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Over the course of this semester, our beloved professor, Gee Ekachai, put our Twitter skills to the test, assigning us to Tweet 40 times using a variety of techniques. I found this task both challenging and enlightening; I learned much more than I had initially anticipated when confronted with this assignment.

The most challenging aspect of this assignment was my disadvantage of owning a cheap phone. Unlike the majority of the Marquette student body (and the rest of the world, for that matter), my cellular device is not a smart phone. This handicap made it difficult to keep up with Tweeting, since I had to budget my time accordingly. This made my Tweets inconsistent. I think the biggest obstacle of managing a successful Twitter is learning to Tweet consistently and frequently. Inconsistent Tweets are irritating, and can lead to a loss of followers. In the future, I think I will take more advantage of applications like HootSuite to budget my time and ensure my Tweets are consistent.

And as an amateur Tweeter (is that a word?), I did not anticipate how much work it actually was to keep up with Tweeting! Finding and creating relevant, engaging and “click-worthy” Tweets was challenging at times, especially since a bounty of established public relations organizations (and the rampant inane celebrity Tweets) were my so-called competition. I quickly discovered how difficult it is to establish a respected Twitter reputation. Twitter’s vast audience makes it challenging to engage follower or those not yet following you.

Marquette tulips
Photo credit: Gee Ekachai

I particularly enjoyed Twitter’s prompt delivery of news – especially since I could follow certain Twitter accounts that only provide the kind of news that I am interested in (for instance, @PRNews or @The_Weekly_Cat). This way, my news was catered specifically to my interests, unlike many conventional news websites. In addition, Twitter’s brevity particularly appealed to me. Unlike Facebook, Twitter’s character limit is short. This forces Tweets to remain concise, which is conducive to obtaining a large amount of varied information in a short amount of time – an essential tool for public relations professionals who have to keep informed about trends in the field.

 

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Certainly, the extent of regulation of employee speech is largely dependent on and varies according to their career. For example, a CEO of a prominent company may face stricter regulations of their social media posts than a radio show personality or a celebrity. An employee’s code of conduct online is dependent on how much their personality must reflect the company and/or brand. Celebrities can get away with posting more controversial or unethical content online if it coincides with their brand image (see Jim Gaffigan’s Twitter). On the other hand, CEOs are the face of the company, and must maintain a professional image at all times.

Other issues involve employees recklessly endangering the confidentiality of a company through unethical posts, which can tarnish a company’s public image. For this reason, guidelines (which for the most part are actually very strict, and can result in job termination) were established to make employees aware of company expectations and consequences of failing to follow a company’s code of online conduct.

Personally, I don’t disagree with a minimal use of social media during company time. Social media has become so integrated and integral to society’s daily routine that its absence is almost as debilitating as revoking employee cell phone rights during work. In addition, social media’s multi-faceted nature provides employees with useful resources that may help them with their work. Also, it is arguably the best way to keep updated on news and trends, especially those that pertain to employee interests and work. As long as social media use is regulated and not used excessively, using social media on company time is acceptable.

From the company social media guidelines that I perused, I noticed most of the companies were accepting of employees utilizing social media sites, as long as it did not tarnish the company’s image or violate confidentiality. However, companies largely made employees solely responsible for their content posted online. Reuters even mentioned that if an altercation was encountered online to not be overtly defensive and seek lawyer assistance. In addition, some content was strictly taboo, including legal matters, stock prices, competitors, company strategy, rumors and not to speak on the company’s behalf, but to seek the company’s spokesperson (otherwise resulting in job termination).

Coca-Cola reflected similar sentiments regarding social media employee regulations; however they included a peculiar request of its employees. Coca-Cola advocates for its employees to be “scouts” for compliments and criticism of its products on social media sites. When employees find compliments/criticism, they are to send them to online.relations@na.ko.com. This is an interesting request, because while Coca-Cola advocates transparency, it also advocates for its employees to “scout out” Facebook pages mentioning Coca-Cola using their own personal pages. This seems contradictory because Coca-Cola’s employees are not allowed to speak on the company’s behalf; however, they are allowed to “scout” pages on the company’s behalf under the guise of their personal pages.

