What is considered to be ‘too edited’?
By Jewel Dayoan
Oh, Instagram. The virtual world of photos, videos, stories, and your occasional follow-for-follow users. Instagram has become the outlet we use to show people we truly do have lives, and not just sit in our rooms all day. It’s the scrapbook of our lives without the scraps or the book. But sometimes we, as users, can get a little too contrived in presenting how we want to be seen on Instagram. A lot of users aim to be “aesthetically pleasing.” But is there a certain line that can be crossed by being too aesthetic and not authentic enough?
Remember when “like-for-like” was a trend for a time? Where users would spam each other with likes on each photo just to raise the number of likes people would see when they came across it? People nowadays still love a good “like” count. But now, a lot of people have shifted their focus from the numbers to how aesthetically pleasing their feed can be. From a minimalistic-type feed, to a neon-centric layout, many people tend to differ in what they consider to be aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
Take fashion blogger and YouTuber, Weylie Hoang, for example. Her inner passion for being one with nature reflects in her Instagram feed as an autumn, rustic aesthetic.
Cal State Long Beach’s own Dig Mag also follows through with an eye-catching feed, while sticking to the trends their audiences can relate to the most.
“This year, we don’t necessarily have a fixed color palette,” Niyah Maldonado, social media editor of Dig Mag, said. “What we do is take a look at previous posts, see the colors that are being used, and then we try to curate a post that has an accent of that previous color. This helps create consistency.”
As a magazine, Dig Mag catches the most attention through social media, making it super-important to have a feed that encompasses their identity as a brand.
“First impressions are everything, so having a feed that flows, whether it’s in layout or colors, gives your brand an added advantage,” Maldonado said.
The key for smart companies is to balance an aesthetically pleasing feed that represents your brand with authentic content that doesn’t look too contrived. Afterall, social media is all about connecting with others in fun, social and authentic ways!
What do you think crosses the line of being too aesthetic, and not so much pleasing? Tell us in the comments.
By Czarlene Agrupis
Instagram has changed the game when it comes to the food industry. In this era, not having a social media presence is easily equated to a brand being “non-existent.”
In the past years, Yelp was the almighty app many restaurants depended on. It revolutionized an open communication between businesses and its consumers on a public platform. It also became a useful tool to show insight into the brand experience for prospective customers. As advances in algorithms were made and new features were being invented, Instagram overtook Yelp to become the leading app for the food industry. Here are some reasons why restaurants need a compelling Instagram account.
1. Visual Appeal
Aesthetics are important on Instagram. Most accounts these days, whether it is personal or business, need an eye-catching theme that captures an audience. Howlin' Rays' Instagram feed is a great example. They present a theme that matches their brand experience – bright, fun and spicy. Trendy restaurants like Howlin’ Rays’ focus on an aesthetic that attracts Gen Z and millennials. Research has shown that these generations take 10 minutes to capture an insta-worthy pic before devouring their food. Visual appeal is important to both the customer and the restaurant as it improves social media clout.
The main point of social media is to communicate and connect. Engaging with your audience on a popular platform is key to understanding trends, while listening to the wants or needs of your consumers. Connecting via social media can help customer relations and build a better brand experience. Most millennials and Gen Z use Instagram as a researching tool before personally trying out any business. Engaging with your customers – and potential customers - can create a positive experience and a healthy social buzz.
3. Free Promotion
In the past, promotion and publicity had a cost. With the use of Instagram, promoting your brand is free and easy. As Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms, businesses can benefit by promoting deals and specials on their feed. Fast-casual restaurants like Sweetgreen use Instagram to present daily specials, educate their consumers, and showcase their staff. Instagram also has become a mini blog for businesses with the help “highlights.” This feature is a great tool that can publicize the history of brand, customer relations, and advertisements.
These days, having an aesthetically pleasing and active Instagram feed is just as important for a successful restaurant as good food and customer service.
