Participatory Media Requires Less Moderating, More Coaching

People are communicating today at a rapid rate, connecting through participatory media. Dialogue coaches are needed to accelerate an online community’s appreciation for its ability to collaborate, acting as a tool that encourages deeper understandings of the exhibited interpersonal skills. They teach ways to uproot attitudes stuck in past experiences and downloaded assumptions, such as simply talking tough or nice. They look at how people conduct a conversation and offer alternatives and feedback, so they may redirect conversations toward more generative and reflective dialogue.

Dialogue coaches strive for deeper understandings. The term “moderator” has been used to define the role of those who accept an authoritative role in online communities, weeding out unwanted behaviors. It’s dangerous to cover up or delete opinions, since the underlying issue is never addressed. Blocking adverse opinions excites their migration to other platforms. For that reason, online collaboration requires dialogue coaches, more than moderators, to keep information sharing activities meaningful, trustworthy. Through listening, coaches learn to appreciate the influence of personality traits online, and not fight them. Correa, Hinsley and De Zuniga found increased social media use in extraverted people, and people open to new experiences (2010). Emotional instability predicted more regular use by men. Since neuroticism is linked to loneliness, it’s likely that anxious and nervous people use social-networking websites to seek support and company. Continue reading

2013: New Era of Connectivity, Global Collaboration?

Back in the old days, we shopped in stores, where Black Friday events caused trampling injuries. Our wallets were stuffed with cards for using credit, receiving discounts and unlocking doors. On average, English words were a couple of letters longer. Schools issued books, not tablet computers, and foreign exchange programs required students to actually travel overseas. Tablets relied on batteries, which required a recharge after only a couple of days. Hyperconnected folks stayed mostly tethered to power outlets and WiFi networks. People preferred to record and share events on smartphones, more than take part. Palm-held touchscreen apps helped tech junkies with everything, from infant parenting tactics to finding cheap gas to social activism. There was a lot of political discourse occurring; Congress had an approval rating below that of the United States turning communist. Continue reading

Social Businesses, Community Merchants

Community MerchantThe broad acceptance of consumer technologies requires a foundation of intuitiveness. For example, if your computer’s mouse buttons sat under the palm of your hand, you’d most likely rely on your keyboard. Social media is a new tool that’s boosting our productivity by fulfilling innate needs. The technology is re-establishing the natural ebb and flow of human communications in commercial activities. Professional success is no longer sustainable by relying on quick transactions and short-term results. Backhanded tactics to close one sale can chop off countless of others. Instead, marketing specialists are mastering online platforms that build and sustain more intimate, long-term relationships. Big businesses are scaling back aggressive sales strategies and promoting hometown-like relations in virtual venues. Continue reading

Put Crisis Planning Into Social Media Policy

Sad Business ManCrises tests the integrity of a company’s communication plan. When mistakes seize consumer attention, outcries flood social media channels. External communications on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social platforms instantly transition from routine marketing activities to a significant public relations showdown. A company’s ability to remain proactive and reactive is shoved into a fast-paced, spin cycle. Disappointed communities will wash the brand in emotionally-charged remarks. The reputation that’s left in the aftermath, as comments settle and the brand dries in a breeze of fresh air, is formed by updated perceptions of the organization’s culture. Consumers will continue to recall how the company responded while it soaked in adversity. Continue reading

Social Media Support With a Smile

Computer SmileConsumers praise and promote brands they believe in. They also complain, condemn and criticize as soon as a transaction turns sour. Focusing on the latter issue keeps many companies on the fence about social media. Are the benefits of supporting global, Internet-based discussion systems great enough? Can they offset the risk of openly dealing with troubled customers? Taking the time to fully understand the proper integration of social media into marketing and customer service strategies makes the choice more obvious. After obtaining the appropriate tools and know-how, business owners soon figure out that ignoring social media is clearly the destructive decision. Learn how to support social media and reach out to your customers in their online social spaces. Don’t forget your smile. Continue reading

