October 11th, 2011
Social Activist group launches “Worldwide Visionaries” program to support youth projects and positive ideas.
Los Angeles, CA – Up the River Endeavors, a consortium of organizations and individuals, has announced the launch of worldwidevisionaries.org, an online resource for young people or groups to explore and exchange positive ideas on addressing pressing social and environmental problems. The website offers a social media community for individuals to promote and present their educational and activist-oriented projects, collaborate with others, obtain additional volunteers and relevant grants, and gain visibility for their projects. Users can directly engage with the project creators, offer advice, and get more information through project and user profile pages. Users can also work with Worldwide Visionary members to craft their own ideas into projects.
“The goal of this program is to empower young people to communicate their vision of a better world to the vast potential audience that is available on the Internet,” says Carina Koury-Jones, Program Director for Worldwide Visionaries. “We hope their voices will be heard and that their projects will inspire others to get involved and join us in this exciting new endeavor.”
Although oriented toward youth, schools, and organizations, Worldwide Visionaries is available to anyone. Users can submit their ideas and projects and find support for those projects through exposure to various web resources, grant opportunities through the blog and on-staff grant-writer, information regarding corporate sponsorships and gifts, and one-one-one guidance from on staff project managers and professionals. Some of the projects include topics from “Going Green…Repairing the World: Student Art Exhibit” an art exhibit geared towards promoting awareness of environmental issues by University of Southern California student Jen Guyton, to “She Shall Go Free”, a project to raise awareness and advocacy in the fight against sexual slavery and human trafficking.
“Worldwide Visionaries is intended as a collection of resources to help young people get their emerging projects off the ground, as well as create an inspiring environment to encourage like-minded individuals,” says Joanna Arlukiewicz, Project Manager for Worldwide Visionaries. “Our broad goals were to effectively use online technology to help affect widespread, meaningful change offline, in both our local and global communities. We aim to support and connect visionaries around the world who are actively turning their good intentions into positive actions.”
The site launched with over one hundred submitted ideas…projects that started with classroom work from college students at the University of Southern California, supervised by Dr. Amy Parish in the Department of Anthropology. Further development by Dr. Parish and URE associates are in progress to create an expanded curriculum that will be available to schools and institutions early next year while additional enhancements to the website will provide project resources for online users and project submitters hoping to make a positive change.
Up the River Endeavors (URE) is group of organizations and individuals brought together by an innovative philanthropist, Kenneth Malcolm Jones, whose personal goal is to address the fundamental question of how human beings can reconcile with nature so that we can ensure our own survival and that of other living things that share our planet. There are nine consortium member organizations and a growing number of associate members (specialists who are invited to participate in annual meetings) involved in URE. Seventy-five percent of
participants are women and are decision-makers in their organization. Each URE member individually addresses important issues such as gender relations, global warming, world peace and social justice. URE is collectively organized around the perspective that the various problems addressed by each member organization have in common one or more root causes. The consortium endeavors to identify and address those root causes and has initiated Worldwide Visionaries, as their most recent collaborative project, to help others join in the effort to
create a word that is more balanced, peaceful and sustainable.
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Ok, we know everyone is making the Google+ lists right now…and, well that’s it, really. Everyone has an opinion on the new social network, and we felt it only right that we offer our own perspective as well. Here’s a quintet of reasons that may or may not have come up in the wide ocean of social media observation.
Represent Media presents: 5 Reasons Facebook needs to watch out for Google+:
5. Integration. Google has it, Facebook doesn’t. Google+ has the distinct advantage of being not only a social media hub, but a function that exists within Gmail, already lauded for its useability, memory, and direct link with YouTube. Gmail has a better email system, more customizable options, more comprehensive chat, and video communication. According to Wikipedia, Gmail as of November 2010 boasted 193.3 million users monthly, so the decision to add + as a function within was no doubt intrinsic.
4. No adds, no pop-ups. As we discussed in our previous Social Blogs, the inclusion of ads and suggested sources in websites is a slippery slope, the fall from which some URL’s never recover. Facebook has overlooked this truth, and has gradually not only allowed, but endorses paid advertising, correlated links, and invites to unwanted applications and games. Google+ looks to be following suit with its premier applications, and as it has no requirement for advertisement-based revenue, will offer users a safe environment in which to interact.
