Stay Out Of Our Social Media!

open door



The rickety door slams shut, it’s hinge further bent and barely holding on, as splinters of wood cascade to the ground.



Growing up I remember, and maybe some of you do as well my mom, dad, and siblings constantly trekking in and out of my room. Whether it was to grab scissors, play my video games or just snoop through my stuff, my room was constantly violated by their intrusion and presence. More and more, I noticed my belongings being tampered with and I ultimately decided to hide them to protect my privacy, independence and feel like I could be myself.

My personal mantra became one of “Stay out of my room!” The audible resonance coupled with the reverberation of a slamming door was the summation of my teen angst, rebellion and independence. It was the battle trumpet sounding and the anthem of my teenage years.

Although times have changed since I have been an adolescent, a similar song still resonates in teens today. However, it now goes by the rehashed version of  “Stay out of my Social Media!” This article is the narrative of how this song came to be remixed, what it means, where teens are now hiding and how we can use this as marketers.


Birthday Party Surprise


This past weekend I had the honor of going to my cousins 13th birthday party (lucky me, I know). Soon after arriving, and exchanging pleasantries, basically “sup’s” to every kid who was glued to their phones, I made way over to my cousin to say Happy Birthday, and asked:

“What are all your friends doing on their phones, Facebooking?”

“Ewwww Alex, no. They’re on Snapchat. Facebook is for old people.”

It was at that moment that I realized three things: One at the age of 25, I was now considered “Old”. Two I had completely missed the shift from Facebook to Snapchat. And three, mentioning Facebook solicited a response of “Ew” which is essentially the highest level of disgust a teenage girl can mutter in a single syllable.

For the remainder of the party I intermingled with some of her friends, but mostly sat off in the corner and observed, or conducted “market research”. In which I discovered many things I was very unaware of, but in many ways brought me back to my own teenage years. After which I went home to do some investigating to I discover that this experience was not an anomaly, but rather an indicator of a larger movement.


From Words To Images


As so elegantly put by my cousin that “Facebook is for old people” there has been a shift in recent years from word based social media platforms to image and video based platforms. Research conducted by Pew Research Institute in 2015 and 2018 for example has shown a significant drop in Facebooks usage among teens, from 71% in 2015 to 51% in 2018. Whereas more visual based social channels’ have increased:

  • Snapchat from 41% in 2015 to 69% in 2018 (Anderson, et al. 2018)
  • Instagram from 52% in 2015 to 72% in 2018 (Anderson, et al. 2018)

While there are certainly many factors accountable for this transition, the major culprit appears to be


Trust Issues

 But Why?

They say a picture is “worth a thousand words” and no one knows that better than today’s teens. From the recent public Facebook privacy scandals, to growing up with the power of google search, to parents and adults joining the social media platforms and a teenagers inherent desire to rebel- this all combined in to form an eruption. Many of my cousins friends at the party, confirmed that the major reason they prefer snapchat, and Instagram to Facebook falls into one of these three categories:


  1. Engaging

 Many of my cousins friends said it’s simply more entertaining to interact and engage over visual based mediums as opposed to text.

  1. It’s Easier

Furthermore, it is easier to connect with friends and “See what’s going on”.  While connecting and having fun was a key reason, I think there is a lot to infer from this cue of “seeing”, because there is a lot to seeing. There is a reason why we have a phrase “Seeing is believing”. Seeing does not involve any faith, it is right there for you to witness. And growing up in a generation where they been constantly fed deceits from the news, social media, authority, and even friends they have found a social media where lies are far and few because photos and videos don’t lie (usually).

  1. Resolves Privacy Issues

The other main concern documented was transitioning to a platform to avoid authority, primarily parents and advertisers. Many of my cousins friends said that one of the big perks of apps like Instagram or Snapchat is that parents don’t have them. These apps have become their cool tree-house hideout where adults aren’t allowed. Thus it acts as this get away where teens can go to have a layer of privacy and more openly post how they feel, what they think, and what they’re doing. All without the fear of rejection, consequences or shame associated with authority figures being present. This parallels   to a series of studies conducted by Pew Research Center the following has been discovered amongst internet users:


“86% of internet users said in 2012 they had taken steps to try to be anonymous online. “Hiding from advertisers” was relatively high on the list of those they wanted to avoid.” (Rainie, Lee. 2013) 

 “55% of Internet users have taken steps to hide from specific people or organizations.” (Raine, Lee, 2018).

