How Card-stacking Has Led to No Valentine’s Day Cards

Valentine’s Day is a faithful holiday. It always happens on the same day, February 14th, unlike Easter that likes to play mind games. So, for this reason alone I like Valentine’s Day already. However, millennial girls are starting to celebrate Galentines Day instead of caring about spending Valentine’s Day traditionally. It’s a mixture of some horrible dates and some girl power propaganda. Here are my thoughts on how card-stacking has decreased the need for Valentine’s Day cards.

What is card-stacking?
Card-stacking puts an emphasis on one perspective and excludes details about the opposing perspective. So, how does this apply to Valentine’s Day? Simple. Instagram posts about Galentines day are so much cuter than the picture of a couple scrunched in a restaurant booth. Couples celebrating Valentine’s often don’t post on social media during the event because they’re enjoying each other’s presence, and this is also often the reason they don’t post following the date– no phones, no pictures. Girls on the other hand are all about snapping the perfect Instagram story to show off the golden helium XOXO balloons.

Your first Valentine’s Day card

Your first experience with Valentine’s Day cards is more than likely from your Elementary school class. Holographic, more than likely incorporating an animal, and awesome. Then somewhere along the line, things got complicated and words meant more. There’s no more giving a boy a card that says “you’re the purr-fect friend” or he’ll think you’re obsessed with him.

Galentines
Who needs a guy when you’ve got your gals? This is essentially the mentality behind the girl power party that is Galentines. Before I met my fiancé, I was the ring-leader behind this mentality. I convinced my friends that we were happiest alone, and more fun without guys around. Especially on a day as cheesy as Valentine’s Day.

I knew that I had adopted the term from somewhere, but I had no clue where that was. So, during my lengthy research of simply typing in “Galentines Day” I found that it is an episode of Parks and Recreation from 2010. In the episode, Leslie Knope celebrates her favorite holiday by spending time with her gal pals, similar to today. However, this was celebrated on the 13th to allow everyone to spend both time with their best gals and special guys.

Reality
The reality is that both are great, but one is not better than the other. There are things that I enjoyed about spending the day with my friends, but I also can’t imagine spending it with anyone other than my fiancé now. Well, I guess I should say that I can’t imagine spending the day without him, because we’re spending our Valentine’s Day with thousands of people in Auburn Arena while men’s basketball conquers Kentucky. Basketball is important to both of us, and it’s a nice alternative for me to avoid the cheesy Valentine’s Day dates that make me cringe.

Oh, did I mention that my gals will be joining us at the basketball game? I’ll take the best of both worlds when I can get it.

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Just When I Thought I Knew Everything…

Just when I thought I knew everything there was to know about a topic, social media, I took a class called Social Media and Public Relations.

This year I’ve spent a good bit of time analyzing crisis response strategies through social media. I’ve learned that it’s the best way to reach the most people in this day and age. Your response on social media can deeply harm your brand or help you recover from a nasty situation.

While I learned specific ways to do this in another class called Case Studies, I had honestly not given a lot of thought to the opposite reason that brands should use social media. I thought it was mainly for promotions, events, etc. when in reality, it can be used for a number of reasons.

I’ve learned that social media can be used to gain trust for a brand and establish customer loyalty outside of a crisis situation. I’ve learned that social media users can be some of your biggest brand advocates, and that they will do free marketing for you, especially if you acknowledge their presence. I’ve learned that it’s okay, good really, to have a distinct voice on social media.

For example, before taking this class, I would have thought that Wendy’s was absurd and waiting on a mini social media crisis. Now I know that they have established themselves as having this sassy, smart-remarks tone. Surprisingly, people love it and feed off it. It has increased their engagement tremendously. The first guy that they roasted so bad regarding the refrigerator said that even though he was roasted, he still wanted to go get Wendy’s. He later posted a picture of a drink, burger and fries. Genuius.

Something that I kind of assumed was always lingering somewhere in cyberspace is analytics. Analytics can be used for Hootsuite, Twitter and Facebook quite easily. I always assumed that the way people gathered feedback was through some super complicated homegrown system. Now that I know better, I feel kind of silly thinking that.