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Instagram is a free iPhone app (although Android is currently developing a prototype) that allows users to edit cell phone photos using different Photoshop filters and techniques. Then, users share their photos through various social media sites. The following of Instagram by its users has shaped Instagram’s purpose and direction from initially sharing photos because of their content (similar to Facebook’s purpose) to sharing artistic photos documenting one’s life or daily activities. This shift gave Instagram an interesting niche in the app selection and became tremendously successful; during their first year in business, the six-person company had nearly 10 million users and had over 200 million photos uploaded.

Personally, I find Instagram intriguing. I wish I had an iPhone so I could be more connected with social media in general — not to mention my $10 phone is less than reliable. But Instagram seems like a great way to utilize cell phone photos to capture and document your life in an artistic, fun and easy way. However, for an organization’s purposes, Instagram’s function differs slightly.

An organization’s public relations/marketing department could use Instagram in a variety of ways to engage their audience and represent their message/product in an artistic way. However, organizations have to be aware of how they capture and present their Instagram photography. Photos should not be arbitrary, unfocused or mundane. Every photo should have a purpose and a theme that conveys the organization’s overall message. Using imagery that captures an organization’s essence is key to keeping their brand image consistent. Also, placing an emphasis on the artistic side is very important, because that is why people choose to use Instagram, otherwise they would post unedited pictures.

Burberry Instagram Photos

For example, Burberry’s Instagram photos seen above are not so much focused on their products are they are the artistic value of the photo. Angles, tone, lighting, etc. Instagram is meant to convey feeling rather than information (although it can do both).

Another use for Instagram lies in engaging the audience through competing for best Instagram photo. Photo competitions are great for engaging the audience and fostering active participation. An organization may ask their social media followers to post a picture that relates to a theme in their current ad campaign or ask their followers to post Instagram photos of what their favorite fashion trend of the moment is, etc. This app is versatile and can be catered to the message/product of the organization, not to mention, it is a great visual tool to garner engagement and interest for any organization’s social media sites.

 

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Writing Is…

What writing is… cathartic, freeing, eternal.

What writing can… inspire.

What writing has… the ability to change.

What writing will… evolve.

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About Me

What’s your name? If you prefer to be called by a nickname, please indicate that in parentheses.

Allison Zahn (Allie)

In her natural habitat

What is your hometown?

Mequon, Wisconsin.

Have you worked as an intern? Where?

No, but I’ve held a wide variety of jobs throughout my life.

What is your ultimate dream job?

A public relations career in fashion, the arts, travel, environmental activism, or promoting nonprofit organizations. 

How would you describe your strengths and weaknesses as a writer?

I enjoy using a wide vocabulary and pay close attention to grammar and spelling. However, I can to be too calculated, formulaic and reserved in my writing at times.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how do you feel about writing? (1= I hate to write; 10= I love to write)

10. I’ve always enjoyed writing.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how do you assess your writing skill? (1 = Poor; 10 = Excellent)

8. There is always room for improvement.

What do you do to relax?

Napping, drawing, and coffee get me through the day. 

Sweet elixir of life

Name a foreign language you know.

German.

Cat person or dog person?

Both. Although I’m a crazy cat lady at heart.

What ethnic food do you like and dislike?

I love Thai food. And I enjoy trying new, foreign foods for the most part. Unless the food in question is similar to the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom scene. 

What was the last movie you saw at the cinema?

Ides of March.

What is your favorite TV show?

Dexter.

What picture is on your computer wallpaper?

A psychedelic reindeer. 

Do you have a Twitter account? If yes, what’s your twitter handle?

AlZahn22

Name three things most people don’t know about you.

  1. I have an identical twin sister.
  2. I can wiggle my ears.
  3. I met George Clooney.

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