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      With hackers and criminals at 33%, Advertisers at 28% and family at 14%, there is a connection between how users feel about authority; when avoiding hackers and criminals is considered of similar importance to avoiding advertisers, and family. So as Marketers how can we learn from this and change our approach going forward?


Establish Trust



1.) Connect Through Spies a.k.a Influencers

Think of an influencer as your own personal sales spy who can be sent to infiltrate the target audiences defenses, collect reconnaissance, establish trust through value added content, enrich your brand and sell your material; all without being detected.

Influencers are vital, especially in markets involving teens aged 13-17, for all the reasons listed above. But primarily they have actively sought an alternatives to more traditional social media, so it is important to not blow your cover and send in the tanks. Instead, an Influencer is someone that the teens can look up to as a “cool” authority to whom they want to idolize. Some great examples of Influencers are:

  • Make-up Guru’s: On YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat there are self-proclaimed “Make-up Guru’s” whom teach their audience how to apply make up in video tutorials. Many girls between the age of 13-17 turn to make up, and these influencers in particular, for a way to enhance their beauty. Instead of make-up companies directly marketing to teens, they can sponsor these make-up guru’s to use their products and talk them up in the videos. Thus they are being sold by a friend, rather than an icky adult.


  • Drake: Artists have always been a great way to connect with audiences. But with teens they are especially influential because of the deep and meaningful lyrics they craft (HA-HA, what a joke). Thus, artists like Drake are a great means to target certain products toward teens like apparel, albums and even hover boards. (Strange, Adario)


There are many more influencers available, such as sports athletes, travel bloggers, comedians, cooks, etc. It is just a matter of seeking out where your audience is going to and finding influencers who can have dominion and say over them. Which is the biggest perk because these influencers can permeate into the teens space, leverage their authority, and persuade without all the traditional weight and feel of traditional approaches. One of the main reasons why they are able to do this is because they are


2.) Consistent & Transparent

One of the reasons why influencers are so popular is because they are consistent and transparent. The target audience feels as though they can genuinely let their guard down and connect with them. They don’t appear to have an agenda. Instead they are solely there to serve as an idol, who has their best interest in mind and simply wants to


3.) Add Value

The third, and arguably most important factor is to add value. Many times firms get too over eager in trying to sell, or shove their products down consumer throats. But just remember, a huge part of the reason why teens left traditional social media is to avoid exactly this. Instead influencers simply add value, be that by showing teens make up tutorials, entertaining them with music or videos, or showing them the way to pursue their dreams as athletes. The major key is to add value first, make sure that the consumer knows you are genuine and want what’s best for them and then your “suggestions” will sell themselves.)


Wrap Up


The cataclysm of Facebook privacy, parents joining the platforms and teens angst all combined to force teen users toward more image based platforms. Platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and Youtube allow teens to escape their parents, feel safe. express themselves without worrying of intruders, find out the truth from friends, and allow for deeper engagement and connection.

But now that we know about their secret hiding place it is important to make sure our intrusion isn’t detected.  Remember when marketing to teens to leverage influencers, be consistent, add value, and never, AND I MEAN NEVER, enter into their social media. Or else you will feel the wrath of a 14 year old teen in all their anger, and rage screaming “GET OUT OF MY SOCIAL MEDIA!” and we’ll blow our cover.



This has been Alex The Marketing Guy, reminding you to keep it simple, keep it real, and STAY OUT OF THE KIDS SOCIAL MEDIA.