I thought that because I am so technologically challenged in some areas, everything within that realm must be over my head. It turns out that it’s not!

I can easily access analytics for all of these platforms now. I can tell you which tweets of mine gained the most “impressions” or “likes.” It’s really quite incredible. Within my group project it was abundantly useful to know how simple these programs are to use, because every new strategy we suggested for our client involved confirming it with analytics. Analytics make the evaluation process in public relations tangible. That’s huge.

More than anything else in this class, I learned about the incredible program called Hootsuite.

I was (and honestly still am) amazed at the capabilities that rest within Hootsuite. In the free version that I had, I was allowed to add three platforms and push all content for each of those platforms from my Hootsuite account.

Im very thankful for the skills I learned in this class because I believe they will help me in any public relations job.

The Future of Social Media

It’s funny to see how much social media has progressed over the last 10 years. I can remember the days when I had a MySpace account and thought that I knew “Tom” better than some of my “Top 10.”

I embarrassingly enough remember only having boyfriends in middle school who had a MySpace so that I could have them as my number one friend. Looking back on things like that I realize how fleeting they were, but I can vividly remember it seeming like those details were vital to my social status. Then again, it was middle school so everything that I did was probably as equally as embarrassing.

When I moved to a new school my freshman year of high school, Facebook had basically just launched. I can remember posting a picture to both my Facebook account and to changing my MySpace picture to one where I was wearing a gray dress. Honestly pretty similar to the way that we post a photo on Instagram but additionally to Facebook. Now that I think back to the beginning stages of Facebook and MySpace they also had a lot of similarities.

Back in the MySpace days it was possible to post comments to people’s pages just like writing a post on someone’s wall on Facebook. For the most part, that’s all gone now. Most people don’t post to other’s walls except for birthdays on Facebook now. Facebook has gotten to the point that it is an overload. I’ve been told that Facebook is making a comeback from people that are my age which is interesting. I personally haven’t had any increased interest.

It’s gotten to the point that I don’t even get on Facebook anymore because I feel like it’s overwhelming. I haven’t had the Facebook app since I’ve had my newest iPhone. If I ever log on to Facebook, I use the Safari browser. The only thing I really share to Facebook are pictures that I post on Instagram. I share these because I am able to click the extension button to share to other platforms.

When I was a sophomore in high school, Instagram was introduced to me. My pictures from back then were definitely selfies or pictures in the basketball gym. I ended up deleting most of them before coming to college because they were also embarrassing. Truthfully, I think I may have been too young and immature to have an avenue for me to post about my life so indepth.

As most know, Instagram is still alive and thriving. People love having a visual instead of lots of information to read. I think that this will the direction that social media goes down. There will be an elimination of text and an increase in visual content.

I would say that the progressive direction for this is to move toward a video only outlet, but that was very temporary with Vine. Vine’s temporary success and then ultimate failure can be attributed to their length of video. It’s popularity directly correlated with the videos. A quick burst of excitemen and then it’s over.

Im thrilled to see what’s next, and also to see who gets left behind.

 

United They Stand, United They Fall

United Airlines is facing the biggest PR scandal that I’ve followed in 2017. Here is the entire timeline and footage of the event. I don’t want to discuss the timeline of events as much as the aftermath and how United Airlines, under the leadership of CEO Oscar Munoz, is handling the crisis.

According to Money.CNN.com, “United is the 3rd biggest airline in the United States by passenger traffic.” This airline was formerly known for being highly respected and for drastically improving since Munoz took over in 2015. Munoz is known for making several strides in the direction of repairing and forming better relationships internally to employees and externally to current customers and potential customers. Before the crisis, Munoz was awarded the coveted “Communicator of the Year Award” by PRWeek.  The Editor in Chief of PRWeek.com was quick to say that Munoz’s actions would not merit this award now.

Oscar Munoz called Dr. Dao “disruptive and belligerent” and said that his employees were following procedure. He later issued a statement apologizing to Dr. Dao, but I believe that the damage was already done. While yes, the incident with Dr. Dao was absolutely disruptive, it was because of the United employees that drug him off of the flight. The New York Times tweeted just hours ago that Dr. Dao will have to have reconstructive surgery after suffering from a broken nose, losing 2 teeth and a concussion.

