interesting to us? Big data is currently great for companies who are using it to market to us and sell us their product, but what happens when big data becomes too big – when there is simply too much of it to be useful?

I love technology, despite the negativity of this post, and I think that it is doing wonders for us in the way that we interact with the world and the people around us. I think that there are a lot of different ways that we can use technology to make our world a better place, but I am hesitant of the amount of information and the type of information that we are so freely giving away. How do you think technology and social media will change in the next twenty years?

UberEATS Launches in Atlanta

Dear Uber,

I like your company – it’s convenient, it’s fast, and it’s fairly inexpensive. It’s a good deal for you, your consumers, and your drivers.  Everyone wins.ubereats_banner

You have been doing a lot of expansion here lately. I was able to experience UberPOOL when I was in Los Angeles this summer, and just last week, you launched UberEATS in the place I call home: Atlanta. I’ve been thinking about testing out this new Uber service, but I first turned to the place where I can quickly find honest customer feedback – Twitter.

With operations in hundreds of cities throughout the world and every continent except Antarctica,  it seems only logical that you would decide to expand outside of the taxi-based service that made the company so popular. Originally launched as UberFRESH in Santa Monica in April 2014, this new service provides lunch during a three hour timespan with a prix fixe menu that offers a different selection each day. Apparently the venture went so well in Santa Monica that you decided to expand it to other cities, including Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and even Toronto and Barcelona.

The most recent addition to this list has been Atlanta, where UberEATS (the name switched in April 2015) was launched on Thursday, September 10, 2015. Since that time, a fair number of users have taken to Twitter to express both joy and frustration. Since the launch, I have monitored and analyzed a sample collection of tweets about #UberEATS and your expansion to Atlanta. The Twitter activity on the hashtag was monitored starting on Wednesday, September 9th when the launch announcement was made through the following week. This examination has resulted in a balanced picture of the overall reaction in Atlanta to UberEATS.

On September 9, 2015, Twitter exploded with the information about the launch with over sixty tweets about the event. Activity on the feed #uberEATS combined with keyword “Atlanta” remained high on Thursday, September 10 with twenty tweets, but then fell off throughout the week, as evidenced in Graph One. I believe that some of this can be attributed to the fact that the service does not run on Saturdays and Sundays, and the launch happened on Thursday, giving it only two active days prior to the weekend.

Graph One
Graph One

Overall, this number was much lower than I personally expected, as I assumed that Atlanta would be excited for the launch. However, the number of tweets or lack thereof was not my biggest concern here, but rather the fact that 82 of the 94 tweets within the week were promotional tweets, as evidenced by Graph Two.

Tone of #Uber Eats Atlanta
Graph Two

Perhaps the largest concern here is not the fact that they were promotional tweets – we want journalists, bloggers, and even loyal customers spreading the news about our launch – but rather that they seemed to be sent by Uber drivers.  Furthermore, it was clearly a stock tweet, as I discovered a list of seventeen tweets in a row with the exact same text.

Uber DriversThose customers who did have something to say – either positive or negative – seemed to take to Twitter without the hashtag. Searching “Uber EATS Atlanta” showed a different set of tweets – this time without the repeated promotional material. Of the seventeen sent this week, most were positive, while a few were simply curious about the service, as demonstrated by the Graph

Three.

Graph Three
Graph Three

The positive tweets, much like the one seen here, were the ones that I was most interested in looking at personally. I wanted to be sure that other people liked the service and the food prior to spending $12 on lunch for myself.

Based on this feedback, I would definitely consider it for those times that I am swamped at the office but still need some lunch. I also like that the account favorited the tweet, showing that you care about consumers and want to interact with them.

Even the one “negative” tweet received a response from @Uber_Support, which I think is very important for keeping the customer happy. Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 9.59.21 AMWhile you could not provide an immediate solution to the issue, I appreciate the fact that someone was willing to acknowledge the situation and be willing to follow up on the request. Listening to the consumer and responding appropriately will only make the company better as you look to expand into other cities and countries.

After examining the tweets related to the launch of UberEATS in Atlanta, I have two main recommendations for Uber that I suggest you implement prior to launching the service in other major cities.

1.) Promotional tweets should show creativity and be unique.  Nothing good comes from asking your employees to simply copy and paste the same tweet over and over. More could be accomplished by encouraging them to craft their own creative tweets and then providing a small prize – perhaps free UberEATS for a week – for the most unique or retweeted tweets.  This would cost very little for the company, but would give consumers more information with regard to what UberEATS will offer their city.  People want to retweet things that make them laugh or provide quality information, but will simply skim or even skip the same tweet that they have seen multiple times within the day. Use your drivers wisely and encourage them to be themselves in their tweets.

