Tell your story through pictures

21 11 2011

A picture is worth a thousand words. Photographs are engaging, thought-provoking, and descriptive. At times, companion photographs are the determining factor for whether or not I will read the newspaper. To get to the point, pictures are an integral part of social media marketing. Social networks geared toward photo-sharing (like Flickr) are increasingly being utilized by non-profits. Pictures have the power to engage an audience and to describe what words cannot.

Flickr allows users to organize their photos into galleries, create captions, and view other photographs. A great example of an organization that has used Flickr is the American Red Cross. After Hurricane Katrina, the Red Cross created a Flickr account for volunteers and community members to showcase photographs of their experiences.  The Flickr account assisted the Red Cross in raising awareness and recruiting help, while directing traffic to their website and other social networks.

There are two reasons why I think this approach was so effective for the Red Cross. First, the community effort of gathering content helped to strengthen bonds between all contributors passionate about the cause. Secondly, such pictures are more emotionally-charged than words. An outsider with no knowledge of the Red Cross may be more motivated to act after seeing a devastating picture. Empathy is a strong emotion that can be strategically evoked.

In summary, what can you learn from the example provided by the Red Cross? I learned that Flickr is a great tool to add to the social media strategy because it can increase visibility and encourage traffic between social media channels. Time invested on social media should not be predominantly focused on Flickr (in my opinion) but it is a neat alternative that may as well be added to the mix. Do it right, and your picture may just be worth 1,000 likes (or re-tweets).

Check out the American Red Cross’s Photostream on Flickr for ideas and inspiration.


Is social media a useful tool for affordable housing corporations?

15 11 2011

I came across this concern in an affordable housing forum on LinkedIn. The user who posed the question was concerned about the effectiveness of  social media in the marketing mix for such corporations since the target market served is likely facing economic hardships. Although this concern is legitimate, considering the time that must be dedicated to creating content and maintaining a social presence, I strongly support using social media for any company. Why?

First off, although it is sometimes referred to as social media MARKETING, this does not necessarily mean that a product is put on the market to be sold. Remember cause marketing? How about WOM marketing? These things are effective but have been brushed off in favor of a pull method of marketing. In other words, I (the company) tell you what I want you to hear and give you the informative materials that I want you to look at. In this scenario, there are few chances for the customer to communicate with the company. Social media is changing this, so don’t be a control freak or you will be left behind!

But also don’t be afraid of the two-way conversation. Maybe there will be some bad publicity and angry customers but it’s not the end of the world. I actually perceive these challenges to be constructive criticism and a wonderful opportunity to improve your company, as well as gain additional support. Sometimes transparency can be a good thing.

Next, imagine all of the other things that a social media presence can make possible for your business aside from directly marketing affordable housing units or whatever else is fitting. Among these are promoting events, connecting with partners, gaining supporters, educating users about the realities of affordable housing, raising funds, and the list goes on.

The bottom line is that social media is taking over our lives! I am joking. Kind of. But the take away message is that I suggest you engage in social media for your business regardless of what field you may be in – it is the 21st century.

Any suggestions or alternate points of view on this subject?

Google+: the new Facebook?

10 11 2011

Yesterday, I was caught off guard when a co-worker asked me about Google+. I am usually on top of new and emerging trends in social media, but this network seemed to have passed me by. I told her what I did know – that Google+ was similar to Facebook©, and that it was publicly bashed by Mark Zuckerberg during an interview with Charlie Rose. My explanation was far from informative and as the founder of Facebook©, Zuckerberg’s opinion is most likely biased. So I did some research about this brand new social network to form a personal opinion instead of simply adopting the views of my man Mark. Maybe one day I will get over this love affair…

Anyways, Google+ is a young social networking platform that has only been in existence since this past June. From my research, I came across some great features that may prove to have a competitive advantage over Facebook©.

  1. Circles: Google+ allows you to segment your connections into different groups; for example, friends, family, co-workers, and so on. This means that when you post, you have complete control over which circles see your update on their streams. This is good news for those with nosy co-workers!
  2. Hangouts: This feature is my favorite! One user enters a “hangout” and an alert is sent to inform their social circles that they are “hanging out”. In these hangout sessions, up to ten people can video chat in real time free of charge – unlike Skype, which charges a fee for multiple users
  3. Media: Google+ features a specific section for viewing, editing, and managing media. There is also an image editor that allows you to add photo effects right on the platform. For an Instagram© enthusiast like myself, this was music to my ears!

To tie this all together, I am unsure who will be victorious. Google+ has some great new features but Facebook© is known for how quickly it changes to stay up to date with current trends in technology. I am also pretty sure that the folks at Facebook© are putting their heads together to duplicate and improve the innovative features offered by Google+ as I write this post. I can barely wait to see how this one will pan out!

I made an account to learn more, and I urge you to do the same here

Feel free to share your two cents about Facebook vs. Google+ !

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