Project Update! An Interview with the Interviewer

For today’s post, we’re trying something a little different.

After completing over thirty interviews with some of the most generous, patient, and thoughtful social media managers, volunteers, and communications managers known to non-profit-environmental-organization-kind, I thought it was only fair to (temporarily) give up the rights to my digital recorder and let someone else have a shot at the Q&A experience.

Today, I’ll be answering some questions about the research process, the conversations I’ve had so far, and what comes next. My always obliging and hopefully kind interviewer will be Lizzie Boer, a friend and fellow internaut/graduate student.

But enough stalling — the mic is on and the questions are coming!

Lizzie: Hello, blog! I’m excited to be here today. To start us off, how many people have you interviewed for this project?

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Social Media & Society: 2015 International Conference

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One of the biggest joys of #SMS was this amazing hashtag bookshelf, which I never knew I needed, but now can’t live without.

Last July, I had the pleasure of attending the International Conference on Social Media & Society in Toronto along with my research advisor and hundreds of other social media enthusiasts.

If you’re not familiar with the conference, the SMS event is a three day event organized by the Social Media Lab at Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University.

Each year, researchers from around the world gather to exchange ideas, present original research, learn about recent and ongoing studies, and network with peers. The conference, affectionately known as #SMS15, featured a keynote address, full papers, works in progress, panel presentations, workshops, and poster sessions.

Unlike many of the conferences I’ve attended in my academic career, #SMS attendees come from a wide variety of fields, which is a nod to the wide variety of research being done in the digital world. The diversity of the presentation topics, methods, and participant backgrounds helped to create a unique and energetic atmosphere at #SMS, which incorporated elements of Communication Studies, Computer Science, Education, Journalism, Information Science, Management, Sociology, and Political Ecology. As a side note, conferences like #SMS are also great because they’re one of the few places I know of where enthusiastic conversations about the need for more digital research in academia (often over the shared remnants of a pita) are actively encouraged and not just met with the knowing eye-rolls of my roommates.

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Social Media Roundup: 7 Top Trends for 2015

Welcome to post #7 in a 7 part series examining the top trends in social media for 2015, brought to you by @natureclicker (with much assistance from the rest of the internet). Thanks for following this series. Check back for more posts on social media trends, information on non-profit social, and research updates!

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7. Live Social

One of the most distinctive features of social media is its ability to reach audiences in real time. We’ve all seen how trending topics on Twitter or Facebook can draw attention to an issue, generate increased coverage on traditional media, or even prompt public responses from private corporations, state agencies, public figures, or otherwise identified parties. In some instances, the opinions shared on a trending topic can have strong effects on its perception.

However, the “power of now” expressed within social media networks is often overlooked by academics, researchers, and even professional social marketers. Why?

Well, for one thing — it’s incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to predict what will trend and why. Still, the appeal — and the longing for — real time connections are attractive (and potentially lucrative) opportunities for everyone involved in social marketing, branding, or outreach.

How does live contact with your audience differ from other forms of social messaging?

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Social Media Roundup: 7 Top Trends for 2015

Welcome to post #6 in a 7 part series examining the top trends in social media for 2015, brought to you by @natureclicker (with much assistance from the rest of the internet). Check back later for #7 in the series!

pinterest

6. Pinterest Power

Today is an amazing day, because I get to talk to you about one of my all-time-favorite platforms/time-sucking pastimes, Pinterest.

Pinterest can be used online via desktop and mobile devices, or downloaded as an app. Its sleek minimalist design allows for users at all levels of tech-literacy to create and save web-links, called “pins” on their own collection of “boards.” While the inspiration behind Pinterest is clear, its users are engaging with Pinterest in a myriad of different ways, some of which come as a surprise to even the platform’s design team.

In all fairness, who could have seen this coming?

In all fairness, who could have seen this coming?