Peace, Love, and Marketing



1.) Anderson, Monica, and Jingjing Jiang. “Teens, Social Media & Technology 2018.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech, 31 May 2018,

2.) Lenhart, Amanda. “Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech, 9 Apr. 2015,

3.) Rainie, Lee. “Americans’ Complicated Feelings about Social Media in an Era of Privacy Concerns.” Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, 27 Mar. 2018,

4.) Rainie, Lee, et al. “Anonymity, Privacy, and Security Online.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech, 5 Sept. 2013,

5.) Strange, Adario. “The Rise and Fall of the Hoverboard.” Mashable, Mashable, 16 Apr. 2016,


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Uber Driver Uses “Trip Gone Wrong” to Advertise his Brand

I came across this video on YouTube a couple months ago and found it particularly interesting. I was most likely procrastinating on homework at the time, and it came up under related videos, so I clicked onto it. At first, I suspected it would be like similar videos on YouTube, in which something goes terribly wrong between an Uber driver and their passengers. The rising implementation of dash cameras in cars have given people like Uber drivers, or even ordinary people in traffic, the ability to gain concrete evidence and insurance in the case that anything goes wrong.

In this situation, the Uber driver, Ryan, explains his situation, at first, having to wait a while for his passenger, and then goes on to narrate how it continues to go downhill. During the trip, he gets a notification on his phone saying that the passenger he was currently driving had cancelled the trip. This, this in turn, would have allowed the passenger to take the trip for free and Ryan would not have gotten paid. This obviously isn’t fair for Ryan to not get paid for doing his job, so naturally, he stops the car and tells her to get out.

Then things begin to escalate. They start cussing at each other, and she even tries to hit him. Luckily for him, Ryan was able to use his recorded dashboard camera footage to send to Uber and get the reimbursement he deserved. While he notes that Uber’s policy is somewhat vague in the corrective action to take here, he publishes the video on YouTube in the meantime. Sitting at 10,504,573 views, it is safe to say that the video has gone viral.

Not only did Ryan’s bad experiences with his Uber passenger get him viral, but it also created a small community within YouTube in his video. There are thousands of likes and comments on this video, showing sympathy or recalling similar situations as Uber drivers. So Ryan could have ended it there. He slandered the reputation of his Uber passenger and commented briefly on how Uber manages these situation; however, it was he does in the second half of the video that is the most interesting.

After he’s finished talking about his experience, he goes on to mention that he enjoys driving with Uber because of the “creative outlet” it offers him. At this moment, he starts to show on the screen some aerial drone footage he’s taken of snow tubing hills and various towns, and he explains how he can use this poor Uber experience to actually bring in advertising revenue.

Because he was able to lure so many people into the video to follow his experience, he is additionally able to maintain their attention to advertise his videos. In other words, he used his experience as, what can be called, “clickbait” to attract social media users to not just this video, but to his profile. He wants to prove that he will benefit so much more by this woman shorting him $10 because of the way he can use social media to post about it. In the caption of this video, he includes his PayPal account as well as a link that basically acts as a tip jar. Moreover, he receiving significant ad revenue from this video with over 10 million views.

I do not know how much money Ryan has made after posting this video, but I think it’s safe to say it well-exceeds the $10 he was gypped from his Uber passenger. I believe this is an extremely brilliant and relevant idea on how posting these kinds of situations on social media can not only make “the others” seem like bad people, but it can also be quite beneficial to the person who posts it (as ironic as that sounds.)


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Influencers: Unedited

Growing up, I used to love looking at old pictures of my parents. My favorite picture of all was always my mother’s high school prom photo. Her hair was long and permed, she wore a puffy green dress and bangle bracelets. She was my original influencer. She was the person I went to for fashion and beauty advice. I looked at her old photos and asked how she got her skin to look this way or what type of mascara she used, where I could find clothes like hers.

Never did she respond that it was just filters or photo touch ups. I wasn’t being fooled by photographs, because the photographs were genuine and unedited.

Fast forward.

Ever since I have been on social media, there have been ways to put filters on and edit photographs. My old Myspace photos were ridiculously overexposed. Whose weren’t? To this day, with the swipe of my finger I can throw a filter on any photo before posting it to any of my social media platforms.

Editing tools and apps are continuing to be developed and there are more premade filters to apply than there ever have been before. We can even put on doggy ears if we’re having a bad hair day. Woof.

