Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

What Do You Meme, Meme?   3 comments

Have you ever heard someone mention the word “meme”, but weren’t sure what they were talking about? But you laughed and nodded with enthusiasm anyway? And then went home, grabbed your laptop, and isolated yourself from all other humans until you were fully versed in all things MEME? Yeah, me too.

Memes (rhymes with beams) have been around for a very long time – before the Internet, for sure. Before your were born. Before your parents were bor…well, you get the picture. According to Wikipedia, meme is short for mimeme, meaning “something imitated”. They are essentially the spreading of ideas throughout cultures. Some memes are stronger than others, representing the value system of an entire country. Other memes are more localized. But the point is, they’re everywhere, and they’re fantastic! Check out this little video for a well detailed history of memes. For a different take on memes, check out this other, funnier video on the ever popular #FAIL meme:

But what I love more than ANYTHING about memes, is how they’ve taken on new meming (sorry) through the Internet and social networks that are capable of making ideas, pictures, phrases or videos go viral. Any online community that has user-submitted content is doubtlessly inundated with meme-worthy (and unworthy) contributions on an hourly basis. YouTube, Reddit, 4chan (nsfw), Facebook, Twitter – just five examples of massive online meme-havens.

Remember when Kanye West stole Taylor Swift’s microphone when she was accepting the MTV VMA for Best Female Video in 2009?

Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you. I’mma let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time!...”

And then every person you know wouldn’t stop saying it for weeks after, but with their own subtext? That was the birth of the “Interrupting Kanye” meme! In the hour after Kanye’s interruption, over 300,000 people tweeted about it. This particular meme went viral instantly because the VMAs was televised live, and was viewed by millions of people. Other memes are a little slower on the uptake, but their staying power is legendary. Remember that 1999 movie Office Space?

Umm, yeah, I’m gonna need you to come in tomorrow.”

Twelve years on, and I bet right now you’re thinking of Lumberg holding a coffee while leaning against a cubicle. Like I said, memes are fantastic. Fantastic!

For the very best, the latest, the most wide-reaching global Internet memes you’ll ever hope to find, one website has it all: Know Your Meme. This is your one-stop shop to stay current with memes. Not only does this site show you the meme (typically in picture or video format), but they also list each meme’s name, origin, “birthday”, additional resources, and relevant tags. They even show a chart graph of each meme’s analytical journey from referential obscurity to revered memeness!

From another point of view, memes can help (or hurt) commercial businesses in the online social foray. Have you ever experienced “The Blue Screen of Death”? It’s the fail screen that some Microsoft users see when their computer crashes or has boot up issues. It’s also the color of IBM’s logo. Having a negative nickname become a household phrase for your company’s failing product does not make for happy marketing meetings. On the other hand, some companies have skyrocketed into meme royalty. Think of that Verizon commercial with the dude on the phone.

Can you hear me now? Good!

– I, for one, would always say that phrase when on the phone in a dodgy wireless reception area. And because I’m an AT&T subscriber, every time I say that line, I think of how much better my coverage would be if I was with Verizon.

For the most part, memes are to be shared and enjoyed. Here’s one of my favorite memes from the Demotivational Poster series for you to enjoy. And share. 🙂

Finally, if you want to create your own picture meme, you can visit Meme Generator, of course!



Can Sour Apples Turn Sweet?   Leave a comment

Apples with the Apple logo. Scared? ~ The Pirata

On January 9th, 2011, Vincent Stehle wrote an opinion article for the Chronicle of Philanthropy titled “Apple’s Disdain for Philanthropy is Rotten for Charities and Society“. The article discussed how Apple unfortunately does not allow non-profit organizations to accept donations through their apps. However, Apple has long allowed for-profit companies to accept payment for products and services via apps, so why the double standard?

Companies as large and as wealthy as Apple have a responsibility to give back to society. These days, it’s not enough for a company to just donate money to a cause. People want to know what else the company is doing to become a better corporate citizen. In other words, what can a company do to put public interests before its own?

Apple’s website lists its environmental impact statement, which includes its recycling program among other positive initiatives. That stuff is all fantastic. Really, it’s great. But in a global society where social media use has become a fundamental part of daily life for hundreds of millions of people, Apple is in a rare position to go one step further with its social impact: Apple gets to decide how apps function on its mobile devices such as the iPhone, iPad and iTouch.