With all of that being said, there has been some investigation into the victim’s life and most believe that this is not ethical…until they hear about his past and then some change their minds.

Dr. Dao is a medical doctor who and father of 5 who was turned in by his wife, who is also a doctor, for unethical behavior. Dr. Dao was providing prescription drugs to another man for sex. He was convicted but was able to avoid prison time. He is rumored to have anger issues, too.

So, the question remains– is it a violation of ethics to bring up his past in the media? Is it remotely relevant to this fiasco? My first response was no. I didn’t understand why newspapers were covering these haunting portions of his past, because to me it only helps cover up the unethical behavior of United Airlines. Then I was told about the local Lexington paper that covered the original case with Dr. Dao. When I saw it from their perspective, I could understand why they would need to briefly mention what they had covered on Dr. Dao before. However, they shouldn’t make this situation with United look like karma or him “getting what he deserved.” For every other news outlet, I do not think it is relevant. And from what I’ve seen, news outlets who value integrity over clicks have stayed away from reporting the history of Dr. Dao.

The ethics of United Airlines remain unquestionable– these actions, regardless of protocol, were a direct reflection of their poor management. The flight should have been completely unloaded until a passenger was incentivized to relinquish their seat. That would have been peaceful and ethical. They wouldn’t be facing a lawsuit. They wouldn’t be losing money. (United Airlines lost 250 million dollars in stock in one day. They are still continuing to drop ). It’s funny to me how being lazy and cutting a corner or two always comes back to haunt you. So to all airline companies, don’t overbook. And if you do, don’t do this.

United may not be one of the best examples of a good airline in the United States anymore, but they’re definitely setting the precedent of “what not to do.”

The Wisdom I Gained From Apple’s CEO Tim Cook

IMG_4385As I was browsing for articles regarding changing trends in gadgets and technology, I was reminded of one of my favorite college experiences– this morning.

This morning 350 Auburn students had the opportunity to hear the CEO of Apple Tim Cook speak on diversity and inclusion.

In the beginning, Dr. Clayton asked pre-written Mr. Cook questions about diversity and inclusion. In the second half, students had the opportunity to ask questions.

Some of those questions included questions wondering why Apple hasn’t tapped into the market for drones or for brain-like speakers since those have become some prevalent. I then learned that Apple stays relevant by investing 110% into each product. If they believe a product cannot be given that, it is not produced. Thus, these two markets remain untapped for them.

I think that in doing this, Apple products remain relevant through their high quality.

Fortunately, the conversation then got back on topic to diversity and inclusion.

Some nuggets of truth that Mr. Cook said:
• In order to be successful, you have to be aware of cultures around the world
• Differences make the world interesting
• You do much better work with a diverse team
• The US has an archaic view of diversity and Apple has a broad view
• Free speech should have the broadest possible definition
• Different ideologies should listen to one another (religion, politics, etc.) because they need each other to have a broad perspective
• Apple doesn’t have a political action committee, and Cook doesn’t believe in using shareholders money to support candidates
• Students should have a global mindset
• Apple believes that education is a civil right
• Company culture is most important

As a public relations major, I found this to be insightful and helpful for my career. I am a part of a minority group in the work place sometimes because I am a female, but I am still white and this is viewed as a “privilege.” With that being said, there are a lot of problems within company culture or cultures around the world that I don’t understand. I learned that it’s okay to say that I don’t understand, but that I want to empathize and be inclusive.

After Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick publicity supported Donald Trump and Uber began crashing, one of my biggest fears is to work for a company that supports the CEO’s political agenda. I was happy to hear that a huge public company like Apple does not do that.

Overall, I think that this will be one of the most memorable talks/lectures that I’ve heard since being a student at Auburn. The best part was hearing that an alumnus so powerful and wealthy still considers Auburn to be home.

On a side note– I deeply admire Tim Cook now. He spoke highly of the Chinese, and of his frequent travels there, and I watched him flawlessly interact with a swarm of Chinese students eager to get their picture with him. There was no language barrier for him.

