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A middle-aged lady’s guide to Snapchat – OMG I <3 it!

It has taken me a while to get into Snapchat… Like most new social media, I signed up early on, but with this one, I just didn’t feel the need to use it until recently, when my best friend moved away.

My BFF and I would usually text a lot, but with her being out of town, I began feeling the need to share more insignificant moments of everyday life. Even text messaging began feeling too much as messages would be archived until manually deleted from the phone. So, we committed to trying Snapchat. I finally get it, and I love it!

The impermanence of Snapchat messages invites a playfulness that I wouldn’t otherwise engage in. It also makes the conversation feel light enough that even insignificant everyday moments are OK to share. I feel that being part of these little quotidian moments is an important part of close relationships. If you think about it, talking to a best friend about your last couple of days can take hours, whereas recapping the past year can be done in a couple of sentences (“Got married. New job is fine. How are you?”).

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The impermanence of Snapchat encourages a playfulness that this middle-aged professor would not otherwise engage in.

 

I love the silly and fun filters and I think they play a role in encouraging interaction – sometimes, I am inclined to send a silly selfie just because I enjoy using one of the new filters. It is a light-hearted way of saying “hello” – and a good way to see each other’s faces. Don’t you hate it when you haven’t seen a good friend in a while and when you meet you are shocked by how much they’ve changed? It makes me feel like I have missed so much of their lives. Being the grown-up academics that we are, we probably would not exchange selfies on text message, but Snapchat’s playfulness makes it OK to be silly.

There is something very beautiful about teenage female friendships – when you first discover how important, awesome and necessary girlfriends are. Snapchat has the capacity to bring the joy and intensity of teenage friendships into this middle aged lady’s life, and for that, I am grateful.

The downside, though, is that messages disappear too quickly. Being the grown-ups that we are, we sometimes have lengthy conversations. If I leave the app for a moment, to grab a link, for example, previous messages disappear. This middle-aged lady has the working memory of a goldfish, and my BFF’s is not much better, so occasionally we end up having goldfish conversations about what it is that we were talking about a few moments earlier 🙂

goldfish

So, this is the value that Snapchat has for my life. What about you?

[Stories, which are shared publicly, are a different… well, story, and I’ll leave them outside the scope of this blog post.]

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Social media research seminar offered again this Fall

I’m really excited to teach the graduate social media research seminar again this Fall – TECH 621: Research Focus: The Social Internet.

This semester, the course will be offered Tuesday evening from 6-8:50 pm.

Each week, we read and discuss research about core social media topics such as: Internet culture (lolcats!), online communities, crowd sourcing, online identity, attention and distraction, etc. Students’ grades are based on social media immersion (tweeting, blogging, experimenting and reviewing services), article analyses, and an original research paper on a topic of their choice. Last year’s syllabus is embedded at the bottom of this post.

The course is open to all students at Purdue and usually enrolls an interesting and diverse group of people. No technical expertise required.

This is what students who took this course in the past had to say about it:

The informal operation of the class helps to support an environment of participation and collaboration. I felt like classmates were really my teammates in the learning process.

Prior to enrolling in TECH 621, The Social Internet, I had not received formal education on how to effectively design and carry out a research project at the graduate level. Dr. Vorvoreanu’s course structure not only introduced me to these important aspects of graduate education, but also enabled me to develop my first-ever research paper on society’s use of emerging, Web-based communication technologies. I now look forward to submitting my paper to an upcoming high-tech conference.


Because of this course, I feel ready to undertake new research endeavors in both my academic and professional career. It is my hope that Dr. Vorvoreanu continues to offer her students practical, hands-on research experience.

I really do like the implementation of Twitter into classroom assignments and learning. It was not only epicly awesome, but social media as a whole is something that is going to play a big part in the future of companies development. Though me, as well as other classmates, were not a fan of Twitter to begin with, Dr. V’s assertion of using the media outlet lets one respect how powerful, and helpful it is for not only classroom purposes, but business potential as well.

Finally, I enjoyed how this technology class can be adapted to fit the needs of any student from any department on campus! I hope that you continue to allow the final project and class presentation topics to be selected by the students.

She talks about a fountain of learning and encourages open discussion. I feel like I learn a lot more out of it when the thoughts of myself and others are free flowing. Her readings she assigns are also current to the medium we are studying, nothing it outdated.

Dr. V is a wonderful instructor and always willing to help students in any way possible. She was able to find a good balance of knowledge about social media that wasn’t too challenging for the beginner students, yet introduced new topics to students with quite a bit of experience in social media.
Also, I really liked the lessons about how to effectively read a journal article in a short amount of time. This is something I haven’t been taught in my previous two years of grad school.

If you took this course and would like to comment below, please help others decide whether this course is for them. You can do so by sharing your opinion of the course and/or answering questions such as:

  • what kinds of students should take this course? what majors?
  • looking back, do you think this course helped you? why? why not? how so?
  • what advice do you have for students who want to succeed in this course?