2.) Allow time for build-up prior to the launch.  The day that Uber announced that you were launching in Atlanta, the number of tweets was three times that of any other day.  Perhaps announcing the launch a week or even two weeks prior to the start date will allow people to get excited about it and anticipate the launch date.  This will also allow for more promotional time on behalf of the company, your drivers, the media, and the general public.  Ideally, the launch date should be the highest traffic day on social media – give people time to learn about the new service so that they can be excited enough to try it.  Only allowing one day between the announcement and the launch was not enough time to make it as successful as it could have and should have been.

This monitoring report was prepared for my COM 5100 course.  Additional research would need to be done if this were a full report. I am specifically interested in how the Atlanta launch has compared to that of other cities and how the amount of time between announcement and launch determined how popular the service was. I would also be interested in comparing tweets about UberEATS with those of other services such as GrubHub and Zifty.

Update: One of the “inquisitive” tweets mentioned above asked why the service was not available in Buckhead – as it was originally launched only in downtown and Midtown.  Uber listened to the consumers, and today (Monday, September 21) launched the service in Buckhead. Way to monitor your consumer feedback, Uber!

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 10.03.47 AM

I Have a Real Job Too

My official job title is “Engagement and Communications Coordinator,” which is a fancy way of saying that I spend a lot of my time on social media. At least eight hours of my week, one full day, is spent on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. When I tell people this, they look at me like I’ve lost my mind. My own mother once asked me how I could consider it a real job – thanks, Ma. Unfortunately, I have gotten that response from multiple people simply because they believe that social media is just a part of life, not an exciting career.

Social media is everywhere around us.   We see signs all around us that say “Like Us on Facebook” or “Follow Us on Twitter.” The table signs at the restaurant down the street is running a photo contest on Instagram, and we automatically look to LinkedIn when we think about networking with people in our field. It’s such a natural part of life now that most people tend to not even think about the people who are running the show behind the scenes.

This is also true in higher education, if not more so. Social media is everywhere on the university campus – in fact, a recent study discovered that one in three college students consider the Internet to be as important as basic human needs like air, water, food, and shelter. The benefits of using social media in higher education are obvious. It’s an easy way to interact with students, who you know are constantly on their phones and computers. It allows administrators to quickly share information, particularly if there is a crisis like a tornado or shooter on campus. It is used to promote events, show the culture of the school, and encourage potential students and ranking systems to take an extra look at the university. We’re even being graded on it now. It’s something that is present in every aspect of the university – we can no longer escape it – but social media does not come without its challenges.

1THE AUDIENCE

When using social media, universities are talking to more than just their students. There are also talking to the alumni, the potential students, the faculty and staff, the parents of the students and potential students, and anyone who happens to stumble across the page. They are doing more than simply reporting on student activity – they are creating a brand that must be upheld. With that many people to impress, sometimes in the hundreds of thousands or even millions, how do we know what to say? Are we supposed to be recruiting students, promoting the events around campus this week, or asking the alumni to take part in the giving campaign? Are we supposed to be showcasing how nice the dorm rooms are, explaining where Counseling and Health Services is located on campus, or encouraging alumni to attend Homecoming? With so many different audiences and so many different people following the page, how do we know what to post?

2

THE UNITY

In an effort to combat the above-mentioned problem, there is a major trend among universities where each section and subsection of the university controls their own social media presence. This means that every department from Graduate Housing to the Men’s Golf Team to the Department of English has their own Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram page. Sometimes they even have multiple of those. At last count, the Scheller College of Business at Georgia Tech had fifty-three different social media accounts: one on each platform for the undergraduate programs, their Part-Time MBA Program, their Full-Time MBA Program, their Executive MBA Program, and the list goes on. A quick Facebook search pulls up more than 100 Georgia Tech affiliated pages – everything from the Library to the Chinese Club to the weekly Farmer’s Market. The official university pages are of course ran by someone who has a background in social media management – someone who understands what he or she is doing. But these extra pages are often ran by someone like me – someone who is interested in social media but doesn’t quite understand how to be super effective at it. But more importantly, when there is that much stuff going on, how does the university work to ensure that the message being sent is the correct one? And perhaps more importantly, with this many messages being sent, how can we even be sure that the people sending them are even affiliated with the university?

3THE PLATFORM

Every college is on some form of social media. No, seriously, 100% of colleges studied by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth(almost five hundred total) are on social media.  But what does this mean? Do they only have a Facebook Page, or perhaps a Twitter Handle? The reality is that they probably have both, as well as Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and more. With so many options, how do social media managers keep up? And more importantly, how do you decide which platform will be the next big hit. With college-aged students being some of the first to become captivated by the next big thing, how do universities stay ahead of the social media game? For example, most universities have a Google+ account, which has essentially died, but relatively few connect with students on Vine, which was extremely popular with the millennial generation for a few years. That being said, “for a few years” is a problem in itself. With technology changing every single day, how do universities predict what will be popular tomorrow? Is it worth it to invest the time and effort to make and run a social media account if the platform is going to lose users within a few months?  Should we instead just invest our time in the tried and true platforms that we know are working?