If iPhone users could open an app and press a button to donate money, imagine how quick and easy it would have been to donate (for example) to the Haiti relief efforts. Imagine how much more money could have been generated through the ease of using a mobile app! True, during the Haiti crisis, it was possible to donate to the Red Cross Haiti fund by sending a text message, but that system was  set up only for the Red Cross, and it made sense because Haiti was in a state of emergency. Other non-profit organizations such as NPR rely on constant listener-support to sustain their programming. In NPR’s situation, a mobile app would make far more sense for supporters to use when donating: An app can provide more information about a cause or organization, and can allow users to customize their own donation amount.

Apple touts its mobile devices as technological platforms that simplify life. But the company’s lack of support for reputable non-profit organizations makes life more complicated for those who want to donate whilst on the go. If verification of non-profit organizations is Apple’s main concern (as Stehle cited in his article), there are established and trusted avenues Apple could take to regulate those organizations to prove legitimacy.

It’s time that Apple used their considerable power to help mobile device users donate to their favorite charities or non-profit organizations. Simply getting on board with what app-users want could generate some fantastic press for Apple, and perhaps demonstrate that the company’s interests extend beyond the “Apple” tree, to the rest of the orchard.


Cyclone Yasi Hits Social Media   Leave a comment

This morning I made myself a coffee, grabbed my laptop and settled down on the couch to check my favorite news and social websites. If this was 1990 I would have reached for the local newspaper, or maybe turned on the television. Oh, how times have changed. At least good coffee is a generational constant.

As I was browsing, a satellite picture of a cyclone off the coast of Australia caught my eye. It took me about 37 seconds to read the comments and discover that a) this was not a historic archive, because b) Cyclone Yasi hit the northeast coast of Australia about four hours ago, and is currently wreaking havoc. It’s also nighttime in Queensland right now, which make events like a category five cyclone all more the frightening for local residents.

Satellite image of Cyclone Yasi hitting the coast of Queensland ~ The Australian

I then checked out The Australian online to confirm the news. NEWS CONFIRMED. In the image above, you can see the cyclone’s eye about to touch down on Aussie soil. Towns up and down the Queensland coast are in a state of emergency.

Wanting to share this news with my American friends here in Tennessee, I logged into Twitter and checked the latest world trends for a useful hashtag reference. #tcyasi was listed in the top 5. Perfect. Less than four hours, and the entire world is already privy to a currently-in-action natural disaster on a fairly isolated continent. By localizing the Twitter trend region from “world” to “Australia”, Cyclone Yasi took over seven of the top ten listings.

Reflecting on the three minutes it took me to find and process this news, some noteworthy points arose:

One: Younger generations do not rely on traditional news sources as their primary source for information. These days, news quickly spreads from one medium to the next, exponentially expanding reach and readership. Social networks are rapidly becoming the bedrock for news dissemination.

Two: With the ability to “upvote,” “downvote,” “retweet,” or “hashtag,” users of these social networks are absolutely setting the agenda of what issues are important, and what issues rise up to the front page of search engine lists.

Three: Trained journalists are skilled writers who (hopefully) abide by a code of ethics and morals, but in 140 characters or less,  anyone can share any experience or thought. If, in the case of a natural disaster, enough people do the same, hundreds, thousands, or even millions of everyday people become pseudo-reporters.

The impact social networks are having on all levels of the news media is irreversible. Social networks are here to stay, and will continue to grow and develop as more global citizens begin to harness the power of instant, digital communication.

Finally, please keep Australia and its northeast residents in your thoughts, and donate to the cause if you can.


Posted February 2, 2011 by Elfawin in Environment, Social Media

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YouTube: What’s in it for me?   Leave a comment

I’ve done it. I’ve posted my very first video to YouTube. Kinda anticlimactic, really. It’s a clip of me stealing a bunch of money from a table. Well, not actually stealing. More like borrowing for the aesthetics purposes of the clip. At the time I was producing a pickup shoot for a Discovery Channel show on money. Here it is in all it’s glory:

Anyway, my point is, I don’t know what my goal is with having a YouTube account. I used to think it would be fun to do a vlog like Natalie’s amazingly funny, insightful and very well edited Community Channel, but it seems like so much work. I suppose if I ever have a more meaningful video to share, I can upload it then. But for now, I’m happy to just browse other user-submitted content instead. I’m also still freaked out at the thought of sharing too much personal content on the Internet, but that’s an entirely different subject I’ll blog about at another time.