When the interest in Pinterest surged back in 2012, critics were quick to point a laundry list of reasons why Pinterest wasn’t “the next big thing” in social media. Despite some of the negative attention the platform received early on, Pinterest has continued to attract new users, generate revenue, and provide its “pinners” with creative and unique experiences.

So, what’s so great about Pinterest?

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Social Media Roundup: 7 Top Trends for 2015

Welcome to post #5 in a 7 part series examining the top trends in social media for 2015, brought to you by @natureclicker (with much assistance from the rest of the internet). Check back to see #6 in the series.

Image from The Economist

Image from The Economist

5. “Agility” – A Handy Guide to Interpreting 2015’s Buzzword of the Year.

Working with social media can be an unpredictable and precarious endeavor. There are countless questions related to content — such as how much you information you should be sharing about yourself, your organization, your business, and even your goals. Additional issues of when, where, and why to post often further complicate the subject, but content aside — the transparent and conversational elements of social media have their own unique ability to generate both new opportunities and new dilemmas for users.

If you’re engaging with social media with a goal in mind, you’ve probably noticed by now that simply having a profile is not enough. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how disheartening it is to search for a restaurant, business, organization, or other group on social networks, only to find the bare-bones digital equivalent of a mailbox pamphlet — but I’m going to anyway.

But... Cupcakes.

But… Cupcakes.

It sucks.

Obviously, social media profiles need to contain more than an address and map-view. We may be long past the days of phone books and brochureware, but even profiles with great content aren’t necessarily doing any better than poor Phoebe’s Cupcakes here at driving engagement or community building.

So, what is agility — and what does it mean for social media?

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Social Media Roundup: 7 Top Trends for 2015

Welcome to post #4 in a 7 part series examining the top trends in social media for 2015, brought to you by @natureclicker (with much assistance from the rest of the internet). Check back to see #5 in the series.

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4. Va-va-videos!

Welcome to 2015, where images have replaced text and video has replaced images.

YouTube is also the home of about 2 million kitten videos.

YouTube is also the home of about 2 million kitten videos.

Although Google remains the number one go-to-guide for all things internet, YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world. It processes more than 3 billion searches a month, which is more than Bing, Yahoo!, AOL, and Ask combined. Nearly half of all internet users are on YouTube, and the site uploads an average of 100 hours of video content every minute. In the average month, 6 billion hours of video are watched, with its mobile application delivering about 25% of its total views — which clock in at around 4 billion per day.

Clearly, people like watching videos, and YouTube isn’t the only platform with an interest in sharing. In fact, Facebook now averages even more total minutes watched than YouTube, which illustrates that YouTube is no longer a necessity for organizations and businesses looking to share visuals of their projects, landscapes, or products. With the implementation of video support on platforms like Facebook, Vine, Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter, social video is quickly becoming one of the most appealing engagement tools in 2015 — and you don’t even need an app for that.

What makes video so engaging?

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Social Media Roundup: 7 Top Trends for 2015

Welcome to post #3 in a 7 part series examining the top trends in social media for 2015, brought to you by @natureclicker (with much assistance from the rest of the internet). Check back to see #4 in the series.

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3. Social Advertising

I know what you’re thinking, social media advertising isn’t anything new, right? Well, you’re right, it isn’t — but if you think that 2015’s advertising is the same as 2014’s (or 2016’s, for that matter), you’re also terribly, terribly wrong (sorry!).

Once considered an equal playing field for brands, business, organizations, and that guy you went to high school with that you don’t really keep in touch with but can’t unfriend because what if you run into him somewhere that would be so awkward, Facebook now holds the keys to the kingdom when it comes to what shows up in user news feeds — and what doesn’t. It’s clear that the rules for social advertising are changing, and the price tag for reaching fans and followers is following suit.

Facebook’s old “open organic reach” strategy rewarded organizations and businesses that interacted regularly with users and posted quality, engaging, or otherwise attractive content to the platform. Facebook’s new cure-all for gaining page views and engagement is a little more, you guessed it, monetized.

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