He also remembered my family friend that tutored him in circuits in the 80s. These two things combined proved him to be intentional. One thing that I’m highly skeptical of CEOs being.

Trump’s Twitter + Nordstrom

When I began writing this blog I went very professional, and thought that maybe I should voice my political opinions…but that’s the beautiful thing about having a personal blog, right? I can say what I want about politics and it’s acceptable.

So here it goes: I would have considered myself a republican before Donald Trump’s campaign. I would have aligned with someone who was more conservative because I was raised in rural Alabama. In a weird way, I’m thankful that Trump has been such an idiot. He pushed me to realize the morals that are strongest to me, and the others that I’ve accepted from my parents or others around me.

I’ve decided that I am neither a democrat or a republican. I will never agree with aborting a child just because it isn’t right for your season of life. However, I do think that in the case of rape in young girls (who would die from giving birth) that it is okay. Through President Trump’s extreme racism, I abandoned the view on politics I’d chosen just because I grew up in the South.

Again, while I think he’s a racist jerk, I am thankful that his campaign has made form my own opinions. With that being said, I have a strong opinion about his Twitter presence. I believe that he is unprofessional and juvenile.

This article I found from CNN gives statistics about his tweeting habits. President Trump tweets (typically inappropriate) things approximately 49 times a week. On the particular morning that the newscast was released, he had tweeted 9 tweets that morning before 8 a.m.

Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 11.36.09 PM.png

However, this is on the list of one of his more inappropriate tweets. In my opinion, and most of educated social media users, the President of the United States should not individually call out brands– especially not for dropping his daughter’s clothing line. Nordstrom has the power as an individual company to publicly drop Ivanka’s clothes, but there is definitely a double standard in that Trump needs to hold himself to a higher standard than calling out a brand. I am not a personal advocate for companies incorporating their political beliefs into their company (moral beliefs are a fine line, but a bit different) and so if I were Nordstrom I’m not sure that I would have made the drop public until after the Muslim Ban had blown over.

From what I understand, Ivanka’s brand was being dropped was in the works from the time that Trump became the president-elect, but the news came out to the public at a rather unfortunate time if they wanted to keep it low key. But when you’re dealing with Donald Trump, is anything really low key?

Nordstrom denied that their decision to stop carrying Ivanka Trump’s brand was not in correlation with the #GrabYourWallet campaign. They continued to respond to customers who wanted to know about her clothing.

Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 11.46.40 PM.png

There’s a part of me that hurts for Ivanka and wishes that her name didn’t have to be associated with her father’s absurdity. However, she is an advocate for her father, and I think she needs to understand the price– both literally and physically when it comes to the Trumps– that it will cost.

 

Social Media Campaign for a Campaign

When I looked at the Twitter guidelines for today’s blog I thought, “I don’t even have to look for outside help on this one. I’ve been the center of a campaign this semester.”

This semester I had the honor of running for Miss Auburn on my platform, “Finding Balance With Faith.” My campaign focused on providing students with the opportunity to have 3 free visits to our university dietician in the hope that they would learn how to eat healthy and balanced meals. There were 5 girls running, in addition to 9 other candidates battling for the positions of SGA President, Vice President and Treasurer.

In attempts to reach the student body, we did chapter and organizational visits. We also stood on the concourse, and attended as many night life events as possible. While face-to-face interactions with a candidate mean more to the individual, it’s a lot harder to spread your platform that way. Especially with 16 major candidates trying to do the same thing… at the same time.

Social media was the solution to this problem. The goal was to get everyone on my staff, and other people who were just supporting me, to tweet, post to Facebook and especially pictures with or of me to Instagram. We found that the videos that I posted got over 6,000 views. This number I would never have been able to reach face-to-face.

This also increased the number of face-to-face interactions that I had on the concourse or other places on campus. Really, people even came up to me and talked about my story off campus too.

They told me that they appreciated my vulnerability in sharing my story. When I was in high school, some girls created a Twitter page about me and tweeted about how I was “fat” and “had rolls.” I stumbled upon it when I had tweeted something to my personal page and it wasn’t refreshing. Since I’m impatient, I typed in my full name “Rebekah Faith Webb” and another twitter popped up… with my picture.