Posted January 30, 2011 by Elfawin in Social Media

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Smartphone War   3 comments

Photo via

I’m currently an AT&T account holder and I use the iPhone 3G. My contract with AT&T ran out yesterday. Woohoo! Free agent! Naturally, I’m having serious thoughts about switching providers and phones. I’m not rushing into a decision, because I have much to consider before I make any changes. Here’s a rundown of my current situation:

1) I’ve had the iPhone 3G now for more than 3 years. It’s not the 3Gs, nor it is the 4. My iPhone runs very slowly and doesn’t operate efficiently on the 4G network. Typically I catch it running on the geriatric EDGE network. *Cringe!* My iPhone often takes several seconds to open an app, and 5-10 seconds longer for the app to become functional. Even if I just want to make a phone call or text someone, I find myself waiting for an eternity. I’m long overdue for an upgrade.

2) I spend a fair bit of time in the downstairs level of my house. Unfortunately, my AT&T reception does not extend to the downstairs level of my house, which means I get a lot of dropped calls, if I even get service at all. I have to go upstairs before I can make phone calls or send text messages.

3) As an AT&T customer, I’m the frequent recipient of dropped calls, wherever I am. The AT&T network just doesn’t seem to have saturated coverage. And as for calling themselves the “fastest 3G network”, refer to my first note about app loading speeds.

4) If I switch to Verizon, I won’t be able to use a phone if I go home to Australia (or any other international destination) for a vacation. Verizon’s network is currently incapable of global roaming.

4) I like having an iPhone. I like the user-friendly touchscreen technology. I don’t really want to use a phone with a keypad again. I’ve done that in the past and I’m not going back to it.

5) There’s no doubt that, regardless of provider, I’ll be upgrading to a new smartphone. The question is: Do I stick with AT&T and get an iPhone 4 for only $50? Or do I switch to Verizon and pay $200 for the iPhone 4 (which we all know is soon going to be replaced by the iPhone 5)? Or do I get a Droid? Or something else? My friend Mallory (check out her blog here: is with Sprint, and she loves it.

Smart phone features I cannot live without: The phone has to fit easily in my jeans pocket (so it can’t be clunky), a decent GPS app, a good Facebook app, customizable ringtone ability, a decent photo camera, ability to shoot video, and finally, a minimal amount of clicks to use any/all phone features. Is all of this too much to ask?

The folks over at Engadget have created a handy comparison of the iPhone 4G on both Verizon and AT&T. After reading the comparison and following comments, I gather that the phones are pretty much identical. The only different is what each network can do for me. So what do I do? Sigh. Does anyone have any suggestions for me?


Posted January 30, 2011 by Elfawin in Social Media

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Diffuse This   3 comments

When an organization has a new product or service available, the goal is to obtain widespread adoption of that product or service, right? So how does a company go about doing that? Ask any public relations or advertising practitioner: Research and strategy.

As a customer of various organizations, think about how and why you decide to use a service, donate to a charity, or purchase a product. Do you blindly adopt or support anything and everything you see? Or do you put thought into it?

Although we all make impulse buys from time to time, chances are, most of your decisions are calculated (even if the calculation is very brief, it still happens). Therefore, the strategy behind an organization’s product or service must also be calculated to obtain the most effective results possible.

There is a process involved with almost every successful product or service adoption campaign in existence. A good public relations strategy is to always use a good theory. One basic but highly effective theory in this case is Diffusion Theory, which is neatly packaged below in five succinct steps.

1) Awareness: Before initiating any research, the organization needs to know who its target demographic is. Armed with the organization’s demographic data, the PR strategist can create awareness of the new product or service. Potential adopters need to know there is something new available before they can adopt it.

2) Interest: Once people are aware of the product or service, they’ll want to know more about it. An organization should be ready to disseminate easily understood information about the product/service: What it is, how it functions, why it’s useful or necessary, and so on. As always, this step should be kept simple. An organization doesn’t want to loose potential customers due to poor explanations!