While this was all fun and games at first, there as been strong pull back from social media due to the effects it is having on people mentally. People’s confidents are being torn down; especially young men and women in their teens and twenties. People spend their days scrolling through Instagram and other social media platforms, comparing themselves to others and wondering why they don’t look a certain way or obsessing on how to look that way, and it is starting to take its toll.

With that said, I’m all for the movement of getting back to social media being more, just that, social. However, there are some movements pushing for no social media at all. Ditching techy phones altogether.

These are things marketing professionals and influencers need to keep track of. That said, finally getting to my main question: What does this mean for social media influencers?

Influencers across the board are being confronted about using filters and editing their photos and videos. Why does this matter? A vast majority of the influencers I am speaking about work in the beauty industry. If you are marketing a foundation to me via a social media post and you’ve edited the photo, I now can’t see how the foundation really looks. My first thought is that you aren’t actually happy with the product and you’re covering something up. That’s not exactly trustworthy.

This reflects back on the brands that sponsor the influencers as well. If people think the influencers don’t like the product, that’s an obvious issue. Plus, if they are getting backlash like this, the products aren’t being marketed properly and/or they are losing business for the company.

Further, influencers need to be aware that their audience consists of young girls and boys that are very easily influenced, past simply taking a makeup recommendation. If they are feeling bad about themselves from watching a video or reading an Instagram post, there is something not right; and as a parent, I would be fast to pull my child away from that.

Left and right people are coming forward discussing how social media has wrecked their confidence and how much they compare themselves to others, mainly influencers/bloggers. There has been a lot of talk about the changes that need to be made in that business and a lot of the influencers/bloggers have spoken up about this and addressed the changes they will be making to their content.

Marketing professionals and influencers need to be prepared for this shift. Its their job to see that this is the way that social media is going, and they should be ready to make the move with it if they want to continue to engage with the public and partner with various brands. Influencers that don’t do this, I believe will be left in the dust.

The solution is simply being upfront and honest. Let your imperfections show. If you’re wearing fake eyelashes, disclose it. If you get a zit, don’t blur it out. Don’t use editing tools to morph your body to look a certain way. Stop making it seem like you aren’t a human like everyone else, because the public is pulling away. Be aware of your audience; which is teenagers who are still going through changes and could use the honesty, instead of feeling shameful that they don’t look like the overly edited and touched up version of yourself.

Stop setting standards that are literally unobtainable.

Honesty is once again, the best policy.

Social media is being viewed as some type of techy poison, but it doesn’t have to continue. This doesn’t have to be the demise of social media marketing. Frankly, I think this is the start of something new and so much more beautiful and honest!

I’m a sucker for a good YouTube makeup tutorial and yes, sometimes I find myself on Instagram a little longer than I’d like to be, but I’m really loving what I am seeing lately. I’m seeing real people putting themselves out there and having fun with their content. Quite frankly, it makes for better marketing for me when I see that the influencer is being themselves and having a good time making content that they feel good about; showing off products that they genuinely love.

There’s a lot of beauty in an unedited, untouched photograph, just like my mom’s. Except that type of beauty is real and that’s what makes it not intimidating. It’s just human. We’re all just human.

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Why compare when you can connect?

I am not fat, but I don’t consider myself skinny. I work full-time, go to school part-time, make time for my family, boyfriend, dog, and friends when I can, but I don’t feel like I do enough and feel guilty when I relax. I love vegetables more than most people, but I also have a weak spot for Wendy’s. I am pretty active while I’m at my job, love to be outdoors, but don’t enjoy exercising. Things are pretty balanced in my life and I don’t really have much to complain about. Still, I insist on comparing myself to others, asking myself “why don’t I have my degree yet,” “why can’t I be as skinny as she is,” “why can’t my skin be as clear as hers” or my favorite, “why am I not engaged yet.”

When we are scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc., we see what others want us to see. Women with perfectly contoured faces and flawless bodies, not how they look without any makeup or the carefully thought out pose to make their bodies appear thinner. Couples that are happily married and pregnant with their second or third child, not the late nights up with the baby and the work they’ve had to put into their marriage. Pictures of beautiful weddings, not the stress behind the planning of them.