Social media is a necessary part of our lives – both inside and outside of the university. It is a wonderful tool that allows us to connect with our students and alumni in a way that we never could before. That being said, running these social media accounts comes with its own challenges, just like every other “real” career.

What other challenges come from using social media in a university setting? How are these similar or different from running social media pages in a corporate environment, or a non-profit organization?

In A Perfect World

2014-05-06-socialmedia

In a perfect world, I would have known at fifteen that I wanted to have a career in marketing and communications.  In a perfect world, I would not have gone to college as a Biology major, then changed to Political Science, then to Spanish, and finally to History.  In a perfect world,  I wouldn’t have spent many thousands of dollars to get my MA in Latin American History only to discover that my passion is in communications and social media. Unfortunately, I do not live in a perfect world.

The world in which I do live is far from perfect, but it is amazing.  I have a great job that I love at Georgia Tech, and I no longer live in the cold Midwest.  I spend most of my days working with students and alumni, planning events, marketing them on social media, and then spending more time than necessary designing the perfect newsletter to recap everything. I love my job, but because I do not live in a perfect world, I do not have any formal background or training in what I actually do.  In an effort to combat this, and because I simply love learning, I am spending the next year enrolled in the Certificate for Digital and Social Media at Kennesaw State University.  I’m hoping to learn all kinds of things, but the ones I’m most looking forward to in COM 5100: Social Media and Concepts are listed below.

THE BEST PLATFORMS FOR STUDENT ENGAGEMENT

Social-Media-Touch-HD-ForWallpapers.com_Interacting with students is an integral part of retaining them, and social media seems to be the way to go in this regard.  Rather than asking students to read a number of emails each week about an upcoming event, we can simply create an event on Facebook and have their friends invite them. Rather than asking students to leave class early to attend a guest lecture, we can live tweet it so they do not miss any of the action and then post it on YouTube for review later.  Social media is a great way to keep students involved, but it sometimes seems like we are trying to market via Facebook and Twitter to a group that is no longer interested in Facebook or Twitter.

Georgia Tech has recently gotten their own Snapchat, and Instagram seems to be the most popular social network for our students.  But with over fifty large social media platforms, how do we determine what is the best one? Which is the next big thing? And what is the best way to interact with these students once we have the platform? Similarly, how do we interact with our alumni, who are as important as our students? Do we really need Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, Snapchat, YouTube, Pinterest, Flickr, and Vine in order to reach everyone?

PAY TO PLAY

social-media-signsEvery time I log on to Facebook or Twitter, or even Instagram now, the social media networks are asking me to pay for something. While it is still free to host a Facebook Page or have a Twitter account, they claim that traffic will increase and more hits will be generated if I pay them.  Some small businesses have boosted posts on Facebook and came away with nothing.  I have done it a small number of times for my department (when our faculty members completed some really amazing research!) and we actually did receive a number of new page likes as well as a huge increase in the number of people who saw our posts.

But as someone who isn’t selling anything, who really isn’t even providing a buy-able service to anyone except Georgia Tech students, is it worth it to spend a few extra dollars here and there to boost a post or have it show up in more people’s Twitter feeds?  For those of us who are simply trying to get our information out there, trying to get people to see the cool things we are doing and care about our work, is it worth it to spend the extra time and money, or is this simply a way for social networks to make an even larger profit?

HOW CONNECTED IS TOO CONNECTED

social-media-_-3For better or for worse, my phone actually looks like this.  Between my boyfriend and I, we go through nearly 15 GB of data every month, and most of that is used by me.  The sad part is that this does not take into account the amount of time that I spend on my phone on wifi.  While some of this use is for personal use, a vast majority of it is spent on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram updating my work pages and responding to students, alumni, and even strangers who comment on our statuses, tweets, and pictures.  With people now expecting a less than sixty minute response time, I do my best to stay connected at all times.

For my students, this is a good thing – they know that they can get in touch with someone from the department at almost any given time. But it can be physically exhausting and emotionally draining to be connected at all times.  I am especially guilty of multitasking and trying to be “in the moment” with my family and friends while also trying to be “at work” via social media on my phone.  I know my boyfriend, my parents, my friends, and even my dog would be grateful if I could learn to put down my phone every once in a while.  But how do we do this without compromising what we work so hard for on social media? How connected must we stay after business hours to still get the results we want?

In a perfect world, I would already know these things. I would have spent my undergraduate and graduate years discussing social media and put all that time I spent procrastinating on Facebook to good use.  Fortunately, I now have the opportunity to do so, and I could not be more excited!

If you were taking this class, what would you want to know most about digital and social media?