3. Non-branding. This seemingly innocuous tidbit is in fact an important factor in what will add to Google +’s appeal. To be sure, Google+ will in multiple ways be it’s own brand, it will no doubt have increasingly developed logos, and already has it’s own stylized “Like” button, but what it doesn’t have is an external identity. As it lives inside Gmail, it will never be considered a tangible or worded association in the mind of the consumer. Indeed, the link accessing Google + within Gmail is not branded, but simply features the user’s first name, plus. (Ex: David+). This allows Plus to exist as simply a social service, an extra, a perk, instead of a place, a site, a wholly separate environment, which indeed seems to be a master stroke of planning on Google’s part.
2. All Circles, no Jerks. All joking aside, unless you go into your settings and start tinkering with who sees what, any update you post can and will be seen by a myriad of people. This means your heavy night of drinking can be seen by work people, your technical work posts can be seen by your friends, and your controversial articles can be seen by your easily-agitated family members. Circles will allow us to deviate the information we share into specified groups. Clique-ish, yes, but a necessary development and the logical next step in interactive media.
1. To the guest list go the spoils. To their credit, Google understands the human psyche very well. By launching Plus as an invite only campaign, they created an air of limited accessibility in the minds of users. It’s similar to the Studio 54 effect: Let 10% in, let the 10% invite 10%, and leave the other 80% dying to know what they are missing. According to TechTree.com, this tactic has indeed delivered, as Plus has brought in an unheard of 20 million activations in 31 days, making it “The fastest growing social network.”
That being said, Google+ still has a long way to go, and Facebook would have to falter in the coming year for the two to drift to comparable traffic levels, but something has occurred to me as we’ve watched the website begin its rise: So many people are lauding Plus and investing themselves in its success up against Facebook, because they want something that provides them with new services. The biggest reason Google+ is looking to be so promising isn’t just that it has done so many things right, it’s that people are ready for an alternative to Facebook. BizJournals noted that Facebook users rank it a 66 out of 100 as far as likability (Pun intended), compared to Wikipedia, YouTube, and “All others”. With that elephant in the room, it’s possible the biggest reason Facebook needs to watch out for Google+ has nothing to do with Circles, and more to do with how they are proceeding into the next year.
Like any child of the internet-turned social media lifestylist (Yes I made up that word), I follow a lot of blogs. One could argue a near-unhealthy amount. My bookmark tab scrolls endlessly downwards with everything from sites I visit multiple times a day, to the ever present “Impulse add” pages. I can go from looking at Modern Japanese Architecture to Gadget Blogs to “Who would win in a fight between two B-Actors in 1980′s movies” blogs all in under 60 seconds. People in the industry will continuously tweet and rely on the old adage “Content is king”, but with time and experience, that has slowly revealed itself to be merely a half-truth.
Now, to be clear, I’m not going on record here to dispute the three most powerful words in Social Media. Content is and will always be what separates an active healthy blog from a poorly maintained one, but it’s the depth of the content is often (and repeatedly) overlooked. It’s important to remember that most of the best blogs are not/were not started with any marketing initiatives behind them. This is an important distinction when laying out the plan for your businesses/product/lifestyle promotion.
When creating a blog with business promotion in mind, the game changes a bit. Not only do your posts have to be relevant to your services, they have to be compelling enough to elicit an approving mentality from your potential readers. This means you can’t simply talk about your product all day, you have to develop your writing to propose real and compelling information that a consumer can absorb and ultimately share. Essentially, you need to provide competent posts about your product that read like entertainment. This is where you have to ask yourself to what level your blog is going to update, and who will best be qualified to maintain it.
Getting some initial ideas about how to sell powertools in a witty and amusing manner? Excellent! Of course, what you discuss will weigh heavily on the nature of what you are offering, but the right spin can merge practical with lively in 250 words or less. Keeping your demographic in mind, you’ll want to break your blog down into what can be accomplished based on time, resources, and equipment. The result will typically fall into one of the following categories:
High Quantity – Daily updates, short on content. Blogs of this style are typically image-based, and the successful ones rely heavily on user-generated content. Captioning, submitting, and voting are commonplace on the quantity blogs, and the information shared tends to have an overall theme that generates more random responses. Visits tend to be high, but time on site tends to be brief, as the viewer is merely scanning through a whipped layer of content, never getting anything of actual depth or usefulness.
High Quality – Weekly to bi weekly updates, heavy on content. You will see a lot of travel or food blogs following this format. Large recountings of events or experiences draw the reader into a mini story that can be enjoyed with a cup of coffee or perhaps a pen and paper to take notes. Tends to impress functionality upon readers the most, as the information provided has had time to be correlated and presented. Since the content comes through with grace periods between, users are more likely to pose a return visit sporadically, returning when the recollection of it pops into their heads or their RSS feeds update them.