We always look at what people post on social media, and then we compare their lives to our own without knowing all of the details. Why? No one knows their back stories. Whether or not they have a job and/or attend school, if they grew up wealthy or poor, how often they work out or if they don’t at all, how they eat or if they starve themselves, if they’ve gone through abuse or if they’ve abused someone else. No one knows any of these things, but they’re so quick to compare themselves to the people they see on social media. Why is that?

All comparing ourselves to others is going to do is make us feel inadequate, like we aren’t enough. We see our own reality in an uglier way than anyone else does, and we are our own worst critic. Of course, we all have things that we don’t want to showcase, but we aren’t realistic or truthful about ourselves on social media in fear of others knowing what? That we are all human, going through the same things, and that we aren’t alone? I’m not saying we should go completely to the other side of the spectrum and air all of our dirty laundry on social media, but we could be a little bit more “real” with what we post. Also, instead of comparing our own lives in ways that could make us feel like we are lacking, we should be showing support for one another.

We should put our minds at ease knowing that no one person is the exact same, people live different lives, and that’s okay.

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Social Media Blogging – Jack Previte

A particularly popularized and relevant issue in social media today is the Facebook data misuse situation.  For anyone that is not familiar with this, Facebook was said to be selling and giving away their users personal data without the users knowing, and therefore impeding on their personal privacy and breaking privacy policies.  This is a very large scale issue, as there are currently 2.1 billion users on facebook that visit and use the social media website at least once per month.  This is nearly one quarter of the entire worlds known population.  That being said, this is definitely an issue that affects many people and is very relatable.  People want to know where their data is going and how it is being used, and there are conflicting opinions on this matter as it goes further into discussion.

There seems to be sort of a generational gap between how a millennial would view this kind of situation, on average, versus how someone from the baby boomer generation would view this kind of situation.  For example, younger people, particularly millenials or even people from generation X, do not seem to have as much of a problem with the data misuse, and continue to publish posts of personal information on the platform.  Millenials have the view that they will post what they want, when they want, and not worry about how that data spreads throughout the internet or how it is being used by third parties.  This can definitely be contributed to the fact that the younger generation has grown up in an era where computers and the internet are very common and widespread, so it is less foreign or daunting to them that their personal information could be used by other companies for advertising purposes.  On the other hand, baby boomers and people of the senior age group view this as a complete invasion of privacy and something that should be seriously reprimanded and reformed.  The people in congress that are passing the regulations on these new types of issues are generally included in the older generation, which means they would feel strongly about this data misuse.

When Mark Zuckerberg was asked about how Facebook makes money when their platform is free to use, he mentioned their advertising services that they offer to users for their businesses.  This is a key part of their business model and one of their main forms of revenue generation, other than allegedly selling the users data without them knowing.  These advertising services have been speculated, however, to be set up to gain the most amount of profit, instead of being more user based and generating the best return on investment.  I have used the Facebook advertising services before, for my own personal brand, and it is hard to know for sure how much of a return on investment for your money that you are actually getting.  While this holds true for most advertising and marketing investments and expenses, Facebook is particularly hard to gage in this regard.

Since this data scandal, I personally have seen commercials on television that Facebook has launched in an effort to essentially clean up the mess.  As Facebook and its data misuse continues to be talked about negatively all over the world, the team needs to do everything they can to get back on the right track, and this seems to be one of their latest efforts to do so.

My personal opinion about this matter is that as long as Facebook notifies the users of where their data is going and ensures in the future that it will not be misused, there should be no issues in this regard moving forward.  There is a fine line between what is helpful to companies and the economy for sales and targeted advertising using personal data, and going too far to where users do not feel safe and secure on the platform.  Facebook is doing a decent job so far of hearing what not only congress has to say about the matter and how it will be regulated moving forward, but also engaging users back into feeling comfortable about using the platform through mediums like the television commercials I mentioned before.

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Translating Offline Success to an Online Image

Raise your mouse pads if you’re a Proud Member of the UMass Amherst Community™!!!