If you are a graduate student interested in this course and have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Looking forward to seeing you in class,

Dr. V

Hey, Facebook: Relax

Facebook has a pattern of innovation by (knee-jerk) reaction. The newest Facebook feature? The Subscribe option.

Here is why it sucks, and here is why innovation by knee-jerking is a bad idea, and unnecessary, especially for Facebook.

Facebook is, by far, the SNS market leader.

SNS adoption

As market leader, it is unnecessary to freak out and patch-up your product with random features, in an effort to compete with Google+, Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram, etc. You’re in no danger. You can afford to think and be strategic about what features you add. You’re not going to lose market share to Google+ overnight. SNS migration is slow, and for so many people, FB is mainstream, it’s become a habit. Early adopters may migrate, but the majority will stay put.

Speaking of the majority: All these new features confuse them. They don’t know what Google+ is. They have heard of Twitter, but it is more foreign to them than Romania. They know exactly what they use Facebook for, and they are happy seeing what the crazy cousin is up to, and sharing photos of the baby with extended family. I bet you the majority, which form Facebook’s biggest market and ARE its strategic advantage, can’t keep track with all these innovations and don’t even understand them. So, by adding new, confusing, features, you’re confusing your main market. Bad idea. I do informal research whenever I present to student groups. I ask them if they’re aware of and use certain (new) Facebook features. They’re not. And these are your Digital Natives. If they can’t keep up, how about auntie Mae?!

As MacManus points out, Facebook started off as a private social network. This IS was Facebook’s strategic advantage. As Facebook adds Google+ and Twitter-like features, it loses its strategic advantage and its definition. What is Facebook these days, exactly? What does it want to be – besides “the biggest, most popular SNS in the Western hemisphere”? A product without a unique proposition is diluted, confusing. Rather than trying to be everything to everybody, I think Facebook should step back to search and find its soul (too late for that) defining, unique proposition. The danger of knee-jerk responsive innovation is that you dilute a product and forget its strategic advantage and position in the marketplace. Rather then be Google+ AND Twitter AND Foursquare AND Instagram, Facebook should figure out what it is and what it is not  – and how it is different from all of the above. From the market leader position, it can afford to relax and think strategically.

* Image captured from a slideshare presentation about social media adoption and uses around the world:

Facebook safety for kids

Funny, clear, brilliant:

Lafayette Twestival Ticket Giveaway

March 24 is Twestival Local 2011.

What is Twestival?

Twestival is a way for people to get together and donate to a local cause. It is mainly organized on Twitter, and showcases the power of Twitter to help people organize and do good.

What happens at Twestival?

Once you get in, you listen to local bands, talk to people, have a drink… it’s just a fun night out, but you know that the ticket money goes to a good cause. This year, the proceeds go to City Foods.

Twestival will be held downtown Lafayette at the Muse.

See more details here.

I believe it’s a worthy event, and a good opportunity to meet people from the community, many of whom love social media just as much as you do!

I know students are strapped for cash, and that’s why I want to give away some tickets.

I will give away 5 basic tickets to Twestival. All you have to do is write a comment below explaining why you want to go, or why you think people from the community should attend.

You do not have to by my student, or a student, to enter.

I will select the winners through a random drawing on Thursday March 24 at 2 pm, so make sure you enter your comment before then!

Is Social Media for You?

I occasionally get invited to talk to local community groups and professional associations about social media – specifically, using social media to enhance their businesses.

I suppose people expect enthusiastic evangelism, hard selling, and a deep dive into social media strategies and tactics. Not so much.

Don’t get me wrong: I love social media. I use it, study it, teach it, research it, live it, breathe it, and have fun doing so. But I always start these presentations with an invitation to first think things through, and decide if social media is for you.

Here are the things I ask people to consider:

Your AUDIENCE -Who do you want to reach? Identify your specific stakeholder groups, and rank them in decreasing order of importance. Then, ask: Are they online? Do they use social media? What media do they use, specifically? Are they always connected, or people who only have Internet access at the end of a busy and exhausting day?

Your GOALS – What do you wish to accomplish? If there’s one thing you wish each stakeholder group to remember about you, what is that?

YourSELF – Social media takes time. It is a long-term commitment. Done right, it requires a change of lifestyle. Are you ready to invest the time and effort? The first 5 blog posts are very easy to write. But the 500th? Can you keep up the enthusiasm and generate content over the long run? Are you always connected? Do you have a smartphone? A digital camera? Or, do you have a lifestyle that keeps you away from the computer for most of the day?

 

I ask my audience to ponder these questions, and make an informed decision about what they want to do. Then, I provide incremental solutions, starting with what I think is the easiest/most familiar to them. Each person can pick and choose a social media solution that fits them best.

I am getting a bit tired of hearing consultants sell social media as a panaceum, and get people into a social media program they are not then able to sustain. I guess you can’t expect a person who makes a living this way to start a sales pitch with reasons why you shouldn’t buy… but that’s the approach I take. Oh, and then… sure, I move on to social media strategies and tactics.

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