I clicked on the page and saw where someone had written horrible things about me. Somehow, one of my friends at the time heard about the twitter and told me who had done it. It was a group of 5 girls who were fairly popular and 1-2 years older than me.

As a freshman in high school, someone thinking that I was fat and ugly was life altering. After I read the tweets, I immediately walked over to the mirror. It was like a veil was lifted and I saw every imperfection on my body. I noticed fat in areas that had never bothered me before, because truthfully I was a very confident girl before that moment.

In an effort to fight against this “fat” I began starving myself, and when I did eat I would typically throw it back up. I spiraled into a battle with anorexia and bulimia for 4 years.

When I came to college, I had just gotten better. In an effort to show the voice of my eating disorder that it didn’t own me, I ate whatever I wanted. On February 7, 2016 I was faced with a choice. I noticed the 25+ pounds that I had gained, and I could either lose it the right way or fall back into habits that made me isolated and depressed.

I educated myself and started eating healthy and balanced meals. I also began exercising 5-6 times a week. Over the course of a year, I lost 20 pounds. The healthy way. This was the inspiration behind “Finding Balance With Faith.”

I find it ironic that social media led me into the darkest period of my life when it was used negatively, and it also helped me reveal the biggest triumph of my life when used positively.

My Experiences With Hootsuite

When I was first introduced to Hootsuite, I thought that it seemed like an overly complicated way of using Twitter. As my Social Media and PR class continued, I learned that while that basic description might be accurate, Hootsuite is so much more than that.

Hootsuite gives me the capability to publish from copious other platforms including (but not limited to) Facebook, Instagram and even WordPress. I have found this tool to be extremely useful in my classes, and my professional life outside of classes.

So, today I became Hootsuite certified and I feel confident that this will help me as I am applying for jobs and internships. While I am just now officially becoming certified, I have been able to tell friends and colleagues about the capabilities of Hootsuite, and encouraged them to use it to manage their professional social media accounts.

However, speaking of the certification… it was not easy. Before the certification, I hadn’t used Hootsuite in a group or “team” because I have only ever used Hootsuite for my individual assignments. I assumed that when I went through the test since I’d been using it for quite a few weeks for my class that I’d already know most things… wrong! I had to go back and watch all of the videos and take the quizzes. In reality, that was probably the best thing that happened to me in this situation. I was forced to learn all of that material, and now when I go into a job and work in a team setting, I won’t have to go back through training or get taught by a colleague how to use it. It’s always embarrassing to have to have a co-employee show you how to do something you claim you think you know how to do.

A frustration that I have with my Hootsuite certification is that it is linked to my student account email, not the account that I started through my personal twitter. So, I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to sync everything back over or not. I would hate for my current account to not be viewed as credible, but I would also hate to lose all of the tweets that I’ve produced throughout the semester for my class/ where I’ve linked my blog.

I love the idea of using Hootsuite in whatever job I get after college, but I’m terrified to have an incident like Vanderbilt did with the, “We don’t need your permission” football graphic release during allegations of sexual assault against the players. That’s a phrase that Vanderbilt often uses to emphasis their authority on the football field, but the social content managers didn’t remove that from the calendar and it was AWFUL.

I’m scared of working hard and then getting complacent or lazy and royally screwing up by using Hootsuite. Then again, I think about managing social media accounts without Hootsuite (or something similar) and I don’t think that it would be possible. So, here’s to praying that I don’t forget to monitor the content I have scheduled.

Business Blogging Revolutionized

I read an article from Hootsuite about company’s using Instagram stories to promote their brand, engage with customers, and I really like the idea that sparked in my mind.

So, we live in a day when video is more frequently used than print for news or basic information. Whether it be a “how to” cook video or a video explaining the latest Donald Trump media scandal, I prefer to watch and hear the words aloud rather than read them.

For this reason, I often gravitate toward Vlogs on Youtube for my nurtrion and workout advice. I don’t want to take the time to read through high-level vocabulary words about nutrition that I don’t understand. I would rather have someone dumb down or condense the information for me, and then if I have anymore questions I can refer to articles.