Trick question–every single one of us proudly identifies as a Minuteman. We have all braced ourselves against the deadly wind tunnels created outside Du Bois on a brisk winter day. We’ve tailgated football games that we never planned to attend, hopped on busses at the ILC to get to the Townhouses on a sunny Spring afternoon, and most importantly–we’ve all feasted on the delicious dishes set out by our No. 1 ranked campus dining program.

It’s true. You can’t walk anywhere on campus without seeing “#1 Best Campus Food” signs. Does the sign below look familiar? It sure does, because UMass Dining knows they must leverage their title in all aspects of marketing to grow the University’s overall appeal. They do a fantastic job with marketing–offline. When it comes to online strategies and social media management, our marketing team tends to face more problems.

#1 dining_opt

UMass Dining’s clout, or “social influence and power,” only continues to grow. As their full-time marketing intern, I can give you a behind the scenes look at our daily operations for strategic improvement. With new recipes, celebrity chef partnerships, retail location concepts, and branding development, the UMass Dining team is fiercely defending their champion status. Where we often hit creative walls and obstacles tends to be online, on our social media platforms.

Scrolling Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube it is clear that @UMassDining differs greatly from UMass Dining. While our Facebook outperforms our other profiles in follower count and engagement, with nearly 19,000 likes, our Instagram and Twitter pages actually lag behind other top dining programs, bringing in less likes, shares, and follows overall.

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Our numbers may seem high, but one of our competing top Dining Programs in the South actually has double our amount of Instagram followers! How can this be? If we are truly the No. 1 ranked Best Campus Food in the nation, shouldn’t our social media accounts reflect the same success, based on common metrics that all businesses use online (follower count, likes, shares, retweets, comments, clicks, etc).

I devised the following “not-so-secret” recipe to breakdown how @UMassDining (and all other business social media accounts) can hope to attain “Insta-Famous” appeal. Let’s take a look at what these terms mean…

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You’ve heard the common phrase, “consistency is key.” Well, in branding, consistency is EVERYTHING. @UMassDining, unfortunately, consistently tends to struggle with maintaining a cohesive “look,” or “aesthetic,” online. For example, our Instagram page seems to have a wide array of images and videos with no common theme or approach. Compare it to the images below, of famous Instagram profiles that maintain a strong online presence and following, due to their CONSISTENT brand.

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These two separate Instagram feeds tell a consistent story. UMass Dining (offline) does a fantastic job of telling their own, regarding “Healthy, Sustainable, Delicious Food.” Our online social feed, however, fails to send the same message in such an aesthetically pleasing way.

Why is it so hard to remain consistent, you ask? Because organizing a brand across several online platforms to maintain a strong “omni-channel presence” is an incredible challenge without the use of proper management tools.

Omni-channel presence is best defined by Don Zimmerman and Jon Lawrence, of NCR Hospitality, as the experience of sending a brand’s message on all communication channels possible. Doing it well is not easy, but with the help of a popular social media management tool, Hootsuite, @UMassDining is gaining stronger internal organization.

This past month, I began training myself to utilize Hootsuite more to assess @UMassDining’s social metrics, and to plan and schedule our posts across all profiles, as well. As you can see below, the tool has the potential to revolutionize the way any business manages their online presence.  

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Here is what it looks like when I schedule a future post to Instagram and Twitter:

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Before Hootsuite, I would have reminders set on my phone at 6:00 PM everyday to regularly update the Instagram page. This was a majorly inefficient strategy, because as a busy college student, I would often struggle to pause what I was doing to find a worthy photo and witty caption to post. Sometimes, I would skip it altogether in frustration, because there simply was no good content to add. This disorganized chaos was then making it hard for @UMassDining to maintain its consistent brand image. Do you see the vicious cycle that ensued?

Now, with the proper tool, I can schedule posts up to years in advance, allowing me to strategize cohesive posts that will create a beautiful Instagram feed, worthy of thousands of interested followers.

Hootsuite helps @UMassDining stay relevant, too, by providing insight into follower interaction with our social media pages. With the help of Hootsuite’s analytics programs, I track how well our posts perform based on engagement and sentiment.