Millennial Market Coming of Age

MillennialsBack off Baby Boomers, move over Generation X – clear the aisles for Generation Y, also known as the Millennials. Based on consumer spending trends, they are set to gain a significant amount of purchasing power. In roughly five years, America’s first “always connected” cohort of consumers will start joining Generation X as the nation’s top spenders. The digital natives have always known life with broadband Internet, cell phones and other technical forms of communication – the tools are natural and integral parts of their lives. When they walked into grade school, the World Wide Web was just revving up. During middle school, Palm Pilots and iMacs began filling store shelves. While many attended high school, Napster was battling record companies. As they looked up colleges, it seemed like everyone was sharing music on MP3 players and transferring apps across smartphones. Millennials are a group of networked learners who know the potential of online communities, especially those formed around celebrities, brands, products and services. Continue reading

Alaskans Top States in Facebook Use

Connected familyWhile they’re hiking around Mt. McKinley, the highest peak in North America, or fishing in the colorful Yukon River watersheds, or sailing along the more than 33,000 miles of mainland and island shorelines, Alaskans aren’t too removed within their vast wilderness. They’re also widely enjoying the latest in social networking technologies. Alaska contains the most Facebook users per capita, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau (2011) and Facebook (2012). With all age groups considered, nearly three out of five residents (58 percent) of the northern state access Facebook. The following review of statistics demonstrates that social media is a powerful marketing tool for reaching people dispersed over remote areas. Continue reading

Study Says a Bad Experience Often Reaches 156,000 People

Shocked on computerBefore the mounting use of social media, marketing managers warned: if customers have a good experience they’ll tell one person; if they have a bad one, they’ll tell 10. According to a new Pew study, Facebook users who share with a “Friends of Friends” feature enabled will explain their consumer experiences to a mean average of 156,569 people (2012). The less inflated median average is also far reaching, spreading across a network of 31,170 people through friends of friends. The study, combining server logs and survey data, proves that people who allow lax privacy settings for two degrees of separation have a voice that could carry across a population the size of Springfield, Mass. And that’s just Facebook. Anyone invested in a company’s reputation must understand the power participatory media affords consumers. Continue reading

Offline Behaviors Online

Why do people do what they do, online?

There are numerous motivations behind the behaviors people exhibit in participatory media. Many follow long-held concepts that scientists recognize as common among all nations. In a survey of national cultures, sociologists in the mid 20th century highlighted three key issues imposing consequences on the integrity of societies (Inkeles & Levinson, 1997, pp. 45-51): relation to authority, conception of self, primary dilemmas and conflicts, and ways of dealing with them. Building on that milestone in culture-personality literature, Geert Hofstede published a highly-praised study that identified the values of people dealing with common problems, covering more than 50 countries. Hofstede’s conclusions were strikingly similar (Hofstede, Hofstede, & Minkov, 2010, p. 30). I’ll review their central themes, as they relate to online behaviors. Continue reading


Social media: Globalized material culture

Social-media-culturesA growing number of people around the world are participating in online social media platforms, where floods of information are eroding barriers once imposed by national borders, religious convictions and governmental pressures. Nearly 4 out of 5 active Internet users visit online social networks and blogs, according to Nielsen (2011a). In business transactions, purchase decisions today rely more on consumer ratings and reviews than company sales pitches (Nielsen, 2011b). People are collaborating online about issues ranging from spending a dollar to the enforcement of policies. While sharing opinions in virtual venues, they’re rewriting definitions for socially acceptable beliefs, principles and activities. Mankind is distilling a kaleidoscope of data, discarding some elements, while debating and merging others. Controversial topics in online communities often explore concepts relevant to all of humanity, thereby programming minds with instructions formulated from a collective conscious. Social media is a participatory technology that’s rapidly consuming data, mixing ideas and homogenizing cultures. Continue reading