What is your favorite restaurant Instagram feed? Tell us in the comments.
Social Media Videos are Changing Marketing
By: Vanessa Armenta
As social media grows, learning what platforms are best to promote a product is very important.
According to the article “Instagram Videos vs YouTube & How Big Brands Are Using Them” by Kylie Fennell, 87% of marketers have advertised using YouTube. Fennell also mentions that 47% of American YouTubers between the ages of 18 and 25 said that YouTube helps people decide to purchase a product. Instagram contains pictures as well as mini video clips to help marketers advertise. Additionally, people are more engaged with brands on Instagram than other social media such as Facebook.
The Global Communication Report by USC Annenberg Center For Public Relations, mentioned that in the next five years brands should be gravitating toward communication on YouTube and Instagram to enhance a connection with their audience. Videos and photographs help grab people’s attention in a short amount of time. We are in an era where people have a short attention span, so marketers have to make an impression in the least amount of time before losing a potential customer. And images and videos are the way to go. The picture has to tell a story without to many words that could make the person lose interest and the video has to be catchy to make the person want to stay and finish the video.
Instagram and Youtube both find a unique way to engage with their audience. Instagram uses a photograph to tell a story, but also has features to further connect with the audience like Instagram live that allows the audience to give direct feedback in real time. YouTube can also go live and give live feedback that can initially change someone’s opinion or reconfirm what they wanted to hear about a product.
Whether you’re using Instagram or YouTube – or both! – interacting with customers through video and live features will only benefit your company’s bottom line.
Community Organizing and PR work hand in hand
By: Guillermo De Lira
We are living in more tense political times than usual. The narratives and public policies affecting immigrants, workers, women, health and climate change have been threatened these past years due to the current presidential administration. But there’s always sunshine after the storm. Controversies surrounding these topics have activated community members across the nation to stand up for what they believe in and unite to help make a change. How are people getting organized though? How are social movements being spread to the masses?
Community organizers have historically been using the tools of public relations to have their messages reach their audiences. Here are five ways in which PR and community activism relate:
1. Audience Reach
Just like PR officials do, community activists must understand their organization’s goals and the community’s demographics in order to plan out how they are going to push messages to their target audiences. Psychographics, technographics and behavioral segmentation are key components of PR and community organizing; activists must implement these in their strategies to activate the public with effective calls to action.
Grassroot organizers and PR officials similarly plan out their initiatives and campaigns. Both involve creating plans that consist of research, planning, implementation and evaluation. Leaders of a grassroots organization/movement form action plans with reachable goals, measurable objectives, strategies and tactics for their cause, just as a PR official would do with a campaign. These are implemented when advocating for legislation to pass and getting people to sign a petition.
3. Tech Tools
Just like a company utilizes social media to reach audiences, activists use the digital world to spread the word and activate or educate their publics. The internet and social media have opened new doors for how to do PR. Similarly, activists use social/digital media to pass information to the public, get people to donate or sign a petition electronically and to gather people for a demonstration.
A lot of PR interns and experts are hired at non-profit organizations. Non-profit coordinators are kind of like paid activists, since they strive to push a good cause to their publics. Just like a non-profit involves attracting donors and volunteers, leaders of a social movement spread the word to attract more supporters and build unity.
Pop-up events, workshops and activities are key strategies in outreach plans of PR teams and program coordinators. Events are similarly planned by grassroot organizers, with a major focus in protests, demonstrations and holding educational conferences. Like companies and non-profits do, grassroot organizers seek media relations and press releases for exposure.
There are many things that activists can learn from public relations practitioners, and public relations practitioners can learn from activists. Following these five tips can help improve the results of any type of campaign or outreach.
Social media influences politics, for better or worse?
By: Karen Estrada
Before former President Barack Obama utilized social media and got the nickname of being the “first social-media president,” there was former President John F. Kennedy who was excellent in front of the TV with his famous debate with Richard Nixon in the 1960s and his many interviews, speeches and news conferences afterwards. He knew how to use to his charisma to get people to pay attention to him via TV.