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This data is essential because I can find out the ideal times to post, the content that attracts most viewers, and the success of our pages overall. Maintaining an online presence can never be successful if the posts do not cater to followers’ preferences and current trends. Why would people follow an account that posts information and pictures they don’t care about?

BuzzFeed Tasty™ is a great example of what @UMassDining strives to become. @BuzzFeedTasty understands exactly what their consumers want to view, dedicating their account to posting only videos of the recipe process for delicious meals.

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As a fellow food account, BuzzFeed Tasty nails the Social Media Mogul equation. Their image is consistent, organized, and relevant. People know what to expect when following the account–attractive, quality posts about cooking that will regularly populate their Instagram feed, leaving them wanting more.

Taking a page from BuzzFeed’s playbook, @UMassDining can also market their gourmet cuisine on social media in a way that attracts hundreds of thousands of followers. In our future marketing efforts, we must stay focused on our consumers, producing and serving content that they want to see. It’s time for @UMassDining to add the “Social Media Mogul” to their recipe book.

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Social Media: Chat Rooms

My first experience with social media was a subscription-based public chat room, AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), mother to all social networks as we know them now.

I found AIM fascinating at first due to the instant gratification of camaraderie with groups of people with similar interests from across the country. Something that at the time, was very inexpensive to do because unlike talking over the phone or in person and it didn’t even require a plane ticket or a passport. I remember the excitement I would feel as the dial-up buzzed and whirred letting me know I was about to connect.

Many Millennials are way too young to remember AIM or weren’t even born yet. It was at the time, the greatest social network platform before the invention of Facebook or Twitter. AIM consisted of thousands of chat rooms. You could search your zip code and wham! – I was reaching out to like-minded cinephiles, or butchering my way through a beginners Spanish chat conversation!

Unfortunately, like everything else, chat rooms got commercialized, as they became synonymous with predators (remember the show Dateline: To Catch a Predator?), or cannibalized by newer web-based social network platforms.

As chat rooms faded social networks like Friendster, Myspace, and Facebook, had taken its place. It was as though all my family, life long friends, and online buddies got raptured up into the vast World Wide Web in the sky.

I am an outlier because I never took to the widespread practice of social networks like Myspace, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. In my opinion, these social media institutions are intrusive. They require too much personal information and also allow for anyone to intrude into your personal life. I miss the anonymity and simplicity of chat rooms.

Chat rooms of long ago may not be making a big come back anytime soon, but web 2.0 has brought new features and capabilities to share photos, video and of course, chat apps. Despite their unpopularity in the USA, Chat rooms still serve a purpose for individual users and marketers in particularly in other countries.

Some advantages of using chat rooms as opposed to other modes of social media networks include:

#1 – Chat rooms are anonymous. They don’t require a profile or verification.

#2 – Chat rooms allow people to talk uncensored in real time with individuals who have similar interests, hobbies, religious cultures.

#3 – You can talk to more than one person at once, and others can jump in on the conversation at will. with other IM apps, you have to choose the group members.

#4 – As a marketer, you can directly try to influence the group members, by recommending products and services that they are likely to use (and of course, there are always traditional banner ads).

Disadvantages of using chat rooms:

#1 – Anyone regardless of age can get into chat rooms. That can be a problem, especially for younger children, so parents beware, and children watch what you share.

#2 – Ever had several people talking to you all at once? Unfiltered thoughts coming at you all at the same time can be hard to follow.

#3 – There is less room for users, marketers, and advertisers to send out content. Unlike apps like Twitter or Instagram. However, new technology like chatbots is changing this.

#4 – You can multitask while chatting. Specifically, the user may be accessing several programs or apps at the same time to browse the internet, check email, play video games, etc.

There is still a lot of potential in chat rooms. In 2014, Facebook acquired Whatsapp, the ads-free mobile chat app for $19.6 billion that boasted at the time, 500 million users which gives them access to users and locations where internet connectivity is scarce or nonexistent. Earlier this year, Facebook launched its chatbot program allowing marketers to the opportunity to reach content to almost 2 billion users.

Who knows, I may just find my old passion for chat rooms rekindled, or perhaps it’s about time that I, as the saying goes, “let it go and free up energy for something new and better.”

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