I often find that the people who do vlogs post to their Instagram or Snapchat stories to brief their followers on what content they’ve recently posted, but also to establish (what feels like) a friendship with their viewers.

My thought is that traditional bloggers could do this to accompany their blogs– so that their fans can see the face of the hands behind the keyboard. To see that the nutrition blogger believes in this method of eating enough to follow it. To hear the personal stories of how they became passionate about nutrition, etc. Obviously, this isn’t exclusive to people who blog about nutrition. It can be any person who has anything to say. The question that humanizing bloggers through doing Instagram stories answers is, “Why should I listen to them/ Why do they care?” It’s much easier to be invested in to what someone is saying if you feel like they’ve invested time into letting you know them.

Something that I’ve seen that has been effective for big news outlets like CNN and National Geographic, is to utilize Instagram stories like vlogs, rather than strictly news coverage. They do the Instagram story “takeovers” and an expert will speak on a specific topic, typically in a specific location that pertains to that topic. At the end, there is usually an option to “swipe up” to learn more about the topic. AKA to read that experts article. I am more inclined to read that article when I feel like I’ve just had a face-to-face interaction with that person rather than if I were just strolling through CNN or National Geographic’s website.

One that jumps out to me specifically is an Instagram takeover from last week in North Korea. The expert explained the history of North Korean leaders, while showing the capital’s architecture. He was sure to highlight the significance of things like excessively large buildings, and how in a communist country, that is to make the individual feel small and overpowered. By highlighting details like that with visual aids and his voice, I not only retained that information better, but I also heard his expertise through something other than a title.

This is the direction that I would like to see traditional bloggers moving toward– by integrating video content, specifically ways that provided the opportunity for two-way communication to occur through feedback. I think that by doing this, traditional bloggers can increase engagement because they are increasing their relationships and reputability with bloggers.

Don’t Go There. Live There.

Airbnb’s #LiveThere campaign rocked the social media world. Airbnb encouraged their customers and potential customers to not just visit a place and be feel like a typical tourist, but to go there and feel like you live there. Get the authentic experience.

Airbnb did a great job capturing the “Airbnb experience” by making it look adventurous, luxurious and authentic. They hired professional photographers and partnered with users to get dope photographs, according to an article on Talkwalker.com.

Talkwalker.com linked a video in the article from the campaign. The video begins strategically with Paris. Everyone wants to go to Paris. Seriously, I’ve never met anyone who has been opposed to visiting Paris. The Effiel Tower has been made into everything all the way down to earring holders. How many other monuments do people want to visit so badly they’ll make it an earring holder?… I’ll wait. Let’s not forget all of the Paris themed parties– little girl’s birthdays and even big girl’s bridal showers. (**Enter Bridesmaids and all of it’s hilariousness**)

After moving on from Paris, they show popular places like LA, NYC and even Tokyo. By doing this, they hit three continents, as well as mentioning both costs of the United States.

Airbnb was careful to highlight all of the things that make life feel normal and memorable all at the same time. That’s the two things I believe that I want most when I’m vacationing, so it was quite appealing to me. I want to feel normal– in the sense of being comfortable and relaxed, not so stressed out from a strenuous itinerary or being late for dinner reservations. And I want to make memories. Airbnb gives the option to do both.

Some of the Airbnb options I’ve seen are impressive flats, and so much nicer than what you could get for that price at a hotel. I have a friend who lives in Sydney with his wife, and they rent out their house to Airbnb to pay rent, or to have a little extra spending money. From what I understand, being a host home is fairly easy. They clean the house well before it’s rented out, and they make the guests pay a cleaning fee for a cleaning service to come behind the guest so that everything is properly disinfected and disposed of. I also know that some hosts even stay there while the guests are there, and just rent out a bedroom. (Personally, this scenario would make me uncomfortable).

I watched the Ted talk of the founder and CEO of Airbnb as he spoke of the company’s origin. I appreciate hearing about companies with humble beginnings and a little idea that went a long way. It makes them seem more genuine, and less like money-draining business men.

I believe that this campaign, especially the video, was very successful because it made me want to be more than a tourist. It made me want to live my normal life in those cities, and the only way I’d know how to do that would be with Airbnb.