As expected, technology has improved rapidly since then. Now we see political figures tweeting, posting on Facebook and going on live on Instagram. They are seen as people we can actually relate too and connect with. With former President Barack Obama, we were amazed how easily it became to actually look into the world of the president and see his day-to-day activities as we experienced his presidency with him. It did not seem he was too far away from us. He used social media during his campaign and his presidency, and it was seen as an amazing feat. Now politicians using social media it is seen more as dubious than amazing. Many politicians can lie and confuse the truth through social media with little repercussions.
As social media becomes more intertwined with our daily lives, politicians and public servants are not being held to a certain standard of civil commitment. Not long ago Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) ran an ad on Facebook that opened with “Breaking news: Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook just endorsed Donald Trump for re-election.” As that ad ran on Facebook, it brought up the latest debate about if the platform should be held responsible for the misinformation spread by politicians. Even if these platforms should be held responsible, they would conversely be targeted by privacy experts and free speech advocates. By the time there are regulations set in place it would be too late.
Social media’s impact on the political process is not just on the content, it is also on the structure of how people receive this content. This communication structure has become known as “flow”, a psychological idea adopted from a digital-design strategy in video games, created to keep the user moving from one thing to another, repetitively consuming media, rather than understanding the content. Flow is particularly damaging when it comes to social media because this is where a majority of people consume their news. The information does not have to be correct for it to make an impact, as seen with Warren’s (D-Mass.) Facebook ads. Though there are politicians such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) who uses social media to effectively connect with followers and explain policies, as the presidential campaigns move forward there will be more misinformation about other candidates.
Ultimately, deciphering what is correct and what is not falls on the American people to decide. Blindly trusting social media with political correctness is not something that would be recommendable.
PR tools used for military recruitment and what PR students can learn from them
By: Hanaka Fischman
A man on the ground clutching his knee, a quick assessment and a young woman runs into her home to retrieve a medical kit. On her way back to the injured, she finds herself in a makeshift medical tent, wearing a military uniform and attending to other soldiers - she found her calling.
A woman spills the contents of her purse when trying to exit the bus, a young man assists in picking up her items. When he picks up her bottled water, he is transported to the aftermath of a terrible storm, watching himself in a military uniform assist families who were victims of the disaster.
Both of these scenarios end with the slogan, “You have a calling. We have an answer.”
With a strong emotional appeal, this commercial by Today’s Military attracts those who act upon instinct to help others. This commercial, and several similar ones in the series, have been released and promoted across various social media platforms, from Facebook to Pinterest. Their memorable images have hit thousands of TV screens across the nation. Through these commercials, the U.S. Department of Defense aimed to show that there is a need for people who react quickly and instinctively and that, through their skills, they will provide assistance to those who decide to join the military.
Many people have yet to discover a place for themselves - a place where they can find their true calling. This campaign appeals to those who are struggling with their purpose and the military wants to be the go-to place for these people. By showing different scenarios that are relatable, and comparing them to real scenarios that could occur in the military, it enables a person to view themselves in those situations. This leads people to sign up, join the military and fulfill their place in the world. In other words, they “find their calling.”
Throughout these commercials, we feel a wave of emotions: shock, fear, determination, relief and satisfaction. We are scared for the injured, we are determined to help, we are relieved to see that these people are being taken care of, and we feel satisfied with their accomplishments.
So what can PR students learn from these military commercials? Emotional appeal is a powerful tool to persuade your audience, and by using nonverbal communication with music that pairs well with the scenario, the audience can be captivated. The military knows how to represent itself well and the “Finding Your Calling” campaign is a great example of a successful recruitment strategy.
Do you feel moved by these commercials? Why? Tell us in the comments.