High Quantity + High Quality – Bi to tri weekly updates, heavy on content. It’s rare to see a blog like this maintained by a single person, though they do exist. Typically these are either news sites able to pay a staff on-hand, or a blogger collective with featured writers, continuously offering opinion pieces. This represents the upper eschelon of content creation, and on a business side, would benefit less from a product standpoint, and more from story aggregation.
In summation, taking into account your available assets, both in staff, monetary resources, concept, and information availability will determine to what level your blog will function. It may be that the output you wish to achieve is out of your reach initially, but it is commonplace to see a blog develop from one category to another as consumers start to take an active interest in your news. Above all, if you are floundering or having trouble maintaining your updates, don’t be afraid to ask other bloggers or professionals for assistance or input.
Click image to enlarge This social media data visualization was recently posted amidst a “65 terrific Social Media Graphs” blog, and quite frankly, I’m perplexed as to why. The chart in and of itself is simple enough in its message: A negative sentiment from a early adopter will manifest itself into a larger response than a positive, but the imagery itself is baffling and could mean one of any number of things. Let’s pursue a possible scenario.. Promoters (AKA spokespeople, ambassadors, champions): Phase 1: College Guy (Hereafter known as “CG”) tells curiously matching-attired dorm mate about something he loves online. Phase 2: Dorm Mate then champions it to his father, who doesn’t care, and his girlfriend, who tells all her friends about said loved item. This results in a large group of positive impressions, but none that make it to the “American Gladiator Elite” of promoters on the right. Phase 3: Luckily, Dorm Mate knows a Punk Kid whom he beats up, and forces him to tell a slew of friends. Phase 4: Of these friends, two tell four people that don’t care, an older gentleman becomes very upset and tells his uninterested daughter and son about it at family chutes-and-ladders night, and Punk Kid’s girlfriend and Punk Kid #2 finally pull out iphones to get their point across. Final tally: 6 (12 if you could Punk Kid #2’s group, but they also didn’t make it to the winner’s circle on the right).
Passives (AKA middle-roaders, impartials, indifferents): Phases 1-3: CG tells his dad who tells his sister. Final tally: Dinner is still at 6, and your mother is making meat loaf.
Detractors (AKA naysayers, negative Nancies, haters. Spanish for “The Tractors”): Phase 1: CG gives the finger to Punk Kid Phase 2: Punk Kid gives the finger to no less than 4 people Phase 3: CG #2 tells Punk Kid #2 about the finger Punk Kid #1 gave him. Punk Kid #2 considers this totally hilarious and tells his girlfriend about how awesome it was that a punk gave a college guy the finger. Both make out listening to the Smiths. Meanwhile, Punk Kid #3 didn’t find it funny for whatever reason, and tells 3 seemingly random people, while Red Shirt Girl tells 6 people that “This finger is for you.” Phase 4: Older gentleman is wildly offended and gives the finger two thumbs down. His CG son doesn’t care, while his black sheep Punk Kid son breaks down and goes on a naked middle finger spree across the neighborhood, offending every person he sees who contagiously go berserk and do the same, ending in a huge melange of public disturbance that results in several dozen arrests and a 44 second segment on the evening news. Final tally: 72 people processed, 68 of which made bail.
For those of you that found this graph informative, I commend your tactful sense of perception. For the rest of you that scrunched up your nose in bewilderment, I hope I was able to shed some light on the true nature of the word-of-mouth process.
We will help build your network of relevant media and blog contacts. We start with a contact strategy to introduce your services, seed product and services to bloggers for mention, and begin to build you a customized contact list of professional among these various channels. Then we help establish and maintain these relationships, allowing you to focus your time on your business.
Services from $499+ and can include:
Communicating milestones for your brand to the community is a powerful way to generate attention within your network communities. We can create the copy, imagery, and videos for your release and through our media network will provide you with the most reach possible for targeted distributions of press releases. Or database of 1.4 million Bloggers, Journalists, and more is constantly updated through Vocus™ to give us the latest information to send the releases out to as well as the tools to ensure maximum exposure through the distribution. Services from $129+ and can include:
Being able to manage consumer conversations about your brand across blogs, review sites, forums, and various other channels is important. Our brand advocacy program will search the web for conversations, complaints, and questions about your company or service, and engage them directly in conversation. We will encourage positive sentiment, discourage negative, and inform upon any questions from current or potential consumers.
Our goal will be to help facilitate their brand experience by pointing them in the right direction for any needs they may have, whether for sales, marketing, customer service, and more.
Our daily reports give you visibility into the messages, talking points, and results of our advocacy so you can see a clear picture of who is talking about your, what they are saying, where they are saying it, and how we are responding. Our tools and resources allow you to rank or rate our responses so we can continuously craft your message and the way your brand is communicated.