3) Trial: People need the option to try a product or service on a trial-basis to determine whether it’s something they want to use long-term. The trial stage is crucial, because first impressions matter. For example, Ive heard of the Kindle from various sources (conversations with friends, TV commercials). I become more interested because I realize it’s a new, green technology. I’d like to try a Kindle out, but I’m still not sure if I need or even want one. Luckily, is offering a 30-day, money-back guarantee trial for just this reason. Excellent!

4) Evaluation: The fourth step is where most people will either accept or reject the product or service. Possible questions the person may ask him or herself when deciding: Is it useful? Will it make my life easier? Is it even affordable? Is it offered from a reputable, trustworthy company? An organization should try to ensure the answer is always YES to all of these questions, in order to attract (and retain) as many new customers or clients as possible. If a person decides to adopt the new product or service, the organization has successfully changed that persons’ behavioral pattern. Either the person is adopting a product or service for the first time, or they’re choosing to drop what the competition is offering, in favor of another organization. If the person chooses not to adopt the product or service, the organization will have failed to change that person’s behavior (for various reasons).

5) Adoption: If the first four steps are successfully implemented, a person will hopefully choose to adopt the new product or service. Widespread adoption may take a little while, but if people like what the organization is offering, they will spread the news. People typically share positive feedback with 9-12 friends, but be warned: People who have a bad experience with an organization’s product or service may tell as many as 20 people* about it – and not in a good way. With the explosion of social media use, word of mouth about products and services travels super fast these days. It’s essential to keep new and existing customers as happy as possible, so those fast-traveling words stay positive!

One last thought: Not every public relations or advertising campaign should use ONLY social media. Remember, for some demographics, using social media platforms to attract new customers can be about as useful as a submarine with windshield wipers. Keep some traditional options in mind when strategizing. If in doubt, remember that it always comes down to that initial research: Use the public relations or advertising strategies that best fit your organization’s goals. Chances are, the results will be a success.


* Figures taken from The Social Media Bible by Lon Safko, 2010.

“The narwhal bacons at midnight”   Leave a comment

reddit alien from

Reddit. Have you heard about it yet? If you haven’t, you’ll probably hear someone talking about it sooner or later. You can find it here:

UPDATE: If you’re wondering what the phrase “The narwhal bacons at midnight” means, you must be a Reddit n00b. It’s a meme that redditors have come up with to make themselves sounds awesome. Just…start browsing Reddit and give yourself a few weeks. If you haven’t figured it out by then, you’re not trying hard enough. N00b.

Reddit is a growing global online community of user-posted original and aggregated items. According to one source, Reddit gets 110 million page views per day. Not too shabby! Reddit has pictures, news articles,  videos, comics: If something is either new or trending on the web right now, chances are you’ll find it at reddit. It’s a motley crew of Internet gold, trash, random pages, and more.

Other users review and then vote on submissions, sending items up or down the reddit popularity ladder. The posts with the most “up” votes float to the top, ensuring a constant stream of popular, interesting content for people to check out.

People can also leave comments on posts. These comment streams can turn into lengthy discussions about a topic. To leave a comment you must become a registered redditor (a free and swift process).

Sub-reddits are micro communities within the greater reddit community. If you want to find out if there’s a subreddit on, say, bacon, here’s what you type: MMMM, bacon. Did you know there’s a Bacon Of The Month Club? I just discovered it, thanks to reddit!

I asked my boyfriend John (a self-proclaimed “heavy social media user”) why he uses reddit: “It’s a time killer and there’s just so much content. Funny pictures, funny stories, interesting people. There’s a Knoxville sub-reddit too, so it’s geared for local communities as well.” He’s right: Currently, the most recent Knoxville reddit post is a YouTube video detailing the Henley Street Bridge detour.

I’m just now discovering what reddit has to offer. I like the idea that redditors are ordinary people. It’s like a social craigslist: Instead of sale items, you get to read content and discuss it with others.

Reddit is simple to use and extremely accessible. Thanks to people purchasing reddit gold (the premium version), the site is no longer ad-supported! Hurrah for clutter-free websites!

Seriously, check out reddit today. Just make sure you’ve finished that homework assignment or any household chores first.


Posted January 15, 2011 by Elfawin in Social Media

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