The UFC's Controversial President Dana White and His Relentless Authenticity
By: Matthew Gross
The story of the UFC’s climb to mainstream sports is quite remarkable considering that the sport did not exist a mere 25 years ago. When the company was purchased in 2001 for two million dollars, it was struggling to cement itself as a legitimate sport for mainstream fans. It was in dire need of damage control to mitigate what Senator John McCain dubbed “human cock fighting.”
Enter UFC President Dana White. A brash, unapologetic personality, with an aggressive approach to marketing, White was the perfect fit for a sport that could be so unforgiving. Fans loved his brand, but it was not without controversy. The polarizing figure has used homophobic slurs, proclaimed that women would “never” fight inside the UFC and even compared the UFC’s website being hacked to “worse than 9/11.” The President, who is also the very public face of the brand, is also its biggest public relations fiasco.
But the global powerhouse the UFC has become may never have been possible without White’s relationship with its fan base. Call it serendipitous, but the company simultaneously leveraged the rise of the sport with the global influx of social media. Everything this now billion-dollar company is, would not have been possible without a PR team that created a synchronized relationship with a public that supported its brand.
The UFC had a built-in advantage over other sports properties in that its core demographic is the exact population of the core demographic of social media. Millennials were the driving force behind social media and the UFC locked in on them, particularly men that range from ages 18-35. They found a buyer persona and went all in. The UFC did what no major organization in the history of sports ever did: Made the public a part of who they are.
White uses shared media to intimately engage with fans to create a trusted relationship. He creates weekly vlogs, engages fans about which fight they want to see next and where they want the next fight to happen. White even tweets out his location to fans offering free tickets to the fights and a chance to meet him.
In 2011, Sports Illustrated named White one of the top 100 most influential people in sports on Twitter. He now has 9 million followers across all platforms.
These PR tactics trickle down through the entire organization. The UFC has created fan expos, in which fans engage with fighters, they let fans into press conferences for free and are the only major sports organization that puts free content from their events on YouTube.
White also has recently attempted to blackball beloved reporters, publicly supported President Trump’s immigration policies and consistently gets in spats with naysayers over social media. But always sticking to his brand truth and transparency, while never wavering, has resulted in a bond in which fans are extremely forgiving for all his missteps.
The company was sold in 2016 for $4 billion, just five years after their social media blitz.
White recently signed a 7 year, $350 million extension to stay on as the company’s president. The man who continues to talk without regard, is responsible for taking a once failing brand, into sports galore.
By: Jahmal Forte
More than half of the world's population today are internet users. The internet is something that we've acclimated into our daily lives, a necessity too many. But have you ever wondered about the traces you leave in the internet world? Have you ever wondered what happens to all your private information you input on any website? Just as in the real world, you will always have a distinguishing profile in the digital world. I bring this up because several big corporations utilize this intriguing fact as a way to buy your interest in certain products that may be linked to your profile characteristics.
One good example that displays this intriguing discovery is the last presidential election that helped your very own president yes, “Donald Trump” win the hearts and people’s votes over other presidential candidates. How you may be wondering? Well, a documentary on Netflix, “The Great Hack” gives a very detailed and great explanation to how, not only him but billionaire, Mark Zuckerburg started using your profiles as sales products for big corporations to prey upon your own vulnerabilities without you even knowing.
You see, these big corporations have digital baskets that you’ll never see. Within these baskets are categories of profiles in which you’ve agreed to take part in every time you hit the button “I agree” in the “terms and conditions” without actually reading what you’re agreeing to. This should not only put you on edge but make you aware that if you ever bought something because of a continuous ad online linking to your interest, you just became a victim of your own profile without you even knowing.
It is essential to understand that what these big corporations are doing with your information is not only illegal but also bad propaganda. Utilizing your information at their whim is frightening; you’re practically giving them the ability to experiment with how they influence your emotions, instilling fear and influencing certain objectives. All the while, you are unaware of what's going on, on the other side of your screen.