Packages can range from $299 to $1499 and include:
Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and various other “social media” websites is the brand buzzword on most peoples tongue’s. To listen to the marketing chatter and the buzz about it, most business owners may start getting the impression that they cannot do business without it. There are many ways that proper use of social media as a marketing channel can help even the smallest business, but just as these positions can help you, they can also negatively impact the consumers brand affinity to you.
The results you get from a social media strategy all come down to execution. While it can help bring recognition and attention to your brand, this recognition is not guaranteed to be positive. As a result of this, there are important factors to develop before you charge in to your social media presence.
1. What are you using social media for?
The answer to this is not always the same. Uses for Social Media can be to create a customer retention program, communicate sales or events related to your brand, provide customer service by directly engaging your customer in conversations, establish promotions and relevant drivers to gain new customers, and more. And no, you can’t just ‘do all those things’ without a plan. The first step is defining the purpose of your social media.
2. How often will it be updated?
Coming to a Facebook page that has not been updated in weeks can give the impression of laziness on the part of the brand. If this is a new consumer, then you may have actually lost the potential of ever doing business with them through a negative first brand impression. On the other side of this, a page that is constantly updated and consistently checked can give a positive experience that lets your consumer know that you are actively staying on top of communications with your base. This is not as easy as it sounds, leading us to number 3:
3. Your social presence needs relevant content
This is most often the biggest challenge to brands. Providing content that is unique, interesting, or relevant to what the consumer wants to see. It is rare to be followed by someone who just ‘likes what you are doing’. Often your consumers will either be repeat customers, brand loyalists, or people hoping for a discount or giveaway. If you don’t have interesting content, don’t worry. It can be easily created by starting a promotion, giving a few service or product, or finding out a way to directly have a positive effect on their lives. People want something for the attention they will invest in you, and if they do not feel there is a chance of ever getting anything in return for this attention, you will find yourself “de-friended” fairly quickly.
4. Don’t try too hard
One of the number one reasons people change their mind about following a brand is when they feel they are being engaged too often. If you tell them to buy from you every day, it won’t be long before they opt out of this contact. Remember, the consumer sees their social media page as belonging to them. We can send them mail, but if we do it everyday they will not only quit buying from you, but they will likely tell communicate this negative sentiment to their friends and family.
5. Message variety
Avoid being repetitive. You can’t post a different sales message every day and expect to be successful. This is where finding the voice of your brand is important. Create additional content to give back to your customers every now and then so your message is not always about selling them something. If you don’t have content, and your base is fairly small, your message can be a simple ‘happy birthday’ on the wall of your followers where it is relevant, or a expert discussion on your product or service attributes. Get creative.
Overall, the best methods are going to be unique to the industry you are in or the product that you sell. There is no single correct answer for how your brand will be received, which is why it can never hurt to consult with some experts for advice. The important thing to remember is that a social media presence can be just as harmful to your business as it can be positive. It all comes down to execution.
A common misconception among new business models is that public interest and profit will stem from a well-conceived offering; the idea that something is so good it will sell itself. While there are some cases of widespread brand notoriety in a short amount of time, these are typically a result of large budgets, whether by corporate purchase or private investor. This allows them to move from production to advertising in a well-staffed, predetermined network environment. For the rest of the start-up world, budgetary considerations are usually stretched thin or exhausted when it comes time to think about public visibility.
With that thought, it’s important to get back to one simple truth: Great marketing ideas are never built on the product, message, or service you wish to provide, they are built around the people that will potentially be interested in them. It’s a simple enough concept, but when resources aren’t as abundant as one would like, it becomes far more important to get micro in terms of efficiency and reach. Since most don’t have a Super Bowl commercial or billboard campaign to represent themselves, the best tactic is to figure out early on who it is that would best benefit from your offerings. Here’s 4 steps to help get the conversation going:
The relationship between product/experience and consumer is just like any other: You don’t want to end up mismatched. Having a place to start is as important to you as it is to your target audience. Keep in mind, you want them to feel compelled and satisfied in what they are investing above all else, so it’s important that you build a foundation from which all your research will stem. The bar should include price points, location, age/sex, traffic, convenience, and overall economic density.
Salable marketing data is a precious resource, but isn’t necessarily going to be right for your business. Such data is often costly and may not be focused on your region, model, or style. The best way to discern who will be interested is to be proactive in competitive observation. Taking the time to identify which business models are most aligned with your own allows you to find out who is talking, visiting their locations and leaving valuable feedback.