The key takeaway I simply want to give you is to become aware of what you not only agree to, but what your observations are online. You should start to understand the many meaningful ads that somehow make their way back to your screen as you surf the web from site to site. As you become more mindful, then you can have a fighting chance from being obviously brainwashed by society's standards and the profile they have labeled you under.
Below are links to additional information to help learn about your online profile, aka “data points”:
Instagram users can expect a rapid integration of retail and social media
By: Kendra Hettig
Online shopping is about to get easier now that Instagram’s shopping feature will allow influencers to tag specific products on their posts and stories. Convenient and quick, the recent feature aims to enable an in-app checkout for users looking to buy a product from a brand ambassador, influencer or company post. Since Instagram’s 2018 roll out feature of product stickers and a shopping tab on the Explore section of the app, shopping from both unknown and widely known stores has become a budding—and lucrative—part of the Instagram experience.
Those looking to sell products online can easily start their own business with Instagram. In order to make a feed shoppable, users must first receive approval from Instagram before they can start using the Instagram shopping feature. The approval process consists of first complying with Instagram’s merchant and commerce agreements, having an active Instagram business account, an inventory of physical products to sell and connecting an Instagram business profile to a Facebook Page and Catalog. Once approved, users can simply go to Settings, select the Business tab and enable the shopping feature.
Since Instagram introduced the shopping feature, influencers have become an integral way to further promote products and services. Brands have subsequently leveraged influencer followers to increase brand awareness and generate new customers. Now with the new product tag feature, influencers with thousand—if not millions—of loyal followers can easily tag a product they are wearing or using directly onto their post. Instagram does receive a portion of sales generated from such product tags, while influencers and their tagged brands will be able to access comprehensive Instagram analytics. These analytics will aid influencers when negotiating a brand deal—as correlations between product tags and brand engagement will be revealed through the data.
The recent feature addition will help streamline Instagram’s e-commerce experience, which is projected to be worth $10 billion by 2021. The move also drives Instagram ahead of competing social media networks—with most platforms lacking the same retail integration that Instagram has amassed.
How Far We've Come and How Far We Need to Go
By: Autumn Lewis
Colorism, also known as skin color stratification, is discrimination based on the shade of one’s skin tone. It usually happens within the same ethnic or racial group, specifically minorities. Colorism usually favors those of lighter shades, giving them access to more resources, job opportunities and all-around better treatment than their darker skinned counterparts. It is a socially constructed hierarchy of sorts that exists due to the perpetuation of Eurocentric beauty standards within all forms of media.
Company promotion via the main stream media used to completely lack representation of people with darker skin when it came to marketing products and services. One would see this lack of representation mainly with beauty companies not featuring diverse skin tones in their commercials or including diverse shades in their products.
But in the past few years, there has been a large shift when it comes to the inclusivity of different shades of skin color. One of the most prominent examples of this shift was when singer/actress Rihanna released her make up line Fenty Beauty. It had an array of foundations that included over 40 different shades. The brand itself is known for embracing the nature of all skin tones and gender.
Not only did Fenty Beauty draw international acclaim for its diversity, it inspired other brands to start marketing with a broader range of shades of people. Even movies started to include more darker skinned people in lead roles.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the movie Black Panther, directed by Ryan Coogler, grossed $1.29 billion to date and currently ranks as the top-grossing movie title of all time. The notable part of this success when it came to marketing and colorism, is the numerous darker skinned actors that had lead roles in the movie. The world of media and equal representation has come pretty far when it comes to inclusion of darker shades of people.
However there is still more work to be done. Brands, entertainment and influencers must opt for all skin shades when it comes to representing brands and products in the media. Lead roles for movies must be equally distributed among all shades of people. Product and service marketing must always feature darker skinned individuals as well as lighter skinned individuals when they are able. Colorism is a social construct and it can be obliterated by the main medium that continues to perpetuate it; the media.
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