No matter what you are marketing, your business is sink or swim, and you have to view yourself as aggressive/competitive. Once you’ve established your consumers and landscape of competitors, you can start to follow their interactions, initiatives, message, strengths, and weaknesses. The idea isn’t to become what they are, but to be associated with the appealing aspects of theirs, and to distance yourself from the negative.
The voice of the brand is often times the most challenging part of consumer interaction. While the former steps involve data and planning, communicating in real time with your target audience involves creativity and finesse. Keeping them aware and interested in your content without seeming overbearing or nagging is a matter of careful and sustained consideration. This is where all the hard work comes to fruition. By using the research put in place to ascertain your consumer demographic, keeping the right people informed in the right way becomes not only feasible, but executable.
All of this, of course, boils down to a matter of resources. Most start-ups and web companies simply don’t have the time or manpower to simultaneously run a business and monitor a long term PR campaign, which has lent itself to new agencies worldwide. If you are considering online or external services, always take the time to ensure that the company you go with knows not only how to map a path based on your personal needs, but can also convey your sentiments on a custom level.
As I was researching Google’s top ten under “copy writing”, it occurred to me that almost every one of the top ten was a how-to guide on writing copy. (That has probably changed since I wrote this.)
Entries from some of the top ten are instructional on how to make your copy easily received and read on the internet. Most go into check lists on how to structure your blogs, ads, etc., but what I found particularly interesting was the lack of emphasis on how this bullet point structure ties into the content.
Why isn’t content a key component in these guides? This made me wonder what I would pull up if I Googled “creative copy”. What did I find? More bullet point structures on how to make your sentence structure aesthetically pleasing. Do ellipses really impact your reader? Does over punctuation really illustrate the point that is trying to be made? My answer: Why do I care? Unless I know what topic I’m writing about I’m not going to be able to discern who my audience is or what they want.
Every topic and its audience is different. So how realistic is it to generalize a copy writing style?
Content dictates Audience. Both Content and Audience will dictate Copy.
Copy writing is almost like an equation. (I know I am bashing structuralism, but the structure needs to be identified before it can be disassembled).
Now here’s where it gets tricky. How am I going to show my audience, through my content, something that is going to engage them? Well for starters I am going to show them something that based on my demographic research is going to perk their interest, then I am going to present it in a way that hasn’t been seen before.
This is where most of the how-to write copy guides fail. Some already assume that the copy writer has done this.
Why is the creative element behind the content left out?
I think one of the most important ways to write effective copy is to identify with the content. As a writer how are you going to convince your reader that what you have to say is important if you don’t believe it yourself? Here are some easy steps to follow in your identification process.
1. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of what you are trying to sell, service wise or product wise. (This is basically a rough way of outlining your content).
Based on your findings, go through your pros and cons. Creative ideas often are derived from being able to identify with what your product/service can and cannot do and how its abilities or lack thereof, are going to be received by your audience.
Say for instance that the topic is toast.
Everybody loves toast. Well not everybody. What about the people who are sensitive or allergic to gluten. They might hate toast because they can’t eat it or they’ve eaten it and something horrible happened to them. This would be a con, unless your toast is gluten free.
But what about the pros?
Toast is an easy-to-make breakfast item. When you’re on the go, toast is your friend. You can take it with you! It’s portable! Eat it on the way to work. Toast is easy. We like toast.
2. How educated is your audience?
If you were writing a warning label for a cleaning product or hazardous substance, you probably wouldn’t a). draw a humorous cartoon depicting the violent death of a stick figure, or b). write a wordy excerpt in middle English.
The cartoon depiction is most likely in bad taste for the poor, unfortunate person who had the bad luck to ingest something he/she shouldn’t have. Not to mention it would be distracting if they are just trying to locate the poison control number.
The wordy middle English excerpt is of course an embellished example of using words that some people might not understand. In this scenario the writer has to be able to write on a level where even a child would be able to comprehend the warning and/or instructions.
3. Don’t be afraid to use humor.
Now… I find that most demographics respond positively to humor, unless you are writing about safety equipment or something that should never be funny… like poison control. There is a time and place for humor. That is why it is important that you understand your product/service. You, as the writer, are the first filter. Ask yourself if the topic you are writing about would engage you. Humor is a great way to take a boring topic and make it bearable for your reader. It’s more fun for the writer too.
In summation, this little equation: Content- Audience- Copy is really all you need to worry about when writing copy. Everything else you can find in a book or as I mentioned earlier within the top ten of a Google search. Don’t get me wrong how-to guides are great for the technical aspects of writing, but when it comes down to new, inspiring ways of presenting information to prospective consumers, we can’t all conform to established writing structures. Have fun, be creative and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.